[CF Devotionals] 2015-07-17 - OK ... But First ...

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In the past several weeks, and even earlier in prior devotions too, I have referred to three key words to our mission as Christians.

Let’s review those keys, just briefly:

Worship … You must recognize that God is greater than all of us

Repent … Because he is greater, his ways are also greater, so we decide to live life his way - not ours

Serve … Put that decision into action, committing our life to him

This is the Bible in three words. This is the gospel in three words. How will you respond to this mission? How will you respond to the gospel?

Most people would probably agree that there are three ways to respond: OK, OK but first let me fill in the blank, or no way. There is just one call, and it is the same for all of us. Come, follow me! It is our response to this request that matters, so let's look at how the responses play out.

First, let's look at an Old Testament prophet by the name of Elijah.

1 Kings 18:15-21 (NKJV)

Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

In work if someone leaves a company, they generally try hard to leave on good terms, so that if they need to come back, perhaps they could. Elisha was hardcore. He burned the bridges behind him, to make sure he could never return. Then in case the bridge wasn’t enough, he flambéed all his work equipment.

OK so it was a beef-grilling throwdown, but two oxen butchered and used to feed his friends and family. He didn’t have a job to come back to. This is what it looks like, to be all in, but too often, we want to make sure we have a fall-back plan.

Too often we want to look back, to make sure the bridge is intact, though. I'm gonna try this Jesus thing for a while, but if it doesn't work out, I'm gonna go back to my old ways.

Now let’s see how a couple other people responded to an invitation not from Elijah but from Jesus – God in the flesh!

Luke 9:59-62 (NKJV)
  1. Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
  2. Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
  3. And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
  4. But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

These two guys were given the same invitation – come follow me. They both said, "OK, but first …".

First let me bury my dad. – His dad wasn’t dead, or he’d already be at the funeral. What he was saying was wait until I’m older, and my parents are dead, and then I’ll come follow you. Jesus said forget about it – don’t bother. I am calling you right now, not years from now

The second guy also said OK, but first he wanted to go back and tell everyone goodbye, tell them he loved them and missed them and all that. This sounds reasonable – it sounds almost like Elisha, but he wasn’t going back, to make sure he could never come back. "Let me go back, straighten things out, make sure I leave on good terms so if this whole Jesus follower thing doesn’t work out, I’ve got a home to go back to." Jesus basically says, "No way! Forget about it. Don’t bother coming, if your heart won’t be with me in it. If I’m not worth following right here, right now, then I’m not worth following at all."

And that’s it – you can be Elisha, or you can be that other guy. One has been remembered by name, through thousands of years, and has many stories recorded of him. The other guy is just a footnote example of what not to do. The call for all is the same, but there are really only two ways to respond: OK or no way.

"OK with conditions" is a "no way, not now." Delayed obedience is disobedience.

How will you respond - will you follow God no matter what? Will you worship him without shame? Will you repent and live his way? Will you serve him with all that you are? Or will you plan on doing it later, if ever?

The choice is yours – choose wisely.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken


[email adam] acdum@hotmail.com

All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted

CFD | July 2015 | Adam's Devotions | Yesterday's Devotion | Devotional Topics