“Come, Follow Me” – How Ready and Willing Am I?

Come, Follow Me

“Come, follow me, Grandma!” My grandson yelled over his shoulder as he grabbed his sled and sped down the steep snow-laden hill. The sun brightened the day, but failed to soften the biting crispness of the winter air. With fingers numbing in the cold and heals dug in, I hesitated, evaluating the outcome and standing in reluctance. For generations, our family enjoyed sledding together down these familiar slopes. The pages of my photo album chronicle many such outings.

Today was different!

As I stood on the crest of the hill, I realized I wasn’t as young as I once was. Broken bones don’t heal quite as quickly as they once did. My aging body doesn’t flex like it did a few decades ago. But alas, fun called! I lassoed my courage in one giant breath, lifted my heals and pushed off. Wind and snow pelted my face, forcing icy crystals around my neck and blurring my vision. Holding frantically to the inner tube beneath me, I creased my eyes tight as I veered off course, slamming into a bluff of shrubs and trees. With limbs intact, I flung my arms wide in the air, signalling triumph to the onlookers (laughing wildly, I might add). Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and smile in the remembrance. 

Waiting and watching

This invitation was risky, but invitations come in many forms. Invitations to weddings, baby showers, dinners with friends, picnics or vacations. Someone thought of us. Someone values our presence. The response to the invitation rests with each one of us. Will we pass up the opportunity, or be counted in?

Sometimes, we consider the cost more carefully. Future outcomes lay hidden. Resulting consequences questionable. “Come, follow me!” should cause us to ask at least a few questions before we jump on board. 

“Come, Follow Me.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed him.” 
Mark 1:17,18

Simon and Andrew never requested a legal contract validating Jesus’ ability to lead or adequately compensate them for their efforts. “At once” they followed. A little further down the beach, Jesus summoned two more fishermen, the brothers James and John.

Birds on water

Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat
with the hired men and followed him.”
Mark 1:20 

Don’t be confused! Their decision carried serious consequences. When they walked away from their father and the fishing business, they also left security, a predictable income, and peer credibility. They chose Jesus above their families and any earthly benefits. Jesus called these dedicated, mature business owners into futures they could not yet comprehend. 

Jesus recognized qualities in these hardworking men that would be essential for the demanding ministry ahead. Though rough around the edges, Jesus noticed in them the ingredients of greatness. His invitation to “Come, follow me!” held unprecedented risk — ultimately costing them their lives. 

Followers

Eventually, the numbers of people following Jesus aroused the suspicion of many, the jealousy of others, and the anger of still more. The multitudes which followed sought healing, deliverance, and food for their bellies. Others followed out of curiosity. A few followed with evil intent, waiting to catch Jesus in his words. 

Come Follow Me

The outward appearance of this rag-tag group of disciples concealed the mighty world-changers they would become. Jesus chose those who would be passionately committed and deeply involved in the work of ministry. He sought those who would courageously stand in the face of adversity and death. All-in, nothing held back, trusting, independent, and teachability! 

Many God honoring men and women turned and walked away. The cost of following Jesus was greater than they were willing to make. A wealthy young man in Matthew 19 is a prime example.

Since childhood, to the best of his ability, he lived for God. Yet, he knew he lacked something. He asked Jesus what more he could do.

” . . . sell your possession and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21

Sadly, he walked away, hoping to find an easier path, a cheaper alternative, a less painful option.

Everyone Come

Our response to Jesus’ call to “come, follow me” reveals more about the motivations of our hearts than we realize. Just maybe, His invitation discloses how deeply we hold to the temporary pleasures and comforts of the world.

The open invitation to follow Jesus still stands. Unfortunately, we too often relate to the wealthy young man or those in the parable of a banquet. Jesus says that everything is prepared and waiting for anyone willing to come. Throughout the streets and byways, messengers announced the good news.

