Learning to Follow Jesus

Posted on May 1, 2015 · Posted in Encouragement, Jesus Christ

Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him so why is it so much easier to do anything and everything but God’s will?  I was thinking these thoughts one day and then I noticed something about my dogs.  They live to serve and follow me, their master.  It is not one bit hard for them!  Why is it not as easy for me to follow Jesus, my Lord and Master? 

God Often Speaks to Us from His Creation

I believe that God wanted me to observe my two Havanese dogs, Stuey and Sadie, to notice what following looks like.  The first thing I noticed is that their world revolves around me.  Who do you know that jumps up and down and does a dance in sheer happiness when you arrive home?  Because God created dogs, I see His unconditional love for me.  I never have to prove anything to gain God’s love so why does following Jesus not come naturally? 

I love my dogs and I show it by taking good care of them.  What do I get in return?  I receive their loyalty until the day they die.  I am the master and my dogs follow me wherever I go.  How much more does God deserve my love and devotion?

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Just reading this verse shows that we have a problem, doesn’t it?  Love for God is not just a feeling.  Love for God is not just saying the words.  Love for God is a total commitment to Him and to doing His will.

Jesus said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23

What is Our Problem?


We Want to Lead and Not Follow

To sin is to live your life independently from God, your Creator.  Sin is not eradicated in believers so only in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit is the believer able to put away sin; a process that will continue until the believer sees Christ face to face.  We must be alert and watch over our hearts with all diligence knowing that we will always be tempted to sin and self-interest; to want our own way instead of following Jesus.   

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  Romans 8:5

Human, fleshly desires are always in conflict and contrary to what the Spirit desiresWhat is your mind set on?

Paul said:  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot, carry it out.  Romans 7:18

Do you agree?  Paul understood that there is no spiritual power in human nature.  All you will get from “trying” to be a “good Christian” is failure and guilt.  There is none good but God, so stop trying to perfect yourself!

Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  Romans 8:8

God Taught Israel to Follow Him

After God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, He used the desert experience to teach this new nation about Himself and in turn teach all who would follow Him through the centuries.  This is how God taught the people to follow him:

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.  Exodus 13:21-22

The people did not move unless the pillar moved and when it stopped they broke for camp.  The people were totally aware of God’s Presence and they trusted Him to lead and guide them.  In order to follow God, they needed to be alert and watchful, not complacent, and so do we.

Jesus said, “Come Follow Me”

Ask Him to Help You

Surrender Your Desire to Lead

I was thinking about how Israel followed God when I noticed that no matter what my dogs are doing, mostly sleeping while I write these posts, they are instantly up if I get up and move.  If they catch my eye, I see that they are looking intently at me always ready for me to lead them.  In other words, they both live to do my will.  Do I live to do God’s will, I thought?  Do you?

And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Corinthians 5:15

Learn to Follow Jesus

Spend Time with Him in His Word

Whoever serves Jesus must follow Him.  My dogs spend their short time on earth studying everything about me.  They spend time with me, so they know me!  They know instantly if I am sad, happy or mad.  I have had them lick away many tears.  They are attentive to my word.  Why do my dogs follow me?  Because they love me!

If you love me, you will obey what I command.  John 14:15

Too many Christians are reversing the order of this verse.  They are trying to please God by human resolve; by sheer will power and they are miserable.  Our love for Jesus is our personal response to His sacrificial love on the cross for our sins and our obedience follows as we depend on the Holy Spirit.

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Because we love Jesus, we will want to spend time with Him in prayer.  We will want to continue to get to know Him from His Word.  We will want to stay connected to Jesus so that we can follow Him.  We will follow Him because we love Him and not because it is a duty.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.  Philippians 2:13

Learn to Walk by the Spirit

Believers Live for God in the Spirit.  They Live for Themselves in the Flesh.

To follow Jesus is to depend on Him and not on yourself.

We worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.  Philippians 3:3

It is impossible to follow Jesus disconnected from the Holy Spirit.  Only the power of God enables believers to obey the commands of God.  Only the Holy Spirit has the power to overcome sin in our lives.  Only Believers have the power to obey the Word of God and follow JesusThe Holy Spirit always exalts Jesus Christ.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:25

What are you living for?

So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  2 Corinthians 5:9

To have the Holy Spirit is to have the Spirit of Christ.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  Romans 8:9

Those trying to live the Christian life by human effort and will power have not understood the gospel.

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?   Galatians 3:3

Are You Following Jesus?

He Will Help You if You ask Him

Have you ever sacrificed yourself for someone and they did not appreciate it?  What if your son paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life to save the life of someone else?  Would it be okay with you if that person never acknowledged your son’s sacrifice?  I think the answer would be no!  This kind of sacrificial love requires a response:

And Jesus died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Corinthians 5:15

Jesus invites you: “Come, Follow Me!

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Bible study for “Learning to Follow Jesus” 

Week 1:  Exodus 13:21-22; Psalm 23:1-3; 86:11; 119:133, 176; 143:8-10; Proverbs 3:1, 5-8; 4:10-13; Isaiah 29:13; 53:6

Week 2:  Matthew 4:18-22; 22:37-40; Luke 5:27-32; 9:23-26, 57-62; 10:38-41; 11:28; John 3:6-7; 6:63-69; 8:12; 10:3-5, 27-30 

Week 3:  John 12:26; 14:15; 21:20-23; Romans 7:14-25; 8:5-9; 14:7-8; 2 Corinthians 5:7, 9-10, 15; Galatians 2:20; 3:3; 5:16-26

Week 4:  Philippians 2:13; 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 11:6; 13:20-21; James 1:22; Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:3-6; 4:13, 19