Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pentecost 16 - Proper 18

Proper 18
4 September 2016
Luke 14:25–35

Christ Jesus Has Paid the Cost of Discipleship for You

A disciple of Jesus Christ will “bear his own cross” (Luke 14:27) and follow the Lord through death into life. Discipleship is costly because it crucifies the old man with “all that he has” (Luke 14:33), in order to raise up the new man in Christ. The disciple disavows “his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life” (Luke 14:26) in deference to Christ. That way of the cross is impossible, except that Christ Jesus has already paid the cost. His cross is set before you as “life and good, death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). Taking up His cross is to “choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him” (Deut. 30:19–20). To live that life in Christ is also to bear His cross in love, “that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord” (Philemon 14).

There is a common tendency to enter ventures without considering what is required. When this is done, many are unable to fulfill the conditions and all may be lost. You buy a car, but can you make the monthly payments, pay the taxes, insure the car, and pay the maintenance, repairs and gas bills? You jump into marriage, but are you able to pay the bills, make the sacrifices, educate the children, and stay home at night to baby-sit? You matriculate to college, but are you qualified to writer term papers and pass exams? You agree to take a job, but are you willing to get up early each workday, deny yourself leisure, and put out the effort of doing a good job? These we can understand, but have we ever considered the cost of being a follower of Jesus Christ? In two parables, Jesus urges us to count the cost. If you desire to follow the Christ you must ask yourself, am I prepared to count the costs? Choose but choose wisely.

Jesus uses two different circumstances to illustrate his basic point: discipleship requires a conscious advance commitment, made with a realistic estimate of the ultimate personal cost. The practical nature of the circumstances Jesus so vividly pictures underlines the fact that Christian discipleship is not some theoretical abstract ideal but a hard reality of life.

1. Do I want to be a Christian? Do not become a “rash disciple”
A. The foolish tower-builder began to build without knowing whether he could complete the project.
B. The king will not go to war with insufficient troops, lest he is forced to sue for peace.
C. Do not enlist as a disciple, a follower of Christ, without first counting the cost.
1. Some followed Jesus only for the loaves and fish.
a. They desired for Him to be their bread king.
b. They were following for selfish ulterior motives.
2. Some now follow Jesus for selfish reasons.
a. Some follow Christ for business or social advantages. In another parable Jesus explains, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22
b. They do not hear the word "with joy" and never permit the message about the kingdom to control them. Life has too many other commitments that slowly choke the struggling plant, so that it never matures and bears fruit.
D. The competing "thorns"--the worries of this life and devotion to wealth snuff out spiritual life. "Deceitfulness" is how the Savior describes these temptations. One may not even be aware of the choking that is going on until it is too last. This warning is timeless. What you think will save or satisfy may in fact be the one thing that will rob you of life and happiness. Choose but choose wisely. Your dream might turn into a nightmare.
1. Jesus asks His disciples, “Will you also go away?” John 6:67-68
2. Jesus wants steadfast disciples; “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Transition: Do not become a rash disciple. Instead, know the cost.

2. Do I know the cost?In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
A. Our possessions are gifts of God, always for our good. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
B. Possessions can prove to be a stumbling block to discipleship. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”1 Timothy 6:10;
C. Choose Christ over riches, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24, because Christ gives you abiding riches.
1. The forgiveness of sins. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
2. The assurance of the abiding love of God. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Psalm 73:23-25
3. The hope of heaven. “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

Transition: The demands and costs are high. Choose but choose wisely.

3. Am I willing and able to pay the price?
A. Life is a gift, which we seek to preserve and enjoy.
B. The time may come when you must decide between your life and Christ. Which is more important? Choose – but choose wisely.
1. Christ predicts that persecutions will come. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
2. There is a danger to choosing life instead of Christ. “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:33
3. Christ encourages us to take up our cross daily. “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23
C. Choose Christ over life because Christ gives you real life.
1. He gives you life in fellowship with God now. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
2. He gives eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

A wise man once said, “He who loves liberty more than life, let him follow me.” Jesus says, “He who love Me more than family, possessions, and life itself let him follow Me.” Lord, help me to choose wisely. Help me always to choose Christ over anyone or anything else.

Face of Christ -

Words – 1,398
Passive Sentences –2%
Reading Ease – 76.1%

Reading Level -5.9

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