Good morning special sisters in Messiah,
Through prayer, I periodically ask the Lord what He requires of me to exemplify my faithful obedience to Him. I then wait upon the Lord to hear His still, quiet voice for His will and guidance to be revealed. Several years ago I became convicted that complete dedication to living a God-centered, Spirit-filled life is only accomplished by God’s grace, His divine help and the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of God). This week I feel led to share my heart on how daughters of God cultivate a lifestyle of . . .
Living Our Life For Yeshua – Jesus
The B’rit Hadashah, New Covenant Scriptures, capture six elements from the very lips of Yeshua in how to express our devotion to Him. Let us focus our attention on Him and accept His holy Word in Spirit and Truth. The first step is to cultivate a desire for this depth of devotion, by welcoming Yeshua into our lives and completely surrendering ourselves to Him. Please find comfort in knowing that each of us is at a different level in our spiritual maturity. The diversity among us, with regard to our walk with the Lord, is very personal in nature. Let us not allow ourselves to become discouraged, as God always meets us wherever we are in our walk with Him. Spiritual maturity is a process and Yeshua’s desire is to ultimately possess all of us in Him. In the New Covenant we can trace Yeshua’s call to commitment from His children. Our Lord clearly states that we cannot be His disciples unless we desire possessing specific characteristics. Let us glean on some of the ways that demonstrate Yeshua as our Teacher and we, His followers:
1. Our hearts completely open to dedicating our love for Yeshua; that means we love Him most: Yeshua proclaimed, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Please do not lose heart and turn into a shrinking violet. Rather, find comfort in knowing that the word “hate” used in this context essentially has to do with a comparison of the manner and degree we love the Lord versus how we love others. Simply put, our love for God is to be far greater than our love for even the dearest of relations. Yeshuah’s spoken words found in Matthew 22:37-38, refers to the first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Throughout the seasons of our life, we are continually confronted with situations that require godly decision making. On-going decisions will be made whether we commit to obeying Yeshua and His Word or fall prey to the pressures of the world. Each opportunity to serve God represents this test: Who or what do we love most? If we do not give Yeshua the preeminence He rightfully deserves, He tells us that we are not worthy of Him.
Loving God with an unrivaled love means that we will esteem nothing of greater worth than Him. This includes family, friends, possessions, fame, power, profession and especially ourselves. In doing so, we demonstrate that we are choosing to do things God’s way and not our own. Is this mandate easy? Of course not, because our fleshly desires will occasionally rise up. God will test us at times and we need to remain faithful to Him regarding our thoughts, actions and deeds. Nevertheless, each of us periodically struggles in our fleshly lives. Most important is to be mindful of these times and to be in prayer for God’s grace, strength and guidance. This is the essence of true worship. By losing our lives in that manner for Messiah’s sake, we will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).
2. Bodies offered completely; that means we die to self. In Mark 8:34, Yeshua states, “Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” I believe the word “deny” in this context has the strongest meaning possible – to utterly and completely separate from self. Taking up our cross by denying self is imperative, because it is impossible to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
Dying to self is a prerequisite to living for Messiah. Paul wrote of this when he said: “I am crucified with Messiah and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). In spite of the cost of death to self and whatever personal suffering that may bring, a dedicated disciple will follow after Messiah wherever He chooses to lead.
To not bear the cross of self-denial pits our will against God’s will, which is pridefulness. Pride is the root of all sin, because “self” competes with God for control and glory. In contrast, humility is the root of all virtue, because humility denies self and says, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done!” The outgrowth of such humility produces deep abiding joy, as the result of knowing and truly pleasing God (John 15:10-11). Living a life that is uncompromising, is a mark of a true disciple.
3. Surrender ourselves unreservedly to Yeshua; that means we will obey Him. In Luke 14:33, Yeshua says, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Given the fact Lord Yeshua purchased us with His precious blood, we belong entirely unto Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In light of this, our Lord expects us to acknowledge His rightful ownership, by not holding back anything for ourselves. As our Master, Yeshua has the authority to dispose of all our possessions (Matthew 19:21). He owns everything that we possess, because He blessed us with everything we have, material and non-material.
