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Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Open My Heart.” I read John 1:35-51 (ESV).

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

The Call to Follow Jesus

The call to follow Jesus truly began with a messenger, John, declaring Jesus to be the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He told the people standing there listening to him that Jesus surpassed him because he was before him, even though Jesus was born about six months after John was born. Yet, John had the witness of the Spirit within him giving him the knowledge that Jesus, although physically born after him, existed before him. He knew his mission was to prepare the people’s hearts for receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, and that he was to reveal Jesus, as the Messiah, to Israel. He testified to all who would hear him that Jesus was the Son of God (See: Jn. 1:29-34).

I always love reading the story of the calling of Jesus’ disciples, because of their immediate response to his call. When he called them, they left everything to follow him. Most of them, at least, did not hesitate. I also love their enthusiasm for following Jesus and how some of them immediately told others, so that they could follow Jesus, too. At least some of them, as well, knew they were following the Messiah, the Christ, the promised one to Israel, and they declared him to be so without doubt and with great confidence that they had found the one whom Moses and the Prophets had written about.

When God the Father draws us to Jesus Christ, it is usually because we hear a messenger sharing the gospel of salvation, the Spirit convicts us of sin, and God grants us repentance and the faith to believe in his Son Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ, of the Spirit, in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, to now live our lives in Christ’s righteousness. We are transformed (turned) from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light, and from the power of Satan to God (to walk in God’s holiness), so we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ. When we choose to follow Jesus with our lives, and to believe on him to be our Messiah and Lord, we, as well, choose to leave our old lives behind us and to follow him wherever he leads us.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, a spiritual transformation takes place in our hearts. If truly we have been born of the Spirit of God, we should no longer desire to live as we did before. We should not try to hold on to our old lives and then try to claim Jesus as Savior of our lives, too, because we can’t go to the right if we are still traveling to the left. We can either go right or left, but we can’t go opposite directions at the same time. Jesus does not now follow us and hang out with us in our sinful lifestyles. We leave those sinful lifestyles behind us when we turn to follow him with our lives. Following Jesus means going the opposite direction of what we were headed.

As well, when we accept the call of God to follow Jesus, we should be so excited over the change (transformation) God created in our hearts that the thrill of it all should just naturally (or supernaturally) overflow out of our hearts. I just love that the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Peter and tell him, and that Philip immediately found Nathaniel and told him. Since we believed in Jesus Christ, how many people have we told about Jesus, and of how they can come to know him, too? I find it sadly true that many who call themselves followers of Christ more easily get excited about the things of this life, which are passing away, and will share, with great excitement, their enthusiasm over things which have no eternal value, but they will shy away from sharing the gospel of salvation, because they are afraid they will be rejected by others, and that others won’t like them anymore.

The Calling to Go

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want. God has called us to follow Jesus with our lives, and to go wherever he sends us, to do what he says, and to say what he tells us to say to whomever he sends us. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. We are not to lay up treasures on this earth, but we are to lay up treasures in heaven. We are to go with God whenever he says, “Go,” and to go wherever he sends us, even if it means leaving everything behind (the known and the comfortable) to go to the unknown.

My husband Rick had been talking of retirement for several years now, and he was originally thinking he would wait until he is 66 or 67 to retire, but that would be another year or two. He had also been contemplating what he would do with his life once he retired. So, over the past couple of years we have talked about this numerous times, tossing around ideas of what we would do and where we would want to live in retirement.

Within the last several weeks Rick decided he wanted to retire this summer. He also decided what he wanted to do in his retirement. He wants to take care of his aged parents. He had been feeling that God was leading him this direction, and he had been looking up scriptures on this subject. His parents live in Ohio. Both of his parents are in their upper 80’s. His dad has Alzheimer’s, and his step-mom has Parkinson’s. His mom seems to be in fairly good health, but has balance issues. It is getting harder and harder for all of them to drive and to get around and to do the things they did when they were younger. So, it will be a big help to them to have us up there to help them, and to take them the places they need to go.

The night before Rick told me the news of his desire to retire this year, and before he told me that he wanted to move from South Carolina to Ohio, so that he can take care of his aged parents, the Lord prepared my heart for what Rick was going to tell me in the morning. The Lord spoke to me through his word, and he asked me a couple of questions. He asked me if I am willing to leave the comforts of my home to go with God to the regions beyond - to the unknown - whatever that may mean for me. He asked me if I would truly give it all up to follow him, i.e. house, land, possessions, and even children and grandchildren, i.e. to leave them all behind. He asked me, “If I say to walk away from it all, will you?” He asked me if I would follow him wherever he led me.

The passage of scripture I was reading was Luke 9:57-62 about the cost of following Jesus. I prayed through all these questions, and thought about the implications of them all, and I yielded my life over to the Lord once again, and chose to trust him that he knows what is best for me. I said, “Yes, I will leave it all to follow you.”

Then, Rick told me the news. I stood there speechless. I knew God had prepared me for this in the night. So, I shared with him how the Lord had spoken to me. And, we talked about what this will mean for us, and all the implications of such a decision. When we finished talking, I told him I would pray specifically about going to Ohio. The Lord immediately brought to mind that song, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” Some of the lyrics are, “It may not be on the mountain’s height, or over the stormy sea; it may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me; but if by a still, small voice He calls to paths I do not know, I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Yours, I’ll go where You want me to go” (by Mary Brown).

Then, I read in Luke 10, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” I just kept hearing the word “go,” including in the next passage where it said, “Go, and do likewise,” as the Good Samaritan had done. So, I told the Lord I would go, and that is what we are now making preparation to do, to sell our house, and to leave our children and grandchildren behind us (all 21 of them), as well as many of our possessions, and to go where God is sending us, and to do whatever he has for us to do.

The hard part for me is not leaving a house or possessions, though. The hard part for me is leaving my children and grandchildren. I will miss them greatly! Yet, I am convinced God is telling me to “Go,” so that is what I am committed to do, trusting him to lead and guide us, to open and close doors, and to show us where he wants us to live, and what all he has for us in our new surroundings, wherever those may be. I want to be obedient to his call, and to not let fear of how things are all going to work out concern me, but for me to completely trust him in all things, believing that he has a reason for this, and that he has something for me that he had planned for my life even before he created the world. So, I rest in him, and I trust him, and I believe him to work it all out for his purposes and for his glory. Amen!

Open My Heart / An Original Work / July 2, 2013

“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (Rm. 16:19b).

Open my heart. Let Your truth in.
Make of me a servant, pure within;
Sing of Your praise all of my days.
Let Your Spirit transform all my ways.
Jesus Christ died on a cross to
Save me from my sin.
“Repent of sin. Be cleansed within.
Obey all of His commands today.”

“Why do you doubt? Why do you fear?
Jesus Christ will wipe away your tears.
He cares for you. He feels your pain.
Die to sin, and life with Him you’ll gain.
Follow Him where’er He leads you.
Talk with Him each day.
Then you will know what He has planned
For your life before your world began.”

“Come unto Me, weary in heart.
Let My love and grace to you impart.
Believe in Me. Trust in My care.
Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer.
He will meet all of your needs,
And give you peace within.
Rejoice in Him! Tell of His love.
He will give you comfort from above.”