Aug 10, 2022
Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart – but it is oh so glorious! Today’s teaching gives us guidance on what we can expect as we take those first steps into God’s calling for our lives. (Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 9:51-62)
Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders’ podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins.
It is August, 2022 as I record this podcast, and I am just bursting with excitement for all that God is doing in Women World Leaders. Our mission is to empower others to walk in their God-given purpose. We are named Women World Leaders because when God calls you as His child, He also sets you on a mission to lead for Him. So, whether you are in business, a servant in your church, a mom – or maybe all three – God has a unique calling for you to lead others, and we want to walk beside you as you do!
Besides this podcast, which comes to you each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a bit of a different flair each day, we also offer daily devotionals through email or FaceBook, community through Facebook and our Prayer Wall, encouragement through Voice of Truth magazine, fellowship and growth through events, and opportunities to grow and serve through writing, music, art, and utilizing leadership skills in finance, social media, organization, and coaching. Our God is endless and miraculous, and He has given us an endless and miraculous mission to reach and include you.
I saw a meme the other day that said, “Be the girl who always tells another girl there is room for one more.” We are God’s girls – but in truth, we are fierce women on a mission directed by God to include, empower, and support one another.
We have some AMAZING new opportunities for you, which we will be unveiling in the coming months, but one of our newest endeavors is being spearheaded by one of our Australian leaders, Rusanne Carole, who is coaching and authoring a book about being a caregiver. If you are or have been a caregiver, we want to invite you to share your story with the world as you shine the spotlight on God’s glory. To find out more about this opportunity or learn more about Women World Leaders, visit our website at womenworldleaders.com or drop us an email at email@example.com.
On this, the Wednesday edition of the podcast, we take time to put down our pens, agendas, struggles, and strivings and simply rest in God’s presence as we learn from His Word. We are currently walking through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John chronologically as we ask God to teach us all that He wants us to know today. Today’s teaching comes from Matthew 8:18-22 and Luke 9:51-62 from the New Living Translation.
Before we begin, let’s pray…
Dear Most Holy God, we come before you humbly, in awe of who you are and the fact that you speak directly to each of us – all you ask is that we quiet our hearts and listen. As we open your Word today, God, I ask that you be my mouthpiece. God, you know I have studied and prayed over this teaching, and now I give it all to you. You know what you want each listener to hear, and I ask that you allow those precise words to flow from my mouth. We thank you for your Word, your presence, and this teaching. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Let’s jump right in…beginning in Luke 9:51 from the New Living Translation
51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
We have been walking with Jesus for a while now – He was born, grew, began teaching, and called His disciples one by one. Last week in our study, Jesus was encouraged by His brothers to head to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles, but He replied that it wasn’t yet His time.
Now we read that His time has come…and He set out RESOLUTELY for Jerusalem. This word means that Jesus set His mind on his goal and walked steadfastly toward it, decisively, no doubt calling on God’s strength. Jesus knew what was coming. He had been attacked verbally, pursued, and was very aware of what lay ahead. He had told His disciples that He would be killed. Yet He stepped out faithfully into His future.
I’m guessing you don’t know what it is like to step out to your death on God’s command, but you might have an inkling of what it feels like to walk toward something resolutely at God’s command.
I can remember the first time I preached in a church for a Sunday service. I was prepared and knew I had been called, but someone should have shared that news with my flip-flopping stomach and my swimming head. I remember sitting there as the service began thinking, “I could just get up and leave right now. No one would stop me. Someone would figure out what to do. The service will go on.”
That is, admittedly, a very horrible comparison of Jesus walking to His death, but the point is, we are ALL called to a unique role in the kingdom, and sometimes, we just have to overcome our fear and insecurities and focus on the greatness of God as we resolutely step forward into our callings.
Listening and obeying God is not for the faint of heart. The good news is, when our hearts and resolve feel faint, that’s okay, because we can rely and call on God’s strength to get us through.
As if to illustrate His peril, Jesus’ first stop on his three-day trip to Jerusalem was in Samaria, whose people were well known to be adversaries of the Jews. Verse 52…
52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem.
The hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans was long-running. We can read in the Old Testament about Assyrians settling in Samaria and the intermingling of the two cultures. Then, when the Jews returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple, they resisted the Samaritans’ help, so the Samaritans built their own temple and worshipped in their own way.
As a result of this feud, many Jewish people took the long way to Jerusalem from Galilee, not wanting to travel through Samaria. But Jesus and His disciples when straight through this forbidden, even expecting to spend the night. But, as we read, they were not welcome.
