Priority Love for Jesus

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sand heartGod First, Family Second… so the cliché runs… But is it really true anymore even for believers? That was the question we chased this past weekend. Jesus is full or love and grace. He accepts people as they are. However, He invites them in that condition to become His followers.

The simple call to follow Jesus means much more than a passing glance reveals. One of the answers to the question of what it means to follow Jesus is: Following Jesus means developing a priority love for Him. There are currents that pull many away.

Two of Jesus’ most difficult sayings reveal this truth.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Matt. 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

What does it look like to follow Jesus? It means developing a priority love for Him.

What does Jesus mean really? I thought God was love. Aren’t we supposed to love? Is Jesus is here requiring every disciple to hate those whom He elsewhere commands us to love. Not at all! Rather, He is speaking of loving family or putting family above their faith relationship with Him.

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Are You Following?

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jumping-running-in-fieldThis weekend’s passages are likely the most challenging ones we will look at in this series. On the surface, without context most of you won’t like them. Jesus knew that when he said it. In fact he laid it out on purpose to force a reality check that leads to a decision.

A large crowd continued to follow Him everywhere he went, curious about the miracles, the teaching and frankly enjoying the conflict between him and the Pharisees. But He knew that most didn’t really get Him yet. They were following physically but they weren’t really followers.

With that in mind he turned around and shot a real zinger… check it out:

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Starting Well

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Image resultStarting well can be more critical in some situations that others. It is more critical in a 100 meter dash than an 8K race. Still if you don’t start well, it can cause real struggles and often must be overcome. Try starting out badly in a marriage, parenting or a new job and you will have some real make up work to get back on track.

This week we looked at Jesus’ invitation to learn what it looks like to start out well in following Him. The highlights are below. For the full lesson go to www.parkviewfamily.com.

Here is the invitation: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. The key is understanding what coming to Jesus means in this invitation. There are four key facets we discover about how to begin.

FIRST: Decide You Want to Stick with Jesus.

Coming to Jesus means attaching yourself to Him. One certain thing about a yoke in Jesus’ world- unless it is over easy- is that it attaches one ox to another. The invitation to come to Him is really an invitation to become attached to Him.

SECOND: Decide you are Ready to Learn from Jesus.

Luke 6:40 40 A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

Coming to Jesus means committing to His training. Jesus makes it clear that the invitation is an invitation to become a devoted student. Students would often move in with master teachers to fully embrace their way of life not just a limited knowledge base.

THIRD: Decide You are Ready to let Jesus Lead.

Coming to Jesus means letting Him set the pace & direction. By implication, when you are attached whatever you do is done together. In those days it was practice to yoke an inexperienced ox with an experienced one. The younger one would learn by following the lead of the older one. This is what Jesus has in mind. He later mentions that His yoke is easy. Sometimes Christians complain that it isn’t. Usually that happens when we aren’t letting Him lead. Instead we strain against his leadership, direction or pace and make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be.

FOURTH: Decide You are Willing to Embrace Jesus’ Work.

Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Coming to Jesus means becoming part of His work. If you are an ox, the only reason to be in a yoke is because it’s time for work. You are either going to pull a plow or a cart. Work is implied in the metaphor of being in a yoke, but our work as followers of Jesus is different. We get involved in His work when we are really attached to Him. The good news is that He trains us. He also carries the heavy lifting. But he gets us into his work of seeking and saving the lost.

I hopes this gives you a sense of what it means to get started following Jesus. What other insights do you see in Jesus invitation in Matthew 11:28-30?

 

Where Do We Start?

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follow-me-shoesJohn 10:27-28 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

I started playing piano officially around age 5. My mom was my first teacher. Later in elementary school she found another teacher for us. This teacher gave each lesson a grade and had her students compete with each other as well as other outside students. Even better. That was a big motivation or me. As I go older and the world got bigger I realized there was one teacher and his best local protégé whose students always won the bigger competitions. So when I got a chance to switch, I was really eager. She didn’t take very many students, so it was a real honor. I remember she interviewed me. What do I like about piano. What do I hope to do with it. What are my current practice habits? The seriousness of this step was rising to a new level.

You must trust me. You must take practice seriously by doing only what I show you, how I show you.

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The Big Reason

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follow-me-graphic-seriesJohn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

“It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.” How many times have you heard that? How about this twist? “It’s not WHY you start but WHY you finish that matters.” As we grow in life our insight & motivations change, hopefully for the better.

This happens for believers in our walk with Jesus. For example I first trusted Jesus when I was only 5 years old. I believe it was a genuine and true faith, but 45 years later my faith relationship with Him is much richer and deeper.

Last Sunday we discovered that there were many reasons people began to follow Jesus when he first came. However as time went on there was only one reason they continued. They began out of curiosity, need & invitation. However, before his crucifixion more people left him than stayed with Him. Understanding why is key to knowing what it means to really follow Jesus. We find that answer in John 6.

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Why Follow Jesus?

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follow-me-graphicJohn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them…

Whether we know it or not, we all follow something in life. What that is might be fuzzy or clear, conscious or subconscious, a person or value system. It might come from inside us or outside us. It could be temporary or long term. But we do follow something.

What we follow shapes who we become, what we experience and where we end up. So who do you follow? That makes it a critical question to answer. It is even more important to know why you follow what you follow and understand the true potential of where it will lead. The reason you follow also makes a difference in the quality of your experience.

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Be Careful What You Ask For

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toddler-on-phone1Samuel 8:4-6 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; 5 and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

I have seen good churches misfire when a pastor leaves after a long healthy season of ministry. Usually by digging in on something they really want that that they didn’t feel the last guy had and developing blindness to the bigger picture.

This happens in our politics as well. Back & forth swings between parties. We want this… No. That didn’t work, we want something else. There is something about us that wants what we don’t’ have so much that we fail to see what God has already provided.

Times of transition can be tricky. Uncertainty, fear, grief and even anger can cloud thinking about the next leader. These emotions leave us vulnerable to a poor decisions and any fallout that comes with it.

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