Come, for everything is now ready. But they all alike began to make excuses.”
Luke 14:17-18

Though their reasons appeared valid and their response polite, they all missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the core, they all made excuses! Funny, how much validity we give to our frail reasoning. The Master in the parable knew both the weakness of their arguments and inevitable consequences of their failure to respond.

Compel Them

The Master became outraged by the feeble responses. The parable foretells a wedding celebration unlike any other. The union of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. It speaks with urgency.

Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame . . . Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Luke 14:21-23

Ducks Diving

Excuses won’t matter then! The Master will fill the seats — if not with us, with others.

Every invitation requires preparation, setting aside other commitments, our time, and perhaps gifts. “Come, follow me!” carries a price, too. Our dedication to Jesus means more than lounging at banquet tables or sitting idly under shady trees.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:38

The cross for some may seem insignificant, but for others weighty. In following we become servants, messengers, and ministers caring for the needs of others above our own. In following, we commit everything we are and have to Him. We are no long our own; “we have been bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

The Reward

The rewards of following Jesus Christ are greater than could be compiled within a blog or list!

  • He lifts our burdens (Matt 11:28)
  • “Come, follow me!” leads us from the familiar into the miracle-moving, water-walking impossible (Matt 14:19, 28-29)
  • It brings us into the place of blessing and inheritance (Matt 25:34)
  • It welcomes us and others into the kingdom of God (Mk 1:17)
  • He provides quietness and rest (Mk 6:31)
Geese Lead and Follow

” . . . Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John 7:37-38

We’ve all heard those get-it-now, time-limited offers. Though it may not seem like it, Jesus’ invitation fits into a similar category. When He returns, it will be too late. The doors will be closed and further access denied, unless you have already accepted His invitation to “Come, follow me!” Let’s not allow anything to keep us from responding.

” . . . I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

Today, acknowledge the invitation. Jesus welcomes all to RSVP, “Yes, Lord, today I come!”

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Get A Hold of This! Philippians 3:12 – Apprehended by God

I am beginning to view Philippians 3 from a new perspective. To be apprehended by God should not be taken lightly or treated frivolously. Jesus Christ has “taken hold of” my life and determines my course of action.

I work part time as a guard for the local police force. In my job, I have the privilege of seeing mankind both at its worst and its best. Where darkness dwells, the Light shines all the more brightly. I only get called to work when someone has been “apprehended,”

arrested and brought into custody,
usually handcuffed and sometimes shackled,
locked behind bars,
removed from freedom 
and detained until further notice.

Apprehended

In the New International Bible Version, Philippians 3:12 states, “Christ Jesus took hold of me.” This week an acquaintance pointed out a different, more accurate, translation:

“Not as though I have already attained,
either were already perfect;
but I follow after, if indeed I may apprehend
that for which also I am
apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:12

Somehow, to me, the word “apprehend” sounds much more forceful than “took hold.” It makes me sit up and take notice, almost like when my Dad wanted to get my attention about a serious matter. I think, that’s the point! That word “apprehend” means to “take with force, aggressively attaining, and seizing with eagerness.”

Paul compares it to pursuing the ultimate prize in public sports — the winner’s ribbon attained only through eager, strenuous exertion. It may define how God has “apprehended” me, but does it accurately represent how I am “apprehending” what God has called me to? 

“In Christ we can never say “can’t”
to what He called us to do.
We can say that we “will not” or “did not,”
but we can never say we “can not.”
He has given us His strength.”
– Rick Joyner

It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily swirl of activity. But that busyness can distract us from the main thing, the ultimate purpose, for our being apprehended by God.

Apprehend

Connie Inglis of Inscribe Christians Writers provided the inspiration for this blog. She encouraged us as writers to press into our call to blog, journal, publish and compose.

“Brothers and sisters,
I do not consider myself yet
to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,”
Philippians 3:13

I wholeheartedly agree with Paul. I have not yet “taken hold of it.” As a matter of fact, there are times when I am downright resistant to the process of “seizing, straining and taking by force.” At times I even prefer to run in the opposite direction from the call of God on my life. 