Now James and John, remember, had been with Jesus during the transfiguration and actually saw, with their own eyes, both Elijah and Moses. No doubt, both disciples thought a lot about those very important historical figures that had miraculously appeared before them. James and John knew Moses and Elijah’s stories. They knew that Elijah had called down fire from heaven on two occasions – once even to consume the troops sent against him by the king of Samaria. So their next statement is not truly unwarranted as the Samaritans were unwelcoming to them….verse 54…
You see, though it was time for Jesus to go to Jerusalem, the time of judgment had not yet come – and it still hasn’t. We are living in an era of God’s grace. A time when God is gathering His people, and giving us chance upon chance to come to Him. As individuals, we thank God for that. I am well aware that if it were not for God’s patience, care, and grace – I myself would be burned in a consuming fire.
But, unfortunately, as humans, we don’t often exemplify the patience and care and grace of God toward others. When someone comes against US, we would rather call down the fire.
Notice the next verse, though…instead of allowing the disciples to call down the fire, Jesus led his disciples …
… on to another village.
Wow! We could do a whole teaching around that!! When someone comes against us, in hostility and even vengeance, we are to move on. Go somewhere else. You see – the world is huge. The whole world needs to hear about Jesus. But some will turn away. Some will even become hostile and unwelcoming. Our job, in those instances, is to go on to another village. That’s what Jesus did.
As we continue reading, we see Jesus come across three people who wish to follow Him. Jesus knows each of them intimately, and His response is tailored to each individual – and each response teaches us something about our own calling.
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Matthew 8:19 identifies this man as a teacher of religious law. This is important, because students of religious law often studied for the purpose of scholarly learning rather than becoming a disciple. Normally a student in this vein would be trying to earn a degree of sorts, and with it, prestige. And as we know, Jesus taught that the first would be last and the last would be first. Verse 58…
58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
In other words, Jesus knew that this man was looking for an easy entrance into leadership, he was not looking for a relationship with or a way to serve God.
So what does this say to us? If you have followed Jesus for any length of time, you probably recognize that when we follow Him, we must trust HIS terms and conditions. We must go where He leads and trust His provision as we serve for His glory alone.
The next person we see is one whom Jesus calls…verse 59…
59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead![c] Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
This sounds harsh, and there are various interpretations. Some theologians say that the man’s father had surely not even died yet, or the burial would already be occurring. So the man was stalling – not knowing if his father would die next week or next year.
Other theologians point out that the command, Honor your Father and Mother, had, like many Old Testament laws, gotten blown out of proportion as time went by. It had gotten to the point where a person’s mother and father took precedence OVER their allegiance to God Himself, and, with this response, Jesus was turning the tables back upright.
So what can we learn today? Simply put, following Jesus requires putting Jesus first, and trusting God’s care. This also can be misconstrued. The ministry worker who serves others to the detriment of her personal family is not putting God first. Truth be told, God doesn’t need our help – He can run this world on His own. But He gives us the privilege and joy to work with Him, and, if we listen to Him and respond obediently, He WILL orchestrate your service to His glory in ALL areas. We must follow and serve God, but if that is leading to burn-out or stress-induced illness, there is a kink in our hearing, because that is not what God calls us to. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Again, it is not that Jesus wanted this man to neglect his family, but Jesus knew his heart, and that he was using his family as an excuse to delay following God’s call.
So to us, Jesus, says, when I call you, keep your eyes forward and keep plowing!
Woe…that can be difficult!! I don’t know about you, but for me, it sure is easy to get distracted by the world. I LOVE having my Bible app on my phone, but man, the temptation to play Wordle instead of reading the Word can be great!! When God calls us, He wants us to put our hands on the plow, focus on Him, and keep moving forward!
Wrapping this up, what does it take to follow Jesus? We are to walk resolutely as Jesus did to Jerusalem, trusting God’s guidance, care, and provision. We are to extend grace to those who come against us like Jesus did to the Samaritans, and instead of wishing ill on others, move on to those who are receptive to our call. And like the three who were called to follow Him, we are to prepare to give God the glory as we trust His guidance and enjoy our relationship with Him, we are not to put anything above Jesus, and we are not to delay as we keep our focus on what He has called us to do.
Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. Jesus’ walk was not easy, and neither is ours. But, you, servant of God, ARE protected and each step is already provided for…and the outcome of your journey is more glorious than you can begin to imagine.
Dear Most Holy God – how incredibly honored we are to be called by you and to be given our marching orders step by step. God, we know we can trust you! I pray for each listener, light the path that you have ordained for her and give her the courage to take that next step, knowing that you are beside her. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.