Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? What does it really mean? Nowadays the word “Follower” has a different connotation. It all depends on whom you are following.
Since the development of Twitter, we hear the word “follower” quite a bit. If you send out tweets and people read your tweets, they are called “followers”. There are many people who follow every tweet of certain famous individuals or celebrities. It has become something of a status symbol: the more people who follow your tweets, the more famous or influential you are thought to be.
If you are on Facebook, you don’t have “followers;” but you have “friends.” And nowadays the word “friends” also have different kinds of meaning.
The reason why I bring this up is because I think Jesus Christ has a lot of so-called “friends,” but I wonder how many real followers He actually has.
Throughout history and even from the studying of the Scripture, we know there are people who have admired Jesus Christ, viewing Him as a great teacher or heroic figure. There were casual listeners; there were convinced listeners who bought in what He said but they didn’t want to follow Him and of course, there were the committed listeners who listened and followed Him.
Jesus never said, “Admire Me. Enjoy listening to Me.” He said, “Follow Me.” Jesus distinguishes between real followers and those who are only admirers:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:24-25, NLT)
A follower is one who builds his house on the rock; it is the person who hears God’s Word and does it. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?
Living the Christian life is not easy. Acts 14:22 says we will go through many trouble, affliction, hardship and sufferings to enter the kingdom of God. We are running a tough race. We need to come alongside one another and help one another to focus on Jesus.
Many years ago, at a Special Olympics in Seattle, nine runners were in the blocks, poised and ready to spring forth at the sound of the gun.
It looked to all the world as though this was a normal race. But it was not. This was a race of a different kind. It was a special Olympic race, a race for the physically or mentally disabled.
The stand was filled with people sitting at the edge of their chair, anticipating the moment of excitement. When the starter fired the gun in an instant, the nine runners all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with the pleasure of just running the race to the finish line and win. However about 25 meters down, one runner tripped and fell, sprawling headlong down the track and began to cry.
The other eight contestants heard the cry. They slowed down. Looked back. Then they all turned around and everyone of them went back and picked up their friend. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said: “This will make it better.” They picked their friend up. They said, “Let’s run together.” Then all nine of them linked arms and together they ran, hand in hand to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood and the cheering went on for several minutes.
Brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, God has given us the grace to run this race, but He wants us to encourage one another to run. We need one another. Because we are all sinners saved by grace, we are not perfect. We do encounter difficulties and challenges in our spiritual pilgrimage which in one way or another affect us all emotionally and spiritually. As a result, we are being ‘disabled’ to run the race ourselves. We do need to hold hands and encourage one another to run together to the finish line.
The Christian life is not just about winning the race for ourselves. The Christian life is about helping one another to win, to finish the race, even if it means ‘slowing down’ and ‘changing our course,’ i.e. to be more understanding; and to give people a little room to make mistakes while they are in the process of changing and growing in Christ. Let us help one another to run this race to the finish line.
Children discipleship is a very important and vital ministry. Nothing encourages me more than to see many brothers and sisters coming together to serve the little ones, teaching them God’s Word and to be faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Allow me to highlight the importance of the children discipleship in the church:
1. Jesus places a high value on children. He said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Matt 19:14). Jesus attributed faith and belief to the children who played in His presence and found themselves on His lap and in His stories. Jesus used them as an analogy of commitment to His discipleship. He affirmed their childlike faith and He accepted them at their stage of development for what they were, but saw beyond that to their potential as full-grown adults made in the image of God.
2. Children are open to God. The typical child does not need arguments to prove the existence of God, nor does he need to be convinced that prayer and other acts of worship are important. Beyond this, the evidence is overwhelming which suggests that young children are capable of religious experience. Children are especially capable of such experience because of the very nature of the development of the human mind.
It is good for us to take note of a survey done by the Barna Research Group. The survey data showed that people from ages 5 through 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Christ as their Saviour. Those aged 14 through 18 have just a 4% likelihood of doing so, and those aged 19 through death have only a 6% probability of making that choice. The overall survey has shown that a large majority of Christians accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour before they reach the age of 18.
Charles Spurgeon once spoke on the conversion of children, saying, “Let none despise the stirrings of the Spirit in the hearts of the young. Let no boyish anxieties and juvenile repentances be lightly regarded. I, at least, can bear my personal testimony to the fact that grace operates on some minds at a period almost too early for recollections.”
May we continue to reach out to the children and disciple them. God help us.
I have friends who love to take beautiful pictures of birds and flowers. It is a good hobby. Besides admiring the beauty of God’s creation, do you know that we can also learn spiritual lessons just by observing and studying them? For little flowers that most people tend to overlook or consider as weeds, Jesus said in Matthew 6:28-29, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these that not even Solomon in all his splendid royal robes was not dressed as lovely as the wild flowers.”
