Come follow me…Matthew 4:19
Seems like a simple thought doesn’t it. So many talk about following Jesus but I listened to a great speaker recently who put some powerful truth to those words and what it really means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus. The whole short talk left me feeling like I’ve got some thinking, praying and changing to do. Here’s what I learned…
In the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5,6 and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus spells out the new law of the kingdom. He teaches and preaches and explains. He highlights important things we need to do to follow him like be humble, love our enemy and live without judging others. He also calls us to focus on the condition of our hearts. When we decide to follow Jesus we think different, look different and act different. We become different than the rest of the world. That’s pretty big stuff for most of us who spend a lot of time trying to blend in, go with the flow and not make a spectacle of ourselves but the truth is, if we really want to follow Jesus, we’re going to be different. Chances are, others are gonna notice our differences and call us out on them; what will we do?
In the next three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus shifts from teaching to application. We can read the ten miracle stories where Jesus showed he had power and authority over everything. He had power over disease, death, wind, evil, political structures and anything the evil one could stir up. (He still does!) In a mighty way, he took his message from the classroom to the streets and showed us what being his follower looked like. Come follow me said the man who had no place to lay his head. I’m so incredibly thankful that many did just that and paved the way for all disciples to follow.
The speaker made a powerful point that made me squirm in my chair a little when he said the only thing stopping us from being a true follower of Jesus (one of those folks who is different) is excuses. We make all kinds of them and we try to justify so many things because we aren’t so good at sacrifice, suffering and following him which means taking up our cross. I’ve said dozens of times before, I’m much better at dragging my crosses than picking them up! After giving all this some thought I realized it was true…I was full of excuses that prevented me from completely following Jesus.
The speaker also mentioned that we can’t follow Jesus part time. There is no position for part time disciple…truly following him means reconfiguring everything, detaching from things of the world and living to please the Father and not people. Phew, that’s tuff! I have a better understanding now about the rich young man and the narrow gate! The question is, do I want what’s on the other side of that narrow gate? I’ve been wondering why I’m so attached to being comfortable and accepted? If I know I am God’s beloved why is it so hard to detach from worldly things even though I know he only desires my holiness and sainthood and will provide for my every need? We grumble, complain and worry about the state of affairs swirling around us but yet we cling so hard to the world and resist being the kind of “different” it takes to enter Paradise. I think before I can truly “Come Follow Him” I have some questions to pray about.
A Seed To Plant: Which of the questions above do you need to stop and think about a bit?
Blessings on your day!
They all ate and were satisfied… Luke 9:17
When I heard these words at the end of last Sunday’s Gospel they hit me like a sack of bricks. I’ve been thinking about them for a few days now and I’m still wondering if I even know what that means…to be satisfied?
We aren’t very good with “exactly the right amount”. Our culture promotes more, better, extra and on reserve. We stock up, plan ahead and over prep everything from toilet paper to salad greens. When you think about it, we are people of excess more than satisfaction. In this Gospel thousands of people walked and walked and walked just to listen to Jesus teach. They had no worries about food or lodging. They didn’t have reservations and back up plans. They didn’t pack a cooler or a rubbermaid tote full of snacks. They just abandoned everything because nothing was more important than the word of the Son of God.
What do you suppose those early disciples would think of TV shows like “Hoarders” or “Extreme Couponing”? I know those are extreme examples but you have to wonder who really needs dozens of tubes of tooth paste even if you do get them for practically nothing. I’ve been making a list of all the places in my life where I’ve lost track of the meaning of the word satisfied and it is embarrassingly long. I’m not suggesting we all become radical minimalists but the Gospel has really made me stop and think.
The thought I keep coming back to is the difference in my trust and the trust of the characters in this Gospel story. They completely trusted in the providence of God. They knew He would be faithful and they would be grateful. It also struck me that there were twelve baskets of food left over which means people weren’t grabbing up the extra to save “just in case”. They trusted God for this meal, they were satisfied and content and they trusted him the same way about tomorrow. They had a focus that was on Jesus and not self and that focus brought them trust. I think it’s probably pretty safe to say the disciples and followers of Jesus were a stress free group of faithful folks who were not very likely to have a stress related cardiac event.
Ya know it’s funny, I’ve heard this Gospel dozens and dozens of times but that line just jumped right up at me. That always means God’s trying to teach me something. If I spent as much time praying and reading His Word as I do plotting and planning my shopping, meal prep and event schedule I’m positive my soul would be a lot shinier. Imagine the stories we could tell if we sought to be satisfied instead of fortified with extra. Imagine the stories of God’s providence we could tell if we actually let him meet our needs instead of trying to plan, control and manage everything ourselves. Imagine how content our hearts would be if we stepped back a bit and let him show us how much he loves us.
I chatted with a lady recently at a retreat I was presenting and she shared that the greatest way to learn to trust more and rely less on self is to spend five solid minutes in prayer thinking about anything but yourself. Any time thoughts of self or tasks or worries about your life creep in, you have to start all over. Seems simple…5 minutes thinking about anything but yourself. I guess the words SATISFIED, CONTENT and ENOUGH need to be a part of my prayer for a while, how about you.
A Seed To Plant: Where are the places you find yourself going beyond satisfied? How about those 5 minutes thinking about anything but self…give that a try too.
Blessings on your day!
Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:21
Sorry for two weeks of “radio silence!” It seems that the end of the school year swallowed me whole but now it’s summer and I’m back to writing from my screen porch!
Happy 10th Birthday Joyful Words Blog!! I’m astounded that God has keep this going for a decade! When I finally quit arguing with Him and actually started writing, I could have never imagined He would still be sending me words 520 weeks later. Please know how very grateful I am to all of you who check in and give these things a read. I promised Him I’d keep writing as long as people kept reading and letting me know he was working through the words. I consider it an absolute honor to share this work with you. I thought today we could take a look at the number 10…turns out the Father has used this number for some pretty important lessons.
*10 and 10th appear in Scripture more than 320 times; pretty sure that’s at least the number of times I’ve needed and received his mercy this week!
*10 is a perfect number which suggests completeness, order and peace: may this be a year of ALL of that for each of us!
*In the first chapter of Genesis alone we read “God said” 10 times; perhaps we should work on doing what he says the FIRST time instead of needing to be told 9 more times (maybe that’s just me!)
*There are 10 Commandents; which is a great trade for more than 600 Jewish laws.
*There were 10 plagues; always a great reminder of God’s power and love for his people.
*We are asked to tithe 10 percent; after all we’re given it doesn’t seem like so much in return.
*10 generations of man lived on earth before the Flood; thank goodness He promised not to do that again.
*The Passover lamb was selected on day 10 of the 1st month (Exodus 12:3), as was Jesus, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John 12:28 - 29; 1Corinthians 5:7).
I’m always so surprised at the way he uses simple things to teach like a number or a word. There is simply no end to the magnificent things he will do through us when we start with one word…YES!! I’m so glad you’ve followed along with one of my favorite “Yes’s”! Thank you to those of you who have read, liked and commented about the ways the Lord is working in your life; we truly need to help each other grow in holiness. I will be praying 10 Rosaries for my readers asking God to bless, protect and guide you.
A Seed To Plant: Say YES to God 10 times this week. It can be something big or something little like stopping to say a quick prayer for someone who comes into your thoughts. As always, please share what happens!
Blessings on your day!
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