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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



S. I. McMillen, in his book, None of These Diseases, tells the story of a young woman who wanted to go to college. As she applied for admission, her heart sank when she read the question on the application form: "Are you a leader?" Being honest and conscientious, she wrote, 'No," and returned the form, expecting she would not be accepted. To her surprise, she received a letter from the college which read as follows: "Dear Applicant: A study of our application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower."

The word "follow" occurs at least 47 times in 45 verses in the New King James Version of the New Testament. The majority of those occurrences are in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as Jesus time and again says to people, 'Follow Me" (see Matthew 4:19; 19:21; Luke 9:23, etc.). These words from Jesus challenge us to think about the direction our lives are taking. A stirring scene in Revelation 14 reminds us that if we follow Jesus, He will lead us home to the Father. In verse I the apostle John sees "a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and f orty-f our thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads." Read 14:2-5 and you discover that those standing with the Lamb are also singing ("a new song"- 14:2a), saved ("before the throne .... redeemed from the earth"-14:2b), and sanctified ("not defiled with women, for they are virgins .... without fault before the throne of God"14:4, 5). In sharp and tragic contrast to these singing, saved, sanctified saints safely at home with God, an angel warns that those who "worship the beast and receive his mark" (see chapter 13) shall suffer the judgement and wrath of God and be "tormented with f ire and brimstone .... forever and ever" (14:9-11). What made the difference in eternal destinies of these two very different groups? Revelation 14:4 reveals that those standing with the Lamb "are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Where we stand with God depends  upon whom we are following. An ancient Chinese proverb reminds us the direction we choose to follow is critical: "If you do not change your direction, you will end up exactly where you are headed." Yogi Berra once advised, "When you come to a fork in the road, take one." All of us are taking one of two forks: the one that leads home to God in Heaven .... or the one that leads away from Him to hell. Our daily choices and actions do make a difference-an eternal one. Exactly where are you headed?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