What the Bible Says About Casting Your Cares on Jesus

What the Bible has to say about casting your cares on Jesus can help free you if you are feeling trapped under the heavy weight of burdens today.

The Burdens of Life

Burdens. We all experience them. Job stress, financial strain, marital difficulties, the child who has lost their way, failing health; they come in many shapes and sizes, but they come for us all. However, the bible tells us that we are to cast our cares on the Lord.

But what does that mean?

The cares of this world hang on the clothesline of our hearts and steal our joy and zap our strength. You feel like you are running a marathon until you look down at your feet and realize they are stuck in the mud.

You know that God loves you, you know that he hears your prayers, and you know that he will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), but what happens when you feel like you have been thrown into the pit of despair and you can’t climb out?

What do you do when your anxiety blinds you to these truths about God?

The Fisherman on the Lake

Let me give you an example of casting in the natural.

Picture with me, if you will, an angler gliding his fishing boat down the sun-kissed waters of a river. He comes to a place in the water where he feels assured that he will find what he is searching for.

Perhaps he has been successful there before, maybe someone told him that this was a place of multitudes.

Either way, he drops his anchor slowly until it holds him securely to the solid ground. Most importantly, the fisherman knows he will not be successful if he drifts aimlessly; he knows the anchor holds.

As he skillfully casts his line into the deep, he does so with an expectation that there is going to be an exchange. The fisherman anticipates that as he throws what he has (the bait) into the water, a transaction will take place. He will trade what he no longer needs for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses (the fish).

But what does that mean for us?

Casting Our Line to Jesus

Like the fisherman, we are called to come to the Living Water and to drop our anchor into the solid foundation of Christ’s love, grace, and mercy. Similarly, through prayer, we place on our hook all of the things in our life that we want to exchange.

As the burdens of our world dangle like bait, we cast these cares into the deep, and we wait in anticipation for the transaction to take place; for God to take that which is no longer needed and trade it for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses our heavy souls.

Fishing in the natural as well as the supernatural is a process. Time and patience are required to wait for the blessing. We must be willing to trust God in the waiting. (For more about waiting, read my YouVersion devotional, No Waste in the Waiting.)

There is an expression, “fish or cut bait”. This simply means that you must make a decision to keep advancing or to give up. What is also true, is that when we are praying, we must keep our line in the water and have faith that God will come and make the holy transfer.

Because, if we pull it out of the water too quickly, we may miss the blessing.

Let’s look at four ways that casting our cares on Jesus can become a reality.

Four Ways to Cast

Speak It

Let me tell you that sometimes I am guilty of pondering my problems, thinking over them intently, and believing that this is enough for prayer. For the bible says that, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” Psalm 139:4.

It is true that God knows our thoughts, but I also believe that God is calling us to speak to him in prayer. Instead of just thinking on things, calling them out, and being specific about what is burdening us, and what we want God to do for us.

Remember that prayer is not for God, it is for us.

Releasing those fears and anxieties out loud can bring its own type of healing. You can’t change won’t you don’t acknowledge.

The truth is, there is power in letting go of those things that are holding us in the pit. There is an exchange that occurs when we cast our cares on Jesus and do it with our voices.

Here is what you need to do, cry out to God, shout your fears, scream what makes you anxious, whisper your needs—God wants to hear your voice!

Soak in the Word

First, get into God’s Word! Whatever it is that is keeping your feet trapped in the miry clay, the answer is found in scripture. Many people write to me and say, “I don’t where to look in the bible for answers.” The answer I give them is to use the technology that is right at your fingertips.

First, Google it! You can put any keyword + bible verse in the Google search bar and you will find many resources that will lead you to not just one, but many scriptures on the subject.

Then, take the time to read those scriptures, either online, or even better, in your own bible. Write them down, highlight them, put them in a journal, put them on sticky notes. Do whatever works best for you. The point is that you begin to see that all the answers to your questions can be found in the glorious scriptures.

Finally, try memorizing scriptures that pertain to your particular situation. Because, when you need them in those desperate times, they will be there and you can speak them to your problems.

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22.

Sing: Praise and Worship

Oh how the enemy HATES worship! It’s true. There is nothing more effective at defeating the lies of the devil as when you sing songs of praise and worship to our God.

One thing that can happen when we are bogged down with burdens, is that it can make us very self-centered. Our focus becomes mired in— me, me, me.

