March 31, 2019
WHEN IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO BE SEEN? The Kingdom of God is a mystery. For Jesus described it as both present and future. Perhaps the best explanation for this mystery was offered by George Ladd, who called it “fulfillment without consummation.” Fulfillment of the kingdom is here now since the first coming of… Read more »
April 2, 2018
THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS IN MINISTRY
Luke listed three people that expressed a desire to follow Jesus, yet all three turned aside when they considered the cost.
The Lord challenged the material motivations of the first follower by pointing out that foxes and birds have places to live, but He had no “place to lay His head.” Following Jesus is not a means for worldly gain, but a call to deny oneself in this kingdom in pursuit of the eternal one.
The second potential follower expressed his desire to follow Jesus later, after a delay to do his duty for his father’s burial. Jesus’ reply seems harsh: “Let the dead bury the dead. Your duty is to go and preach.” But the duty to bury his father could take a year or longer as he followed the tradition of putting the bones into an ossuary. The cost of following Jesus must take priority over other duties and it must be taken with a sense of urgency.
The third one who expressed desire to follow Jesus, asked to return home first to say goodbye to his family. Jesus warned that those who look back are not fit to follow. Following requires focus on Jesus, not the past. It also requires giving Jesus first priority over all others.
Through the years, I’ve noticed these same three reasons that people turn back from following Jesus in ministry. Whether they feel called to serve in the local church, to missions, or to church planting, the three concerns of 1) a desire for material things, 2) competing duties/priorities, and 3) family concerns, often cause people to give up on their call to ministry.
There is a cost to following Jesus in ministry. Lord, give us the perseverance to finish the race following You. For there is a crown awaiting those who finish well.
March 31, 2018
JESUS PREDICTED HIS PASSION AND RESURRECTION
Jesus revealed His purpose and destiny to His disciples on many occasions. He said that He “must suffer.” In the Greek, the word “to suffer” is “paschō” (πάσχω), which is the origin of the English word “passion.” Yet, they didn’t grasp His meaning until after these things had happened. It must have been particularly difficult to understand Christ’s words on the day that Peter was commended for rightly identifying Jesus as the “Messiah and Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Their view of the Messiah was one of a conquering king, not a suffering servant. They had not understood the many prophecies found in Bible passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 that Jesus “must” fulfill.
So on that Good Friday, Jesus suffered just as He said and just as the prophets had foretold.
April 2, 2016
Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem. As he traveled from Galilee, he sought to take the direct route through Samaria, but they would not “receive” him. Their rejection was a foreshadowing of the rejection he would face in Jerusalem. Yet, he “set his face” to go there. It was time. The reason for his coming was at hand. The betrayal, the rejection, the cross, the death and the burial… all these stood between him and his ascension back to the Father. He “set his face” to endure all these, looking past them to the time when he would be “taken up,” having completed his mission. Like a mother giving birth, who sets her face to endure the labor, Jesus “set his face” to endure the cross in order to experience the joy that was set before him (Heb. 12:2). Looking past the dark shadow of the cross, Jesus “set his face” to the bright glory that awaited him with the Father. Those who follow Jesus have a similar way of facing life, setting their face on being with Him, they order their lives accordingly.
April 1, 2016
Jesus took his inner circle of disciples up on a mountain to pray. As usual, they fell asleep, but they awoke suddenly to discover a change. The veil separating this world from the next had been pulled back. They saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about his soon approaching exodus from this world. Even more, Christ’s true majestic glory was revealed as they glimpsed His person with unveiled faces. Peter’s sleepy mumblings were silenced by the Father saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
So, looking and listening, what is observed? Here are two observations: 1) Moses and Elijah are alive and identifiable, giving evidence of the afterlife with God. 2) The Divinity of Christ is supported both by the visible revelation of His person and the audible testimony of His Father. How do these two observations encourage you today?
March 31, 2016
Jesus predicted his own death, burial and resurrection. No one took His life. He gave it willingly. The disciples didn’t really understand Christ’s claims until after His resurrection. When the disciples became eye witnesses of the risen Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit, they went from frightened, unschooled followers to courageous, emboldened proclaimers of the gospel. And so Christ-followers greet one another even until this day saying, “He is risen!” He is risen indeed!
March 31, 2015
What is the cost of discipleship?
After Jesus described how He would suffer, be killed, and rise on the third day, He explained the cost of being one of His disciples. His instruction?
1) Deny yourself – Surrender your will to Christ’s Lordship.
2) Take up your cross daily – Die daily to sin through Christ’s sacrifice.
3) Follow Me – Walk in the Spirit, filled with Christ’s resurrection power.
April 1, 2014
Jesus took his inner circle of disciples up on a mountain to pray. As usual, they fell asleep, but they awoke suddenly to discover a change. The veil separating this world from the next had been pulled back and they could see to the other side. They saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about his soon approaching exodus from this world. And they witnessed a glimpse of Christ’s true majestic glory. John would again see Christ unveiled before leaving this world, as recorded in the Revelation, and it would leave him laying on the ground at Christ’s feet. God the Father silenced Peter’s mumblings as he awakened bleary-eyed and talkative with, “This is my Son, my Chosen one. Listen to him.”
March 31, 2014
This is the most important question Jesus asks. Some answered other prophets, some called him teacher, but Peter called him “the Christ,” the Messiah. the Anointed One of God. This question is still the most important that each of us must answer. Perhaps C. S. Lewis described the importance of how we answer this question best:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
April 2, 2013
Practically, if you want to plow a straight furrow, you have to keep your eyes forward. Plowing requires forward focus. Following Jesus is similar. If you want to be His follower, you must keep your eyes on Him. Clinging to your past, you will lose sight of where Jesus leads. Following Jesus requires total surrender to His leading.