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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 120: Luke 9:49-62 & Psalm 119:41-80 - What Excuses Keep People from Following Jesus?

Today's Reading: Luke 9:49-62 & Psalm 119:41-80

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What Excuses Keep People from Following Jesus?

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” - Luke 9:59

The call from Jesus is as simple and clear as it is firm and uncompromising: "Follow me." Earlier in the Gospel of Luke, we saw Matthew leave his tax-collecting table and other disciples leave their fishing nets to follow Jesus. They understood the call and they left their livelihoods, their families, their homes and their comfortable lives to follow Jesus. That's the way everyone should respond to Jesus' call, but not everyone does.

Today we see three people make three different excuses for not following Jesus. Each of these people chose something over Jesus, and their choices can help us understand what often competes in our own hearts for the call of Jesus:

1. Comfort. The first person said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go," but when Jesus told him the truth, that "the Son of Man has no place to lay His head," then he didn't follow Jesus. He was willing to follow Jesus wherever, as long as it involved a comfortable place to sleep at night. How often do we choose a comfortable life over truly following Jesus?

2. Not now. The second person was called by Jesus to follow Him, but he responded, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” His father was probably not already dead, and so the man's request was that Jesus give him time, until his father was dead and buried. How often do we delay obedience, putting off real discipleship until a more convenient time? 

3. Family & friends. The third and final person in today's passage responds to Jesus' call by saying, I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” This person wanted to spend more time with family and friends. How often do we turn back from following Jesus for the sake of getting along and spending time with friends and family, especially those who are not following Jesus.

If we allow ourselves to be distracted or delayed, almost anything in life will keep us from fully following Jesus. We will neglect church, time in prayer, obedience or evangelism for the sake of comfort, other priorities and other people. This passage should be sobering for us. Jesus does not agree to a single excuse or other priority. His call is uncompromising. 

Eternal life, The kingdom of God, The abundant life. Knowing God. Living in His will. How valuable are these? How valuable is Jesus to us, really? He is calling. How will we respond?

Prayer from Psalm 119:41-80:

Waw

Let Your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
    Your salvation according to Your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
    for I trust in Your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
    for my hope is in Your rules.
I will keep Your law continually,
    forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place,
    for I have sought Your precepts.
I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
    and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in Your commandments,
    which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward Your commandments, which I love,
    and I will meditate on Your statutes.

Zayin

Remember Your word to Your servant,
    in which You have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
    that Your promise gives me life.
The insolent utterly deride me,
    but I do not turn away from Your law.
When I think of Your rules from of old,
    I take comfort, O Lord.
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
    who forsake Your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
    in the house of my sojourning.
I remember Your name in the night, O Lord,
    and keep Your law.
This blessing has fallen to me,
    that I have kept Your precepts.

Heth

The Lord is my portion;
    I promise to keep Your words.
I entreat Your favor with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to Your promise.
When I think on my ways,
    I turn my feet to Your testimonies;
I hasten and do not delay
    to keep Your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
    I do not forget Your law.
At midnight I rise to praise You,
    because of Your righteous rules.
I am a companion of all who fear You,
    of those who keep Your precepts.
The earth, O Lord, is full of Your steadfast love;
    teach me Your statutes!

Teth

You have dealt well with Your servant,
    O Lord, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
    for I believe in Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I keep Your word.
You are good and do good;
    teach me Your statutes.
The insolent smear me with lies,
    but with my whole heart I keep Your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
    but I delight in Your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
    that I might learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
    than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Yodh

Your hands have made and fashioned me;
    give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments.
Those who fear You shall see me and rejoice,
    because I have hoped in Your word.
I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous,
    and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let Your steadfast love comfort me
    according to Your promise to Your servant.
Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live;
    for Your law is my delight.
Let the insolent be put to shame,
    because they have wronged me with falsehood;
    as for me, I will meditate on Your precepts.
Let those who fear You turn to me,
    that they may know Your testimonies.
May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
    that I may not be put to shame!

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