Flowing Faith

Following Christ without Excuses

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following Christ wihtout excuses
Lent is a wonderful time to really examine where we are in our walk with God. Not to condemn ourselves but to help ourselves to be where we could be. Because it is our own loss if we are not enjoying a truly intimate relationship with God. It is our loss if we are not close to Jesus. It is our loss if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said. Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.” (Luke 9:57-58, MSG)

We might think we are willing to follow Jesus wherever. But when the things get rough we back off. When things are not that glamorous or cool we keep our distance. When things are not what we thought they’d be we let things cool off. But if we truly want to follow Jesus, we need to be ready to let him decide what’s good for us. And usually it does not involve five star hotels or fast-track living.

Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.” Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”  (Luke 9:58-60, MSG)

What are your most used excuses? Jesus is calling us to follow him and we eagerly say yes….and then we add “but”. Our “buts” might even be valid excuses in religious circles but when it comes to following Jesus there’s no place for any excuses. Yet we do have them. Lord, have mercy.

Our excuses are not that big necessarily. But all kind of little reasons like why we can’t today read the Bible. Why we can’t do this and give that. We are not asked to follow Jesus as long as it feels right or it suits our plans. We are invited to follow Jesus no matter what. And usually all out excuses are about things of this world, about things that will not matter one bit in the eternity. Our business is life, not death. Our business is everything that will last forever. Everything else is rubbish. Why do we then use them as excuses to not do God’s will? Lord, have mercy.

Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.” Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9:60-62, MSG)

We can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. There’s not guarantee there will be a tomorrow. We can’t put following Christ off for later. This is the moment we can meet him. This is the day we can be restored. This is the twinkle we are blessed in the Lord.

God’s message is urgent. Everyone needs to here that Jesus saves. Everyone needs to experience the freedom in Christ. Because there is nothing better than to know the love of God, receive the grace of Christ and live in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us all our excuses to not follow you more closely.
Take our excuses away and
give us courage to readily follow you.
Show us what it means to be a true follower of Christ.
Enable us to seize the day and
announce the Kingdom of God in such ways
that everyone could know the love of God,
receive the grace of Christ and
live in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen 

Here are some self-examination questions for you this Lenten season:
What kind of excuses do you use to say no to the Lord?
How can you make all your business about Life?
How can even more readily follow Jesus in your everyday life?
Are you as close to Jesus as possible?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you follow Christ even more closely!

Photo courtesy of Jared Rarick, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Thought-Provoking Thursday, Faith-filled Fridays, and

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  • Scott

    Wow! Not sure where you obtained that English translation of
    the scriptures? You may want to consider referring to other translations to
    assure reliability with the Greek manuscripts which this translation is greatly
    lacking. The current rendering of verses with the translation presented has
    added to and taken away from the Greek manuscripts and also the principles of
    Christ’s message that can be plainly seen when comparing with KJV and I’ll
    throw in a few other renderings of this verse to avoid any suspected favoritism
    to any particular translation.

    Verse 60 that was presented:

    Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life,
    not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”

    Matthew observed and reported the same event and the KJV
    translators rendered this verse as such:

    Mat 8:22 But Jesus
    said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

    Then in Luke:

    KJV-Luke 9:60 Yet He said to him, “Let the DEAD ENTOMB
    THEIR OWN DEAD. Yet you, coming away, publish the kingdom of God.

    The translations you use renders this verse which I will
    break down:

    “Jesus refused”. Comment: First and foremost this supposed refusal
    by Christ is not notated in the Greek manuscript and thus pollutes the
    scriptures of Christ. Go check for yourself if you feel so inclined

    Then the butchering of this verse continues with” “First
    things first” Comment: [Not found in the Greek manuscripts]

    Now here comes the total destruction of this verse in which
    Christ was trying to convey an important teaching when Jesus said “let the DEAD
    ENTOMB THEIR OWN DEAD” which in turn the translation you presented had replaced
    this with “Your business is life, not death” The only correct rendering of the
    Greek in this translation is of course the last 3 words in the verse “Announce
    God’s kingdom”.

