The Experience Of Following

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 NIV

Jesus was very clear about what it takes to follow Him. It does not mean life will be easy and you will not have to face any trouble or suffering…it means we will have trouble because we live in a world that pursues the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches us.  It also does not mean your life will be miserable…again it is the opposite, you can have joy and peace and contentment.  It all comes down to what do you believe?  Your beliefs will drive your values, your perspective and even your attitude.  And so, Jesus said…“Follow me”Matthew 9:9 NIV

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And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Mark 8:34-36 NIV

(This photo was taken in April of 2020 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Persevere

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4 NIV

Purposeful…dedicated…courageous…committed…determined…resolute.  It takes strength to run the race of faith.  The evil in this world will bring us many forms of darkness and struggle, it will work hard, very hard to keep us away from God.  We have to be willing to fight just as hard to stay close to God and trust in the hope that faith gives us…even when…especially when we can’t see it.  Don’t give up, keep the faith, when you get knocked back or pushed down trust in God and keep running the race of faith.  Amen.

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Hebrews 12:1 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 on Beartooth Pass in Montana)

Keep God’s Word In Your Heart

What are the verses of Scripture that speak to you?  Comfort you?  Remind you that God has got you?  This is part of the essence of Take Your Faith With You…store God’s Word in your heart so that no matter where you are or what is happening, you have the ability to call on God for strength, courage and comfort.  Here are some verese that have guided me on my journey…

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1 NIV

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”[a]

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2014 at a lake in central Minnesota)

Nothing Is Impossible

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:19-20

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“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

(This photo of a young Loon was taken this past weekend on a lake in central Minnesota)

Turn Towards God

This is the first thing we should do with every aspect of our lives.  We often try to go it alone and then turn to God as a last resort…even then He will be there for us because of His mercy and grace.  No matter what the circumstances are…bring it to the Lord, trust in Him…it is never too late.  Amen.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

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“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

(This photo was taken in July of 2019 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Actions Of Hope

An action of hope means getting practical.  Working and doing things with trust in God’s plan even when the circumstances don’t reveal it.  Actions of hope are a way to live in faith and to put your trust in God.  In Jeremiah 32 there is a story of Jeremiah buying a field at a time when Babylon was coming to capture the city…this was not a logical action at the time rather an action of hope because God had said the people will return to buy fields, build houses and live in this land.  Destruction was coming yet Jeremiah bought a field.  Turn towards God in faith and ask for His guidance for opportunities for you to take actions of hope in your life.  Amen.

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“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 while traveling in North Dakota)

Learning

We learn from our experiences and by reading about the experiences of others.  Many times, learning from our own experiences is a slow and difficult process as we are most stubborn with ourselves.  Reading and learning from the experiences of others gives us new insight into how can we live going forward.  God provides the greatest book filled with lessons and learnings, to help us as we live.  Pick up a bible and learn from the experiences of those who came before us.  Amen.

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“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 1:1-7

(This photo was taken in September of 2016 at a lake in central Minnesota)

The Way Of Faith

The way of faith is a wise way to live and a narrow path for life.  Simple yet not easy.  Commit your way to God, trust in Him and you will find peace.  Amen.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

1 Corinthians 3:18-20

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”[a]

Proverbs 3:1-6

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 while traveling in southern Colorado)

Run To The Lord

Don’t hesitate…don’t come casually…decide to come to the Lord and then run to Him.  He is waiting for you…He will comfort you, strengthen you and guide your way.  Amen.

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The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Proverbs 18:10

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 at a park near Bayfield, Wisconsin)

 

Trust In The Lord

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

Psalm 37:3-9

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But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:33-34

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 while traveling through North Dakota)