This is a dangerous position to be in, and it is an open door for the enemy to come and tell you lies that sink you further into the pit. (For more about the lies of the devil, read my blog, “5 Lies from Satan You Must Stop Believing”).

Worship takes the focus off of us and places it directly on God. Rather than fixing your eyes on your problems, you fix your eyes on Jesus; casting your cares on the Lord through song!

Surround Yourself with Other Warriors

God did not design us to carry our burdens alone. My hope is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ who you trust and who can help you carry them.

Choose a few of your closest Christian friends and share with them the issues and struggles you are going through. In addition, ask them to join you in prayer and thanksgiving for the answers you are seeking. Because, keeping all of the fears, anxieties, and struggles to yourself can cause more undue stress.

When Moses could no longer lift the staff and the Israelites began to lose the battle, his two friends stepped in and helped him hold the staff up high.

We aren’t meant to do this life alone. Sometimes, the burdens are too heavy. Allow others to help you carry the weight so you don’t have to carry it alone. Essentially, allow others to help you win your battle.

Speak, sing, soak, and surround!

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 ESV.

Friend, I know that you are going through a difficult time. Just know that God is there to carry the burdens you are trying to carry on your own. Be encouraged that God loves you and that he is making a way where there seems to be no way. Have faith and trust in God’s timing. Know that even if your prayers aren’t answered immediately, there is no waste in the waiting!

God’s blessings be with you,

Susie and Between the Gardens Ministries

Consider This

This week, try and think of a strategy you can use to incorporate the 4 s’s to casting your cares on Jesus:

  • speak
  • soak
  • sing
  • surround

I Recommend

If you are going through a dry season and you are needing refreshing from the Living Water, order your copy of my new book, Abundant Rain from Amazon today.

Abundant Rain is a 40-day devotional dealing with the struggles, situations, past hurts, and regrets that can lead us to feel overwhelmed and spiritually dry. The devotional takes you on a journey of self-exploration through the Word of God to bring you life-giving water to quench your thirsty soul.

I also recommend you try my YouVersion devotional, Broken to Blessed. This 5-day devotional will walk you through times of brokenness and how to find the blessing from that which God breaks. (This devotional has over 10,000 completions!)

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Spiritual Incompatibility in Your Marriage

Introduction

Perhaps you find yourself in a situation in which you and your spouse are spiritually incompatible. You are what is know biblically, as unequally yoked; one of you is a person of faith and the other is not.

I have seen this happen a lot in the church today. Typically, it is women who are sitting alone in church. They confess that their husbands are believers, but they see no need to attend church every Sunday.

In my situation, the roles were reversed. When my husband and I were first married, it was me who was not going to church and my husband was strong in his faith.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I want to tell you my story, how I came to know the Lord, and how it changed the trajectory of our marriage.

Looking Back on My Marriage

My husband and I stood face to face on the beach; our hands interlocking so tightly it was hard to discern where one began and the other ended.

The sky, like an endless canvas, had been brushed by the Creator with striated hues of red, gold, and splashes of violet—colors and patterns no human artist could conceive.

I looked at my husband as the ocean breeze blew strong through our graying hair. He smiled his familiar smile; deep laugh lines like bookends for his crystal blue-gray eyes.

Twenty-five years ago, I stood in front of a boy and vowed to love him forever. The boy was now a man, weathered by life’s experiences, joys, and heartaches. Our lives had changed and blossomed in ways that we could have never imagined.

So much time had come and gone as gravity pushes and pulls the tide and the tide pushes and pulls the sand. We gazed at each other while we reaffirmed our vows.

The sun and the moon where both visible as dusk was approaching and they stood as our witnesses. But, as we held each other, waves licking our legs, we knew that it could have been so different.

You see, when we were married, we were unequally yoked.

What the Bible Says About Spiritual Incompatibility

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, yoke is defined as, “fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding to them the traces by which they might draw the plough.” (biblestudytools.org).

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul admonishes us, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The oxen were yoked together because they were both beasts of burden, designed for a similar purpose and mission. They would equally share the work.

In Deuteronomy 22:10, God actually forbids the yoking of two animals that are not the same, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” In this scenario, the stronger ox will end up carrying the majority of the load.

The often stubborn and unreliable donkey may refuse to move. The donkey may veer to the right or the left, leaving ground unevenly plowed; creating an atmosphere for important seed to go unplanted.

