Following the Leader

Mark 10:21b-22, “…Then, come follow me. But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.”

I was reading recently in Mark 10 about the rich young ruler.  In verse 21 the Bible tells us that Jesus loved him.  He was pleased with the young ruler because Jesus knew his heart was striving after better things.  Sadly, the young ruler “had many possessions” and was not willing to part with them in order to follow Jesus.  He missed the greatest possession he could have ever had. This young man’s focus was set on earthly things.

 

I began thinking about myself. I am a believer in Christ, unlike the rich young ruler, but there are things Christ may want me to give up in pursuit of Him.  What “possessions” am I not willing to give up in order to follow Jesus?  Maybe it is not so much about material things, but what do I hold on to in my heart? Do I hold on too tightly to ideas and dreams that I may have?  Do I hold on too tightly to situations I “think” I’m in control of?  Where is my heart when I have to give up my time and plans to help someone else?  Where does my heart go when God may ask me to wait?  Do I hold on too tightly to the people that I love?  Do I follow Christ in my insecurities and my fears?

 

In The Bible Exposition Commentary I found this definition of a “disciple.” A disciple is more like an apprentice. A disciple is more than a student who learns lessons by means of lectures and books. He is one who learns by living and working with his teacher in a daily “hands on” experience.  Too many Christians are content to be listeners who gain a lot of knowledge but who have never put that knowledge into practice. In Luke 9:23 Scripture tells us to “take up our cross daily, and follow me.”  These words are an action. It is something I am to do! We are told to “take up and follow daily.”  Notice that this is not a one-time thing.  This is an everyday giving ourselves over to Christ and what He wants for us.

 

I do know from personal experience that nothing or no one can do in my heart what the Holy Spirit can.  Yet, I still struggle with hanging on and not releasing everything to Jesus. Do I really trust Him?  Do I truly believe He has my best interest at heart? My actions often show that I do not.

 

In Proverbs 3 we are encouraged to, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Then the very next verse says, “don’t be wise in your own eyes.” How often do I feel “wise” in my own eyes and forget about Christ?  Do I trust Christ with my whole heart or just the pieces I want to trust to Him? Am I confident in Him to direct my path? Am I confident that He will be there for me? Am I confident that He will provide – in His way, maybe not mine?

 

Sometimes I am like a child when they do not want to hold a parent’s hand thinking they are big enough to walk alone.  The harder the parent grips their little hand, the harder the child pulls away! Lord, I don’t want to get so confident in myself that I believe I know what’s best. I want to daily seek You, and follow You, and bring glory to Your Name. God, help me to trust You with all of my heart, soul, and mind.

Strike Three, You’re Out!

“For we  walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

 

In 2 Kings 13:18-20 is the story of Elisha and Israel’s King Jehoash. Jehoash was not a king devoted to God, however, one commentary I read said that Jehoash could be having a moment of realization that Israel’s only chance is the power of God and not military force. Elisha has Jehoash shoot an arrow through the window in the direction of their enemy the Arameans. He passes this “test” so to speak.  Then Elisha tells Jehoash to, “Strike the ground!” Notice that Elisha did not speak how many times.  When Jehoash struck the ground only three times, Elisha was incredibly angry with him. Then Elisha tells him he should have struck the ground “five or six times”, for then he would have struck down Aram until they were destroyed.

 

Why was Elisha so angry with Jehoash?   Because Jehoash revealed his level of faith and zeal by the extent of his obedience in doing something he did not understand. He lacked faith in God and lacked zeal in committing himself to the task that lay ahead. Since his spiritual senses had been dulled by habitually defying the law of God (2 Kings 13:11), the king failed to garner complete victory over Aram, but God would not fail to keep the promise to strike down Aram three times.[Women’s Evangelical Commentary OT]

 

This passage got me to thinking about my own faith in God.  How strong is my faith and trust?  Do I give up too quickly and miss what God has for me?  What do my actions show about my faith in and zeal for God? It is so easy to tell someone else to pray about a hard situation and to be patient, but what about when I’m the one in the hard situation? Do I have the faith to “strike the ground” believing that God will come through for me, or do I “strike the ground” a few times and quit?  God does not prove His faithfulness by what I consider enough faith. He is about my heart and soul. Do I have a faith and zeal for God in my deepest soul to keep on keeping on until He says enough. I wonder, do I not seek or ask often because I do not believe God will truly come through for me.  Of course, I believe this in my head and hold onto it outwardly.  It’s the internal heart battle that I’m talking about.

 

Jesus tells me in the Gospels to “ask….believing”.  Sometimes I ask, sometimes I do not.  When I do ask though, do I truly believe or am I “believing” with my breath held? Often times I find myself praying and then thinking, “I really hope God comes through on this one!” What?? I’m pretty sure God sees through this! Jesus wants me to trust and believe and to not be anxious for anything. Holding my breath (so to speak) and waiting to see when the next shoe falls is not trust, belief, or faith.  Jesus, forgive my lack of faith and trust in You.  Your faith and love for God sent You to the cross. Jesus, I want my faith to count. Help me to not be like Jehoash and to only “strike the ground 3 times” and be done. Help me to be fearless and courageous and to “strike the ground” as many times as is needed to accomplish Your purpose.

The Journey Begins

“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. I thirst for God, the living God.” 
Psalm 42:1-2a
beautiful boulders branches creek
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In Luke 10: 38-42 we read the story of Jesus and His disciples being invited into the home of Martha and Mary. Martha clearly had the gift of hospitality and the means if she just invited 13 more people in for dinner! She has a decent size crowd, so understandably she is going to be busy.  Martha is moving and shaking and looks over to see Mary, her sister, sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him teach!  During this time, women were not permitted to sit under teachings by the rabbis in school.  What Mary was doing was not a “normal” occurrence for women. The word for listening means to “hear with attention”.  So, Mary is fully engaged with Jesus and every word that He is speaking.

 

But Martha (vs. 40) was “distracted with all her preparations”. The King James says she, “was cumbered about much serving.”  In the Greek this means being over-occupied about a thing!  Martha wasn’t just being hospitable, she was going overboard. Doing more than she needed to. Jesus tells Martha that she is anxious and bothered about many things that are not important or necessary.  Had she not been doing all the extra things she also would have had time to sit at His feet.

 

I love this story.  It draws me back to what is most important every time I get distracted.  We may not be distracted with preparing a meal for a large group of people, but there are so many distractions in our lives today.  We have difficulty finding time to sit at the feet of Jesus and to soak in His Word, yet, we find time for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, losing hours of time scrolling on Pinterest, Amazon, E-bay, you name it.  Of course, there’s still TV, emails, and the list can go on and on.  How much different would our lives be if we just took 30 minutes of this time and spent it with God?  What extra things do we do that are not necessary? Our homes can be Pinterest perfect, but God is not looking at our homes, He is looking at our hearts.  He is more concerned that we seek Him every day instead of liking someone’s post.

 

We are like Martha in that we can get distracted easily with things that really don’t matter.  Sadly, they seem so important to us.  We are also like Mary, though, because God created us to desire relationship with Him.  We will never be filled the way He desires for  us to be filled with anything other than Jesus. I challenge you to take some time today fully devoted to Jesus.  It may be hard at first…..even now some days are difficult. My thoughts are everywhere except where they need to be.  I do believe with all of my heart, the more we are faithful to show up, God’s Word will come alive to us! We were created to desire relationship, and the ultimate relationship is with our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is waiting for you!

 

“Your Word, Lord, is a lamp for my feet and light on my path.” Psalm 119:105