Day 1 of 21 – Disciplined Followers, not Complacent Christians

SCRIPTURE:
If anyone desires to come after Me, let them deny themselves, and take up their cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

OBSERVATION:
Jesus is not calling us to simply attend church services, or to post cute inspirational quotes on our social media pages. He is calling us to be His disciples (disciplined learners) and follow Him where He leads. He is inviting us to be, like David, men and women after God’s heart.

In fact, the early believers were not originally called Christians, but followers of the Way (Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” – John 14:6).

He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can perceive and cooperate with what Jesus is doing in our lives and in the world around us. To be able to perceive, follow, and obey Jesus, however, requires that we deny our selfish nature, discipline ourselves, and actually follow where he leads.

We must refuse the temptation to simply be comfortable Christians. We must become disciplined followers of Jesus.

APPLICATION:
To follow Jesus, We must:

1. Deny ourselves
An athlete may like cake and ice-cream, but denies themselves that pleasure to accomplish a much greater goal that has a much greater reward. We also must deny the desires and lust of our flesh so that we can fulfil our purpose and be rewarded with the crown of life.

2. Take up our cross
Jesus died so that we could live, but now we are called to be living sacrifices that die daily to ourselves and follow Christ wherever He leads, no matter what the cost. Just like exercising can be painful, we are called to develop the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, compassion, witnessing, etc.

3. Follow Jesus
God has been working in and through people throughout all of human history. We must grow in spiritual disciplines in order to more clearly understand. God’s heart and mind and to perceive what He is doing in our world. Once we see where He is leading, we then have to actually follow. Jesus loves the unlovely, speaks truth even when its uncomfortable, He cares about your co-workers and the guy on the street corner. The question every disciple should be asking in every situation is not, “What would Jesus do?” but rather, “Jesus, what are You doing, and give me the wisdom and grace to follow.”

PRAYER:
Jesus, I love You. Thank You for today and for what You are doing in my life. Holy Spirit help me to identify my weaknesses and give me the strength to deny my flesh and selfishness. Help me to discipline myself and to learn to be like You. Holy Spirit make me think, feel, and act more like Jesus. Help me to see what You are doing and hear what You are saying, and follow where you lead. In the mighty and matchless name of Jesus, amen!