Monday, July 10, 2017

To the Learners


Learner - a student, a follower, one who imitates their teacher, one who learns by inquiry or observation

            When I was in high school, I was required to memorize the first section of the Canterbury Tales which were written by Geoffrey Chaucher in 1387-1400.  I did well memorizing the words and even enjoyed the challenge of tackling the Middle English language.  As a matter of fact, after all these years, I can still quote a small part of it, although I have no idea what it means.  I’m sure the teacher explained it, because she was very thorough.  But, it wasn’t a lasting priority for me, so now all I am left with is a few memorized words. 
            There is a little phrase I have often heard, “use it or lose it”.  And it is true.  If we don’t take what we have heard and put it into practice, we lose it.        That’s why the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God is working in us.  We need to go with what He is doing and let it shape who we are and ultimately what we do. It is not enough to know the words of truth.  We must incorporate them into our lifestyles until they become as natural as breathing if we are to learn of Jesus.
Many people call themselves disciples or learners of Jesus, but in actuality they have only memorized a few words instead of becoming imitators of His life.  There are some who hear the instruction of the Teacher and follow it, who cultivate the character and life of the Teacher.  Those are the true learners.  The ones who hear the words but remain unchanged are not.
Jesus calls us to come to Him and learn of Him.  Not just learn about Him, but to learn of Him.  We can learn from other people when they tell us about Jesus, but that is not enough.  He wants us to learn directly from Him.  He said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.” (Matthew11:29) Taking His yoke is the key to learning of Him.  This yoke unites us together with Jesus to work with Him toward a single purpose, His perfect purpose.  It keeps us at a steady pace as we pull together with Him.  We learn to match His steps and get in stride with Him.  If we try to work independently, we will hurt ourselves and impede our progress.  When we work yoked together with someone every day and in every situation, we don’t just learn what they do, we learn who they are.  We get to know their heart. The word ‘learn’ in this verse does not mean to simply learn the doctrine of Christ, but to learn Christ Himself.
Paul’s desire was to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.  He wanted to experience Christ in every area of life and become one with Him in the good and the bad.  He wanted to have the mind of Christ, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to let Christ’s purpose become his purpose.  We all need that same passion to know Jesus and to imitate Him in our everyday life.  That’s what real learners do.  They have such a yearning in their heart to know Jesus that they lay aside other things.  The natural realm fades away as they walk in the Spirit of Christ.
            The twelve closest disciples to Jesus left behind their old lives and went wherever Jesus went, and they learned Who He was as they walked the roads with Him every day. They were yoked with Him.  Their connection was continuous.  It should be for us, too.  Prayer, our communication with God, is not a ritualistic discipline to be checked off our “to do” list every day.  It is a moment by moment connection with Him.  It is good to read our Bibles and pray during a certain time, but it shouldn’t stop there.  How does God fit into our lives for the rest of the day?  If you are caught in a stale devotional routine and have been wondering, “Is there more?”  The answer is ‘yes’. We can learn from Jesus, but we must acknowledge His presence more than just a few minutes a day.  The disciples learned because that was the most important aspect of their lives.  They had given up everything to follow Him, and they walked with Jesus daily in the mundane and the miraculous.  They were with Him morning, noon and night.  As a result, they knew Jesus Himself, not just His works. 
            When the disciples had questions, they asked Jesus.  When they were confused, they let Him know.  When there was a decision to make, they looked to Jesus for the right one.  When they disagreed with Him, they told Him and He would help them see things from a spiritual perspective instead of a physical one.  There were times He told them what was about to happen, and times when He told them it wasn’t for them to know right now.  But they learned because they were there all the time, not just part time. 
            The closer we are to Jesus, the more we will see things the way He sees them.  Being in the yoke with Him fuses our relationship, and we, too, can learn from Him as we walk daily with Him in the mundane and the miraculous.
One day, a crowd had followed Jesus out into a wilderness place because they wanted to hear His teachings and be healed of their diseases.  That evening the disciples told Jesus He needed to send them away to get something to eat in one of the villages.  Jesus said they didn’t need to go.  He said to the disciples, “You feed them.”  They told Him they only had five loaves and two fish.  So, Jesus said “bring them to Me.”  They brought them and Jesus blessed them, broke them and fed 5000 people.
The disciples had considered the situation in their natural minds, and they came up with a natural solution.  It seemed to be the best option.  But Jesus saw on a spiritual level, and the situation became a platform for a miracle.  Because the disciples heard Him and obeyed, He changed their focus.  They finally saw what Jesus had seen, but only after it came to pass before their eyes. Jesus can change our focus, too, if we will ask Him and obey what He says even when we can’t envision what He has in mind.  Many are facing circumstances that seem hopeless today.  If we ask God to let us see through His eyes and obey Him, we will see a platform for a miracle.  Stay in the yoke with Jesus.  Don’t try to pull the load alone.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  If you are not finding it so, it’s because it is not His yoke.
            We can also learn from Jesus by studying the Word of God.  A friend of mine said that one day when she was reading John 1 where it says “the Word was with God and the Word was God”, she realized, “If I know the Word, then I know God.”  When we read and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of His Word to us, we see the heart of God, the purpose of God, His compassion, His zeal for truth, and His power.  Sad to say, many who have been saved for years still don’t know Him.  They have grown very little. Why?  Because they have not worked out their salvation.  They have not taken on Jesus’ yoke. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word to them until it is woven into the very fabric of their being.
First John 2:6 tells us, He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”  Some years ago the WWJD movement was widespread.  It challenged people to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” before making any decisions.  Then they were to follow in the direction Jesus would take regardless of the cost and regardless of who misunderstood them.  The problem was, it became more of a fad rather than the life-altering heart issue it was intended to be.  Yet, even today, it can have a life-changing impact on those who take it seriously.  After all, isn’t that what the first disciples did?  They came to Jesus with their questions, ideas, perplexities and needs.  It’s no wonder, because that is what Jesus showed them when He turned to the Father in prayer for that vital connection.  We need to ask ourselves that question, listen for the answer, and act on it.  “What would Jesus do in my circumstances?  What would Jesus say?”  “How would Jesus react?”  Jesus would do the will of the Father.  His will is found in the pages of God’s Word.  We can go there for answers.
What “hopeless” circumstance are you closing the door on?  Ask Jesus to show you what to do.  When you obey, He will work it out.  We become so earthly minded that we forget our spiritual roots when we need them most, and when others need us to operate on a spiritual level on their behalf.  The Holy Spirit is right alongside us to open our eyes to see things the way Jesus sees them.  We need to ask of Him.  When we have decisions to make, we need to see what God sees and follow His vision.  Are we growing more and more like Him?  We aren’t if we don’t know Him?
            There is an old song that says, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; All I ask to be like Him.  All through life’s journey from earth to glory, all I ask to be like Him.” That is the only kind of earnest, undying desire that will bring us to be true learners of Jesus.  Why do we cling to this world that is passing away when we can take hold of eternity? 

Release your grip and take Jesus’ yoke upon you and learn of Him!
His yoke is easy and His burden is light!





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