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Following Jesus


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Following Jesus - to love the Son Jesus, is to love the Father God.

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Following Jesus

  1. 1. Following Jesus 1. Jesus wants us to live only to follow him. At first, it doesn't seem right to live that way. What about loving others and enjoying ourselves? In a very "God" kind of way, as we live exclusively to follow Jesus (i.e. Jesus only, not Jesus first ) he leads us to love ourselves and others as well. Luke 14:25-35 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said to them, " If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" "Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish." "Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?" "Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace." "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?" "It is neither fit for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, " THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND. This is the first and great commandment." "And the second is like unto it, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF." "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 16:25 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." It allows us the the freedom to have just one focus in our lives. Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a
  2. 2. certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things." "But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Jesus Only, Not Jesus First 2. A practical difficulty to following Jesus is our self-centeredness. By nature we do what we want to do, even if we know that following Jesus is better. Romans 7:18-25 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. We follow Jesus by continually choosing to do so, moment by moment, rather than going our own way and doing what we want to do. Jesus called it denying ourselves and dying to ourselves. Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Part of the transforming power of following Jesus is that the more we follow, the more we die to our self-centredness. Even so, following Jesus remains a continual choice. If we stop choosing Jesus, then we stop following. 3. A practical help to following Jesus is to develop an attitude of humility. The bible describes humility in a variety of ways: broken, contrite, lowly, trembling at God's word, and childlike. Psalm 51:17
  3. 3. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 66:2b ....but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. Matthew 18:3-4 And said, "Verily I say to unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus described the process of developing humility in the first part of the beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-6 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." a. Humility has its source in the awareness that our self-centredness has made us spiritually destitute. (v3) b. This awareness generates brokenness and contriteness within us. (v4) c. In our brokenness, we acknowledge that Jesus is God and we are not, and submit ourselves to his rule and provision in lowliness and childlikeness, trembling at his word. (v5) d. As we live in submission to Jesus, we experience a growing desire to live in right relationship with him. ( v6) Grace 1. It is only possible for us to follow Jesus because he has made it possible by his crucifixion and resurrection, and by the ongoing work of his Spirit in our lives. The Bible uses the word 'grace' to describe this generosity of Jesus towards us. John 1:14 & 16-17
  4. 4. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 2. We need grace because we are spiritually destitute. Jesus came to give us spiritual life. 1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. He said that there is nothing spiritual we can do without him. He doesn't add on to our efforts to make up the difference. When it comes to spiritual life, there is no effort that we can even begin to make that Jesus can add on to - he has to do everything for us. John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Jesus works in us to give us the desire to follow him, and then he works in us to put that desire into action and to actually follow. Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. It is only Jesus working within us that makes every aspect of life in relationship with him happen. 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. 3. We can't do anything to earn grace - it is a gift from Jesus. God planned it this way to protect us from our self-centredness by giving us nothing of ourselves to boast about. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
  5. 5. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Although we can only gain spiritual life by grace and not by our own efforts, there is one thing we have to do in order for Jesus to be able to work in us. In humility, we have to receive what he is doing inside us and co-operate with him as he works in us the way he wants to. 1 Peter 5:5b-6 GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD, AND GIVETH GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: This co-operation may appear to involve our own effort, therefore giving us something to boast about. However when we receive his grace, the situation is like that of a person dying of thirst who receives a drink of water: the person needs to receive the drink in order to save their life, but there is nothing to boast about in doing it. 4. We may have thoughts and attitudes that limit us in co-operating with Jesus as he graciously works in us. They may include things we've been taught or that we have just picked up along the way through life such as: . I am being lazy . I am being irresponsible . It can't be this easy . I don't deserve this The way we work through these things is to keep living only to follow Jesus. If they are true, he will let us know and work in us to deal with them. If they are not true, they will gradually disappear from our thinking. Grace allows us the freedom to be content in every situation in life, because no matter what our circumstances, Jesus is enough for us. Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 & 8-9 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,
  6. 6. and the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong. Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Faith To have faith in Jesus means to relate to him according to what he has personally revealed to us. 1. This relationship that we have with Jesus is unusual. How do we have a relationship with someone who is no longer physical? We do it by having faith in him ( or putting our faith in him, or believing in him - they all mean the same thing). Living by faith in Jesus enables us to experience him. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 2. To have faith in Jesus means to relate to him according to what he has personally revealed to us. It works like this: a. Jesus reveals something to us, and we humbly choose to receive his revelation.
