Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas season with your family. Despite how wonderful the Christmas season is, it can also be exhaustingly busy! I trust things in your life are beginning to settle down and get back to normal.
This is the first devotional of the new year. It doesn't seem possible that it can be 2019 already, but here it is! I actually really enjoy starting a new year; there is something about it that is exciting and fresh. It's like you're looking at a blank canvas with brand new opportunities. There is anticipation of what this year will hold. It's exciting, but it can also be overwhelming for some people. It can cause us to be anxious and fearful of the unknown. Maybe this time of the year frustrates you because you see all of the resolutions and goals that other people are attempting and you feel that you aren't doing enough.
I've had some of these same feelings before. And while there are many potential and worthwhile goals, plans, and dreams that you could have (or think you should have), I'm going to challenge you to set one goal that surpasses all the other goals of your life. I know that is a very bold statement, but I firmly believe it. And if you will pursue this goal, it will cut through the frustrations, anxieties, and fears that you may have in beginning a new year.
The goal that I challenge you to set for 2019 is to personally, completely follow Jesus. If you recall the adult Bible study lessons prior to Christmas, we started discussing this idea of following Jesus and what it looks like in our lives. We'll learn much more about this in the coming weeks, but I want to take a few minutes and remind you of the importance of following Jesus. Remember that this concept of following Jesus is not just a church thing ... it's a personal thing. It's not something nice that our church should do; it's something I need to do!
Christianity, in its most basic form, is about following Christ. Think about it. Why did you get saved? You listened to what Christ said about you being a sinner and needing a Savior enough that you decided to follow Him in the salvation that He offers through trusting Him. You began following Him when you started investigating in your own heart who Jesus is and how He could radically transform your life. Following Jesus is not just a cliché statement; it's at the very core of who you are as a child of God.
In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus begins calling His disciples. In verse 17, Jesus states, "... Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." This verse and its surrounding passage is packed full of truths concerning following Jesus Christ. Time and space here do not permit me to unpack this entire passage like I would like to, but I intend to revisit this thought in the next devotional that I have the chance to write.
But for now, my intent is to just whet the appetite a little for the idea of following Jesus. Also, please understand that nothing I write can replace the importance of you spending time in the Scriptures yourself. I want to give you a few personal challenges to consider.
- Consider where you are at in your "followship" of Christ. Are you following Christ as seriously and closely as you should be?
- Contemplate setting the goal of following Jesus more closely and intentionally this year than you ever have before.
- Study out for yourself some key passages of Scripture concerning following Jesus. A great place to start is with this list where Jesus Himself states "follow me" in varying situations.
Matthew 4:19; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 9:9; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 19:21,28; Mark 2:14; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 5:27; Luke 9:2; Luke 9:59; Luke 18:22; John 1:43; John 10:27; John 12:26; John 13:36; John 21:19.
I am definitely not the authority on following Jesus, but if I can help you in any way as you set out to follow Jesus this year, please let me know. I would LOVE to help someone follow Jesus this year!
Written by Corey Knopf