Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop
Yesterday, we showed how that the call to discipleship of Jesus Christ is exactly like the call issued by the armed services of the United States, especially the Marine Corps. There is a call to sonship, salvation, and glory, yes. But there’s equally a call in this mortal life to share in Jesus’ suffering. Don’t believe that? Let’s let the word speak for itself today. It says:
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict… Phil 1:29-30
We must through much tribulation (that is, big troubles) enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22c
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. 2Tim 2:12
Remember, if we have the right expectations from the beginning, we are much more likely to get right results. But if we don’t have the right expectations, then in crunch time, we are almost certain to wither, and fall into disillusionment. Listen well, and consider. Here are the words of Jesus Christ. This is his actual call to discipleship.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me, For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul” (Luke 9:23-26). “Try hard [Strive; Exert yourself] to enter through the narrow door, because many people [ I tell you] will try to enter there, but they will not be able” (Luke 13:24 Expanded Bible). “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. He turned to them and said, ‘If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they CANNOT be my disciples. So those who do not carry their crosses and follow me CANNOT be my disciples.’” (Luke 14:25-27 God’s Word Translation)
Did you catch that Marine Corps recruiting move in that last verse. In Luke 14:25, it says, “Large crowds were traveling with him.” Did he rejoice, and say, “Come on along. The more the merrier.” No !!! He looked back and knew that whole crowd did not have what it takes. And he knew he had to thin out that crowd. So, he laid out to them just how high his bar of service and sacrifice actually was. He spelled out the requirements so clear and plain, so that the many people in that crowd would not waste their time and his. What he said in effect was, “Listen, guys. I’m only looking for a few good men.”
Now, those are the true words of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and King. Those are the actual recruitment requirements for our Most High and Holy Commander-in-Chief himself. Where are the words of privilege, self indulgence, social advantage, and easy believism? I tell you, they are nowhere on Jesus’ lips. Jesus calls us to a life of service, sacrifice, struggle, and suffering. And then afterwards comes the crown, the robe, the scepter, and the glory. As one great man of God, John Wimber, once said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go there the hard way. But, that’s the only way to get there.”
So now, what does this have to do with our original issue about hearing God’s voice? Everything, and then some. Because, the scripture says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Heb 4:7 NKJV) “For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened; never believed…” (Heb 3:15-19, The Message Bible)
Now, why would anyone turn a deaf ear to God? People turn a dear, because they are holding something back from him? They set up a wall in their hearts. They set up boundaries in their hearts to protect their precious idols from the Lord. Anything that is more dear to you than God is an idol. Either a loved one, or money, or possessions, or a comfortable lifestyle, or a career, or a sense of self-preservation can cause people to set up a barrier in their heart. And that is turning a deaf ear to God. It’s self-imposed deafness. And the heart IS the ear of the soul. And if that describes you, then you are not yet fit to hear from God. Listen to the Lord’s indictment of men who behaved this way. From Ezekiel 14:1-9, we learn:
1Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; 5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. 6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself: 8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
So, the very first thing that you must do to attain to abundant life, become a laser-guided missile in God’s hand, or to become a junior version of Jesus, and become a manifestation of “the word made flesh” is to get a change of heart. That’s what the Lord means by ‘repent.’ That’s the first step. And you don’t just decide to give up any old bad habit or vice that you choose. True repentance goes down to the root of your whole scheme of behavior and orientation to life. What you must change is your determination to serve yourself and decide that you are going to serve God — you are going to do whatever He wants you to from day to day from that point onward. You’ve been your own boss up until now. Like the poem, Invictus, says. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Well, true repentance means that you are going to fire yourself, and get Christ at the helm. And, you are going to trust and obey him with everything in your life, holding nothing back. You are going to trust and obey Him, even if it means your death. A spirit of SELF-PRESERVATION can be one of the most deadly and devastating idols that exist. You must get self off of the throne of your heart.
That’s how you can get the wax out of your ears. That’s how your deaf ears will hear again. So, if you are a believer, you have to come to a change of heart. Change your mind about holding out on God. Ask God to forgive you for holding things back from him, and ask him to give you a whole new start. You can pray a pray like this one:
Lord Jesus, please forgive me for holding [name that idol specifically to God] back from you. I open up my heart, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my sin of idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.
And if you are presently not a believer, but want to be, then please pray the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be. Amen.
Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.
This day, is the first day of a sweet but challenging journey. Your training in hearing from God starts today. If you complete the training, you will be one of few who do. God bless you, and Godspeed on your journey.
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