  7. 7. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. b. We begin to relate to Jesus according to what he has revealed to us. James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and staightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. c. We ask Jesus to work in us and our circumstances according to what he has revealed to us. We know it is his will, therefore we know that he will do what we are asking. 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. d. On that basis we know that we have received what we have been asking for, and therefore we constantly think and speak about it as reality in our lives, persevering until we experience it in his way and time. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 11:11 & 27 Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was
  8. 8. delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. This process never varies - faith always works this way. 3. Jesus reveals truth to us in all sorts of ways - through other people, through nature, through our experiences, through music, through the Bible. He can reveal something to us through anything. The way that Jesus communicates with us varies. Some people hear an audible voice; some receive pictures or thoughts in their minds; some have impressions in their spirits that convey meaning to them; some have a combination of the above. The more we follow Jesus, the more familiar his communication with us becomes. Regardless of what he uses to give then though, revelations from him will always have two things in common: a. There will be the witness of his Spirit in our spirit that Jesus is revealing this to us. Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. It is helpful to know where we sense or experience the witness of the Spirit. One of the functions of our spirit is the conscience. The place within us where we experience our conscience working is also where we experience Jesus' Spirit. b. We will be able to verify from the Bible whatever he reveals to us. The Bible is God's record of his involvement with us. It is the only reliable source of information about Jesus, so that anything he reveals to us will check out in the Bible. Checking the Bible is a safeguard against error. Sometimes our sense of witness of the Spirit can be hard to pick, especially when our relationship with Jesus is new or if we are being strongly influenced by our feelings and emotions. It is really helpful to regularly read the Bible, because it makes it easier for Jesus to reveal truth to us. 4. It is important that we continue to live by faith in Jesus in regard to each revelation that he gives us. Just as living by faith in him enabled us to begin experiencing Jesus, it is through continuing to live by faith in him that we are able to continue experiencing him, and that he is able to reveal more to us. In this way our experience of his actual presence grows and develops - he becomes more and more real to us. Being With Jesus and Doing What he is Doing. 1. We live only to humbly follow Jesus. We follow by grace, through faith. But what does following actually involve? In essence, following Jesus involves living in his presence, that is, being with him and doing what he is doing. God has made it magnificently simple and profound: so simple that a child can fully follow Jesus, and so profound that the solution to every situation in life is found in being with Jesus and doing what he is doing. Being With Jesus 1. When we first believe in Jesus, he sends his Spirit to live inside us. Romans 8:9
  9. 9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of this. 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Paul wrote that the mystery of the gospel is 'Christ in us'. Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. One of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'. Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BRING FORTH A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, God with us. and after his resurrection Jesus told his disciples that he would always be with them. Matthew 28:20 "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Amen. However Jesus can be with us, and yet we not be with him. It's like two people living in the same house but not spending much time together. 3. A practical description of being with Jesus is to be attentive to him. Therefore being with Jesus is a matter of learning to fix our attention on his presence within us. Hebrews 3:1 WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Please note: this is not thinking about Jesus. Instead, it is fixing our attention on his actual presence. We may or may not initially sense his presence, but we continue to focus on him anyway, knowing where he is. Each morning we can ask him to work in us to fix our attention on him through the day. At the end of the day, we can review how it has gone, and thank him for the times when we have given him our attention. As we continue to do this day after day, week after week, we will find ourselves becoming increasingly attentive to him, and the experience of his
