Thoughtful Thursday: What It Means To Follow Jesus

Job 23:8-12

“If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him. In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him. But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold. My feet have followed his steps closely; I have kept to his way and have not turned asideI have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion.”

1 Corinthians 11:1-2

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” 

John 10:27

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

1 Peter 2:21 

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Job says he does not see God, nor what He is doing – yet he has followed Him closely.  How is that?  How are we to follow Jesus when our experience of Him has been in faith?  Job understands – He followed God before Jesus came.  We follow God after Jesus came.  Both are in faith.  We were not there when He rose from the dead, nor when He walked among man, yet today we can hear His voice and follow Him.

His voice might not be audible to others around us, but to our souls it is clear.  God speaks to us directly to our spirit, through other people and through His word.  Sometimes it is when we least expect it and other times when we are seeking Him it seems hard to hear anything at all.  In either time, it is our will that is set to do God’s will that makes all of the difference.  When God seems silent, like Job, we can admit that we do not see His activity, but trust that He sees us completely.  Job obeyed God and he treasured His word, even when the chips were down.  That is what it means to follow God.

As a parent, I hope more than anything that my children will see that my love for God is genuine.  How will this be evident to them, that I am a follower of Jesus?  They see me seeking Him daily, but they also need to see the hands and feet of Jesus, lived out in me.  They need to see integrity and selflessness, they need to see character.  These attributes cannot be faked or put on – that would be religion – they become part of us the more time that we spend with Jesus.

When troubles come as they did for Job, people need to see in us that we are not a sunshine follower, but a follower and believer in God in all times of life.  Following Jesus includes following Him into dark valleys, trusting that He will use those places of suffering for our good.  He was acquainted with persecution and hardship, in fact He chose to walk that path.  We who follow Him must be willing to follow in all aspects of life.  When we are afraid to follow, we can ask him to give us courage and strength to do so.  Our following might not look perfect, but that is where a true follower acknowledges their faults and glorifies our perfect God in those moments.

Seeking to honor God with our lives and letting others see Him through us is our goal, but we are often wandering off the path and do not perceive it.  I am so grateful that God sees it all – His Holy Spirit reveals when we are off track and need reminders.  If we listen to that inner voice and choose to obey rather than just go our own way and rationalize, there is the sweetest peace and fellowship with God that beats by far following our own way.

Lord, help our lives to be hidden in You.  May our relationship with You inspires those who come behind us to know You, worship You and seek You fervently.  Your way is perfect – help us to follow You even when we do not understand.  

If the words of this blog have ministered to you, perhaps the songs I have written will, too.  Learn more at:  Thank you and God bless you!

Which Way is Right?

Proverbs 16:2

“All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives.”

Psalm 81:12

“I gave them over to their stubborn desires; they did what seemed right to them.”

Here we are again on Thoughtful Thursday.  I am so grateful for the wisdom God gives us in His Word.  Reading the book of Proverbs is like drinking refreshing water for the soul.  Today I was struck by the verses above, one from Proverbs and one from the Psalms.  Evaluating truth has become very complex today – determining what is right is almost considered being judgmental – in truth, we stumble over its simplicity.

Who is right today?  So many differing political and religious opinions – how can we know truth?  It is an age old question that Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:28, “What is truth?”  Pressed by all those who were claiming many falsehoods about Christ, Pilate knew that Christ embodied the truth – He was truth personified – and yet Pilate caved and acquiesced to the voices that were louder.  The people wanted an insurrectionist, a murderer, a terrorist, if you will, released – Barabbas – not God.  Not truth, but a lie.  Claiming innocence, he still did not lead according to truth, but according to peer pressure.  Sound familiar?

Left to our own devices, we are easily led astray, too – that is the natural drift.  We think so many thoughts in a day, I cannot fathom counting them all, yet God knows each and every one.  Amazing.  God can reveal our inner heart if we ask Him to help us recognize our hidden motives.   Running our thoughts through the filter of God’s Word and through prayer helps us to discern whether our thinking is godly and right.  Only He can evaluate our thoughts accurately and justly – we lack the objectiveness and sincerity.  Top that off with the reality that our own hearts within us are deceitful.  Bummer.  But laying down our agendas again and again, surrendering our way to His Word is a great start and lifestyle.

We have all heard the WWJD phrase, and I believe it was helpful, at first.  But complacency and rationalization often keep me lulled into a sense of “I’m ok”, and excusing myself based on my intentions rather than my actions.  I can whitewash any motive and sanctify it with nice religious sounding terms, but the Holy Spirit nudges me – do I listen?  Sometimes I just want to rest.  I want to feel like I have arrived.  But we dare not look back from the plow and cease our laboring in Christ – it will be worth it all.

God does grant us rest in Him, but we must saturate our minds in His Word to ascribe toward the mind of Christ.  Our flesh is always ready to offer an easier road, but it is a deceitful one.  Cling to God and His Word today.  Read when you don’t want to.  Do hard things and run hard after God.  God promises to give us wisdom if we cry out – He alone can reveal if the path we are on is right. Unlike Pilate, let us not be sidetracked by the multitude of opinions or political correctness.  Like Pilate, let us recognize that only Christ was truth and the source of discerning truth.  He still is today.  Recognizing Christ as LORD and truth is not the same as living that truth out in relationship.  Keep living the truth and put truth out there – lest any goodness remaining in this world become engulfed with lies.

Lord, please open up our eyes to see Your truth.  Help us to boldly proclaim your truth and not cave in to the fear of man.  God help us and have mercy on us!