This past Sunday our topic of discussion was – how our definition of being a believer in Jesus differs from Jesus’ definition. The primary difference is found in the word – expectation! American believers often want no expectations placed on them spiritually. That’s because American Christianity has become a matter of personal convenience, preference, and minimal effort.
However, Jesus defines a believer as a disciple. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. This is where things begin to get sticky for most believers – being a disciple implies expectations. Jesus has two primary expectations of us as believers.
First he expects us to make forward progress in our lives. Jesus used words such as: go, follow, come, keep, and give. These words were directives to those who followed Him to become people of action. Bottom line – you can’t be a follower if you’re standing still in your spiritual life.
A second expectation Jesus has of us is for us to obey his word. That sounds reasonable on the surface, but unfortunately, American believers treat this expectation more like an option. We sort of have an interest in God’s word and being a follower – but not enough to motivate us to obey his word.
What’s The Point?
The point of all this is to say we have to learn how to take next steps in both obeying God’s word and in becoming people of action. What kind of steps will get us moving in the right direction?
1. If you’re going to be obedient – you have to know what Jesus says
If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. John 7:17
It’s fairly simple to figure out what Jesus is saying. Congratulations – so you want to obey my words – then make sure you know my words. In plain English, we have to establish a habit of reading God’s word. It’s important that we remember we’re talking about next steps not flying leaps. So many people have never cracked open the Bible to read it. So start simple and start small. Youversion.com offers numerous reading plans that are simple and topical. There’s one that will meet your needs. Without a plan we will never accomplish much – so when it comes to reading your Bible – get a plan.
2. Act on what you read
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22
James is telling us you haven’t done yourself any favors if all you do is read the Bible but never act upon what you read. It’s essential that when you read something the Bible commands you to do – do it! I thought about how to make this as practical as possible and this is what I came up with.
There are 17 days left in the month of January. For the next 17 days I want you to read the following passages – one per day. Then put into practice what the Scripture instructed you to do. I truly believe that over the next two and half weeks, you will begin to get a handle on how to read and obey God’s word.
Being a disciple is not complicated – simply read God’s word and follow the instructions. Become a follower of Jesus not just a believer in Jesus!
Commands of Jesus
- Let not your heart be troubled—John 14:27; John 16:33, Matthew 6:25-26, Philippians 4:6-7
- Rejoice—Matthew 5:12, 1 Corinthians 13:6; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16
- Let your light shine—Matthew 5:16
- Be reconciled—Matthew 5:23-25
- Keep your word—Matthew 5:33-37
- Go the second mile—Matthew 5:38-42
- Love your enemies—Matthew 5:44
- Lay up treasures in heaven—Matthew 6:19-21
- Give God first priority in your life today —Matthew 6:33
- Do unto others—Matthew 7:12
- Think of something in your life only God can do and begin to Ask, seek, and knock—Matthew 7:7-8
- In some area of your life today choose the narrow way—Matthew 7:13-14
- Pray for those who spread the word—Matthew 9:37-38
- Deny yourself—Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34
- Forgive offenders—Matthew 18:21-22 (Also Proverbs 19:11)
- Do something today to honor your spouse and your marriage—Matthew 19:4-6
- Be an example of a servant today – serve someone unexpectedly —Matthew 20:25-28