When I Answer His Call
17 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” ~ Mark 1:17 (NKJV)
John is holding a net preparing his boat to go fishing. When along came a man who says to him, “Follow me.” How many times in history has God whispered those words to mankind that were never written down? How many times has God whispered those words to you? “Follow Me.” Two very simple short words, but oh’ how powerful! When God whispers those words into our heart of hearts our minds begin cranking! We begin to see things differently, hear people differently, live our lives differently, and pay a high cost for listening and following. “What cost?” You might ask. The cost of Gods loving is costly grace, for his son who thousands of years ago whispered into John’s ears, “Follow me.” A man who also died on the cross for our sins. His grace is costly indeed! Now instantly there is a choice we must make for we cannot ignore what love we have been given by hearing God’s voice in our hearts. The choice is quite simple, to answer His divine call or to ignore His divine call. To follow Jesus or to live separately from Jesus. The human heart and mind are in all fairness not ready for these two simple words, no one is really ready to hear the call of God. For the Bible is filled with humans who heard and wrestled with these words. Mose was not ready, Solomon, King David, and even Adam himself were not really ready! We are not ready because of sin. But when we hear God’s voice in our hearts we begin to contemplate the cost of grace, the cost of following Him. When I hear God say, “Follow Me.” I know I am blessed, I know that He walks with me, and I see His grace work throughout my life but I wrestle with what h wants me to do, I wrestle with his plan for my life, and I wrestle with following his commands when all I want to do is do what I want to do. My flesh constantly fights against the spirit, the soul is constantly at odds with the sin debt of my flesh.
Guiding Question: What do you see and hear when God’s calls to you saying, “Follow Me.”
When I Fail Him – He Restores My Soul
72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” ~ Mark 14:72 (NRSVACE)
“Follow Me!” rang in Peters’ ears. Here was a disciple of Jesus who was with Him in every part of Jesus’s ministry. A man who was active in every moment from those first words of “Follow Me.” to the last words at the last supper. Peter was told of his failure, told when it would come, and why he would do it. Peter at the time argued saying to Jesus that he would not fail him, Peter told Jesus how he loved Him, how he wanted to go with Him. In every aspect of His ministry our Lord, Jesus Christ was teaching the disciples one joint lesson and twelve mini individualized lessons every day for three years and it is those hard lessons that were meant to mold them into real disciples that would pronounce the Glory of God and who would not fail in that task! Peter was not rejected when he failed Jesus, despite what he might have thought within that horrible realization of reality when he heard the cock crow. Jesus would restore Peters’ heart and raise him to sit with Him and the other apostles, “on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” ~ Matthew 19:28 (NRSVACE) Peter, (The Rock), would be the first in the empty tomb, perhaps out of regret for his denial of Jesus, perhaps out of happiness that Jesus indeed did rise from the dead. Peter was the first to see the risen Jesus, 34 “They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon Peter!’” ~ Luke 24;34 (NRSVACE).
This example of Jesus’s grace, love, and forgiveness is offered to everyone who also fails Him daily, fails Him in moments of weakness, and fails Him when we could have been stronger in our faith. When we fail Christ, then repent and are sincere He restores our soul! Look at what He did for Peter, Look at what Christ did for Paul, and look at what Christ did for every person you may know who is a sinner. When I fail Jesus my heart sinks into my chest and tears run from my eyes. I hear the words I first promised, “I will not fail you, my Lord.”, but yet I do over and over. I fear when will he have enough of me and simply throw me away. But then in my repentance, I hear his words that Peter spoke to Jesus about forgiveness and what our Lord answered him with, “21 “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'” ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (NRSVACE). Through these words from my personal savior, I am assured that Jesus indeed is loving and fair and He would never forsake me even though I have failed Him many times over as a sinner.
Guiding Question: Deep down in your heart when you know you have sinned again God, what does He do, what words do you hear Him say to relieve your grief?
He Call’s Us as Individuals
26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:26 (NRSVACE)
Jesus indeed said some very complicated things, controversial statements, and some very worrying comments. Jesus left no room for debate about what he was demanding of us, what God demands of us all. Jesus does not want people who would be hard-hearted, unforgiving, and single-minded unable to grow in their faith and acts of mercy and charity towards their brothers and sisters. No! I tell you, my brothers and sisters, God wants growth mindset in every aspect of our lives and testimony to His many works of mercy and charity. Therefore, God tests us every day as individuals to determine our intentions so be ready for the test! As best stated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the 1937 publication of, The Cost of Discipleship, he states clearly that, “Through the call of Jesus men become individuals. Willey-nilly, they are compelled to decide, and that decision can only be made by themselves. It is no choice of their own that makes them individuals; it is Christ who makes them individuals by calling them. Every man is called separately, and must follow alone.” pg. 94.
When I received the call to follow Jesus I was four or five. I was sitting in the Southern Baptist Church and the Minister after every sermon would step off the stage and stand in front of the first pew, very close to where mom and dad had chosen to sit that day. I remember the burning sensation in my heart, the goosebumps that ran up and down my body, and the undeniable voice in my head that said, “Follow Me.” It was in that moment I wanted to stand up right there and then and walk to the Minister and profess my desire to follow Christ. But I did not, no it took me about a month or so to think it through, to contemplate what I had felt and what Jesus showed me in that instant of conversion. See Jesus showed me the hardships, the pain, the humiliation, the suffering, and the sacrifices He went through so I could be saved. My question I asked in every bedtime prayer was, “What makes me worthy of such love?” I contemplated the trials and tribulations that God would throw my way to test me. Jesus was flat out frank about what the cost of discipleship would be. He called me as an individual and I answered Him as an individual, and my walk with Christ has been my own walk, private, and singularly between Him and me. I walk with God and I can testify to you my brothers and sisters that He has never left me alone, He has never betrayed me, He has never given me more than what I could handle, He has never steered me wrong and in my greatest of pain He is my strength, my shield, my armor, and my saviour. God lives within my heart, He protects me and guides me, molds me, and teaches me. God ignites my desires to grow closer to Him, and to study His living word. God tests me every day from morning to night. He gave me the gifts of which I share with the world and all this I do through His divine inspiration and through His son’s direction. I belong to God and He is my master and I do as He would have me do, I go where He wishes me to travel too, I speak His words when He commands me too, I am His instrument and He is my greats ally and love. But in everything, I am left alone with Him as my good counsel.
Guiding Question: From the first moment you heard His voice was your life changed? Has God been all these things for you too? What makes you worthy of such love?
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