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How to Follow Jesus Very Closely in 2015

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Call to a Lifestyle of Discipleship: Lectio in Psalm 84 

Exercise in Lectio Divina (‘divine’ or spiritual reading of scripture): Be still before God; invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the text; slowly read Psalm 84 out aloud and let God give you a word, or phrase, or thought, or picture, etc, through the text… then meditate on it and pray it through. Then record/journal what God has said to you.

Here’s my own lectio on Sat 3 January 2015, early morning, in my study.

As I began my time with God I noticed two little Cape Sparrows flying in and out of a bougainvillea bush beneath my study window. They were busy building a nest within one and half meters of my chair and prayer stool, in perfect view. What a beautiful sight! I wondered why they were doing it so close to me, to my place of daily prayer? And why was God allowing (or ordering) this? What was God saying to me through this? Then I recalled Psalm 84:3, “Even the sparrow has found a home for herself where she may have her young – a place near your altar O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.”

So I did lectio divina in Psalm 84 and here’s what came to me, what I journaled:

– As the sparrows were building their nest/home right near my altar of prayer, God is calling me afresh to make my home very close to him in 2015. Sparrows, remind me!

– God’s house is beautiful because he (his presence) literally dwells there.

– It makes me want to live there… such strong desire: my soul yearns, even faints, for your presence, my heart and my flesh cry out of the living God… I prayed Ps 27:4.

– I must choose again to make my home and have my young (spiritual birthing) at your altar, the altar of sacrifice, of worship. My worship is my daily sacrifice… Rom 12:1-2.

– It’s THESE PEOPLE who are truly blessed: a) they ever praise you, b) they multiply, c) they find their strength in you, d) they set their hearts on a life of pilgrimage ever deeper into your intimate presence, e) they pass through valleys of tears & pain turning them into springs of hope & healing, f) they go from strength to strength closer to you, O God.

– THIS IS IT! I WANT IT! Hear my prayer, O Lord Almighty, listen to me, O God of Jacob!

Then I meditated more on being close to God, following so very closely after Jesus: Is this the source of my life and my life itself (my lifestyle)? Everything else must fit into THIS core reality, THIS daily practice, NOT the other way round where my family, work, commitments, recreation, church, etc, dictate my relationship to God. My passionate pursuit of the Immediate Presence must set my lifestyle for all the rest in my life.

Then I thought of the disciples of Jesus: some followed closely and diligently like John the beloved, the model follower; some followed close but within their comfort zone; some followed from a safe distance; some followed on and off when they felt like it or needed Jesus, all on their own terms; some followed others who followed; and some followed the crowds who flocked to him when they heard of, or saw miraculous happenings. I thought: do I truly worship God/Jesus? Or do I use him at, and for, my own convenience? Am I HIS servant? Or is he MY servant, doing what I need? My mind went to John 6:60-68: when things got tough and Jesus said some hard things, many followers left him!! Am I like that? Or do I really live Peter’s statement in v.68-69?

I wonder why, what ‘heart condition’ explains these various ‘followings’ of Jesus? Oh yes, I remember the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mark 4:3-20), the four heart conditions: 1) hard and indifferent hearts that try to follow but quickly fall away, 2) superficial hearts that fade when the going gets tough, 3) hearts choked with the cares of this life that also die off, and 4) well prepared soft fertile hearts that follow daily and diligently!

What can I do? Diligently plough up my heart by seeking God (Hosea 10:12).

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