Some words of wisdom from two well-known people: John Wesley said, “I value all things, only by the price they shall gain in eternity.” David Livingston stated, “I place no value on anything I possess, except in relation to the Kingdom of God.” These two godly men, along with many others like them, forsook everything for the cause of Messiah.
Yeshua says the same to all His sons and daughters, that out of our love for Him we need to be prepared to forsake all that we own; then our life will be truly blessed. We need to be working toward being so captivated with the Lord that we invest all we have for Him – time, talent and treasures – allowing nothing else to take higher priority than obedience and worship to Him alone. In a nutshell, a life given unreservedly back to God as a love offering, is what stewardship is all about. Of course, this type of commitment can only come through God’s amazing grace.
4. Eyes focused eagerly on God’s Word; we hunger to see Him in His Word. Believing in Yeshua as our personal Lord and Savior is the first step of discipleship (John 3:16-18). Abiding in His Word bears witness that we have true life in Messiah. By remaining in His Word, we become not only a “hearer” but also a “doer” of His holy Word. In doing so, we demonstrate that His love is in us (James 1:22-25; John 15:10-11).
If all we do is hear the Word preached, we are similar to a person trying to grasp a softball with just our little finger. Hearing plus faithful reading of God’s Word is far better; and, adding study is even greater. But, we still cannot get much hold on the ball with only three fingers. Do we not require all four fingers and an opposing thumb to firmly grasp a softball? So, dear sisters, we need to strive toward hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating upon the Word of God, enabling us to firmly grasp the Scriptures. Then, when the storms of life come upon us, our foundation is deeply rooted and secure. It is grounded in the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25).
During our remaining earthly life, we may periodically struggle to become genuine disciples of the Lord. The antidote is to possess an unbounded passion to read, study and obey God’s precious Word; living out His active, living Word. Also, being in daily prayer guards our heart to be more like Yeshua. This is the very foundation that will inspire us to truly love Yeshua and our brothers and sisters in the body of Messiah. Yeshua commanded that all relationships be focused on fulfilling these two loves (Matthew 22:37-40).
5. Our actions need to reflect our selfless love for others; that means we love with Yeshua’s love. In John 13:34-35, Yeshua said: “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The commandment to love was not new, but the manner of love to be demonstrated was now taking on a new direction; to love in the capacity as Yeshua has loved. Yeshua loved to the very end, all the way to Calvary; a final example of what it means to love “as He has loved us.” Yeshua loves us unconditionally, even with our sin nature, and that is the way He desires us to love one another; not the sin.
John 15:13 reminds us of the capacity our Lord asks that we love one another: “Greater love has no one than this, that he (Yeshua) lay down his life for his friends.” Personal relationships need not be guided by whether we feel like loving at any particular moment. Our ability to love someone to the degree that Yeshua loves us, involves His grace and our commitment to follow Him. You may ask, so what if that individual is not very loveable? If we posed that question to Yeshua, what do you think His response would be? Perhaps He might say, “Were you very loveable when I first loved you, caught up in the trespasses of your sin nature?” By God’s grace and a voluntary act of our will, we are able to behave in the best interest of others, regardless of their unloving responses to us. Please be reminded that each of us is a work in progress; we are God’s masterpiece. Sometimes His finished product is stunning; other times, God’s hand of grace needs to be further extended toward a more willing recipient with an open heart.
6. Our lives need to be spent on bearing fruit for God’s glory; meaning to walk in the Spirit. Yeshua said: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8). The ultimate goal of discipleship is this: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Messiah loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Living our lives for Yeshua is an on-going lifetime process, by which the Ruach HaKodesh uses the Word of God to conform a child of God, into the image of God, for the glory of God. In doing so, He produces in us the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). That fruit is manifested in the life of a true disciple of Yeshua.
I pray that Yeshua’s love evokes you to answer His call, follow His will and give Him your all! I wish each of you a very blessed week ahead. Let us never forget . . . it’s all about Yeshua-Jesus and living our life in Him, through Him and for Him, all because of His grace. I give Him alone all the glory for using me as His vessel this morning.
In the cleft of His Rock,
Your sister Eileen