Sunday, October 26, 2008

"FOLLOW ME" Word-Study Devotional

"Followship" needs to be rediscovered and applied in the believer's everyday life. Although a bit more technical with the verb tenses, please read this devotional word study carefully and prayerfully. As always, if it ministers to you, FWD it to your email friends. If it needs clarification, email me. Your servant and His, BJ


“Follow Me.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But I want you to think of the thrust of the verb tense here and in the following verses. In Matthew 4:19, the verb tense is present indicative active when Jesus calls out to Peter and Andrew. Today, we might say it this way: “Come here now;” or, “Get over here, now.” That’s why you read next, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (v. 20; NKJV). Next, Jesus comes to two more fishermen, James and John, who were mending their nets. It simply says, “He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him” (v.21c-22). This verb tense, aorist indicative active, is similar to the above, but emphasizes a statement that occurred.

“Follow Me.” Akoloutheo (in Matt. 8:22, and hereafter: Strong’s #190) is a compound command: A = together, union + keleuthos = a road, a way. Put it together and you understand that Jesus is inviting His disciples to come and follow in His way. “Join Me now and follow in My steps,” we would say today. Here the verb tense is present imperative active. The pres. imper. leaves no room for pondering; it means “now.”

His call was not cloudy; it was clear. That’s why when one fellow wanted to wait until his father passed away, Jesus responded, “Follow Me [now] (pres. imper. act.), and let the dead bury their own dead [at the appropriate time] (aor. inf. act.)” (Matt. 8:22). When you are called to follow Jesus, there is no looking back (cf. Luke 9:62). Careers become secondary to the call. Family priorities change. The tax collector left his booth; the fishermen left their nets. Although there were times of doubt, only one of the original twelve betrayed the call.

Today’s “followship” might be what we call, “discipleship.” While some separate the call of becoming a Christian to the call of discipleship, here in the initial calling of Jesus to His disciples, there was no separation, no two callings. The initial call of Jesus to His disciples and to other potential followers was the same: “Follow Me” (Matt. 9:9), to the tax collector Matthew; to all His disciples (16:24); to the rich young ruler (19:21); all these are in the present imperative active, meaning, “Follow Me now.”

What does “followship” mean to you today? In the New Testament, there appears to be two responses: one is like the Jews, who had a religious relationship with God, but despised and criticized following Jesus imperatively and closely; the other is like the disciples (and others) who placed their worldly priorities aside and put Jesus at the forefront of their followship. The difference is recorded throughout the Scriptures. Listen to the following examples and see if you hear the call of followship:

“And when [the shepherd] brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep [immediately] follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:4; pres. ind. act.)

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me [now].” (John 10:27; again, pres. ind. act.)

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me [now]; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26; here, pres. imper. act.)

Are you a sheep of His? Are you His servant? Then how is your followship? To enter into His followship, Jesus says, “You follow Me [now!]” (John 21:22; pres. imper. act.) Please interpret it the way He meant it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ABIDE Word-Study Devotional

The message of Jesus to abide in Him is an imperative command that gives the key to spiritual maturity. May this brief devotional spur you on! - BJ


“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17 (in part; NKJV)

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home [abode – KJV] with him.’” – John 14:23

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”– 1 John 2:24-25

When Peter warned followers of Christ of the destructive nature of the devil, he told them to “Be sober, be diligent;” (1 Peter 5:8) Few followers misunderstand this imperative command about the devil. Yet this sobering, diligent command is the same verb tense Jesus used toward His followers when He told them to “Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4 – aorist imperative middle) This connectivity to Jesus was imperative if anyone wished to have spiritual life and to bear spiritual fruit. I hope this comparison awakens you to the essential nature of the expression given in the command to “abide” in Jesus.

“Abide” is meno (Stong’s #3306) and “abode” is mone (3438). Abide means, to stay, to remain; abode means, a staying, a residence. Abide is sometimes translated as “remain” or “continue.” Abode is translated as “mansions” in John 14:2, and “home” in 14:23 (above). Two major things are taught in the above verses: 1.) to have spiritual life requires you to abide in Jesus; and, 2.) spiritual abiding requires the ongoing presence of the Triune God in you. Both words, in the verb tenses in the above verses, call for an understanding that abiding in Jesus is to be an enduring, ongoing relationship. It is equivalent to a marriage (cf.: Ephesians 5:22-33).

But how is this done physically? How does flesh abide with spirit? A careful reading of each context reveals that followers abide with Christ—that is, have an ongoing, maturing relationship with Him—by immersing themselves in His word. Try it for a moment; absorb yourself in John 14 and 15. Jesus consistently says that you must believe His words, the things He tells you (:2). You must believe that He is teaching you what His (our) Father is telling Him (:10). He says He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in you to “teach you all things” (:26). Jesus says He is “the truth” (:6) and His Holy Spirit is “truth” (:17); and, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (:21). John 15 continues this rapid-fire reminder that abiding in the love of Christ is revealed by you keeping His word (15:10). Notice also that the condition of Christ’s “joy” to “remain (3306: abide) in you,” in 15:11, is sandwiched by verses 10 and 12 that say we must keep His commands. “These things I have written to you…” (1 John 2:26).

The word of God produces the works of God (cf.: 14:10-15). Oh that followers of Jesus would fall in love with His word! Our Bibles should be carried with us as our spiritual oxygen because it is our life! Let us understand that to abide in Jesus is to know Him and His word. Everyone has this same abiding access in the Word of God. Go get it now! Read from it. Take it to every church worship service and Bible study.