Following Jesus

Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read select scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of following Jesus.

Fishers of Men (Matt. 4:18-22)

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

I always love reading this account of Jesus calling some of his disciples and of how they immediately left everything behind them to follow Jesus. This is absolutely what it means to believe in Jesus Christ! When we trust him to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we leave our old life of sin behind us, and we follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. There should be no hesitation on our part when he calls us to follow (obey) him wherever he leads us. There should be no bargaining with God, either, thinking that God will be ok with us letting go a little bit at a time, and when we choose to do so. Believing in Jesus means we die with Christ to sin, that we may live new lives in Christ Jesus to him, and to his righteousness.

I also love it that Jesus wasted no time in letting them know what they would be doing when they became his followers. He would make them fishers of men. In other words, Jesus doesn’t save us just for ourselves. He saves us and then we are to tell others so that they can be saved, too. Jesus saved us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. This is what it means to follow him. Our lives are no longer our own for we were bought with a price, the blood of Christ, so we are to now honor God with our lives. He is our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves (servants), and so we now desire to please him, and to do what he says, speak the words he gives us to say, and go where he sends us.

Wherever You Go (Matt. 8:18-22)

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

There is a cost to following Jesus Christ. There is a cost to becoming one of his disciples. Now, it is true that our salvation is a free gift from God, but we need to understand what that free gift entails. It is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. It is also not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, either. The free gift of grace from God for us to be saved is that he made the way possible for us to die with him to sin and to live with him to righteousness. He provided the way for us to now walk (in lifestyle) with him in the Spirit of God and no longer according to our sinful flesh. He demands repentance and obedience, or we don’t have eternal life with him. If we want to keep on sinning, we will die in our sins, not have heaven as our eternal home.

Jesus didn’t die for our sins so we could ignore him and go our own way. He wants total surrender. The free gift he offers is his grace to deliver us out of slavery to sin and self and to free us to now live godly and holy lives pleasing to him. Being his follower means we obey him, and we do what he says, and we go where he wants us. If he did not deliver us out of slavery to sin, then we would still be bound in our sins and still on our way to hell. So, it isn’t that we have to do anything to earn his grace, but his grace to us means that we leave it all behind us to follow him, for that is why he died.

More Than Him (Matt. 10:37-38; Matt. 19:29)

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”

When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, which is not optional for the truly born again believer in Jesus Christ, we are to have undivided loyalty to our Lord. We should never shrink back from doing what he says in order to please family or friends. He is to have first place in our lives. If he tells us to leave our family behind us (not minor children who are dependent on us), and to go wherever he sends us, we are to obey him and go. He should always get precedence over everyone else. We should never hold on to our own lives, family, and friends, etc. while ignoring God’s calls on our lives. Daily we are to take up our cross (die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him.

Lose Your Life (Lu. 9:23-24; Jn. 8:12; Jn. 10:27-28; cf. Ro. 8:1-14)

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

In fact, if we want to be saved from our sins, and have the hope of eternal life with God, which is to come after Jesus Christ, we must deny ourselves, our own pleasures, our own plans for our lives, and our own selfish will. And, we must follow (obey) him. For, if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity, and we will die in our sins. But, if we die with Christ to sin and self, for the sake of Jesus, we will save our lives for eternity, and we will have the hope of eternal life with God.

In other words, we can’t be saved and still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin). If we are following Jesus, we will not walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh and our sinful nature, but we will walk according to the Spirit, and we will have the Light of life. We will listen when Jesus speaks to our hearts, and we will obey him. Yet, this is not to say we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is to say that sin will no longer have dominion over our lives, i.e. we will no longer be slaves to sin, but we will be slaves to God and to his righteousness.

What is that to you? (Jn. 21:19b-22)

And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

And, it doesn’t matter what other people do or don’t do, with regard to our obedience to our Lord. If we have to walk alone, i.e. if we are the only fish in the sea swimming against the flow, we have to still follow Jesus. If all forsake their Lord, we must remain faithful. If people call us crazy, weird, not normal, out-of-touch with reality, hyper-religious, super spiritual, goody-goodies, self-righteous, or religious extremists just because we take God and his Word seriously, and we follow our Lord in obedience, then so be it. If we are hated, rejected, persecuted, abandoned, gossiped about or slandered, falsely accused, ridiculed, mocked or verbally attacked for our stand for Christ and for his gospel, then praise the Lord! They treated Jesus that way, too, so we should rejoice that we share in his sufferings.

Or, if Jesus calls one person to do one thing while he calls us to do another, what is that to us? We just need to follow Jesus and do what he says. We need to get our eyes off people, and we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and then follow him wherever he leads us, even if where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, is out of the norm (not fitting with the world’s or the worldly church’s standards, values, culture and morals), but is always in line with His Word, His Truth, His Will and His Ways.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

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