Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
“Unfollow” and “unfriend” are two new words not found in the Webster’s Dictionary but clearly a part of the social media craze. Twitter and Facebook are social networking sites with both positive and negative attributes. Like anything in this world, one must weigh the pros and cons making a decision as to what they will do with such media. My kids introduced me to such technology many years ago which I hesitantly agreed to allow them to join if I was added, too. Pardon me while I jump on a soapbox for a few moments. It is totally irresponsible as a parent to allow your preteen or teenage children access to social networking without some form of parental control and monitoring. It is our obligation as responsible and attentive parents to read what they post, see who they are “following” or “friending” and do something when deemed inappropriate. It is your right as a parent to limit their privacy when it comes to such things and thoroughly inspect their tweets, profiles and blogs. It is not an invasion of privacy but a commitment to love, protect and teach them. When they have a job to support themselves, a lease/mortgage for housing in their name, become self-sufficient enough to financially support their life outside of your home hopefully maturing along the way then and only then have they earned the right to privacy. Trust like respect is earned through wisdom. True story: My daughter grew up and went to school with a co-workers child. On a weekend the co-worker and spouse were away on business, their children had a huge party and bonfire on their property. There was alcohol and minors which is a lethal mix and in fact, law enforcement was called twice. I learned this on Facebook when my daughter was checking her page. She begged me not to tell. As a parent, I was thrust into a very uncomfortable position as I knew I had to share this information with the other party but did not want to put my child in a bad position. When I did share it and told them where I found out such information, I asked them if they ever considered looking at it. They emphatically said, “No, because they didn’t think that they wanted to know.” God is not like earthly dads, He makes it a point to know all your business and love you unconditionally anyway! I am now stepping down from the soapbox…
It is important who we follow in life. It is equally important who we “unfollow” in certain social circles. With increased availability to peer into the lives of others, there are certain times when it hinders our walk with Jesus Christ and a choice must be made. I have been in this position many times before and must decide to “unfollow” or “unfriend” the ones who compromise my walk with the Lord. You must do the same thing to not risk being pulled off course. Today as we discover the importance of who we follow, take time to consider those people on your social networking accounts and if they benefit and support you following Jesus. If not, it may be time to do some housecleaning. It is time to decide if we want God’s Best or not and live like it. Your mind is very important as well as your attitude. Things that draw you into your past including the emotions of it are no good. People who constantly cause negative and adverse responses should be eliminated from your viewing capability as they take your eyes off Jesus. The unperceived danger of social media is a silent killer of faith and righteousness as it is seemingly harmless. Just as seasons in our life change, so will our connections in this world as we seek to follow the Lord and grow in righteousness, faithfulness and holiness.
Proverbs 16:16-18 (NLT)
How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver! The path of the virtuous leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe. Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall.
Entertainment should follow the same guidelines in life. You should not allow things labeled “fiction” to be considered safe and acceptable because it is not real. You can watch anything you want to watch on television and fill your mind as you choose, that does not make it beneficial. Wisdom and good judgment go along way as we train our heart and mind to seek the Lord. The path of the righteous (virtuous) leads away from evil in all things, therefore if you would not do it then do not entertain your mind watching someone else do it. If the Lord did not give you fear, then do not pay to be scared. What you watch feeds your mind and emotions creating a desire for evil. Whoever chooses to step out in righteousness is safe. To think that you are above lust for anything is a prideful response and sin will surely find you. To be virtuous is to be morally excellent. There is no gray area here and no such thing as a little white lie or pardonable sin. There is but good and evil. Every choice that you make either leads you closer to Christ or pulls you away. Every detail of your life is considered so maybe we should start considering the very same thing.
Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 (NLT)
“This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at the matter from every possible angle. Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman! But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”
Pride comes before the fall. Just ask Solomon, son of David, who asked God for wisdom and in His Favor it was granted. Wisdom alone was not enough to save Solomon from following the wrong path in life. God blessed Solomon and gave him this instruction. “The LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’” (I Kings 9:3-5) You would think with the wisdom of God this would be no problem for the King. But in just two short chapters, the truth is revealed. “In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the LORD his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the LORD’s sight; he refused to follow the LORD completely, as his father, David, had done.” (I Kings 11:4-6) Probably the most important and relevant words for the church today that should serve as a warning are these: “he refused to follow the Lord completely…” Are you following the Lord “completely” or do you have a long friend list that is weighing you down?