When my husband and I were dating, we ignored that we were on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum.

I had walked away from God and the church several years before. He was a spirit-filled believer who attended church every Sunday. There were red flags and caution signs, but we ignored them all.

We were deeply in love and blinded by that love. Looking back now, it is unbelievable that the discussion never came up. How good we were at planning the wedding, yet we forgot to plan for a lifetime of marriage.

After we were married, this issue grew from a tiny seed into Jack’s beanstalk in the middle of our living room. Every Sunday was the same. He invited me to church, I refused, he came home angry—rinse and repeat.

This went on for several months and the strain of what we once ignored was like a thin rope that was tearing more and more each week. Anger, resentment, and bitterness were sprouting where only love used to grow.

My husband felt spiritually divorced from me and it was hurting us both. I remembered a reading from our wedding from the book of Ruth, “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (1:16).

I knew something had to change; I knew I had to change.

I loved him and I didn’t want to lose him, and I didn’t want to be divorced. I swallowed my pride and I agreed to go with him to church. The first time I went I felt uncomfortable and out of place.

His church was so vastly different from what I grew up with. I wanted to run away that first time. The weight of the guilt I felt was overwhelming.

I know now that the Holy Spirit was convicting me. Like the prodigal son, my Father was calling me home and I felt unworthy of his love and acceptance.

After several months of reluctantly attending church, I made the decision to go to the altar and accept Jesus as my personal Lord and savior. The giant in the castle was defeated, and the beanstalk was cut down.

The rope was no longer tearing for we had added a third strand—Jesus—and “a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

We were no longer unequally yoked.

Becoming More Spiritually Compatible

Shortly after, I was water baptized. A few years later, I was leading worship, involved in children’s ministry, and dance ministry.

Today I have an online ministry, and I have written my first Bible devotional which will be released in a few months. My life, my faith, my eternity, and my marriage were forever changed.

I found out years after my conversion that my husband was praying for me every day. There were several members of the congregation that were praying for me every day. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16).

If You Find Your Marriage is Spiritually Incompatible

I want to encourage those who are reading this, and you find yourselves in a similar position. You know that you and your spouse are unequally yoked.

An ox can plow alone, and a donkey can plow alone, but they cannot plow together. It takes two of the same kind to successfully cultivate the soil of your hearts.

Perhaps you are feeling the strain of it and you are at the end of your thin rope. I want to encourage you to keep praying. All you can do is plant the seed and then wait for the Holy Spirit to do his part.

And if you hit a spiritual wall, keep praying and keep pressing in. You will find your breakthrough! (For more on spiritual walls, read my blog, “Hitting the Spiritual Wall.”)

In my situation, it was the fervent, unwavering prayers of my husband that saved me. It was not his insistence, his resentment, or his anger—it was prayer. You can’t change your spouse’s unbelieving heart—only God can do that.

Remind yourself daily of Colossians 3: 12–14, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Looking Forward in My Marriage

It could have been so different for my husband and I.

Through prayer, trust, and belief, we are now equally yoked; partners in love, in marriage, as parents, and in our faith. We press on together, both of us at the plow.

We walk side by side; equally pulling life’s load toward the next twenty-five years and beyond.

I pray for you and your spouse that you will find a way, through the grace of God, to become more spiritually compatible.

~Susie

Four Soils, Four Hearts: The Parable of the Sower

 

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9.

The Parable of the Sower

In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus is teaching us that he is the sower and the seed is the message, the Good News, the gospel, the Word of God.

Four different types of soil are mentioned in the passage. These four types of soils represent how we receive the message.

First, we will look at each of these soils and what we can learn from them.

The Four Soils

The Path

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When the seed is thrown on the path, it has no chance of taking root. It will either be scorched by the sun, or it will be picked up by the birds.

Jesus is telling us that for those who have a heart like the path, the message will land and soon be snatched up by the enemy.

Because it disappears so quickly, there is not enough time for us to understand what we have heard or what we are supposed to glean from it.

It vanishes before it has a chance to make any impact on our lives at all.

No good farmer or gardener would lay seeds on the path. Seeds need to be planted down deep into the soil where they can take root, find water and nourishment, and grow.

Perhaps it has been awhile since you walked down a dirt path, but for the people in Jesus’s time, they would have understood this image very clearly.

