Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).

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When Col. Aubrey Newman landed in the fifth wave of American soldiers to attack Leyte island during World War II, he found the other four waves of soldiers pinned down by blistering Japanese gunfire 20 yards from the water’s edge.

Having lost their officers, the men were confused.

Newman took charge of the situation, stood and cried out, “Follow me!”

The men listened, and Newman led them as they pushed back the Japanese defenders and secured the beachhead.

Jesus issued that same challenge on a beach 2,000 years ago.

While walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called out to Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus didn’t promise eternal life, happiness or wealth. He simply said, “Follow me,” and the two men dropped their fishing nets and followed Him.

A little later, Jesus called John and James, and they left their father in their boat and followed Him.

Jesus said, “Follow me,” and the disciples left everything they knew: their jobs, their possessions, their families, their homes.

I have always wondered if there was more to those conversations.

I would have asked a few questions before leaving everything behind to follow a stranger.

But when Jesus calls us, our response should be the same as the disciples’ response: Drop everything and follow Him completely.

After following Jesus, the disciples witnessed Him raise a girl from the dead, walk on water, feed 5,000 people and do countless other miracles.

But not everyone responded in the same way when Jesus said, “Follow me.”

One day a rich, young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to get eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments, and the man replied he had kept them since he was a child.

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’” (Matthew 19:21).

The man went away sad because he couldn’t part with his possessions.

After seeing the man walk away, Peter had a question of his own: “‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’” (Matthew 19:27).

“Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first’” (Mark 10:29-31).

I have always liked what missionary Jim Elliot wrote shortly before he was murdered by the Waodani people in Ecuador: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Elliot followed Jesus completely, even unto death.

When Jesus calls, “Follow me,” just do it.

If you’re facing intense fire at home or work, follow Him.

If you’re feeling lost or alone, follow Him.

If you’re comfortable just where you are, follow Him.

He will lead the charge.

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>What do you feel like God has called you to do?

>What are some things that have kept you from following Jesus completely?