Mark 8:34-35 (NLT)
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
To follow Jesus Christ means leaving some things behind and not returning to them. It is the definition of repentance. Lot’s wife was instructed not to look back at her old life as they fled Sodom and Gomorrah, but she did and was turned to a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) What good is salt that’s lost its flavor maybe? (Matthew 5:13) If you secretly crave and desire your past and begin looking back eventually you will turn back.
Mark 10:28-30 (NLT)
Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.”
Peter was bold enough to tell the Lord exactly what He was thinking, but people often choose to “creep” back into their past other ways. If you have left someone or something in your past that does not belong in your future, quit trying to see what they are up to, who they are with, and what they are doing. This is nothing more than a vain attempt to fill the void left by them rather than allowing the Lord to restore your life from the inside out. You will continue to desire the past until you return to it. If certain people are telling you to look back, they might need to go too. The Highway to Holiness and Narrow Road of Righteousness are traveled by few for this very reason. Not many are willing to give up their past to have God’s Best! What about you? Can you unfollow those who are not God’s Best? Jesus gives us a choice of direction. He will not force you to choose good over evil. The Lord will not make you take His Best, but instead simply offers it to those who are His People. “Be very careful never to make a treaty with the people who live in the land where you are going. If you do, you will follow their evil ways and be trapped. Instead, you must break down their pagan altars, smash their sacred pillars, and cut down their Asherah poles. You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (Exodus 34:12-14)
Mark 13:13 (NLT)
And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
If everyone likes you and you fit right in with the world, then there may be a problem with your walk with Christ. Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” Lost people will not always embrace you and the churches sudden need to appease everyone and high tolerance for sin is appalling to the Blood of Jesus Christ which is for the omission of sin. Now grace is nothing more than an excuse to sin in the church which is clearly not the case. Our need to do right and be right with the Lord should supersede our need to be accepted and affirmed by this world. The watered down Gospel is not what Jesus died for. Sin is sin. It has to go. Righteousness did not go out of style but in fact is the lifestyle God has chosen for His People. If you are the life of the party, watch out. Light and darkness do not mesh. Good and evil are not friends. You will turn some people off in your walk with Jesus Christ. “I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Do you know where they are pasturing their sheep?” “Yes,” the man told him. “They have moved on from here, but I heard them say, ‘Let’s go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph followed his brothers to Dothan and found them there. When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him.” (Genesis 37:16-18) Just ask Joseph about so-called “brotherly love”. His brothers loathed him and when he followed them, they put him in bondage to slavery only because they were afraid to kill him. All Joseph did was share with them the dreams that God had given them. It wasn’t his fault that their father favored him. Yet, still Joseph found his heart broken on the dirty floor of a pit until the slave traders came and the pit was exchanged for the shackles of slavery. It is up to you to live in the freedom Jesus Christ has given you even when that place seems a bit lonely. Do the Will of God even if you must do it all alone?
Luke 9:59-62 (NLT)
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Are you willing to follow Jesus? What is holding you back today? Who must you “unfollow” to stay close to the Lord? Who must you “unfriend” to align your heart and life in partnership with God? Are there things getting in the way? (Luke 18:22) Maybe there are some people that you are concerned about? (Luke 22:56-57) It happens to everyone. Don’t give up. Press in to have the Heavenly Prize that God is calling us to! (Philippians 3:14) Jesus made a way for us to follow Him and escape sin’s dominion in our life. (Isaiah 53:5-6) We are free to follow the Lord. Jesus will be the Light that leads you out of darkness. (John 8:12) Choose to stay in the well-lit path of holiness and righteousness by His Grace. He is our example. (John 13:15) We know the Lord through His Word (Galatians 5:7-8) so that we will know His Voice. (John 10:27) The Holy Spirit lives in us empowering us to live as God intended and Christ instructed enabling us to live a “good” and “godly” life. (Galatians 5:25) This is not a religion so do not be led astray. (I Corinthians 3:4-5) But through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ live the life that He saved you for and God called you to! Your soul will prosper and so will your life as you unfollow the world and unfriend the adversary in your life to follow Jesus!
Colossians 2:6-12 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.