For the last few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at “building blocks” for soul growth.  We encourage you to consider a Soul Care Plan for 2018 to help with your spiritual journey this year. Today the building block of the Discipleship Decision. You can click on the Soul Care Plan link above to go to the assessment site. Be sure to print your plan when you complete it.

Today’s scripture: Luke 14:25-27 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Keith Phillips):

Let me tell you about my mother. My earliest memories of her are as this frantic woman screaming hysterically over some minor incident, some insignificant mishap that completely devastated her day. Admittedly, I probably played a role in upsetting her so; nevertheless she would just go off, seemingly randomly. And at eighty years old she still does, which frankly is pretty frightening. Let’s just say that she has issues; and I’ve had to establish some firm boundaries with her.

My mother and I don’t get along. But hate her? No, not at all. The commandment to honor my mother and father precludes that. In fact, I really do love her. She and my father gave me a wonderful foundation in life, and in faith. I will always be grateful.

So, what did Jesus mean about hating my father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, my life itself, before I can be His disciple? If you were fortunate enough to read these verses in The Message rather than the New Revised Standard Version, you found that Jesus is saying we need to “let go of…” And I think that’s it, exactly.

In our formative years, family gave to us the nutrition we required, the security we needed, the love we desired. For many of us, family had our earliest allegiance and still commands deep loyalty. In lives of many loyalties, Jesus tells us that the Lord must take first place, that we must turn from even family members in order to give to Him our entire focus.

This turning to Jesus requires a decision, but more than a decision. It’s a decision to begin a close, intimate relationship which will change and transform our lives. Jesus wants us to know that this decision and the subsequent relationship is not a frivolous thing. It can cost many a misunderstanding in a family, and a whole lot more. Turning to Jesus, giving Him first place in our lives, following Him wherever He leads empowers us to become more than we ever dreamed, to become like Him.

Thought for the day: What has prevented me from giving Jesus first place in my life?