They didn’t have concrete or pavement. They knew quite well how worn the path is from all of the foot traffic. Like the path, our hearts can become worn; worn from the everyday routines, the struggles, the stress, and the cares of this world.

When the seeds of a Word from the Lord are tossed at us, we can continue in our routine and the seed is trampled on. Before that Word can make a difference in our lives and in our hearts, it is plucked up by the enemy and it is gone.

The Stony Ground

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When the seed falls on the stony ground, it is not stolen or ignored, it is received.

Have you ever heard a really good word from your pastor? Have your ever been super excited after a bible study or a retreat?

In these times, the Word that you are given from God is so good and it gets planted into your heart.

This time you decide that you are going to make a serious change. This time, you are going to break that addiction. This time you are going to make God a priority in your life, this time you are going to…(insert broken promise here).

Although it begins to sprout, it doesn’t last long.

Because the soil was rocky, the Word doesn’t have a chance to form deep roots; without deep roots, it cannot survive. It will be scorched by the sun, blown over by the first strong wind, or washed away in the storm.

On the surface, your faith looks impressive, but what is happening underneath matters.

You may be able to fool yourself and others for a season, but the heat, the wind, and the rain find us all—you can’t fool God.

You need depth.

You need something solid to keep you grounded when the wind blows and the storms come. Your heart needs to be attached to Jesus or you will wither, shake, and fall.

The Thorny Ground

The seeds that fall on thorny ground are Words from the Lord that are received, and they are deeply rooted.

As the Word is springing forth and blossoming, there is something else growing in your heart. Thistles, weeds, and thorns are the cares of this world and they grow fast, are very strong, and they are deeply rooted.

The roots of the thorns intermingle with the roots of our faith and they begin to choke and strangle, and steal vital nutrients from our hearts.

In my landscaping, there are weeds that pop up through the mulch. I can pull them out and literally the next morning they are back, like I never even removed them.

The reason they come back is because I only pulled what I could see, I didn’t get them at the root. The strength of the weed is found deep down in those places in the unseen—where it is deeply rooted.

It’s the same with the anxiety, fear, and other issues of the world that you are struggling with. You may think you have gotten rid of it, but have you dug it up at the root?

Until you can, it will keep popping up; reminding you, taunting you, strangling what God wants to make beautiful with its ugliness.

We can’t let the cares of this world choke and steal what God has for us—we must pull the thorns out by their roots when we recognize that they are trying to steal the blessing.

The Good Ground

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Oh the good ground! How we should always strive for the good ground!

The good ground refers to those hearts that receive the Word, that Word is deeply rooted, and that heart tends and cultivates the seed with maturity and great care.

A good gardener knows how to care for his/her garden. The good gardener knows that the plants in the garden must be planted in rich soil, fertilized and watered with prayer, worship, and reading God’s Word everyday.

It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have rocks that try and stop the roots from going deep. It means that the good gardener sees the rocks and removes them before they become a problem.

It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have weeds and thorns. It means that the gardener recognizes them when they pop up and deals with them immediately.

The good gardener knows that things don’t grow overnight. A healthy garden requires time and patience; but eventually the garden will flourish and prosper and yield a bountiful harvest of life and beauty.

New plants when first planted are small. But in time they not only grow, but they multiply and they spread. So too is the Word that is given to the good soil. It will grow and multiply and spread to others around them.

The Word of God

Jesus, as the sower, scatters the seed on all types of ground. Why doesn’t he just throw the seed on the good soil?

If you were a farmer, wouldn’t you be meticulous and put your seed in those places where you knew that it would grow?

I believe it is because Christ came to share the Word of God with everyone, not just those who were saved and sanctified.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31.

Jesus’s mission was to rescue sinners. He is calling ALL to be good ground.

Examine your own heart today. Know that Jesus will continually and freely throw you the seed of his Word.

How will you receive it?

Blessings!

Susie

@Between the Gardens Ministries

For more daily inspiration from the Word of God, follow me on Instagramand Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does the Bible Say About Discipleship?

Part One: Becoming a Disciple of Christ

Introduction to Discipleship

In this three-part series on what the bible says about discipleship, we will be exploring what it means to be a disciple of Christ, how we can disciple others, and how to use modern technology; the internet, blogs, and social media to teach, mentor, and disciple other believers.

In Part One, we will be exploring discipleship on a personal level.

How do we go from being believers to true disciples?

