Isaiah 48:17-18 (NLT)
This is what the LORD says—Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:” I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
Who hasn’t played the children’s game, “Follow the Leader”? As children we raced to the playground early before school to meet friends and play this game. As adolescents, we did the very same thing. Even though it was not a “game”, we still chose a leader to follow and an example to duplicate in the crowd or clique chosen to follow. Even moving past childhood into adulthood, are we not all following someone or something in life. Why do we pour through magazines and spend endless hours on the Internet looking for fashion advice, life skills and health tips. Very few people escape the label as follower and choose to be a leader in life because there is always someone or something that they are after. Window shopping through life waiting on the next great acquisition that will bring us joy and contentment, we are sadly disappointment when the glitter is gone, new “car” smell fades away and the payment book comes in the mail on the things that were supposed to satisfy our soul but left us with only sorrow. God has a plan for your life and mine, too. He promised that it is a good plan with a future and hope for those who are willing to seek after Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Is that you today? Oh, really. Do you want the Goodness of God to flow through your life? Are you following the Leader today?
I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is good for you. It is scary to think that we do not have the common sense to knowingly choose that which is good for us. Must I point out the obesity rate and poor health of Americans? Obviously, we have some trouble making choices. God has promised to teach us what is good for us. He leads you along paths you should follow. If only we would learn to listen to His Commands, believe that they are true and beneficial enough to follow them once in a while. He promises peace flowing like a gentle river as His Righteousness rolls over you like waves in the sea. The sea is always moving. There is always a current even when we cannot see the waves there is a ripple underneath the surface. If God promises such in righteousness, it means that even when we cannot see Him or feel Him but choose to follow Him then we will have peace. Who couldn’t use a little peace today? How about a rest from all the worries and cares consuming your life? Well, it could be as simple as a little game of “Following the Leader”? But this time the prize is everlasting joy and overwhelming peace – who doesn’t want that?
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.
How many times have I left God’s Path to follow my own? Why not make this personal? Jesus did on the Cross. When He died for my weakness, it included every single time that I have strayed away thinking somehow that my way was better for me than the Way of the Lord. It says, “It was our (my) sorrows that weighed Him down.” Could this mean that it was my broken heart that kept Him on the Cross out of His Unfailing Love and Compassion for me and only me? I think it does. Verse 7 of the same chapter says that when the Lord was oppressed that He said not a word. I have to chuckle on the inside as I think back to the Children of Israel who complained all the way into the Promised Land. I have to blush when I think of all the times that I have grumbled my way into the Glory and Grace of God’s Blessing because I felt slightly inconvenienced or was uncomfortable in His Way. Yet on the Cross His Burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin, then sings my soul! We must learn to follow our Leader, His Name is Jesus Christ. He paid a high price to make the Way for people to return to God and walk in His Ways with maximum benefit no longer hindered by sin.
I Peter 2:21 (NLT)
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
Not to compromise anyone’s comfort, interrupt innocence, or negate naivety, but today there will be someone or several people who will suffer for following Jesus Christ. They will make the ultimate sacrifice for their confession of faith while you live in the freedom of the United States yet choose to ignore Jesus Christ and pretend that you do not know Him to walk your own way or follow the customs of this world. You have been called to do good and leave evil behind. Jesus Christ died to set you free from sin so why do you stay so immersed? Even if it means suffering…a little discomfort, embarrassment, persecution, staring eyes or rattling lips – you still are asked to follow Your Example who is Jesus Christ. You must follow in His Footsteps to do the Will of God and have His Way. You will not find the Promises of God for your life any other way. The blessings and benefits of salvation are reserved for the righteous. You have been called to do good and leave evil behind are you following the leader? Is His Name Jesus Christ? “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
God created you! He has examined our heart and knows everything about us. He knows every step you will take and exactly where it will lead you. He knows it all. The Lord goes before you and follows close behind. His Hand of Blessing is on our head. Such knowledge is most definitely overwhelming so why do we cry out for the Lord? It also says that I can never escape His Spirit I am assuming once He has entered my heart. It is all too wonderful to understand hence why we still choose to walk in our own way rather than following our Leader, Jesus Christ! We must believe that His Way is the best direction of our life AND then choose to walk that way! The Children of Israel cried out for release from the oppression of Egypt. The Lord answered them. All the people followed ALL the Lord’s Commands AND they were brought out of captivity and slavery THAT VERY DAY! How sad would it be to find that the only thing standing between us and freedom is our own willful, selfishness that refuses to follow the Lord’s Commands? He will not make you walk His Way but invites you to!
Psalm 119:57-61 (NLT)
LORD, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands. Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions.
God made you your own person. Jesus set you free to choose the way that you would go and how you will get there. His Spirit waits to lead you into every promise that the Lord ever made you. But it is up to you if you will choose life over death and blessing over cursing. He will not force you into His Will. It begins with a choice much like the one defined in Psalm 119. Why make the choice? Those who choose to follow the Lord will be covered and protected as the Lord goes before you subduing the enemy in your life. (Exodus 23:20-22) You will have a long life and prosperous life by choosing to follow the Lord. (Deuteronomy 5:32-33) The chaos in your life will be turned into order. (Deuteronomy 28:13-14) He will lead but it is totally up to you if you will follow. (Psalm 5:7-8) There is a constant and steady supply of joy for those who choose to follow wherever the Lord is leading them. (Psalm 1:1-3) (Psalm 119:1) (Proverbs 8:32) God’s Way will always leave sin and evil behind so do not be confused by the ways of this world but focus on the Lord. (Proverbs 16:17) The world will try to distract and dissuade you from walking in His Way because it is totally contradictory to its way of doing things. (Psalm 81:11-13) Do not try to share your love between God and this world because His Name is Jealous and He wants all of you to follow Him. (Exodus 34:12-14) The choice will always be up to you. “So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” (I Kings 18:20-21) Before your feet hit the floor this morning, you were faced with a choice. Will I walk in His Ways or choose my own path? I encourage you to follow the Leader!
John 10:26-30 (NLT)
But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
If you believe, you will follow Jesus. If you know His Voice, you will do what He says no longer out of obligation but overwhelming love for the Lord. You will follow His Lead in every area of your life desperate to be where He is. It in such a willing surrender of our way to His Way that God takes over and you will be filled with joy and peace right where you are because it is where He is. You will be surrounded by His Protection and nothing can snatch you from His Hand. There really doesn’t seem to be a choice. But if there is any uncertainty today, then make the choice to follow the Leader!
John 12:25-26 (NLT)
Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.