December 31

“So they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple courts blessing God” (Luke 24:52-53).

As we conclude our year of daily “digging in” to discipleship, I want to thank you for accompanying me on this journey. This is the way God designed it – for His followers to do life together, as to mutually encourage one another.

Here at the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel we are told of several characteristics of Jesus’ first followers that should continue to mark us as His followers today. We have already seen in this last chapter how God used the scriptures to open their eyes and minds to a fuller and more accurate understanding of Himself and His plan (Luke 24:31, 45). This greater and more thorough insight should lead, inspire, and motivate our worship of God. We use the word worship a lot in our conversations as Christians and we may profess to be a worshipper of God, but let’s not forget the essence of what the word worship means. It is to adore on one’s knees. Do we truly adore God? This is where worship begins, with a heart of adoration and appreciation of God, not for what He does but primarily for who He is. This kind of adoration causes one to fall prostrate before Him, not only to acknowledge Him reverently and respectfully but also to submit, surrender, and yield to His desires and wishes. Worship, true Biblical worship, is continually saying to God, “Not my will, but your will be done” (Matthew 6:10).

Another characteristic of these first followers was a joy – great joy. Where is the joy amongst Christ’s followers today? Have we lost our joy? Being a joyful follower of Jesus Christ begins when we are continually aware of and conscious of God’s grace in our lives, and where we count our blessings every day and develop an attitude of gratitude towards God. A heart that is thankful to God will be a joyful heart. May our consciousness of who we are in Christ and all that we have in Christ remind us of how blessed we are and may our hearts be filled with great joy. From this attitude comes continual praise. This is what the word “blessing” means here – to celebrate with praises. And as we have pointed out through our study of discipleship this was a disciplined, continual practice and exercise.

What we choose to do consistently manifests what is truly important and of value to us. May we strive to be more like the first followers of Jesus Christ. May our lives be characterized by worship, joy, and praise of our God. Let’s carry into this next year all that we have learned from this year as we continue to follow Jesus as His devoted disciples.

“The Lord bless you and protect you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).