The flower “lily” is mentioned 15 times in 15 different verses in the Bible. The most memorable verse is taken from the Song of Solomon 2:1 “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” (cf. Hosea 14:5)
Benjamin Keach, a Reformed Pastor, in his book on types, gives five comparisons between the lily of the valley and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are his points highlighted by David Reagan:
1. A lily is a sweet and a fragrant flower with a strong scent. Our Lord Jesus has a sweetness in His ministry especially when He gave “himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (cf. Eph 5:2)
2. A lily is white and very beautiful. White is a symbol of purity (Rev 3:4). What better representation of the purity of Jesus Christ, the one “who knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), who “did no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), who was tempted “yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). and who “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5), than a beautiful white lily?
3. A lily is very fruitful. One root may put forth fifty bulbs. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He brings forth much fruit (John 12:24).
4. A lily, according to the ancient writer Pliny, is the tallest of flowers and yet hangs its head down. This a beautiful picture of the greatness of the Son of God matched only by the greatness of His humility (cf. Phil 2:6-8).
5. The lily has many medicinal qualities. According to ancient teaching, it could be used to restore a lost voice, help faintness, was good for the liver, and helped to reduce fluid retention. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the great physician and is fully capable of curing all diseases and maladies of the soul.
Certainly, the Lily of the valley is a beautiful picture and type of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have found a perfect Friend in Jesus. He’s everything to me. Thank You, Lord.
Story #1: A young, godly and successful attorney shared his testimony:
“The greatest gift I have ever received was a gift I got one Christmas when my dad gave me a small box. Inside was a note saying, ‘Son, this year I will give you 365 days, an hour everyday after dinner. It’s yours. We’ll talk about what you want to talk about, we’ll go where you want to go, play what you want to play. It will be your hour!'”
“My dad not only kept his promise,” he said, “but every year he renewed it – and it’s the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I am the result of his time.”
(A reminder for busy fathers.)
Story #2: Gospel musician Hilding Halverson told of overhearing a conversation between his son and two other little boys. The youngsters were bragging about their dads. One boy said proudly, “My dad knows the mayor of our town!” Another said, “So, my dad knows the governor of our state!” Halverson’s son then came up with this touching comment, “That’s nothing – my dad knows God!” Upon hearing this, Halverson quickly slipped away to his room and with tears in his eyes said, “O God, I pray that my boy will always be able to say, ‘My dad knows God.'” He knew he had been paid the supreme tribute.
Story #3: The story is told about a humble church warden whose young son had become ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the shocking news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Saviour, so the father knew that death would usher him into Glory; but he wondered how to inform one in the bloom of youth that he soon would die.
After earnestly seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First, he read a passage of Scripture and had a time of prayer with his dear child. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. “Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?” asked his devout father. Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, “No, not if he is like you, Dad!”
Fathers, what impressions do our children have of us? What kind of influence do we have on our children? Do they know us as godly fathers? May God help us fathers to be godly fathers.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!
4. THE OFFERING OR GIVING. In Psalm 96:8, we read, “Ascribe to the LORD, the glory due His name; bring an offering and come into His courts.”
One of the ways God’s people worship Him (in both the Old and New Testaments) is through the giving of gifts and the offering of sacrifices. In the Bible, we read of two kinds of giving:
– The Required Giving (‘tithes’). The required giving was always connected with ‘taxation’ within the theocracy of Israel, i.e. “Levites tithe”, “Festival tithe” and “Poor tithe.” (Cf. Lev 27, Num 18, Deut. 12 and 14). The total percentage the Jew had to pay was more than 10%. (Please note that the Hebrew word ma’aser which is translated tithe means a tenth part. It’s the same as dekatoo, in the Greek “the tenth.” Ten represented totality or completeness; the giving of a tenth was a symbol of the giving of the whole.)
– The Freewill Giving (offerings). It was always spontaneous and voluntary; no amount or frequency was ever stipulated. The only motive was never law, but a thankful, grateful and loving heart. The principle is in Proverbs 11:24 and 25 – Give and be blessed.
In the New Testament Church, the giving or offering was a regular part of worship. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…” Worship through giving is clearly a biblical principle. It has also been a part of Christian worship through the centuries. We need to realize that our giving or offering is not just a way to pay the church bills. It is an act of worship. Because it is an act of worship, the non-believers should refrain from giving or offering. But for the believers, when we give according to our riches (not out of our riches) with proper motivation and attitude, it can be a powerful means of worshipping God. God sees the heart and He will bless you.
Please be reminded that the 100% of what we are able to earn comes from God. In Deuteronomy 8:17-18, we read, “…you said in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth. And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth….” Out of that 100%, giving back to God 10% (‘tithe’) is a recommended minimum. 1 Chronicle 29:14 says that everything we have comes from God and we have given Him only what comes from Him. Do note that some believers give their ‘tithes’ through the weekly offering, while others give their ‘tithes’ through “monthly pledges.” Different churches have different practices.