We’re glad you’ve chosen to join us as we continue our special journey of discipleship with Jesus this holiday season! We embarked on this journey toward Jerusalem together last month by reading Luke 9:51-56. If you’re catching up with us, be sure to circle back to Chapter 1 for context—not just on where we’ve come from, but where we’re going.
Each month, we’re diving into the next section of what’s known as the “travel narrative,” and walking with Jesus toward Jerusalem. We pray that as we step into the next chapter of the story, you find that the decision to set your face toward Jesus with fresh determination leads you to new delight in Him.
Read — Luke 9:57-62
The Cost of Following Jesus
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another, he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
What invitation do you sense the Lord is extending to you in this season?
Don’t answer yet.
Here are the three next steps for our journey as we meditate on where Jesus is inviting us to trust Him and step forward in faith to respond.
What invitations do you sense the Lord extending to you in this season?
If you think it’s clear…good! Write it down.
Now, pray and meditate about this question for the next week or so. Put the question to Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to help you perceive His leading. See how things develop as you continue to converse with God about this. Be honest with Him about your feelings—positive and negative. Our feelings often tell us where we might begin to look for opportunities for growth and healing, submission and restoration.
As you pray and wait upon the Lord over this week, you will likely come up with many possible next steps to move you in the direction the Lord is leading you. Choose one or two steps or practices to focus special effort upon over the next week or two.
Resist the impulse to name and “taskify” this invitation quickly. Let it steep.
Let it remain an invitation. A wooing.
It might be fasting from some comfort or crutch that is masking discomfort or pain.
It might be adding a new spiritual practice to your week like memorizing scripture, or extra time spent in study and reflection, or a week devoted to journaling.
It might be getting out for service activities with your church or family this month.
Whatever you set your face toward—know that the way of Jesus calls for sacrifice. Whatever you choose, this practice should lead you to greater dependence on and deeper connection with Jesus, even when—especially when—it’s hard. This isn’t about performance.
This is about the One we’re on the journey with: your brother, King, friend, and Good Shepherd. He demands you carry no baggage, no worries, nor burdens. Instead, he bids you to lay it all down and take upon you His yoke, which is easy and light.
Now, when you’re ready to identify and accept the invitation you sense Jesus is extending to you in this particular season, it’s time to head to the next phase of this exercise in worshipful obedience.
Jesus is inviting you to start digging in—to give more of yourself to Him this holiday season. As you do, your goal is to be stretched in ways that cause you to depend on Jesus to a greater extent. What would it look like to respond to the invitation in your heart? Just pick one first step or act of response and think about some small ways to pursue that invitation.
Commit to setting aside dedicated resources of time, talent, and treasure—whatever God has entrusted to you—to make progress in whatever direction you have set your face toward.
Set firm and clear boundaries of your goal, (how long will this challenge last, what days will you practice, etc.). There’s no right or wrong here. You can adjust as you move forward and process this experience in prayer with God. This will be an exercise in discipline as an act of worship and devotion as you seek the Lord. In prayer, think about what “success” in this exercise looks like.
Now, over the next week or so, practice living out your commitment—whatever shape it takes. It can be helpful to keep a record of your progress if you’re able. This can help maintain commitment, and any records of memorable or pivotal parts of the exercise will help, later, as you reflect on the experience.
Then, once you’ve completed your appointed time of increased spiritual discipline, it’s time for the final step.
On the other side of your defined period of spiritual discipline, it’s time to digest your experience and reflect on how it challenged and shaped you. Much as you opened this exercise with a week of prayerful meditation, asking God to reveal His invitations to you. We now invite you to close this experience with a week spent in thankful reflection.
As you look back at the last two weeks, note the places you saw success, and where you feel you missed the mark. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see this exercise and experience through His perspective.
Think about how this experience affected you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Consider committing to paper one or two of the most important ideas or convictions that emerged as you walked this journey of intentional discipleship. These are invitations you may continue to ponder as the Lord leads you from this season into the next.
Now, however, is the time to rest from the effort and celebrate what God has done!
As you process, express gratitude to the Lord for the experience regardless of how you view your performance or the outcome. Praise Him for what He taught you through the experience and for how He met you. This is not to say that you will have arrived at any miraculous breakthrough or uncovered some mysterious instruction rendered from the heavens. No.
But, whatever our circumstances, we rejoice to find peace, comfort, and a feast prepared for us by our Shepherd in green pastures by still waters. We let Him minister to our needs and refresh our spirit—celebrating simply that we belong to Him.
The end of every living story leads naturally to the beginning of the next. So, during this final phase of the exercise, we invite you to end in a posture of expectant thankfulness.
Together, let us praise God for what He’s done and look with expectant hope to the horizon where He beckons next.
We suggest devoting a week to each step, which will walk you through a roughly month-long practice of intentional reflection, seeking, and worship through spiritual discipline. We pray you are able to approach this invitation and your next right steps with a creative and curious spirit!
And, through it all, we pray the Holy Spirit honors your heart and your intentions as you lean forward to listen more carefully in these coming weeks.
Then, we’ll see you back here in December for Chapter Three of the Journey to Jerusalem.
Finally, we hope you will discuss your experiences with others in your life and with us here at SIM USA as the Father begins to stir in your heart.
You can join the conversation with other disciples on the journey as we engage in these practices together, plus share how your Shepherd is leading you on our social spaces.