Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson Five: Action

63444_10150141849813146_3526939_n“‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”‘ Mark10:21

Imagine for a moment you are stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work. You can see the exit just a few miles away, but you simply can’t get there. You know what to do and where to go, you just have to take the necessary steps to get to your destination.

The rich young ruler knew what to do, too. I find it hard to believe that Jesus’ words came as a surprise to him. Knowing the Scriptures since he was a young boy means he must have had a knowledge of Scripture for quite some time. Since the Old testament is packed with verses regarding giving to the needy and feeding the poor, the rich man must have understood that one of the characteristics of God was sacrifice.

So why couldn’t he commit do doing it?

One word stood in his way: Go.

It’s easy to go through the motions of the faith by reading the Word, praying and going to church.  But its the application of the Word to our daily lives that poses the biggest challenge. The rich man had the steps and knew where to go. He just wouldn’t allow himself to get there.

Challenge: Where are you? Are you going through the motions of faith? Are you stuck in traffic, knowing where you need to go but not able to get there? In what way(s) can local church body help you get there?

Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson Four: Sacrifice

COINING 20

“‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”‘ Mark10:21.

When I think of the word lack, I think about something I don’t have, something I’m missing.   In this verse, the lack that Jesus refers to is sacrifice. The rich man could do all the easy stuff, but when it came time to place his total dependence on Christ and allow him to provide for his daily needs, he couldn’t do it. He wore his wealth like a security blanket, wrapping himself in the warmth of his own independence and ability to pay his own way in life.

Disciples must be willing to sacrifice everything to follow Jesus. I find it interesting that he already demonstrated this requirement of sacrifice by calling Simon, Andrew, John and James. They,upon hearing Jesus’ call to follow Him, “at once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18). These four disciples had just as much to lose as the rich young man. All four had fathers who trained them to be fishermen from when they were children so they could make a living for themselves when they grew older. By getting up, they were leaving behind the only trade they knew for a chance to place their trust in someone who promised to provide for them physically and spiritually.

Those four disciples sacrificed the security of wealth for a chance to put their trust in the Lord. The rich young man didn’t. Which disciple are you?

Challenge: What role does wealth place in your life? Do you cling to your wealth, or would you give it up for a chance to trust in the Lord’s provision?

Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson Three: Compassion

heart of seaweed  MGD©

“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him…”Mark 10:19.

Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the rich young ruler seem a bit prideful up until this point? He asked Jesus what he has to do to become His disciple. When Jesus answers him, he responds with a flippant “I already know that.” Talk about boldness! The rich young ruler probably thought he could order Jesus around like he did with many of his servants that catered to his every whim. But does Jesus respond with a “Do you know who you are talking to?” response? He models God’s mercy and grace with a compassionate, heartfelt reply.

I think Jesus still honored the fact that this young man understood who Jesus was (at least in a superficial way) and acknowledged him as Lord. Jesus still allowed him to become His disciple, if he was willing to sacrifice the one idol that stood between him and Jesus: money.

Many times throughout my years of a Christian, I’ve become frustrated with people who, in my estimation, should “get it” when it comes to discipleship. There are moments when I just want to shake certain people and ask “Why aren’t you more mature?” In my arrogance, however, I’ve missed the point that being a disciple means more than just knowing the Word of God, it’s also applying it. Extending compassion to someone who isn’t where I am at spiritually is a good place to start.

Challenge: In what ways have you failed to exemplify Christ through a lack of compassion?  Is there someone God has placed in you life in which you need to extend more compassion?

Five lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson 2:Righteousness

DSCN5900

“You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”– Mark 10:17-18

As Christians, we know there is a great cost to being a disciple. It’s easy to keep the commandments that we find we struggle with the least. In the rich young ruler’s life, he found it easy to honor his mother and father, not to steal or lie. It was easy for him because   because his wealth and status in the community permitted him to have every luxury at his fingertips. So often we wear our righteousness as a badge, that somehow if people see us keeping the basic tenets of the faith they will know we are Chrisitans. Discipleship is not only about doing the easy things, but doing  the more difficult things as well.

Challenge: What area of your life do you struggle with the most? If Jesus asked you how you were doing in that area of struggle, what would you say?

 

Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson 1: Humility

cross

“‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call me good? no one is good except God alone.”‘ Mark 10:17

Jesus spent His time on earth imitating what He learned from his father. One of the major lessons He learned was the importance of humility. It wasn’t enough He chose to strip Himself of every power He had earned simply for being God’s son, but He chose to not receive the credit for any of the miracles He performed from any of the people He helped. Jesus, a disciple of His Father, deflected the glory from Himself and placed it on the One to whom it belonged. True disciples don’t use their influence to stroke their egos or feed their insecurities. They use their influence to give glory to their Teacher.

