May 30, 2014

Only one way . . .

. . . He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Last night we arrived home from our vacation to a couple of requests. One challenges my hubby’s problem with getting sticky; the other is far more serious and could mean a risk to life (unless I read too many mysteries). My first thought was that there is no way around this; we have to say yes.

God continually addressed the things of life in daily devotions and today is no exception. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples facing the greatest challenge of His life. He says to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

He went a little farther and fell on His face praying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The disciples were asleep. He questioned them then prayed again, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” They were still sleeping, so He prayed the third time in the same way and then told them it was time for Him to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Matthew 26:38–46)

Following Jesus means having the same mind and heart, being willing to do whatever God asks me. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25)

It is fine to declare this as an ideal, but never really face anything that causes loss or threatens life. Christians in North America may talk about denying ourselves, but when the rubber meets the road, we easily become like those who approached Jesus in His day . . .

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57–62)

The Bible tells me that if my faith is genuine, and if I have been raised with Christ, then I will “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” because I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1–4)

The passage goes on to describe what that will look like. It means putting off sinful attitudes and actions, but also putting on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another . . . forgiving each other . . .  putting on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” It also says to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart and whatever I do in word or deed, do it in His name. (Colossians 3:12–17)

Following Jesus means following Jesus, wherever and whenever. There is no other way.

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