* If you believe in God you must follow his ways
Moses was reviewing the law with the new generation of people. When we decide to believe in God, we must also decide to follow his ways. What we do shows what we really believe. Can people tell that you are a member of God’s family? (NLT)
Deuteronomy 27:9-10 – Then Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel as follows: “O Israel, be quiet and listen! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God. So obey the Lord your God by keeping all these commands and laws that I am giving you today.”
* What marks you as a follower of God?
The Festival of Unleavened Bread marked the Hebrews as a unique people—as though they were branded on their hands and foreheads. What do you do that marks you as a follower of God? The way you raise your children, demonstrate love for others, show concern for the poor, and live in devotion to God—these actions will leave visible marks for all to see. While national groups are marked by customs and traditions, Christians are marked by loving one another. (NLT)
Exodus 13:6-9 – For seven days you will eat only bread without yeast. Then on the seventh day, you will celebrate a great feast to the Lord. Eat only bread without yeast during those seven days. In fact, there must be no yeast in your homes or anywhere within the borders of your land during this time.
“During these festival days each year, you must explain to your children why you are celebrating. Say to them, ‘This is a celebration of what the Lord did for us when we left Egypt.’ This annual festival will be a visible reminder to you, like a mark branded on your hands or your forehead. Let it remind you always to keep the Lord’s instructions in your minds and on your lips. After all, it was the Lord who rescued you from Egypt with great power.”
* How we fall short of following God
One of the easiest ways to fall away from following God is to look at our present problems, and exaggerate them. Dathan and Abiram did just that when they began to long for better food and more pleasant surroundings. Egypt, the place they had longed to leave, was now looking better and better—not because of slavery and taskmasters, of course, but because of its mouthwatering food! These two men and their followers had completely lost their perspective. When we take our eyes off God and start looking at ourselves and our problems, we begin to lose our perspective as well. Overrating problems can hinder our relationship with God. Don’t let difficulties make you lose sight of Gods direction for your life. (NLT)
Numbers 16:13-14 – Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects? What’s more, you haven’t brought us into the land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Are you trying to fool us? We will not come.”
* Deciding daily to follow God
Moses challenged Israel to choose life, to obey God, and therefore to continue to experience his blessings. God doesn’t force his will on anyone. He lets us decide whether to follow him or reject him. This decision, however, is a life-or-death matter. God wants us to realize this, for he would like us all to choose life. Daily, in each new situation, we must affirm and reinforce this commitment. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
* What it takes to follow Jesus
When Jesus used this picture of his followers shouldering their cross to follow him, the disciples knew what he meant. Crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution, and condemned criminals had to carry their cross through the streets to the execution site. Following Jesus, therefore, meant a true commitment, the risk of death, and no turning back. (NLT)
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.”
* – What does Jesus want from us? Total dedication, not halfhearted commitment. We can’t pick and choose among Jesus’ ideas and follow him selectively; we have to accept the cross along with the crown, judgment as well as mercy. We must count the cost and be willing to abandon everything else that has given us security. With our focus on Jesus, we should allow nothing to distract us from the manner of living that he calls good and true. (NLT)
Luke 9:62 – But Jesus told him, “anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
* Do you follow Jesus for right reasons?
While Jesus was drawing fire from the religious leaders, he was gaining great popularity among the people. Some were curious, some sought healing, some wanted evidence to use against him, and others wanted to know if Jesus truly was the Messiah. Most of them could only dimly guess at the real meaning of what was happening among them. Today crowds still follow Jesus, and they come for the same variety of reasons. What is your primary reason for following Jesus? (NLT)
Mark 3:7-8 – Jesus and his disciples went out to the lake, followed by a huge crowd from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far away as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him for themselves.
* Submission needed to follow Jesus
The Romans, Mark’s original audience, knew what shouldering the cross meant. Death on a cross was a form of execution used by Rome for dangerous criminals. A prisoner carried his own cross to the place of execution, signifying submission to Rome’s power.
Jesus used the image of carrying a cross to illustrate the ultimate submission required of his followers. He is not against pleasure, nor was he saying that we should seek pain needlessly. Jesus was talking about the heroic effort needed to follow him moment by moment, to do his will even when the work is difficult and the future looks bleak. (NLT)
Mark 8:34 – Then he [Jesus] called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” he told them, “you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.”
* You can choose to follow
We should be willing to lose our life for the sake of the Good News, not because our life is useless but because nothing—not even life itself—can compare to what we gain with Christ. Jesus wants us to choose to follow him rather than to lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny and to let him direct us. This makes good sense because, as the Creator, Christ knows better than we do what real life is about. He asks for submission, not self-hatred; he asks us only to lose our self-centered determination to be in charge. (NLT)
Mark 8:35 – Jesus turned and looked at his disciples and then said to Peter very sternly, “Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s”
* Requirements for following Jesus
There are two requirements for coming to God. Like Peter, we must recognize our own sinfulness. Then, like these fishermen, we must realize that we can’t save ourselves and that we need help. If we know that Jesus is the only one who can help us, we will be ready to leave everything and follow him. (NLT)
Luke 5:11 – And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
* Follow-through vital in God’s work
Before the conquest had begun, these tribes were given land on the east side of the Jordan River. But before they could settle down, they had to first promise to help the other tribes conquer the land on the west side. They had patiently and diligently carried out their promised duties. Joshua commended them for doing just that. At last they were permitted to return to their families and build their cities. Follow-through is vital in God’s work. Beware of the temptation to quit early and leave God’s work undone. (NLT)
Joshua 22:2-4 – He told them, “You have done as Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you, and you have ob eyed every order I have given you. You have not deserted the other tribes, even though the campaign has lasted for such a long time. You have been careful to obey the commands of the Lord your God up to the present day. And now the Lord your God has given the other tribes rest, as he promised them. So go home now to the land Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you on the east side of the Jordan River.
* – City gates were usually opened at sunrise, enabling merchants to enter and set up their tent-stores. Nehemiah didn’t want Jerusalem to be caught unprepared by an enemy attack. So he ordered the gates closed until well after sunrise when the people were sure to be awake and alert. (NLT)
Nehemiah 7:3 – I said to them, “Do not leave he gates open during the hottest part of the day. And while the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at their regular pasts and some in front of their own homes.”
* Follow-up is a sign of good leadership
Moses inspected the finished work, saw that it was done the way God wanted, and then blessed the people. A good leader follows up on assigned tasks and gives rewards for good work. In whatever responsible position you find yourself, follow-up to make sure that tasks are completed as intended, and show your appreciation to the people who have helped. (NLT)
Exodus 39:43 – Moses inspected all their work and blessed them because it had been done as the Lord had commanded him.
* Follow-up with new believers
Paul led many people to Christ and helped them mature spiritually. Perhaps one reason for his success as a spiritual father was the deep concern he felt for his spiritual children; he compared his pain over their faithlessness to the pain of childbirth. We should have the same intense care for those to whom we are spiritual parents. When you lead people to Christ, remember to stand by them to help them grow. (NLT)
Galatians 4:19 – But oh, my dear children! I feel as if I am going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.
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