  10. 10. presence within us will gradually grow. 4. Being Attentive to Jesus within us can be quite difficult to start with. As we are learning to do it we become more tired than usual because of the effort involved. It is a good idea to make allowance for this in the way we live. It is especially difficult being with Jesus while we are engaging with the world around us, because we have to split our attention in order to focus both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. Initially, we may only be able to do it for a few minutes at a time. If we persevere it will actually become a habit, and eventually will progress into a lifestyle, in which we are intentionally and continually being with Jesus within us, but without the effort that it required at the beginning. 5. It is important that we don't confuse the sense or experience of Jesus' presence with our feelings and emotions. Our feelings and emotions change constantly, and sometimes dramatically, because they are affected by our circumstances. Sensing the presence of Jesus within us is a function of our spirit and, like our physical sense of touch, operates constantly, regardless of how we are feeling or what is happening in our lives. Learning to differentiate between the two is part of the process of learning to live in his presence. 5. By his death on the cross Jesus permanently opened the way into God's presence. Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Hebrews 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. When we are hurt, when we are afraid, when things we don't like are happening to us, we can stay with Jesus and look to him to work comfort and strength and courage and whatever else we need. Even if we sin, rather than withdrawing from Jesus, or turning away, hiding, covering up, or pretending it didn't happen, we can stay in his presence within us. He knows what we did, and he still loves us and wants us to stay with him so that he can forgive us and set us free from our self-centredness. Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. While we are free to leave his presence whenever we want to, there is no reason why
  11. 11. we ever have to, not even when we sin. Zechariah 3 :1-8 And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. Jesus was in God's presence with the sin of the whole world on him. 7. Being with Jesus all the time while we live our daily lives doesn't mean that we don't need to have times alone with just us and him. If a married couple live their daily lives together and are always with each other, they still need time when it is just the two of them. They need time together to develop and express their special relationship with each other, and it is the same in our relationship with Jesus. Jesus modelled this in his own relationship with the Father. Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. 8. What do we do when we're with Jesus? a. Enjoy being with him. b. Chat with him about our life and expect him to respond in the way that he usually communicates with us. c. Read the Bible with him and talk to him about what he reveals to us. d. Thank and praise him for all that he has done for us, and for what the Bible says he is working in us by his Spirit, and ask him to do it even more. e. Worship him (this means adore him for who he is and what he has done). f. Learn some of his names and titles and use them when we speak to him and worship him.
  12. 12. g. Sing to him. h. Talk or think with Jesus rather than with ourselves. i. If Jesus has given us the gift of tongues, then use it to speak and work and pray with him. 1 Corinthians 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 9. The Bible says that part of God's purpose in us following Jesus is to conform us to the likeness of his Son. Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Doing What Jesus Is Doing 10. To 'do what Jesus is doing' means that we are to be led by the Spirit of Jesus just as Jesus was led by the Father. Galations 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, "Verily, verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." John 14:10 "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Therefore doing what Jesus is doing means that as he works within us, we do what he is doing within us. It is not the case of 'What would Jesus do?', but 'What is Jesus doing in me right now?' 11. There is a transition that occurs when we start to live by being with Jesus and doing what he is doing in us. We aren't able to cope with such an enormous change all at once. If we have been living in a relationship with Jesus for a long time but haven't been in the habit of being attentive to him, then we may not really know whether many of the things we do are of us or of Jesus. If our relationship with Jesus is new, then there will be areas of confusion for us about how we are to continue to live our lives. Only Jesus is able to sort out this confusion for us, and only he knows what level of change we can cope with. Therefore, the way we work through this is to be with him as much as we can, and to continue to do what we have been used to doing in our lives unless or until he works something different in us. In other words, as we live more and more in his presence, Jesus transitions us to increasingly do what he is doing in us. 12. It is important that we don't presume what Jesus wants us to do if he isn't
  13. 13. actually working it in us. It is not our perogative, and actually makes us more alive to our self-centredness than to following Jesus. 13. Often Jesus will show us in advance something that he wants to do in us or through us. It may be to do with our own lives, or it may be something that he wants to do for others through us. He reveals it so that when he starts working it in us, we will understand what he is doing and be better able to co-operate with him. It is important to remember this, so that when he shows us something that he wants to do, we don't take hold of it and try to make it happen ourselves. He doesn't show it to us so that we will try to do it - he shows it to prepare us for when he starts to do it. If we try to do these things ourselves rather than allowing Jesus to work them in us and through us in his way and his time, then we will become frustrated and discouraged because we can't do them. We will also get in the way of what Jesus wants to do. 14. Doing what Jesus is doing in us allows us the freedom to rest in him. Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."