Only weeks ago, my Heavenly Father grabbed me again but the proverbial cuff of the neck and in no uncertain terms reminded me, “What I have called you to, is impossible for you. You CANNOT do it! But I CAN! Will you let me?” 

Somewhere in the process, I erroneously began to think the call of God was somehow mine — up to me to fulfill. I was cowering under the misplaced weight of responsibility. I needed the reminder that it was and is never about me. It is and always will be about Him. He alone can fulfill His destiny for my life.

He does ask for my willingness — my “Yes, Lord.” 

So before God set my feet on the ground again, I did just that. Honestly, I am grateful for the attitude adjustment. Thankfully, He loves enough to provide it. Now I can get back to the “one thing” He has called me to — share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Being apprehended by God cannot be taken lightly.

One Thing

It impossible to safely operate a vehicle while continuously looking in the rear view mirror. The distraction will ultimate lead to a collision in some way, shape or form. By looking ahead, one’s focus remains on the “one thing” that God has called us each to do. Know your destination. The destination will determine your route. 

“…But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,”
Philippians 3:13

Our goal is to “apprehend that for which also I am apprehended.” I am apprehended by God to share biblical truth in any way possible: writing, speaking, teaching; painting or illustrating.  What is your one thing? There is a God call upon your life, What is it? Finance, education, medicine, ministry, or whatever? What have you been apprehended by God to do?

Oswald Chambers wrote the following in “My Utmost For His Highest” (June 28). Wherever there is a blank, insert the one thing God has called you to.

“Never choose to be a _______;
but when once God has put His call on you,
woe be to you if you turn
to the right hand or to the left.
We are not here to ________ for God
because we have chosen to do so,
but because God has apprehended us.
There is never any thought of,
“Oh, well, I am not fitted for this.”
What you are to ________ is determined by God,
not by your own natural inclinations…
when it comes to the call to _______,
there must be the agonizing grip
of God’s hand on you,
your life is in the grip of God
for that one thing.”

Pressing On

Once we sense the seriousness of being apprehended by God and clearly see the purpose of His calling, we press into Him, toward that  goal. 

“I press on toward the goal
to win the prize for which
God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14

For this one thing, we press forward  We reach toward the goal. We stretch to apprehend (violently taking and possessing) the call of God on our lives. Not for us, our glory or benefit, but for His.

God has no favorites. Every individual is precious to Him. But like in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30), some people have been given little responsibility while others have been given much. We don’t look over our shoulder at the portion of others. We simply honour God with what we have, using it to expand His Kingdom.

What God has for you is good! What He has for me is equally good! When you stand on the heavenly podium to receive your prize, I will applaud your accomplishments. So will multitudes of others. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1

Run, stretch, reach and pursue! Your prize awaits! You are an earth changer, a kingdom builder, apprehended by God. A paradox exists within the apprehending. Our agreement to God’s call ultimately sets us on a path of freedom. Here alone will we discover complete satisfaction and an exhilarating life more fulfilling than we could ever have imagined.

The call of God is the key to unlocking multiple doors of opportunity, advancement and adventure. But it also comes with a price — being apprehended by God.

Answer the Call – Responding Immediately, “Yes, Lord!”

Respond Immediately

Why is the cry from our lips, “More Lord?” If we follow the pattern of the early disciples, our response will more often be a resounding “Yes, Lord!”

Today such a reaction is counter-cultural. I am amazed by how quickly and completely these men and others answered the call to an obedient and sacrificial “Yes!” Were they fully committed? Definitely!

Joseph

We find an honourable young man and woman in the process of planning and preparing for their wedding. Full of love for each, they anticipate and dream about many wonderful years ahead.