Challenge:  When you minister to others, do you do so out of selfless compassion or out of selfish ambition? What ways can you deflect the glory from yourself and onto God?

Take the Stinger Out

Last July, I came out of the doctor’s office and walked to my car. Before I opened the door, the sound of my daughter’s cries forced me to turn around. Holding her arm, she extended it to me, revealing a swollenbee red welt. “A bee stung me,” she cried. I took her home, applied ice, made a baking soda paste to remove the stinger, and put on a band-aid. After an hour, she was up and running around as if the whole event had never happened. It’s bad enough to get stung by a bee, but the thing that hurts the worst is the stinger. If I didn’t remove the stinger from her arm, the pain remains.

As Christians, we have all experienced pain in our lives. We find comfort in our friends, the Bible or in prayer. But if we don’t remove the stinger (the source of the pain) the areas that are most pain will continue to inflict future harm.

Have you dealt with the underlying issues of your pain? if it’s a sin, have you repented of it? If someone else is the stinger, have you forgiven them?

In what areas of your life do you need to remove the stinger?

God Fixes the Unfixable

ringAfter a day of painting and playing with clay with my children, I went in to the bathroom to wash my hands. Drying them, I noticed something shiny stuck inside the towel. Leaning in to get a closer look, I noticed a section of my engagement ring given to me over seven years prior had broken off of my ring. I panicked! I showed my husband and he spoke to the owner of the jewelry store. After showing proof of purchase, they allowed us to trade it in for a new one. What upset us the most was not that the ring had broken, but that a ring, regarded as having such a large value and uneasily broken, was now permanently marred.

Nothing is secure in today’s world. Even the marriage we think is impossible to crumble can face its share of heartaches. The security we feel in a bank account can be eradicated in minutes by an Internet hacker. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns of this, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

No matter what our situation looks like, there is hope. God is capable of turning any situation around simply because of His love and grace. Pray and turn your difficult situation to God. He can fix the seemingly unfixable situations in our lives if only we ask.

Hope on a Clothes Hanger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEverything was going wrong. Mounting bills, sick children and the possibility of job loss solidified my daily sense of despair. Checking off my list of errands, I stopped into a thrift store on my way home. My children, quickly outgrowing their old clothes, were in desperate need of newer pairs of jeans. How did my life get this way? Surely there has to be more than life than this.

Flipping through the racks of children’s jeans, I turned to look at some shirts, and that’s when I saw it. A sky blue pullover sweater with the word hope scrawled across the front stared back at me. I picked up the sweater, and tried it on. Just as I suspected it was a perfect fit. As I brought it to the counter and plunked down my change, I couldn’t help but notice I was also wearing a huge grin across my face. When I got in my car, I took out the sweater and held it out in front of me to see that word once again. A reminder from God that hope was right around the corner. All I had to do was open my eyes and see it.

Life gets tough sometimes. As disciples, we would love it if everything went smoothly every day for the rest of our lives. But as we read in the New Testament, discipleship is far from easy. But they hung on to hope that their Savior would be their help as he promised. The promise of hope made life worth living for the disciples, and its what we have to hang onto today.

Hope is just around he corner for you too.  You just have to open your eyes to see it.

31 Days of Discipleship: Day 31: Make Disciples

63444_10150141849813146_3526939_n

I came across this picture on Facebook and thought it was appropriate to share as we finish this series. When I look at this picture, it reminds me of the call that  am obligated to fulfill: my duty to make disciples as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28:

“Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”

What if we all as christians joined together, arm in arm,just like in this picture, and made disciples in His name? Wouldn’t the world be a better place?

31 Days of Discipleship: Day 30: Stand Firm!

31DOD.001

“But God’s truth stands firm like a great rock, and nothing can shake it. It is a foundation stone with these words written on it: ‘The Lord knows those who really his,’ and ‘A person who calls himself a Christian should not be doing things that are doing wrong.”‘– 2 Timothy 2:19.

Many Christians call themselves followers of Christ, but when things get rough, to whom do they call?

Are you a true follower of Christ?

Do you stand on the firm foundation of the word of God?

Do you believe Jesus really is Lord? Or are you just going through the motions?

Does the Lord know who you are? Would He call you His child?

Would you dare to call Him Lord?