Jesus prayed, “I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)

Let’s first define what a disciple is.

 

Discipleship Defined

The word disciple comes from the Greek word mathétés which means pupil, learner, student, or apprentice.

If we think of an apprenticeship, we think of spending time, sometimes years, under the tutelage of a master in a particular field of study or work.

For a Christian apprentice, the master is Jesus, and the field of study is the Gospel.

We are called to be His apprentices; to study, to learn, and to put into practical application all we have been privileged to learn from the Master.

A good apprentice learns to do what the teacher does or to become what the teacher is.

This is the true calling of the believer, to enter into an apprenticeship with Jesus in order to do what Jesus does and say what Jesus says—this is discipleship—to become like Jesus.

The Church Today

So why isn’t this happening more in the Church today? Dallas Willard says in his book, The Divine Conspiracy :

“Churches today are full of people who haven’t been invited to become disciples. Being a Christian has come to mean going to church and being saved when you die. The ministry of the church is given over to “making the final cut” and solving our daily problem, not discipleship.”

If we are called to the higher purpose of discipleship, why aren’t we heeding the call?

Perhaps many Christians are not sure what discipleship even looks like. We will look at a few of the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus.

Are you ready to start your apprenticeship?

Characteristics of a Disciple

I believe there are many characteristics of being a disciple of Christ.

In Part One of this series, we will look at the following:

  • passionately committed to Christ
  • bearing good fruit
  • understanding the cost

Let’s look at our first characteristic.

1.  Discipleship and Being Passionately Committed to Christ

Jesus said, _Come follow

 

The First Disciples

I like the way Dr. Gary Burge describes discipleship in the context of our commitment to Christ:

“To be a disciple means having the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in us. It means having a supernatural, interior experience that is completely unlike anything available in the world. It is a way of believing and a way of living, but these are nurtured by the life-giving connection with Jesus Christ.”

When I think about how we are to be fully and passionately committed to the cause of Christ, I can’t help but think of the disciples that chose to walk with Jesus.

Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, were seasoned fishermen who were casting their nets into the sea. When Jesus came toward them He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Immediately they dropped their nets and followed Him.

This is the part of the story that I find amazing and shows us real commitment to following Jesus as a disciple.

What was it about this stranger that assured them that they could lay it all down; their jobs; their livelihoods, their families, and their futures to follow Him?

Remember they did not know Jesus yet. He had not brought sight to the blind or hearing to the deaf.

He had not healed the leper or made the lame walk.

Jesus hadn’t fed the 5000, or raised Lazarus from the dead.

He was a stranger, but there had to have been something about Him.

I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke something into their hearts to allow them to see something unique in the eyes of Jesus that told them He could be trusted.

There must have been something about the tone of His voice that made Peter and Andrew look at the sea and instinctively know that Jesus was the Captain; that He knew the route, for it was He that created the sea itself.

Many of Jesus’ disciples had the same experience as Peter and Andrew. They gave up everything to follow Him.

They stayed with Him, listened to Him, watched Him perform miracle after miracle, and watched Him die and rise from the dead.

The disciples were the original apprentices to the Master, Jesus. They may or may not have realized it, but Jesus was preparing them to be like Him in the world.

They had to learn to be disciples so that they could then, disciple others.

What Jesus Says About Being a Disciple

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple.”

“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Read Luke 14:25-33

Is Christ saying that if we follow Him that we must hate all others in our lives?

No!

What Jesus is telling us is that our love for Him must be so strong that all other love is like hatred in comparison.

Carrying the cross means death to self. Like the first disciples, Jesus is calling us to drop our nets and follow Him.

Follow Him in complete trust and faith as we walk with Him into the unknown; our ships sailing into uncharted waters, but knowing all along that we are with the One who created the sea itself.

Jesus cannot get the job done with half-hearted followers—we need to give it all to Him, we need to be fully committed to Him.

Those who are not willing to give up all will not be used by Him.

I want to be used by Him, but I know that I must also be bearing good fruit.

2. Discipleship and Bearing Good Fruit

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”John 15:7-8

I like the way Beth Moore describes this relationship between the vine and the Vinedresser in her book, Chasing Vines:

“If you’re in Christ, He is your true vine, whether you realize it or not. But a whole new way of flourishing begins when you know it. When you count on it. When you live like it. When you let go of the vines you thought were giving you life.”

