WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING???

24 04 2017

jesus-footprints

Has anybody ever taught you to do something that you always had an interest in but needed another’s expertise to make it happen? What kind of student were you? Did you learn best via reading books and being tested in a classroom setting or did your awakening happen better in the midst of just doing it with your mentor amidst the laboratory of everyday life? I may be preaching and teaching the congregation faithfully at the Lighthouse Church on Sundays, but I long to know if any of the lessons being taught are actually being caught as they are lived out the rest of the week.

Application is even more important that just dishing out information. I want the flock to be inspired but also fired up to live what they are being called by God to accomplish. To know and not do is never remaining true to the purpose of a human being created by God.

 I have come to know through the years and not always via the easiest of methods that if you ever want to learn how to go in the right direction; you best be sure that you have chosen the right leader to follow. I took my son Joel to Citi Field last weekend and while driving in Queens, New York, I was reminded of one of my favorite Dad and me stories. Dad was driving as we were leaving Shea Stadium after watching the Mets beat the Padres in an exciting doubleheader. Those of you who know me understand that I have always been geographically challenged so I was no good to my Father even back then and before you know it, we got lost. We tried to stop for directions, but the people we asked ended up arguing among each other about which way to go. It was quite hilarious. As we pulled away, my Dad noticed the car in front of us had a New Jersey License Plate so he figured that at the very least, he’d get us back to the Garden State. That is until we ended up in Connecticut. Who knew the Jersey car had relatives out of state. We eventually got home in the wee small hours of the morning. It reminded me that you can’t assume that just by following the guy or gal in front of you, you will end up in the place you want to go!   

 When it comes to faith and living the Christian life, it is not the issue of simply what you do, but far more it comes down to who and what you are. When someone becomes a Christian, older Believers tend to say, “Now that you’re a Christian you need to read the Bible and you need to pray and you need to go to church and you need to talk about Jesus to others.” That’s right and that’s true; but it is all still one step removed from the real issue because it is external and not internal enough. The New Testament actually teaches that now you’re a Christian and now that you know who you are- here is what God wants you to do, and these pages major on the inner heart and the inward graces. The worthy walk of a true disciple must begin with steps taken from the heart.

 Life is lived in 24 hour increments! This is the day the Lord has made and if we are going to obey him and rejoice in it, then we best check in with what he wants us to do. When was the last time you began your morning with a prayer like this, “Dear Lord, what do you want us to do today? Where do you want me to go? By walking in the steps of the Master, you not only end up doing what Jesus did; you also do it where Jesus did it just like he said you would do it and all along the way you are  learning to live life in total dependence upon God!

 Jesus could endure the negative circumstances. He could take all the stuff people had to dish out.

Jesus was totally in step with the Father and his step by step obedience would lead to humility which produced meekness, which produced patience, which produced holiness which produced love. I believe that this is the directives of discipleship. Following the Father in step with the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit leads to a fruitful field. And you know something? Let me just give you a little hint here, and it is when others see the footprints going to maturity, they are probably the most powerful testimony the church of Jesus Christ has. Maybe we don’t need more education; but more edification. Putting into training what we have already heard again and again and again and again!

 I’ll never forget Reinhold Niebuhr’s statement. He didn’t make too many good statements but he did make one that was interesting. He said, “The church was like Noah’s ark, if it weren’t for the storm outside you couldn’t stand the stink inside.” That’s a little strong and it’s an awful thing for somebody to have to say, but if the church just made it their priority to not just study Jesus but sincerely live with Jesus, then you know the world would sit up and take notice of us and our bringing others to Jesus would be happening more often than it is now.

 Mr. Stanley went to Africa in 1871 to find David Livingstone, he’d heard about him. He was infatuated with the man, he wanted to find him. He did find him, and it says in his little history that he spent several months in the company of David Livingstone, who by this time was an old man, and he said, “Livingstone never spoke to me about spiritual things.” Livingstone was busy doing what he was doing with Africans; Stanley was just hanging around observing.

 Throughout the months he watched the old man, and he said, Livingstone’s habits were beyond my comprehension and the thing that amazed me most was his patience. He could not understand, says his biographer that Livingstone really had such patience and sympathy. For the sake of Christ and his gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, eager and literally spending himself, in fact he spent himself for His Master’s cause. This is what Stanley wrote in his journal, “When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal, those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side though he never spoke to me one word.”  

 Isn’t that great? Sometimes you won’t have to say nearly as much if you just began to not only step into church on Sundays but be ready to step out as the church following Jesus by His Spirit on Mondays and following! Discipleship is a lot like training to run the race! Following in the footsteps of Jesus takes a holy zeal and it gives the watching world a chance to see faith that is real!


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