Mark 10:28-30 (NIV) – Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receivea hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
“But the same Mediator who makes us individuals is also the founder of a new fellowship. He stands in the centre between my neighbour and myself. He divides, but he also unites. Thus although the direct way to our neighbour is barred, we now find the new and only real way to him – the way which passes through the Mediator.” – [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.100]
As we leave everyone and everything to follow Christ, his promise is that we will receive far more than we left behind, including a new home, new family and new suffering, along with eternal life. The individual call leads to the true community of God, following Him!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for joining us alongside others who have also left everything to follow you! We ask that you would deepen our relationships with one another light of the following of Christ and for a new generation of disciples to come!
Join in God’s heart for more to come through this song “The Glory of Our King” (click here) by Matt Redman.
John 21:17b-22 (NIV) – Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
“Through the call of Jesus men become individuals. Willy-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.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.94]
Prayer: Lord, it’s amazing your individual care to restore Peter and each one of us. Your call to follow you is also individual – Lord, help me to hear your call and like Peter, once more to make my individual choice to follow you, no matter what others do!
We follow not a religion, but a risen Lord! Let’s sing to him through “Christ is Risen” (click here) by Phil Wickham.
Mark 8:31, 34-36 (NIV) – He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.89]
Taking up our cross is not the same as Jesus dying on THE cross (which was a once-for-all sacrifice for humanity’s sin literally on a wooden cross). But it is also not entirely separate from the suffering, rejection, dying and rising of our Messiah.
Prayer: Jesus, your call is a call to follow you, to be with you, and it is a call to come and die. Lord, I choose today to deny myself, to take up my cross and to follow you!
Worship Jesus today through this song, “In Christ Alone” (click here) by Passion
Mark 10:17-22 (NIV) – As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
“The answer to the young man’s problem is – Jesus Christ…He stands face to face with Jesus, the Son of God: it is the ultimate encounter. It is now only a question of yes or no, of obedience or disobedience…The call to follow means here what it had meant before – adherence to the person of Jesus Christ and fellowship with him. The life of discipleship is not the hero-worship we would pay to a good master, but obedience to the Son of God.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.76]
Prayer: Lord, how much you love us, even that you would help identify in our lives that which stands in the way of our following of you! Lead us into true obedience to you today with the entirety of our lives – a yes to your invitation to follow you.
Let’s sing to this song, “One Thing” (Click here) by Hillsong.
Matthew 11:27-30 (NIV) – All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
“Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.45]
A yoke is a wooden crosspiece over two animals pulling a cart or plow so that the animals are forced to move in the same direction. True rest and true freedom is not freedom from a yoke, but rather to be yoked to Jesus – and Jesus’s invitation is for us to choose to take his yoke upon us.
Prayer: Lord, help us hear your invitation to come to you and find rest. It is your grace that calls us to take your yoke upon us and to learn from you and that is something to be guarded and treasured. We willingly submit ourselves and the direction of our lives to you once again today!
Let’s worship to the song, “Jesus, Only Jesus”(Click here) by Martin Smith.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-17, 23-24 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God. They cannot be numbered! Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Prayer: “Father, thank you for the ways you have shown the depths of your love and care over my life. ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me! Search my heart and point out anything in me that offends you.’ Help me to stay walking closely in your love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) – For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) – And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
“The answer comes through the biblical echoes in verses 28 and 29. Paul is referring, not to any Gentile who happens to make a special moral effort, but to those who have God’s law written on their hearts by the Spirit…In line with the prophecies of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, and for that matter with the explosive spiritual experience of all the early Christians, Paul believed that through Jesus the Messiah Israel’s God had renewed the covenant, and was now welcoming into that new family all those, irrespective of ethnic background and hence of outward badges like circumcision, who believed the gospel. He is here sketching in, very briefly, the much fuller picture of the Christian life, of the renewal of the heart by God’s Spirit.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part 1, pp. 40-41]
Prayer: “Father, thank you that you have taken out the stony, stubborn heart and have given me a new, tender and responsive heart. Would you fill me with your Spirit that I bear fruit for your praise and your glory! In Jesus’ Name. Amen”
Romans 2:21-22 (NIV) – You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples?
Matthew 5:27-28 (NLT) – “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Romans 3:23 (NIV) – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 2:4 (NIV) – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Like our Lord Jesus said, even if we look with lust, then the sin has already been committed. Whether it is the obvious/external sins or the “not so obvious”/internal sins, we need to see that sin is sin before the Lord, because “all have sinned.” It is when we recognize the old sinful ways for what they are, we can be rightly broken and really humble about our need for God and his forgiveness and know the riches of his kindness that leads us to repentance.
Let’s ask for the Spirit’s leading to humble brokenness about the old sinful ways and patterns that we need to confess before the Lord and for the riches of God’s kindness to lead us to repentance.
Romans 2:1-3 (MSG) – Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard?
Here is an example of how we can pridefully try to avoid or deflect God’s truth from piercing our hearts when it needs to. It doesn’t take much for us to relate to this. When specific areas of our lives is graciously being pointed out or when correction comes our way – what is often our first response – “why me?”, “but, ‘so and so’ does this and that”, “why aren’t they being corrected?”
When I get a speeding ticket, one of the first responses I have is to ask – “why didn’t the cop catch the other car that was going faster than me?” I avoid admitting, that of course, I was speeding too.
God sees right through our “smoke screens.”
Let’s pray for the humility to see what we need to see that is hindering in our lives before the Lord and to welcome God’s truth to pierce through in our hearts for greater transformation.
Let’s close in prayer with the song, “Inside Out” (Click here) by Hillsong.
Ephesians 4:20-24 (NLT) – But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
“So what Paul is urging the young Christians is that they allow this teaching of Jesus to have its full effect in their lives. Now that they are ‘in Christ,’ they have the responsibility, in the power of the Spirit, to take off the old lifestyle, the old way of being human, like someone stripping off a shabby and worn suit of clothing. It may have become comfortable. You may be used to it, and even quite like it. Familiar old clothes are often like that, and brand new ones often feel a bit strange. But if you want to live as a new person in and for the King, the old suit of clothes has to come off, and the new one has to go on.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, p. 52]
Let’s pray and ask for the Spirit’s help to see the old prideful ways that need to be taken off, to be renewed in our thoughts and attitudes and to put on the new in Christ.
Let’s close in worship to the song, “All Things New” (Click here) by Elevation Worship.