    Verse 60 is extremely important teaching that has a higher
    spiritual meaning and it is worthy of a second and third views from translators
    who exercise care in using rational thought and consistency in their
    translations’

    (CLVNT- Luk 9:60) Yet HE SAID TO HIM, “Let the DEAD
    ENTOMB THEIR OWN DEAD. Yet you, coming away, publish the kingdom of God.”

    Notice no refusal by Christ was given, Jesus uttered a closed
    end statement here and nothing more and the “dead entomb the dead” remains in
    the translation from the Concordant scholars.

    ESV- Luk 9:60 And
    Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you,
    go and proclaim the kingdom
    of God.”

    Likewise the same verse rendered by English Standard Bible
    translators.

    Rotherham Bible- Luk 9:60
    And he said unto him—Leave, the dead, to bury their own dead; but, thou,
    departing, be declaring the kingdom
    of God.

    But why is this “ dead entomb their own dead” so important
    you might ask? Because our Saviour just made an astounding teaching about the
    spiritual condition of a group of people and I am willing to share a pearl of
    wisdom with you. I would like to suggest you to obtain a different English
    translation Bible then the current one you are using so that you can follow
    along.

    Christ said “Let the dead bury the dead”, but common sense
    and rational thinking and the law of physics dictate that a dead person can do
    no such thing as to bury an actual physically dead person. See (Psa 146:4, Ecc
    9:10
    ).

    Therefore Christ is speaking figuratively. In what manner or
    condition does a person have to be in whom was labeled dead by Christ, and yet retains
    the ability to bury a physically dead person? Answer: A person that is SPIRITUALLY DEAD
    which indicates that this verse portrays figurative speech by our Lord in this
    teaching and a similar teaching is also found in Luke 15:24 the prodigal son.

    “For this MY SON WAS DEAD, and is alive again; he was lost,
    and is found. And they began to be merry.”

    The prodigal son of course was spiritually dead when he left
    his father‘s dwelling with his inheritance to live a riotous lifestyle. See the
    relevance here?

    This principle of teaching is lost when a poor translation totally
    destroys the teachings of Christ. I do not believe in book burning however there
    are always exceptions to that rule and this appears to be one of those
    exceptions.

    You also have made several comments in regards to being
    close to Jesus and I would like to point out a few facts that the scriptures fail
    to support your premise.

    Quote: “Because it is our own loss if we are not enjoying a
    truly intimate relationship with God. It is our loss if we are not close to
    Jesus”.

    Comment: So Mrs. Stålnacke how exactly can that be possible
    when Christ preached in John the following:

    (John 6:44) No man
    can come to me [Jesus], except the Father which hath sent me draw [Greek-DRAG]
    him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Hmm? we have a scripture here that seems to contradict with
    your teachings so we seek out another witness to confirm this suspicion:

    (John 6:65) And he
    said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man [That’s everyone] can come unto
    me, EXCEPT IT WERE GIVEN [not obtained by self] unto him of my Father.

    There is a scripture that harmonize with these two
    scriptures and is found in Matthew and is an interesting revelation to Peter:

    (KJV-Mat 16:13) When
    Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,
    saying, Whom do men [Multitudes] say that I the Son of man am? And they said,
    Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or
    one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye [disciples] that I am?
    And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
    God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: FOR
    FLESH AND BLOOD [man] hath not revealed it unto thee, BUT MY FATHER WHICH ART
    IN HEAVEN.

    Even Christ was inspired by the Father that we read in Luke:

    Luk 1:80 And the
    child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of
    his shewing unto Israel.

    It was the Father doing the waxing here:

    Again Jesus confesses:

    Joh 5:19 Then
    answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, THE SON CAN
    DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever
    he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

    Joh 5:30 I can of MINE
    OWN SELF DO NOTHING: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I
    seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

    Joh 6:38 For I came
    down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me

    Three different times in the book of John Jesus mentions that
    His will is driven and inspired by the Father.

