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If you are going to follow someone, you need to know where they’re going. Think about this long and hard because the rest of your life depends upon how deeply you agree. Walk away from your computer for a moment. Put down your tablet or your smart phone and let this really sink in before you keep reading.
“The moment you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), three new friends enter the story of your life.”
You can’t follow someone if you don’t know where they’re going. Nowhere is this more imperative than in your walk with Jesus Christ, because to be a Christian is to be a Christ follower. If you don’t know where Jesus wants to take you, and you don’t delight in genuinely following Him, you might as well have never given your life to Him as Savior.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing Jesus saves us from is the path we were on – and the path we will each pursue without Him. It is the path of following anything and anybody but Him. If your life is not characterized by the all-consuming priority of following Jesus Christ, you either veered off the path or never got on it in the first place. You may be a dabbler, but a disciple you are not.
Consider Jesus’ definition of what it looks like to follow Him, and what it means to be a disciple:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)
“Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded . . .” – Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
A DEVILISH DISCREPANCY
Jesus didn’t water down what it means to be a God-follower. We do that masterfully all by ourselves. When we look at the words of Jesus and what He says must characterize the life of a disciple, and we look at what we’ve made it in the church, there is a devilish discrepancy. This discrepancy has sapped us and the church of His power. We’ve presented an unbiblical Jesus to the masses who, at their core, desperately need Him to not only save their souls but to also transform their lives. And, this transformation is not about just our circumstances. It is about God transforming us – the very core of who we are, what we think and how we live. The more you follow Christ the less you care about your circumstances and the more you care about who you are and how you live in the midst of your circumstances.
“Maybe you’re one of the victims. Cast that half-story Gospel aside, kill and bury it – because if you allow it to live, it will definitely take you down a path, but Jesus will be nowhere to be found at its end.”
What we’ve done with Christianity is we’ve changed the message and the focus – without God’s permission. It’s subtle, and that’s what makes it especially serious. Build a home with a foundation that is off just a bit, and there will be dramatic consequences for the rest of the structure. The same is true with the change we’ve made to the foundation of the Gospel. We’ve implied to people and we’ve told them outright – by leaving out the most important part – that it’s possible to come to Jesus and be forgiven but not to absolutely depend upon Him, to cry out to Him daily, to seek Him for supernatural transformation. As a result, we don’t expect change, and we don’t expect to do the hard work of dying to ourselves that is necessary for that change. We have told people that Jesus can change their circumstances and neglected the kernel of truth that is the Gospel: Jesus can change them, and must change them, regardless of their circumstances.
If we remove the transforming power of Jesus Christ for the individual, apart from their circumstances, we are not offering them the “good news” of the Gospel. We’re robbing people of what they really need – a change from the inside-out courtesy of a surrendered life to God. Maybe you’re one of the victims. Cast that half-story Gospel aside, kill and bury it – because if you allow it to live, it will definitely take you down a path, but Jesus will be nowhere to be found at its end.
YOUR FIRST STEPS AND YOUR 3 NEW FRIENDS
Nowhere in the Bible – nowhere – is it presented that a person who truly surrenders to God doesn’t change. In some instances the change is sudden, like the conversion of Saul into the Apostle Paul (Acts 9). But in every single case, throughout the entire Bible, whenever someone truly surrenders to God the change is always dramatic. If your life is not over the course of time changing dramatically, becoming more Christ-like, you can be assured that you have not been following Christ. Christ-likeness, over time, is the clearest indicator that you have been actually following Jesus.
Coming to Christ in salvation is the first step in a new series of steps, an obvious and fundamental new direction for the rest of your life. The moment you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), three new friends enter the story of your life. They are should, must and will. If you have truly given your life to Christ you’ll extend to them the kindness they deserve. If you have truly received Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), you should, you must and you will come to Christ perpetually, because in order to really follow Jesus, you will have to first know where Jesus is taking you. God doesn’t want you to simply say you are a Christian, a Christ-follower. We already have a multitude of such people. God wants you to be what you say you are.
A LIFE-TIME OF ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS
Right now, your life is happening. Many people have had an encounter with Jesus. But if you are a Christ-follower, God has not called you to a one-time encounter with Him, but a lifetime series of encounters, each of which will be revolutionary.
A Christian is someone who isn’t merely aware of the teachings of Jesus Christ. A Christian is someone who observes His teachings. The teachings of Jesus are found in the Bible. This is the simple grandeur of John’s words about the Word:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – The Gospel of John 1:1-14 (ESV)
Consider Jesus’ words about the Bible and how they apply to Himself:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:27 (ESV)
The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ. When you read, study and apply the Bible, God’s Word, you are literally following Jesus Christ. You are heading down the right path, the path of being a disciple, a Christ-follower. The calling of a disciple, distinct from a dabbler, is to follow Jesus, to observing His commands. It is not a call to simply familiarize oneself with His teachings. The only sure way to be a disciple is to familiarize yourself with what Jesus actually taught, what He still teaches, and what He wants you to do with your life by reading and applying His Word, the Bible. Your personal transformation hinges on your knowledge – and application – of Jesus’ teachings from Genesis to Revelation.
It makes no difference if the Bible is God’s Word if you’re not reading and studying it and putting it into action. Take up your cross, daily, and follow Jesus. Observe His commands, don’t be satisfied with simply knowing them. Many dabblers do. A disciple is a Christ follower. Will you be that follower today, by reading, studying and applying His Words?
Take time over the next 30 days to prioritize you secret closet. Don’t worry about the next six months. Just do it for 30 days, and when 30 days are through simply recommit yourself to the same endeavor. Your personal transformation, from the inside-out, will take a quantum leap forward. You have God’s Word on it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In this special message for Passion Week, you’ll learn the following:
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Naturally, I would never advocate hunting indoors – but a more robust hunting ground cannot be found anywhere on earth than in the privacy of your very own secret closet. Your secret closet is theultimate hunting spot, where you will bag fresh insights from the very mouth of God.
