Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commands of Christ: Follow Me

Have a Tent Mind-Set!

Welcome to our second week of meditation! In order to live out Christ’s second command, we must comprehend the rich insights of a “tent mind-set.”

Command Two:

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Those who heard the call to follow Jesus understood that it meant forsaking their way of life and being trained by Him as a disciple.
This is consistent with God’s call to Abraham. Abraham was told to leave his land, kindred, and father’s house and follow the Lord to a land of promise. In the process, he learned the mind-set of a tent-dweller. When Abraham’s descendants went down to Egypt (symbolic of the world), they lost their tent perspective. Soon the pressure of their bondage caused them to cry out to God for deliverance.
God brought them “out of the house of bondage” (see Deuteronomy 13:5) and restored their perspective of tent dwelling in the wilderness. God also lived with them in a tent (the Tabernacle) and had them look to heaven for their daily bread and daily direction. In the land of promise they lived in goodly houses, but God warned them never to lose their tent mind-set. So, He established an annual feast in which they would live in a tent for one week and be reminded of their total dependence upon God. (See Leviticus 23:34.)
A tent mind-set is realizing that this world is not our home and that we are on a holy pursuit of God’s kingdom with total dependence on Him as “strangers and pilgrims.”
Peter speaks of this mind-set as a powerful basis for conquering lust: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).
A tent mind-set helps us lay aside temporal things and see the value in eternal things, such as discipling others. Therefore, when a would-be follower of Jesus volunteered his services, Jesus immediately focused on his need for a tent mind-set by saying, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). There is nothing wrong with living in a house as long as we don’t lose a tent mind-set and view our home as a temporary base from which to fulfill the Great Commission.
Congratulations for completing your first week!

Get a Double Portion!

The invitation to follow Jesus is no small matter. The more we follow Him, the more we will become like Him. Imagine what this will mean for daily success! We will multiply our wisdom, because Jesus is ultimate wisdom, and “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).
We will also gain the rare quality of creativity that is so essential to success, because Jesus is the Creator. (See John 1:3.) Most of all, we will grow in the character of Christ, because He is the perfect expression of all the character qualities of God.
In addition to all of these benefits, there is something even more exciting.
Those who follow Jesus can receive a “double portion” of His power if they fulfill one important requirement. Do you know what it is?
Many heroes of faith accomplished greater things than the one they followed because they fulfilled this one prerequisite.
  • Samuel served Eli and then accomplished greater things than Eli.
  • Joshua served Moses and then accomplished what Moses failed to do.
  • David served Saul and achieved greater victories than Saul.
  • Elisha served Elijah and got a double portion of his power.
Each one of these men remained faithful until the end. Elijah explained this prerequisite when Elisha asked him for a double portion of his power. “…If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee….” (II Kings 2:10).
Jesus made the same stipulation when He said to His disciples, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). The word saved is the Greek word sozo, which can refer to physical, emotional, or spiritual vibrancy. During the ministry of Jesus, many disciples became offended and stopped following Him, but Jesus said of those who remained faithful:
“…The works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
The faithful disciples had a double portion of Jesus’ power because the Holy Spirit was sent to them. And, through the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, they accomplished great things for God. Let’s purpose now to follow their example by faithfully following Jesus until the end.

Follow Very Closely!

The crowds followed Jesus, but only those closest to Him heard the rich teaching He gave along the way. There were others who followed Him from afar. (See John 19:38.) John followed Jesus as closely as he could. As a result, John heard rich truths, which he shares in his writings.
Closeness is determined by how well we can hear Jesus speak to us, and this ability is determined by how much we meditate on His Word day and night.
John was one of the three who were in Jesus’ “inner circle.” He was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and on the mount of Calvary. He sat right next to Jesus at the Last Supper and wanted to sit next to Him in His kingdom. Because of this very close relationship, John shared truths from Jesus that are found in no other gospel or epistle.
For example, John recorded the secret of intimate fellowship and effective discipleship through meditation on the commands of Christ. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). John further emphasized the importance of meditation when he wrote, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Secrets bind the spirits of people together. Jesus wants to share His secrets with us, but we must follow closely to hear them.
Does your walk with Jesus allow Him to whisper secrets to you, or does He have to shout to get your attention? The more you meditate on Christ’s words, the closer your walk with Him will be!

Use Transformed “Rods”!