Why Fruit?

So why did Jesus say that we must bear fruit to prove to be His disciples?

It is not by accident that Jesus referred to fruit. Fruit has in it the seed for more fruit so that the process goes on and on.

We will look more at discipling others in Part Two of this series, but I want to touch on it here for a moment.

Jesus said we are the branches, but look at any tree or vine that bears fruit.

The branch doesn’t eat the fruit, others do.

“Spirit produced fruit will go on reproducing from one life to another. Your fruit, given to another, will plant a seed that allows them to bear fruit, and then they give their fruit away and so it continues.” (Warren Wiersbe)

Good fruit produces more good fruit and discipleship reproduces more disciples.

But your fruit must first be good fruit, and that only happens as you abide with Jesus.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

Abiding in Jesus takes us back to our first characteristic: Being Fully Committed to Christ. 

Like the vine and the branches, they are all connected; it is a beautiful picture that Jesus is showing us, but even beautiful things can have dangerous thorns that we aren’t anticipating.

The life of a disciple is not an easy one, and it comes at a cost.

3. Understanding the Cost of Discipleship

Jesus invites us to come to Him. He tells us, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Salvation is free, but discipleship comes at a cost.

We have already looked at the sacrifices of self that we discussed in the first section of our text, but there is more.

We need only look at what happened to the original disciples to understand the cost:

  • Stephen was stoned to death
  • Peter was crucified upside-down
  • James (brother of John) was killed by Herod by the sword
  • Paul was beheaded

And many of the other apostles were said to have been martyred.

We know of many Christian disciples who have been martyred in the past, and many who continue to be persecuted and martyred today.

Discipleship and the World

Why is the life of a disciple of Jesus so difficult? Why is there such a cost?

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you has its own. As it is, you don’t belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Discipleship comes at a cost because we are no longer of this world. We are in it, but not of it.

And that is the choice. That is what is so hard for so many—giving up the world and worldly things to follow Christ and to be His disciple.

Perhaps that is why Jesus said that the gate is narrow and few go through it.

Maybe that is why Jesus said that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.

How many are willing to pay the cost?

Conclusion

 

 

When Jesus came to the earth as a man, He didn’t need the disciples. He could have accomplished every task he desired without them.

He chose to partner with them.

In the same way, God doesn’t not need us to accomplish all that He wishes to accomplish on the earth today, but He wants us.

Oh how I pray that you will let this sink down into your spirit today!

God wants you to partner with Him. God chose YOU!

No matter what the cost, there is no price that can be placed on doing the will of the Father.

He has placed you at this time and in this place for a reason. It is now up to you to decide if you will choose to partner with Him. It is time for you to choose to love the world or be hated by it.

Do you just want to sit by and hope that you “make the final cut”, or do you want more?

This is an important question, because unless you become a disciple, you cannot disciple others.

That is what we will be discussing next week in Part Two of our series: Discipling Others.

Until then…

Be blessed as you choose to be a true disciple of Christ,

Susie

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of unsplash.com

All scripture references are from the English Standard Version (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Breaking of the Bread: The Road to Emmaus

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Introduction

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu

Join me as we discover how two men found Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Would you strap on your sandals, grab your favorite cloak, and take a walk with me down the dusty, crumbly, dirt road that led to a village called Emmaus?

Let us experience the journey with these two disciples as they walk side-by-side in the sun and with the Son.

As with all good stories, we must set the stage. It is important to add some context to the story before we start this journey through the pages of Luke 24:13-35.

The Gospel Account

Let’s go back a few verses and discover what was happening on this amazing day.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again,’

Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:1-11.

They did not believe.

The Road to Emmaus

“Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.”Luke 24:13.

I can only assume that, human nature, being human nature, the story of the crucifixion of Jesus would have been the talk of the whole town.

In present day, I imagine it being all over Facebook and trending on Twitter. Strange that the two men were talking about what had happened in the past and neither seemed to be talking about the miraculous news that they had been given earlier in the morning.

The tomb was empty and two angels appeared to proclaim that Jesus had risen. But remember, they did not believe. They remained in a state of discouragement and disappointment.


I am going to give these two men the benefit of the doubt for a moment.

It is easy for us, who know the truth, to become frustrated with their lack of faith. I can only imagine how difficult this time must have been for them, and for all who had followed Jesus.

How challenging it must have been for them to reconcile the events that had occurred just three days before.

