Summary: If we are going to follow Jesus, we are going to have to leave the old life behind. . . but that’s not easy! Here’s how to make a new start... *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

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Last week, we talked about the first step. . . preparing to be a follower of Jesus. “Honestly consider Jesus’ claims”. . .

Now, I want this to be a series that’s encouraging to you.

If you’re like me, then you sometimes feel discouraged about your Christian walk. You’ve thought things like:

“Man, I’ve blown it again.”

“I know Jesus wouldn’t act like that. . . maybe I should give up.”

“There is SO much I don’t understand about being a Christian.”

“Will I ever learn my lesson?”

“Can I really be a Christian if I’m so easily tempted?”

Well, guess what? I’VE GOT GOOD NEWS!!!

Jesus never asked anyone to

• get their act together before following Him.

• fix all their past mistakes before following Him.

• Get a theological education before following Him.

• untangle the messes in their life before following Him.

Jesus’ call was always this: Why don’t you start following me today, and then we’ll straighten your life out?

In fact, even the 12 men that he chose as his closest followers didn’t look anything close to perfect. In fact, they were closer to morons! Let me give you some examples of the kind of people that we’re talking about:

1. They were proud.

Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you argued among yourselves on the road?" But they kept silent, for on the road they had argued among themselves who would be the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)

2. They were overconfident.

Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." (Matthew 26:33, NKJV)

3. They were wimps.

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. (Matthew 26:56)

For all the guts that they THOUGHT they had, when the chips were down, and it was going to cost them something to stand up with Jesus, they all ran away.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve done that. Pressure is on at work or school or in the family, or at a friend’s house. And suddenly, you make your decision

4. They didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to teach.

Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. (John 10:6)

But they did not understand. . . and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. (Luke 9:45)

So they didn’t understand, but they didn’t want to look stupid, so they just kept their mouths’ shut.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve felt like you were the only one who didn’t understand that sermon. . . or you didn’t understand something in the Bible. . . or you’re trying to figure out: “What is it that God wants me to do in this situation?” And you think: “I can’t really do this Christian thing. . . I don’t have the education for it.”

5. They were vengeful.

“They entered a village of the Samaritans... but they did not receive Him. . . And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" (Luke 9:52-54)

Oh, great attitude guys! Does this sound familiar to you? Not necessarily that you’d call fire down. . . today it would be more like, “Lord, you want us to go kick their teeth in?”

What’s my point with going through this list of the disciple’s faults? Simply this:

If you’ve struggled to become and really stick with it being a Christian, BE ENCOURAGED! These guys were the ones that Jesus chose to walk close to him, and spend time with him. They weren’t perfect, but they had responded when Jesus called them to forsake the old life and follow Him!

These men were Christ-followers. That’s really what a Christian is – not just a person who has gotten saved, or joined the church, or anything else. It’s a person who has been forgiven of their sin, and become a Christ-follower. And you have to have both. . . if you’ve been forgiven in the past, but you haven’t made the decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you’ve missed the main point of being forgiven. And if you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus, then I know you’ve found out how hard it is to keep from going back to the old life.

You know what? Jesus still calls you to do the same thing. He doesn’t say, “Instantly be a Bible scholar.” He does say, “Leave everything else behind and follow me.”

And he’s saying that to you right now. I want to give you four practical steps of how you can answer his call, and then I’m going to give you a chance to come forward, and say, “I want to be a 100% committed follower of Jesus.”

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