A misconception people often have in dealing with life’s challenges is that it’s wrong to ask “why” – that a Christian simply accepts and never questions.
When we consider Abraham, Moses and King David, they all struggled at times to understand God. But the lives of these men, model for us a total reliance onGod, even in the midst of their questioning.
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us….” (1 Jn. 1:3)
“Why?” was the question written across the face of the seven-year-old as his grandparents, Bob and Meg, tried to coax him to leave his favorite new gadget in the car as they prepared to treat him to dinner. At that age, Russell would losehimself in all sorts of electronic paraphernalia and technology such as television, game consoles and at that moment the latest craze happened to be the musicplayer - the iPod.
Grandpa Bob explained, “because I want you to be with us and enjoy the dinner and the company, while we are together.”
Russell began to cry, simply not understanding what that meant… Finally, persuaded to go in empty–handed, they all left the parking lot for the restaurant.
Now as young Russell took part in the meal and table conversation, Meg observed a group of young folk at another table. Most of them were texting on their cell phones, barely interacting with those at their table. That was quite a contrast from what was happening at Meg’s table. Actually it was as different as day and night!
After an enjoyable dinner, Bob and Meg went back to their home before taking the young boy to his home. On their return, they found that Russell had forgotten his iPod, leaving it behind on his grandmother’s coffee table. So much for technology when you are having real fun!
Have you ever been distracted lately?
In our day, being focused is a prized virtue. The ability to overcome the myriad distractions is surely a major victory.
Jesus was never distracted. Jesus demonstrated for us focused goal pursuit. While His disciples doubted His ability to fulfill His purpose; He set His face like flint and pressed on toward Calvary. Then the crowds misunderstood His authority and intentions, but He kept on keeping on with His mission.
While we, His modern-day disciples, fall by the wayside in being unfaithful to our commitment in prayer, He still is faithful to His promises. But there is an area in which Jesus is un-indulgent.
If He were to share His opinion today, He would be accused of being narrow minded and possibly a bigot. However, as far as He is concerned this promise IS conditional and there is no other option:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Our nation is in need of healing today. So search your heart to see if there are any distractions in your way.
If God shows you that distraction from prayer is a failure in your life, confess it and ask for God’s help to overcome it.
“…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)
As modern day disciples of Jesus Christ, we are fortunate that the leader we choose to follow hid nothing from His followers. Unlike some of our present day leaders around the world, one thing He could never be accused of is deception.
Jesus frankly outlined what is to befall those who seek to follow Him. You and I are living at a day and age in which we can see it unfold before our eyes. He informed them saying:
• Discipleship requires self-denial and some will resist having any part of this.
• You must carefully consider the cost involved to avoid regrets in the future.
• Discipleship means bearing our cross.
• Just as He was ill-treated, so would His disciples.
• It may involve even being cast out of places of worship. In my life time our brothers and sisters in the secret church have been thrown out of their place of worship, brutally bloodied and wounded; their Bibles and song books destroyed and their furniture demolished. That is the price they paid for following Jesus in our day.
Jesus warned his disciples saying:
• The world would hate them. • Suffering and deprivation is inevitable.
• When we are disciples of Jesus, persecution may come even from our loved ones.
• You may face death while the killer considers his violent act a service to God. (John 16:2) We have witnessed this recently in Egypt, in Central Asia, and also in China. In spite of the warning, the disciples of Jesus were disappointed He failed to set up His political reign on earth.
When realization dawned on them, it was too tough to swallow so they withdrew and no longer wanted to be associated with Him. (John 6:66) Jesus knew there were some who would not risk themselves with Him. He was also aware of the one who would betray Him.
Then Jesus gave the Apostles their opportunity: “Do you also want to leave?” He asked. Let us bear in mind that every one of the faithful disciples of Jesus suffered for their faith, in that day and even to the present.
They demonstrate to us what it means to deny self in service to our Lord and Master. They simply consider all the suffering just a small part of the large debt owed to God, which can never be repaid. With it comes the reward of the satisfaction of doing good, peace of mind, and the promise of a divine destiny in the glorious presence of our Maker.
So what is your choice today?
- Do you also want to a disciple in Jesus’ camp?
- Is your decision self-denial or self-indulgence?