The One they had loved was dead and lost forever. Now they were left alone, shocked, confused, and discouraged.

Who Jesus Was and Who They Thought He Should Be

Why were they discouraged? I believe that their discouragement and their disappointment manifested from a misinterpretation of what Jesus came to Earth to accomplish.

Many in that time felt that the Messiah would be a conquering King and a Redeemer who would free Israel from the tyranny of the Romans.

To redeem someone means to rescue them from a bad situation.

The disciples, like many who followed Jesus, didn’t understand that He had come not only to redeem Israel, but all of mankind.

Here is the disconnect: They were looking for a warrior and Jesus came as a servant.

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God didn’t do what they wanted Him to, in the way they wanted Him to do it, and this left them discouraged.

We will always be disappointed and miss the truth when we superimpose our will over God’s.

For what Jesus fulfilled in his death and resurrection is so much greater than any idea or plan that a mere mortal could conceive.

Jesus Joins Them


As the wind blew and dust swirled around them, the travelers exchanged impassioned words and asked legitimate questions.

And then they both came to a stop as an unannounced man came to join them on their walk.

I picture the two men looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders, and beginning to walk again—not knowing WHO had joined them.


“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”Luke 24:15-16.

How could the perfect, resurrected Jesus walk with them and they didn’t recognize Him?

We can assume from the text that this was an intentional divine intervention.

We cannot know the motive of Jesus at this point, we can only make assumptions as to this act of divine blindness.

Perhaps Jesus wanted us to see that He does walk with us during our darkest times, but sometimes we block out the signs and signals God is sending us.

He is walking right beside us, but we are looking at our circumstances through our human eyes and not our spiritual eyes.

Unbelief can be like a veil that prevents us from looking into the unseen.


These two men were certainly looking for an answer and what they didn’t realize was that Jesus was the answer.

This part of the story gives us a picture of what was meant in Matthew 18:20:“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”

Oh this gives me such hope! There He was in the midst of them.


“He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:17.I can almost picture a smile widening on the face of Jesus in this moment.

One of the men, named, Cleopas, seemed annoyed that this stranger could be in Jerusalem and not know the hottest topic going around like wildfire throughout the city.

Hasn’t he looked at his Twitter feed? Jesus smiled again and asked innocently, “What things?”

Jesus Wants to Talk About Things He Already Knows


How desperately patient our sweet Jesus is when we tell Him things that He already knows.

As the two men began to recount the events of the last few days, Jesus listens attentively to them; without interruption, without correcting them.

Even when Jesus could still envision the hammer as it hit hard against the iron nail over and over; tearing through skin, tissue, and bone.

Even as the memory of the agonizing pain He had felt as His body pulled and stretched, suffocating Him until death remained fresh.


He listened. What a beautiful moment of grace personified.

How true is this for us when we come to Jesus in prayer and we cry out and tell Him what is happening in our lives.

When we share our pain, our frustrations, our heartbreaks, our fears, our problems—as if in His omniscience, He doesn’t already know what we are doing, thinking, and feeling.

But we know that we are called to talk to Jesus.

For me this exchange between Jesus and the two men reminds us that we are to pray not because God doesn’t see the mountain we are facing.

We are called to pray because He is the only one who can remove it.

Prayer is for us—not for Him. Prayer helps us to build our relationship with God, it helps us accomplish God’s work, it is a weapon of spiritual warfare, it is valuable to God.

But nothing you say to Him in prayer is a surprise. David said in Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”

My friends, He so desperately wants us to talk with Him!

Jesus Takes the Men to the Word of God

Next, the men said to Jesus:“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” Luke 24:21.

This reference to the third day was most likely related to the Jewish belief that by the third day after one’s death, the soul has left the body and the chance of a resurrection was no longer possible.

Then the travelers told Jesus about what had happened that morning—how the women had told them about the empty tomb, the angels who proclaimed that Jesus had risen, how some had gone to the tomb to see it, but they didn’t see Jesus.

Obviously, the two men did not see the paradoxical nature of what they were saying.

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“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”Luke 24: 25-26.

Jesus did not perform some supernatural or spectacular event. He took them to the Word.


The Word who became flesh, the God of the Word took them to the Word of God.

Why?

Because the Word is what stands, what endures, what remains when everything else seems lost.

The flower will fade and grass will wither, but the Word of God will remain. In the beginning was the Word.