Meditation is imagining the action involved in carrying out the command. For example, imagine what would happen if you were Peter or Andrew and heard Jesus’ call to follow Him and be made a fisher of men. There is a principle here.
Jesus will take our talents and skills and transform them for eternal achievement. This is what He did with Matthew’s experience as a tax collector. Matthew teaches more about money in his Gospel than any other writer. The same principle is true with David; his shepherding skills were transformed by God into tools with which to shepherd, or care for, the whole nation of Israel. The skills he used for the sheep were applied to taking care of people. “So he [David] fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:72). However, before God can use our skills, something must happen.
God will use whatever we bring to Him, but it must first be transformed by an action on our part. That action is demonstrated by the rod of Moses.
When God called Moses to follow Him back to Egypt and deliver the nation of Israel from bondage, He asked Moses to cast down his rod. That rod represented his skill and livelihood as a shepherd. The rod became a snake and was so terrifying that Moses fled from it. What a precise picture of personal skills and abilities that are not dedicated to God.
Once the rod was given to God and seen in a totally new light by Moses, God told him to pick it up. When he did, it was transformed into a new rod. No longer was it referred to as the rod of Moses, but rather the rod of God, and with it God was able to accomplish great and mighty deeds, which brought much glory to Him.
God will not use our skills or abilities, but He will transform them into His skills and abilities when we place them at His feet.
As a young boy I had an interest in drawing, but I had no unusual skill. However, when I dedicated my body to God at about the age of twelve, God took my interest in drawing and directed it to chalk art. As a result, millions of people have received spiritual encouragement and direction from the drawings. What “rods” do you presently have in your hand that are going to “bite you” if you don’t give them to God today?

Fish With Light!

As we continue meditating on Christ’s second command, we see that the ultimate purpose for following Jesus is to become fishers of men. God loves people, and He wants us to draw as many as we can to Him; it is not His will that any should perish. But how will He make us effective fishermen? The answer is found in an understanding of fishing methods of Christ’s day.
Peter and Andrew were fishing with nets during the day. That is when Jesus called them. However, James and John were mending their nets, indicating that they fished at night, which can be far more effective.
God’s way to fish is to attract people with Christ’s light in us and then draw them in with nets of love.
It is for the purpose of drawing people to Christ that Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and Paul wrote, “Ye are light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The intensity of the brightness of our light is directly proportional to our meditation day and night, because Scripture itself is light. When it becomes a living part of our lives, we increase our brightness.
Scripture states, “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130) and “…it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:15). It is especially significant that God relates His commandments to the function of light: “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).
At night, the fishermen in Jesus’ day suspended lamps out from the boat and attracted fish to the light. Scripture states that the word of God is a “lamp” and a “light” (Psalm 119:105).
Is our light bright enough to attract others to Christ, and do we have enough love to draw them in?
The reason that Christ’s commands are so effective in drawing people to Christ is that they are all practical expressions of loving God and loving one another. In fact, Jesus explained that the entire Law and prophets hung on two commands: loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Let’s turn up our light by intensifying our meditation day and night!

Reject Deceptive Lures!

When we think of fishing, we tend to picture a fisherman with rod and reel. He is casting out his line with bait and hook. The bait is designed to look as close to the real thing as possible.
When the fish bite the bait, they are hooked and reeled in. Would this be a method that Jesus would use to draw people to the Gospel? Imagine the conflict and turmoil of such a “catch”! These “fish” were not drawn to the light but drawn to deceptive bait. They expected one thing and got another.
Attracting people with lures rather than light will draw “light haters” into the church, and their mission will be to extinguish the light.
Haters of light are committed to a way of life that is contrary to the holy standards of God’s Word. Jesus describes them by saying, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20–21).
Paul understood the damage that results from using deceptive lures. He wrote, “We … have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:1–2). The word deceitfully is translated from the Greek word doloo, which means “to adulterate for the sake of personal gain.” Mixing the Gospel with human traditions is an example of this adulteration.
Mixing the light of Christ with the lusts of the world is a contradiction to the Gospel of Christ.
John makes it very clear that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of the Father, but are of the world. Therefore, if we use things that are not of God to lure people to God, we are contradicting the very message we preach.
May God give us discernment to attract people by the brilliant light of Christ rather than the clever manipulation of deceptive lures!

Record Your Progress!

Congratulations on finishing the second week of daily meditation. By now the living power of God’s Word should be having a significant effect upon your life and the lives of those around you. Today is an excellent day to record what is happening. Such a record is important for the following reasons:
  1. Your written report proves to your family that you are committed to daily success.
  2. It forces you to honestly evaluate how consistent and effective you have been.
  3. It encourages your family to trust you because you are in daily contact with God.
  4. It creates a longing in your family to seek after the God you love.
  5. It preserves a valuable record for your children and their children.
Ten years from now, your Daily Success journal will be a powerful encouragement to you. Fifty years from now, it will be an inspiring challenge to your descendants.
It is important that you record victories and defeats in daily meditation. It is also important to note the responses of others in your family. Here are some examples:
This week I started strong, but things at work piled up and crowded out my meditation. I now see that the less I meditated, the more pressure I experienced.
I have been quoting Scripture back to God while going to sleep, and it has definitely improved my quality of rest. I did, however, have some unusual dreams.
One night I went to bed with a question, and during the night God gave me the answer. This was a thrilling experience!
I was encouraged when my young son asked me what it meant to meditate day and night. I was able to explain it to him, and now he wants to join me.
Meditation should not be something we have to stop to do, but should become a natural expression of our thoughts throughout the day.
Millions of people today find tremendous strength and encouragement because one man was faithful in writing out his daily experiences of meditation. His name is David—a man after God’s own heart!

I've given you a taste of the first two weeks of the  Daily Success Program, if you like what you see please leave me a comment and I'll send you an invite to get the emails in your own inbox. There is no charge at all, just a pile of challenges!

No comments: