Blessings of Following Jesus Christ

At times like this – when life is disrupted from normal routines – it is easy to become frustrated, anxious and discouraged. Disciples of Jesus Christ are not exempt. When we choose to follow Jesus, we surrender everything. We give up our rights, our privileges, our entitlements, our wills to the King on the throne of our hearts. Our posture is to be one of “What are your orders?”

In our humanity it is tempting (and easy) to focus on everything we give up for Jesus Christ. Considering what He gave up for our redemption, it pales in comparison. Yes, there is sacrifice. No, it is not all easy. At the same time, by focusing on ourselves we lose sight of the wonder of salvation. In addition, we fail to see the incredible blessings of being one of Jesus’ disciples. These blessings apply to all believers in all cultures around the world at all times. They do not promise physical and material (health & wealth) blessings some false gospels claim.

To the contrary, consider these words from Scripture:

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Blessings come to us because they are promised by God. They are not dependent on circumstances, but, rather, on who God is. During this time of uncertainty about the future, I believe it is critical to ground ourselves in the truth of God’s Word and His promises. These are not temporary blessings that dissolve with an unexpected setback but promises and blessings that are grounded in eternal realities. During the month of May, I want to call each of us to consider a blessing each day for every disciple of Jesus Christ along with several verses of Scripture. I encourage you to claim these promises… these blessings and meditate on the Scriptures throughout the day.

Prayer Update

Philippians 4:6–7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Even though we aren’t meeting collectively today, we have the opportunity and responsibility to bring our concerns, our thanks, and our requests before the Creator and sustainer of the entire universe. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the privilege and value of regularly meeting… being together… encouraging each other… being the Body of Christ!  Let’s not take that for granted.

At a time like this when you see the panic, hysteria, and paranoia of society in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is an incredible opportunity to show our neighbors and those we see in the store a sense of peace and calm that comes from putting our trust and confidence in Someone greater than ourselves.

Fear is of Satan… peace is of God.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Historically at times like this, it is Christians who step up and put their own lives at risk in order to help others. We saw this with the Ebola virus in Africa several years ago. Believers have the willingness and courage to help those in need because we have the assurance of our standing with God — forgiven and redeemed — and we are willing to sacrifice the comforts of this transient life to show others the love of God and His care for them. It is a daily dying to self — it is being willing to give up my life to help others, not just figuratively, but literally.

This is not a time to careless and flippant — however, it is a time to live and act with courage and confidence because our hope is not in this life — but in the life to come.

We live in a fallen and sinful world. Because of that, there will be disease, natural disasters, tragic accidents, and many other difficult situations we face. Let’s not become so consumed with and attached to the present world we no longer yearn for the better life to come in eternity.

Let’s intentionally use this time to draw closer to God… let’s allow God to purify our hearts and cleanse our hands. As we do so, God will inevitably identify areas of our lives that require surrender and change. Let’s submit to the Holy Spirit’s plea.

James 4:7–10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Let’s use today and this coming week as a time of focused prayer… the needs of our own hearts… the needs of our congregation… the needs of our community…. the needs of our nation… and also that this national emergency would be seen as an opportunity to show the life-changing love of Jesus to those we come in contact with.

Blessings to each of you today (and this week)!