Then the unexpected! Mary is pregnant! Joseph wanted to do what was the very best according to the law with the greatest compassion toward Mary.

“Joseph…did not want to expose her to public disgrace,
he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Matthew 1: 19

In this midst of the agony of “obvious” betrayal, an angel appears to him in a dream confirming what Mary had tried to explain already. Joseph believes the unbelievable, the child is conceived of the Holy Spirit!

Pregnancy

When Joseph woke up,
he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him…”
Matthew 1: 24

Joseph didn’t wrestle for days or even hours to weigh the implications. Neither did he allow emotion or sound reasoning to dissuade him. He responded immediately!

Joseph’s, “Yes, Lord!” would cost him his reputation and alienation from friends and family. When Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s home town, to register for taxes no one received them. Aunts and uncles, cousins, and perhaps siblings lived here. No room! There was no room for this family!

Another dream, another angel, another message, another “Yes, Lord!” For the sake of his wife and family he would become a refugee without securities of homeland. In fact, we see Joseph so loved and obeyed God that there would be a pattern of laying himself down in order to do the will of God.

Don’t skim through the lines thinking these were easy choices. Joseph’s sacrificial “Yes!” came at a great price! God chose well who to establish as the step-father for His Son. He could trust Joseph to obey!

Simon Peter

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew
casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Mark 1:16-18

“At once!”

They didn’t immediately leave the family business, assets and industry because Jesus was a world renowned leader with a huge following and giant reputation. This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Peter and Andrew were the first to follow!

There were no contracts explaining personal benefits! No explanation of the ministry or mission plan! No introduction to a pension plan or benefit package!

Fishermen Galilee

“I will send you out to fish for people,” sounds quite vague to my always questioning mind.

What was so compelling? Why did they leave the “sure thing” of financial security? What drew them instantly to their, “Yes, Lord!”

More “Yes, Lord!”

More would follow!

James and John, the sons of Zebedee,

immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Matthew 4:22

Such immediate response is beyond understanding. They were laying everything down for the sake of Christ. Everything!

Can you feel the heart of Zebedee in this encounter? Later, he would perhaps understand, but right now was difficult. He wasn’t as young as he once was. He depended on his boys to carry on the family business and help him in his retirement.

Yes, Lord Anywhere

Life ahead would be radically different from everything they knew.

Others would join them in similar fashion.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi
sitting in the tax collector’s booth.
Jesus said to him, Follow me!
 
So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.”
Luke 5:27-28

Questions and Doubts

Some of John’s disciples would shift ranks and follow this Jesus. First they weighed the odds, asked many questions and tested Jesus’ ministry.

Other’s like Nathaneal would initial scoff. Some would refuse the call altogether choosing rather to stay in their place of normal. Family, security and reputation are hard to risk!

Wealth

God probably isn’t asking such a great price from you. But then, maybe He is!

Just this past week I met another young couple leaving all with a resolute, “Yes, Lord!” as they venture to another unreached people group. Neither they nor their destination can be disclosed for their own protection. We send our best; it is the best whom Jesus calls.

I wish I could testify that I too have consistently and quickly said “Yes, Lord!” Unfortunately, it has not been so! I am challenged in my level of willingness to yield wholly and immediately to His voice.

The voice of Jesus calling more followers may come through the bible as one reads and studies. Perhaps, it will come through a dream or vision. It may come through an open opportunity under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

May my response be as immediate and complete as other followers of the Messiah. On the backs of their obedience we can trace the expansion of Christianity worldwide. They knew nothing of the impact they would have. Nothing!

Before the crowds and miracles,
without powerful messages, sermons or teaching,
even recklessly and irrationally,
with limited understanding or foreknowledge,
they said, “Yes, Lord!”

Yet, they put in action to their, “Yes, Lord!” and followed him – not perfectly, but completely. It is never too early or too late to do the same. Join the chorus of others. Say, “Yes, Lord” when you sense He is calling you to motion!

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