    The scriptures harmonize together when Jesus teaches that
    men are chosen in becoming aware of Christ and the father instead of man
    desiring to BE CLOSE TO JESUS as you suggest. We have the many called (Mat
    22:14
    )

    God announces to the prophets throughout the ages His
    intentions with man:

    Psa 37:23 The steps
    of a good man [That pretty specific] are
    ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

    Pro 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD
    directeth his steps.

    Jer 10:23 O LORD, I
    know that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN that walketh to
    direct his steps.

    So you see Mrs. Stålnacke, man is
    not losing out as you suggest. God has man doing everything that
    coincides with His will, not mans will, and God also open’s up man’s
    understanding of these things and it all starts with grace.

    (Eph. 2:8) “For by grace are ye saved through faith;
    and that [that faith] NOT of yourselves [Notice the word NOT and YOURSELVES];
    it is the gift of GOD”

    Ah yes Mrs. Stålnacke God has a plan for all of humanity before
    the foundation of the world and has never swayed from it:

    Isa 46:9-11 Remember
    the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and
    there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient
    times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I
    will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that
    executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I HAVE SPOKEN IT, I WILL BRING IT
    TO PASS; I HAVE PROPOSED IT, I WILL ALSO DO IT.

    Notice Mrs. Stålnacke that God will accomplish His will
    however; as Christians, do we really truly believe in these verses that God had
    inspired the prophets to record? Not many will have this belief that God really
    does have a plan for humanity throughout the ages.

    (Eze 24:14) I the
    LORD HAVE SPOKEN IT: it SHALL COME TO PASS, and I WILL DO IT; I WILL NOT GO
    BACK back, NEITHER WILL I SPARE, neither will I repent; according to thy ways,
    and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.

    And God will not fail in anything that he plans nor does God
    deviate from His works:

    (Mal. 3:6) “For I am the Lord, I CHANGE NOT…”

    (Heb. 1:12) And as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and
    they shall be changed: but THOU ART THE SAME

    You know, mankind can be very stubborn when told that man does
    not have the ability to do good and to obey God and to keep His commandments
    and God goes on to tell humanity exactly how He actually operates in our lives:

    (Ecc. 3:11) “He [God] has made everything FITTING in its
    season; However, He has put OBSCURITY IN THEIR HEART [Their= man’s] so that the
    man may NOT FIND OUT HIS [God’s] WORK, that which God [NOT MAN!] does from the
    beginning to the end.”

    Another witness:

    Dan 4:35 And all the
    inhabitants of the earth [That would be everyone] are reputed as nothing: and
    he doeth according to his [Not man’s] will in the army of heaven, and among the
    inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What
    doest thou?

    Adam and Eve, Cain, Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Noah’s
    Ark, the people of the wilderness during the time of Moses ect., ect., simply
    could not, and did not obey God’s commandments no matter how many miraculous
    signs God would display for all to see and just exactly why is that? Well if
    you have a decent English translation of the Greek then you can see that Paul
    explains this dilemma:

    Rom 8:20 For the
    creature was made subject to vanity [depravity worthlessness, conceit] NOT
    WILLINGLY, but BY REASON OF HIM [God] who hath subjected the same in hope…..

    I am a creature, and you are a creature, we are all
    creatures, so Paul is talking about US! Paul was the most highly educated in
    the scriptures amongst the Apostles and He knew the condition of mankind
    starting with Adam and Eve back in the garden up until present time.

    Second witness where Paul once again sharing his knowledge
    of the human condition:

    Rom 3:10-12 As it is
    written, There is none righteous, NO, NOT ONE: There IS NONE that
    understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of
    the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good,
    no, not one.

    And this teaching took place well after Christ returned to
    His former glories in the kingdom Mrs. Stålnacke however; God did make
    provisions for us weak spirited worthless creatures before the foundation of
    the world:

    (1Pe 1:19-20) But
    with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without
    spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was
    manifest in these last times for you…

    And;

    Rev 13:8 And all that
    dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book
    of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    And why was this Lamb necessary to begin with?

