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Posted By Nan

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
This section does not include the word follow but it is an important section for considering following Jesus.
Paul was a great orator and writer. His following of Jesus is a great inspiration for all of us. It is interesting to note his humility. He came as an ordinary person to proclaim God’s message. He was an ordinary person, but the message he proclaimed gave him authority others were able to recognise. Jesus carried an air of authority because of who He was and Paul, in following Jesus, carried an air of authority because of who Jesus was.
I once heard a very new graduate of a theology degree speak of how people have authority in church because of the years they have spent studying theology. He then went on to say that is the only authority on God. I was astonished at his ignorance. You can study theology to PhD level and still not know God or follow Him.
Many with authority, true God given authority, are ignored by others. Jesus is the classic example. The simple people had great faith in Him. But those who considered they had to spend years studying the scriptures and were the only ones who could speak with authority did not hear Jesus.
Think about it. Paul said our faith rests on God’s power, not on men’s wisdom.
Never fall into the trap of thinking that to follow God you have to have studied the Bible and learned all the correct doctrine around it.
Never fall into the trap of thinking you cannot know God unless you have all that learning.
Never fall into the trap of thinking you need to rely on someone with all that learning to teach you about God. But also do not shun learning about God.
The input of others is helpful, but it is God who will teach you and He will do that through following Jesus. You follow Jesus and learn from Him. Read the Bible yourself and ask God for the insight He wants you to have of those passages you have read.
Get to know God.
Get to know Him well.
That is the authority with which you follow God.
 

 
Posted By Nan

1 Corinthians 1:10-17
One thing I am learning while writing this blog is that God’s timing does not necessarily involve me writing a blog twice a week as I have been doing. Sometimes, He gives  me a passage to ponder for longer. This one has certainly challenged me. It seemed so simple, yet I have found my self unable to write anything about it until today.
It seems simple. Be careful to be united with fellow believers and not fall into the ivory towers of Christian denominations. But that is not so simple. Looking back at the history of following Jesus, we can see a time when the group of believers grew into a church, centred on Rome. Then that church split into two factions, with the second faction centred on Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). Then, much later, anger at the secular nature of the Roman based church led to the Reformation. The protestant movement was born and the fallout from that caused much pain and suffering. As a child I remember my mother mentioning a friend who couldn’t attend a wedding because she was Catholic and the wedding was in a Protestant church. Her punishment for attending would have been excommunication. This was a service of fellow believers!
How did things get to that? When verse 10 of this reading is an admonition by Paul for unity of believers? How did we forget those words and fall into separate factions within the followers of Jesus?
Do we think things are any better today? It is true that we will not be excommunicated for attending a service in a different church, but I have encountered many people who look down on other denominations and question their faith, even question whether they are actually ‘saved’ or not. In this current day, churches are more likely to increase numbers by poaching people from other churches than by people coming to know Jesus as their saviour. And if that isn’t disunity, I don’t know what is.
And what of the increasing numbers of people who profess to be Christians but do not attend a church? In the last Australian census, people were asked their “religion” and giving a choice of a number of Christian denominations, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other. As analysis of the census information started, it was noted that a lot of people had ticked “other” and, when asked what their religion was, written “Christian”. There are more followers of Jesus following Him from outside a denomination than are popularly believed to be. I was one who filled in the census form as “Other” and said I was “Christian”. I don’t identify with any denomination. I identify with God.
In this reading, Paul speaks of his serious concern that people were dividing themselves into groups. “I follow Paul.” “I follow Apollos.” “I follow Peter.” “I follow Jesus.” Paul asked if He had been crucified for the people of Corinth. He asked if Jesus had been chopped into little pieces so each group could have its own relic. He reminded the people that God had sent him out to preach the good news about Jesus Christ, not to gain a personal following. He was sent by God to teach people to follow Jesus.
Do the leaders and members of today’s churches believe they are there to preach the good news about Jesus and rejoice at a fellow believer? Or do they only rejoice if that believer attends their church?
God sent Paul out to speak the truth about Jesus who was crucified for our sins. He did not want the fact of Jesus’ sacrifice to be trivialised by becoming flowery words spoken in disagreement to other flowery words.
Be careful who you follow. May it be Jesus. May you never fall into the trap of trivialising what Jesus has done for you by becoming caught up in denominational ivory tower.
 