The Word created the universe and the Word holds the universe together.

The Word is true, honest, and objective. When everything is sinking sand, the Word holds.

Jesus didn’t just give a litany of all of the prophesies, He brought back to their memory all that had heard concerning Him—the Messiah.

Jesus showed them what we must look for as we read the Bible; we need to look for Jesus Christ on every page.

Seek Him and you will find Him.

It Wasn’t A Head Problem, It Was a Heart Problem


He could have talked to them for days about all that the Word had to say about Him, but their eyes would still have been closed.

Warren Wiersbe says it like this, “They did not believe all that the prophets had written about the Messiah.

As they read the Old Testament, they saw the glory but not the suffering; they saw the crown but not the cross.”

It was not a head problem, it was a heart problem.

And when there is a heart problem, there is only one place that it can fixed—in the Word!

As they approached the village, Jesus continued on as if He was going to go farther, and the two men urged Him to stay and dine with them as the hour was getting late and it was growing dark.

Jesus Joins Them For Supper

Jesus agrees to join them for supper and so they sit at the table and dine together.


“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them, Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24: 30-31.

I love this part of the story and I want you to see something very important.

Let’s set the scene again. Jesus and the two men are now off of the road. They are probably in the home of one of the men.

Jesus has agreed to dine with them. Remember what it says in Revelation 3:20? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

The men had heard Jesus’s voice and they had let Him in. Now they would eat with Him and He would eat with them.

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The scripture tells us that Jesus was at the table with them.

In some translations, it says that Jesus reclined at the table with them. It is important to understand the culture and tradition of the time.

In biblical times, people did not sit in chairs at a dining room table like we do in the West.

The tradition was to recline, to lie on one’s side, leaning on one elbow. It was much more intimate and casual than we are used to here in America.


So there they are, the three of them, reclining at the table over pleasant conversation. Perhaps there are candles or lanterns flickering and casting a soft glow over the house.

The two travelers were probably tired from their journey, still trying to process what had transpired on the road; still trying to understand all that the stranger had told them.

The scripture tell us, however, that their hearts were burning.

Why Were Their Hearts Burning?


Why were there heart burning?

Why couldn’t they let the unexpected interloper go yet?

Because the Holy Spirit was alive and active and removing their spiritual blinders. The scriptures had unfolded before them and possibly for the first time they were beginning to fully understand what they meant.

That is what the Holy Spirit does for us as we spend time in the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit ignites a fire that burns inside of our hearts to want more and more of what God has to say in His Word.

Although we are not told this in the passage, I can imagine that the two men, who began their journey in sadness, had begun to feel joy, peace, love, and maybe even hope.
And then…Jesus broke the bread.

It was not customary for anyone but the owner of the home to break the bread, but in allowing Jesus to take hold of this honor and give Him their bread, their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus.

Grace Millbrook says, “We must surrender our bread to Jesus. He can do more with it than we can! We must surrender totally to Him. Let Him into our lives, give Him charge over our bread, the rooms in our homes, cluttered or uncluttered, all must be turned over to Him. We have to show Him the parts of the house that we wouldn’t normally show anyone and give Him free reign . That is when their eyes were opened—in the surrender!”(gracemillbrook.com).

The Eyes of The Two Men Are Opened

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”Luke 24:33-35.

What we see in this story is the transformative power of Jesus on these two, discouraged and disappointed men.

We see how the Holy Spirit moved into their hearts and unfolded the Word of God. These men were changed; spiritual eyes opened for the first time.

They were able to tell the others the good news of the resurrection, to lift the spirits of the disciples, to give them hope and a promise.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to see the redemptive power of the cross, and the true purpose of God sending His only Son to die on the cross.

Jesus is alive! And they were able to see Him in the breaking of the bread.

My Prayer For You

My prayer for you is that as you are walking along your path in life, Jesus would come to walk with you.

I pray that as you bring Him your doubts, your worries, and your questions, that you allow Him to take you to the Word.

I pray that you would allow Him to come and dine with you, recline with you, and sit at your table; that you wouldn’t want Him to leave.

I pray that the eyes of your hearts would be opened and they would be burning as the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of who Jesus is, why He came to this earth, the redemptive power of what happened on the cross, and the miracle that transpired as He rolled the stone away and rose from the dead.

I pray that you would find Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Blessings as you find Him on your road,

Susie