How to Change Your Life
One of our Inspirational Devotions
photo courtesy of firemedic58
Would you like to know how to change your life?
Start with your relationship with Jesus. When you picture this relationship, what image comes to mind? To me, it's the image of marriage. Peggy and I were married on August 18, 1973. At the appropriate moment, the audience stood and Peggy walked down the aisle. Except for today, I can't remember when she looked more beautiful.
Marriage certainly changes your life. It is the start of something new and different. Before the ceremony, Peggy and I were single. Afterward, we were a united couple. We belonged to each other. From that moment we had no separate existence. Our vows put everything on the table. In effect we said to each other, "Everything I have is yours."
Similar to marriage, a disciple has a covenant relationship with Jesus. A disciple belongs to Jesus. We are not our own. We have no separate existence. Like marriage, Jesus wants a relationship that is exclusive to him. Following him involves loyalty and endurance.
Carry your cross
In Luke 14:26-27, Jesus confronts the reality of competing loyalties. He expects our loyalty to him to be greater than our loyalty to others - even family members and ourselves. When we choose to obey in spite of the opinions of relatives, friends and culture, we are giving our loyalty to Jesus. The image of carrying our cross powerfully depicts the kind of radical loyalty Jesus requires. A man hanging on a cross has made no further plans. Likewise, followers of Jesus have lost their lives to follow Christ.
We all have spirits of resistance
Our Lord's words are hard to receive because there is a spirit of resistance within every disciple. Jesus calls this part of us our "self." The self-life is all of our natural instincts and common sense apart from God. Our "self" possesses an independent approach to life. Acceptance is not approval. Just because Jesus accepts us, does not mean he approves of everything we think and do. The self-life is full of beliefs, behaviors and ambitions that do not conform to following Jesus. Self must be dethroned. Have you considered that this is how to change your life?
The apostle Peter revealed his own "common sense without God" when Jesus first predicted his death and resurrection. When Peter heard Jesus explain God's redemptive plan, he took him aside and rebuked him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This will never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Matthew 16:22-23). Peter assumed that he was right and Jesus was wrong. To Peter's natural instincts, the notion of Jesus dying just didn't make sense.
Will you dethrone self?
We dethrone self when we obey God's commands even when they don't make sense. We dethrone self when we value pleasing Jesus over pleasing others. We dethrone self when we give Jesus our future plans. His plan may not our plan but Jesus knows what he's doing. By following Jesus, you learn how to change your life.
Author: Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
For any reuse or distribution of How to Change Your Life or any of our free Bible study materials author credit and web address is required.
Discussion ideas for your small group or Sunday School class:
1. When have you experienced another loyalty competing with your loyalty for Jesus? What did you know Jesus was requiring of you?
2. In your culture, when is "common sense without God" acceptable and normal? What does Jesus say in this situation?
3. In what ways do you daily need to dethrone self?
4. How does knowing God and Jesus personally give you strength and courage to follow Jesus?
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