The importance of following Jesus
Welcome back to the final part of the On the Fence study!
If you missed part one you can read it here which is about discovering if you are on the fence with your faith.
If you missed part two you can read it here which talks about how to apply Christ to your life when you know you’re lacking that deep relationship with Him.
In the final part of our series we are going to talk about the outcome. What happens when we decide to live for God? How do we feel when we are living for God? How do we keep the fire for Jesus burning after it has burned for a while?
I am not an expert. I do not have a degree in anything biblical. All I have is my own experiences and the Holy Spirit guiding me with the words and knowledge I am sharing today.
Living for God is a choice that we make. It’s not that some of us are “better” than others, it’s not that some of us are “chosen” to follow, we all have free will and it is up to us to make Jesus our choice with the freedom we are given.
But, as a christian we often forget that even though following Jesus is the best path, it’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be extremely hard! Picking up that cross means that we are accepting the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions: You are accepting a life of living for Jesus, congratulations! By signing here ____________ you are accepting earthly hardships, pain, neglect, judgement, prosecution, discrimination, humiliation, and a huge weight on your shoulders (AKA the cross) all of which is caused by the devil who now fears you and wants to destroy your faith.
The difference between hardship without Jesus and hardship with/for Jesus is monumental! I can not even compare the two on a scale because there is no comparison. Falling without Jesus is just like what it sounds: falling. There is no net at the bottom, there is no escape, there is no hope and having no hope is a very dangerous place to be in.
However, falling with Jesus –accepting those terms and conditions– means that when we fall we will not be crushed at the bottom. We have hope that our Savior will catch us at exactly the right time. When we fall with Jesus on our side, we will not perish at the bottom. The ground becomes like a sling shot and once we hit it, we will bounce back up, higher than where we were before.
When you become a follower of Jesus, not just a fan, there will be an enormous amount of change in your life. You could practically sit on your couch and just watch the change happening around you, it’s that noticeable.
There will be changes in your personality, your perspectives, your and your family’s attitude (because it doesn’t just affect yourself), the life outside of your home such as work/school, and you’ll also begin encountering spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare is a tough subject for me to talk on because I am just not that knowledgeable on the subject yet. It tends to be a scary topic for many Christians (including myself) but when we begin to understand that spiritual warfare is happening because we are doing something right and the devil is threatened, it helps ease the fright.
My husband and I are in the mist of dealing with huge spiritual warfare and to be honest, it was getting to us the first couple of days. We were giving in to the doubt and believing the lies. Why on earth would we do that? We know that God is in control and yet we chose to listen to thoughts that obviously were not our own.
- “You’re never going to ever measure to anything”
- “What you’re doing is beyond stupid”
- “You’re wasting your time writing, nobody will ever see what you have to say”
- “This job will not support you, you need to start freaking out”
The devil is threatened and he wanted to strike.
But then a crazy thing happened, a couple of mornings ago my husband woke up with a brand new perspective on the situations that were causing us fear the night before. He woke up strong, he woke up encouraged, he woke up determined.
And that is how it is to have God on your side. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
It is so easy to listen to the lies that the devil likes to whisper into your ears. “You don’t need to go to church today, you have a lot of work to do” “If you follow Jesus your life is going to be boring and hard” “If you follow Jesus, you’re going to be limited with what you can do in your life. You didn’t live 18 years with your parents just to be told what to do again!”
Lies, lies, lies.
And possibly one of the biggest lies for a christian on the fence is “It’s okay to continue the sin you’re doing because you asked Jesus into your heart. You’re safe to do whatever you please because you’ll be forgiven anyways.”
Lies, lies lies.
I can’t believe the amount of lies that the devils feeds me and I give in to. What is more crazy is how many times God has forgiven me for believing these crazy lies!
If you truly have the drive to follow Jesus all the way down to the bottom of your heart, you’re going to have the drive to drop the unnecessary. If we are constantly gripping tightly to these earthly habits and ideals, we will not have enough room in our arms to hold onto Jesus. We are limited by our flesh, we can not hold everything and give our full attention to everything, we need to pick and choose.
I choose Jesus, do you?
I did not fully choose to live for Jesus until I became pregnant with my daughter. Up until that point, I did not value my life as much as I should have. Because of the whole “ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved” mentality, I believed that I could go off and do my own thing because I “knew” I was going to heaven. Which is true, yes I would have still gone to heaven BUT I would have not filled my purpose that God had assigned to me.
When I became pregnant, I had decided that the life I was living was not going to be the life I wanted for my child. I knew that God had blessed me and trusted me with this child to raise up to Him. I was responsible for positively influencing this little girl’s future!
I started small– I began reading the bible every night and I attended church every Sunday with the intention of learning and experiencing God’s presence and not for upholding a “christian image”. I looked into the possibility of joining a small bible study group and dragged my husband along with me when he was off work for the winter season.
When I first began reading the bible I would maybe make it a whole chapter but most of the time it would be around half a chapter. My heart was in it but I didn’t know what I was doing and honestly I didn’t understand the majority of it. The bible uses a different style of writing which includes a lot of metaphors and parables that relate to the ancient ways of life. CONFUSING.
About three months into my bible reading I remember my grandpa — who is a pastor– tell me that praying before and after reading will open my heart to the Holy Spirit who can help guide me through it. Honestly, it seemed a little strange but it made sense so I gave it a try.
That first week of trying out this new method was unbelievable! I understood more of what I was reading than the previous months combined. I actually went back and re-read everything that I claimed I read and was amazed at the mounds of information I had missed.
I was not reading with the right heart.
****By the way, if you have ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables, check out Matthew 13:10-12: “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ 11 He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.'” The Holy Spirit lives in us and reveals the word to us. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit can not possibly understand –in the way that they should– the underlying meaning of the parables. ****
The same concept goes to praying. If we go through the motions and pray once a week “please God, help me with ___” it’s not going to get us very far. We need to be genuine and praying fervently .
That’s the cool thing about living for Jesus. When we read the bible, it starts out small but goes into a huge world of knowledge that the Holy Spirit shows us. When we pray, it seems sometimes like no one is listening but when we stick with it our minds become cleared from the distractions of the world and it’s like we are in the same room with God. When we are obeying scripture, we are blessed! When we follow God’s will for us, we touch many people’s lives and sometimes we even bring someone to Christ!
I also know that when we are consistent with bible reading, scripture memorization, and our prayer life, we are feeding that hunger we have for Jesus and we are continuing that drive of learning more. It’s when we stop doing these things that we begin to jump right back on that fence and the fence is not a place that we ever want to be as a Christian.
Continue your reading, praying, memorization. Persevere through the hard times because your bible is your tool and your prayer is your weapon against the enemy.
Do not listen to the lies you are being fed. Instead, when you feel your mind going south, read your tool and use your weapon! There is a reason why God gave us these resources, it’s not just props for our personal Instagram progress.
Stay off that fence– although it appears appealing– it is built on lies and sin.
Included is a free printable that I felt related to the topic. Click the picture to print!