 
Posted By Nan

John 21:15-25
I have read this passage so many times. I once walked a prayer walk meditating on this passage. My focus has always been on Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him and if he would feed His lambs. For the past few days I have been meditating on this verse focusing on the Follow Me aspect. That has been a challenge. As I prepared to write this verse I realised I needed to forget all the thoughts I have on this verse and see it with fresh eyes. There are many passages like that. The ones we read at Christmas, the ones we read at Easter, to name a few. There is always a requirement to clear our assumptions about the passages and listen to God. So today I have listened to God and this is what the message I have received.
Jesus asked Peter to follow Him. Before asking Peter to follow Him, He told Peter things about the type of death he would suffer. Then He asked Peter to follow Him. But Peter turned back and noticed that John was following them. He wanted to know what would happen to John and Jesus told Him that was not his business. What happened to John was up to Jesus.
Jesus wants us to follow Him. He wants us to follow Him without question. Following Jesus does not involve looking around and judging the other people who follow Jesus. It does not involve making assumptions about what is going to happen to them, or even asking Jesus for information. Your walk with Jesus is your business. The walk of others is not your business. Certainly, if you are concerned about someone you care about you can pray for their walk to be strong, but you do not have the right to know what their walk will be. Sometimes Jesus may tell you about another person, but you do not have the right to ask and expect an answer. As can be seen from this passage, when Peter asked about John, he turned away from Jesus. We are meant to turn towards Jesus, not away.
It is easy to get caught up in legalism and judging whether another person is “Christian” enough. It is easy then to question whether that person is truly following Jesus, even to feel superior because you believe you are following better. But in doing that, you have to take your eyes off Jesus. Don’t do that. That is not what Jesus wants.
Following Jesus involves trust, steadfastly following Him despite the temptation to look around, not comparing yourself to other followers and keeping your eyes on Jesus.
To do that effectively we need to leave our need to be important, receive favourable treatment, be given all the honour behind and trust Jesus to give us what we need.
 

 
Posted By Nan

John 10:22-42
This is a good tale of the perils of the unbeliever. Here were the “Jews”, presumably the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, who placed rigid observance of the law as of greater importance than God. These leaders did not belong to God because they did not acknowledge Him, or seek to follow Him. As Jesus said to them in verse 26, they did not belong to Him. He was not their shepherd. The sheep that belong to Jesus hear and listen to Jesus’ voice. They are known by Jesus. And they follow Jesus. The sheep that truly belong to Jesus can never be wrested out of His hand because God is the most powerful and nothing, not even evil, can remove them from His hand. And those people are gods. This is taken from Psalm 82. Jesus used this psalm to highlight to the people God’s word stating that all who believed in Him are His children.
So we follow Jesus because we hear and listen to God and because of this we are His children. The religious leaders of Jesus day were so caught up in the legalism of their faith, they did not pay attention to God’s word. They did not listen.
As a counselling student, I was taught about the act of hearing and listening. Someone can talk to us, but we do not necessarily hear them. If we are distracted their words will be lost to our hearing. But hearing is only part of communication. We can hear but still not listen to what is being said. We need to hear and we need to pay attention to what is being said. That is listening. Most communication fails because listening does not happen. People are often too busy thinking about what they will say next, or about things unrelated to the current conversation, to hear what is being said.
We do the same with God. We fail to hear Him and we fail to listen to Him.
In these verses, the people did not hear because they did not belong to God. So that suggests that if we belong to God we can hear. Because they didn’t hear, they couldn’t listen. We who belong to God, can hear but may not listen because of distractions in our lives. We need to learn to put all that aside and listen. We don’t need to get caught up in the legalist’s view of how we listen. We just need to let go of all the thinking and busyness and pay attention. This is mindfulness. It is not just about some new age meditation. This is about being mindful, connecting to your spirit, and allowing yourself to hear the Holy Spirit talking to you. You won’t hear God if you don’t listen. You won’t hear Him if you don’t let go of legalism that tells you to mistrust any form of meditation. So you throw out God’s gift of stillness in the name of legalism. Walk away from legalism. You need to hear your Shepherd because you belong to Him. And when you hear Him, you can listen to Him, and then you can follow Him.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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