    Rom 8:21 Because the
    creature [that’s us!] WILL BE [continuing action] delivered from the bondage of
    corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

    Paul goes on to explain the significance of Christ’s resurrection:

    (Heb. 13:20-21) “Now the GOD [remember this word,
    'GOD'--not SELF] of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
    that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting
    convenient, MAKE YOU [do you see the different between making yourself or GOD
    MAKING YOU?] perfect in every good work TO DO [God is doing the 'doing'] His
    will, WORKING IN YOU [it is not your own free will working in you, but GOD!]
    that which is well pleasing in HIS sight, through Jesus Christ; TO WHOM BE
    GLORY [we receive NO glory--we did NOTHING!] for ever and ever [Gk: 'eons of
    the eons]. Amen”

    It is God’s plan and no one else’s that draws men to God. and
    this next verse can be misleading at times if quoted by itself:

    Php 2:12 Wherefore,
    my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much
    more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    Why should man be in fear and trembling?

    Php 2:13 For it is
    God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    Mrs. Stålnacke, it is a very lovely thought that mankind
    could come to God willingly however; the scriptures are devoid of such teachings.
    There is no doubt in my mind that you desire to teach the gospel of Jesus and
    be closer to God with undeniable zeal however, this teaching does not edify the
    body of Christ and I have presented many, many scriptures indicating that God
    is really, really sovereign over every aspect of this reality that we exist in
    including our very own lives.

    God is exercising a pure plan of perfection that has been placed
    in action before the foundation of the world and God makes this point clear
    with this scripture:

    (CLVNT-Ecc 3:14) I know that all the One, Elohim, is doing,
    It shall be for the eon [age-abiding]; Onto it there can be NOTHING TO ADD, And
    from it there can be NOTHING TO SUBTRACT; The One, Elohim, He does it that they
    may fear before.

    Not one change in God’s plan. Nothing can be added or
    subtracted and the ones that God has opened up their understanding in the
    scriptures know these marvelous truths and fear this very thing of God.

    (Eph. 2:10) “For we are His [God's, not
    ours] workmanship [Gk: 'achievement'] created in Christ Jesus…”

    Mrs. Stålnacke the statements that you have made indeed contradict
    scriptures and this so called closeness to Christ is based on man’s wisdom (doctrine)
    and injected into the teachings by the institutionalized churches. This man
    made self governing desire to achieve closeness to Christ and the Father is invalid
    and this desire can only be initiated by God himself.

    Quote: What kind of excuses do you use to say no to the
    Lord?

    Comment: No one in their right mind would ever defy God
    especially if that person could perceive who God and His Son really are in the
    first place so, this question is pretty much irrelevant. Remember God makes vessels
    of honor and dishonor and the ones whom remain ignorant of God has been made
    for God’s purpose to begin with. See Romans 9:22-23.

    Quote:

    God’s message is urgent. Everyone needs to here that Jesus
    saves.

    Comment: All of God’s will and pleasure will be satisfied
    Mrs. Stålnacke and God inspires scriptures such as this to make His point:

    (1Co 1:21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by
    wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save
    them that believe.

    Best of luck with your endeavors in seeking out the truth of
    the scriptures.

    Scott

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      Thank you, Scott, for you detailed comment. I will try to answer you briefly. If you want to continue this conversation you are welcome to email me.

      MSG is the Message paraphrase, not a translation. I have studied ancient Greek and I do use many different translations in my posts. Unfortunately I can’t explain everything about each Bible passage I quote in one post.

      In this post I was talking to people who have already been drawn to God, people that are already saved by grace through faith in Christ. Even these people have seasons of drought in their faith walk. And then it really is our loss if we are not enjoying the close relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our salvation is always God’s work, not ours. But when we are already followers of Christ we are called to take care of our spiritual well-being. Of course, even this is grace. Even this happens when we are empowered by grace.

      I am sorry if I have mislead you to think I would think we could ever save ourselves. That has never been my intention. (God forbid!) But I do think we can withdraw from God. Not necessarily consciously but because the sanctification process takes a lifetime. We will not be completely holy until we reach heaven. And this happens, of course, only by God’s amazing grace.

      Thank you again for taking time to comment. Abundant blessings to you, Scott, as you continue your walk with God!

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