Each time you enter your “closet” you must do so with the attitude of a hunter bent on catching fresh prey. The “prey” you’ll seek each time is a fresh insight from God resulting from direct, face to face time with Him. Bring this hungry attitude with you and your secret closet time will be a genuine game changer. (Pun intended).
BUT WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY?Since when did you give your emotions permission to run your life? You may have unintentionally done so, as many have these days. But you can reverse this trend and reign them in. Turn the tables on your emotions and let them know who’s in charge – and it isn’t them. If you are a child of God, born again by His Spirit, you are a new creation, with the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Romans 8:14 is for you:
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (ESV)
The word “sons” is not emphasizing one’s sex; it’s emphasizing one’s identity. When the Bible refers to a child of God as a “son” it is a term of endearment, meaning that person is literally one of His children. One of the key traits of a child of God is that they are led, primarily, not by feelings, but by the Holy Spirit. This is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead:
“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:10-13 (ESV)
Rather than succumbing to the whims of how you feel, make up your mind that you will have a fresh encounter with God in that secret closet of yours, and you will not take “no” for an answer.
THE SECRET THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE
Paul the Apostle wrote about a secret he learned that helped him go deeper with God. You may or may not have heard it before, but what really matters, like everything else in the Bible, is that you apply it. Paul went through the same struggles you have with your emotions, and learned how to put them in their place, along with everything else that was an obstacle to his pursing and enjoying God:
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)
Your emotions are part of your body, and you can keep your body – all of it- under control. Paul succeeded – and so can you. Put your body and emotions in check. Let them know you are a child of God, inhabited by the Holy Spirit and created for the adventure of divine intimacy – and that you are not going to allow any diversions. If you do this, your emotions will begin to fall into place. You will begin to find that your mind, when submitted to the Holy Spirit, is a much better leader than your feelings.
LET YOUR HUNT BEGINArmed with your Bible, something upon which to write, and the attitude of a hunter bent on bagging prey, your secret closet time will become fertile hunting ground. You will pursue and find God. He will speak to you through His Word, the Bible. You will write down and begin to apply what He teaches you – and everything about you will start to change.
What are you waiting for? Do this for the next thirty days and watch how the rest of your life begins to supernaturally change.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.
Remember Moses? God told Him to write things down. It’s a good thing he did. Likewise, when you are in your “secret closet,”don’t enter empty handed. Bring your Bible, the primary instrument through which the symphony of God will play – a journal and a pen. You need to recall what God says to you or He might as well not have spoken to you in the first place. After all, what good will it do to hear from God Almighty if after He speaks you don’t remember what He said?
If you’re serious about hearing from God, you’ll find or create a secret closet, and you will make it your ambition to meet with Him there, daily, over the next thirty days. During that time God will speak to you through His Word, the Bible. He will apply it to the circumstances of your heart, mind, soul and life. And, like Moses when He met with God, you will also be transformed.
WRITE, REMEMBER, APPLY. REPEAT.
Here’s a little secret about the relationship between memory, writing and life-change:
Don’t confuse knowledge and education with commitment and application.There are many people who know about God, what He says and what is right and wrong. But the difference between an educated, knowledgable life and a transformed, empowered life is the application of God’s truth. Do you understand that the goal of all time spent with God is to enjoy Him, to become more like Him in character, and to become an increasingly influential person in shaping the world for His glory? This simply will not happen – and cannot happen – if you do not remember and apply what God is saying to you. Writing things down is vital to remembering and applying.
We write out grocery lists, personal goals, reminders, phone messages and more. What about the words God speaks to us? Aren’t they worth recording? If you have a smart device, tablet or laptop with which you can record what God says to you through His Word as you soak Him up in your secret closet, I want to strongly suggest you leave them behind as you enter. The less temptations you have to do anything other than meet with God and give Him your undivided attention and affection, the higher the probability that you will hear from God. Go old-school and use a pen/pencil and paper.
Writing things down is a smart way to prioritize what God says. It is to ensure you don’t forget – so that you can apply. You will greatly increase the odds of your life being transformed if you don’t just hear from God, but also revisit what He said to you in the past. The way you do this is to write down what He says. When you do, you will be able to continually revisit what He said to you. This is what will enable you to keep your walk with God fresh, vibrant and relevant from day to day. What God said to you in the past should be revisited day after day.
Imagine the treasure chest you will have in years to come as you faithfully write down the lessons God is teaching you. Your notebook(s) will become a vault of spiritual wealth from which you can draw upon, remember God’s faithfulness and press on. And, if you ever have children, your notebook(s) will become a spiritual heirloom that will enrich their lives, living long after you’ve breathed your last. Get into the habit of writing down the things God impresses upon you as you meet with Him in your secret closet.
YOU, THIRTY DAYS FROM NOW
When you enter your secret closet with your Bible, a journal and a pen or pencil, you’ll be armed for battle. Not against God, but for Him. He will wage war against everything within you that is resisting Him, and soon you will find it easier and easier to surrender to Him. You will begin to have the mind, heart and vision of God for your life. You will fight Him less, and love Him more. You will, as Romans 12:2 says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
But you must write down what God is saying to you. As you do, over the course of the next thirty days, you will discover this simple, powerful truth for your life – and everything about you will begin to change: what you write down you remember, and what you remember you can apply. Nowhere is this more beneficial than in hearing, remembering and applying the Word of God for your everyday life.
Do it for thirty days. Repeat it when thirty days are over. The rest of your life will take care of itself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as we travel together.
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