Oct23SunOctober 23, 2022
What’s the Cost?
The Lord has been highlighting 2 words to me lately. Obedience and distractions.
The Lord has much to say about obedience in His Word. I will just share what Holy Spirit has been showing me. First, there was the blind man who was born blind in John chapter 9. Jesus put mud on his eyes and instructed him to go wash it off. I was reminded that it was not the mud, but the obedience to what Jesus commanded Him to do that ushered in the healing. I encourage you to also read 2 Ki 5:1-14, Lk 17:11-19 and Ex 15:26.
Second, there is a lot of opportunity to share the truth of the gospel to both the unsaved and to the church. There is opportunity for correction of lies, wrong teaching and deception of who God is and the truth of His Word. When these opportunities arise we must respond in obedience to Holy Spirit by speaking the truth. We each must decide, like Paul, that “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Ro 1:16 NKJV) We must be obedient to Paul’s charge to Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Ti 4:2 NKJV)
Then there are Jesus’s words, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (Jn 14:15 NLT). As I have been reflecting on these words a question came to my mind. Are you obedient because you want something back from the Lord? As we have already read, healing is certainly connected with obedience in some situations and the Word certainly talks about blessings for obedience. However, what about being obedient simply because I love Jesus? I need to say that again, what about being obedient because I love Jesus, even if I get nothing back, no healing, no blessing and no response by people to what Holy Spirit is asking me to share-nothing. Continuing to persevere in obedience to what Jesus commands because I love Him, period!
I had a dream recently. When I woke up and asked the Lord what He was saying, the message was clear, there are many distractions to being obedient to what God has called us to do, as individuals and as the church.
Read the story of Mary and Martha.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38-42 NKJV)
In this story, Jesus is not concerned about Martha’s desire to use her gift of hospitality. He was concerned with her distraction, worry, and trouble about many things which caused her to underemphasize the one thing that is needed. There is a time and place to be a Martha. It is important to go and serve and use the gift God has given you for His glory, for the advancement of the kingdom of God and for the building up and edification of the church of Jesus Christ. However, according to Jesus, this is not the “one thing needed”, it is not “the good part”. Spending time with Jesus, sitting at His feet, meditating on Him and His Word is the ‘one thing’.
I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with Him in His house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate His beauty; I’ll study at His feet. (Ps 27:4 MSG)
At the end of Jesus’s teaching to His disciples where He says, do not worry about your life, (Mt 6:25-32) He says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt 6:33 NKJV)
I believe the Lord is saying to His church, take a look at your life. He is exhorting us to ask Holy Spirit to identify, and help get rid of, distractions from spending time with Him, in His Word, giving Him our undivided attention and being obedient to what He is has already commanded us to do.
As I thought more about obedience and getting rid of distractions to being obedient, the word ‘cost’ came to mind. Be obedient even if it costs me something! Now here comes the hard part. You and I might think, ‘I love Jesus’, I am spending time with Jesus and in His Word, I am following Jesus and obeying Him, I am focused and not distracted. However, have I, have you considered the cost? What is the cost? What is the cost of following Jesus? What is the cost of being His disciple? What am I willing to give to the Lord? What am I willing to lay down? What am I willing to lose? Comfort, familiarity, routine, finances, time, relationships, my life? My dreams, my plans, my will? These are questions I have been asking myself. Things I have been pondering. As a result, I have been convicted, challenged and encouraged! What about you? Have you considered the cost? Has following Jesus actually cost me, cost you, anything?
Here are some scriptures I have been pondering on. I encourage you to do the same:
However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will certainly buy it from you for a price; for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (2 Sam 24:24 NASB)
David could not present to God an offering that cost him nothing!
And so, dear brothers and sisters I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. (Ro 12:1 NLT)
If we love Jesus because He first loved us, gave His life for us, gave us everything, we should offer our bodies, all that we are, our lives, as living sacrifices, to God every day. We must commit ourselves in an act of worship to God. I have said in other blogs, worship is not singing songs. It is surrendering, being available and being obedient every day. It is laying down our lives daily to follow Jesus.
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head.” He said to another person, “Come, follow Me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told Him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:57-62 NLT)
There is a cost to following Jesus. How many times in the height of emotion have you said, ‘Jesus I will follow you wherever you go’, without considering the cost of abandoning material security. He may ask you to sell your house and move or resign from your job and give up a good salary. If He asks this of you would you be obedient and do it? I have and others I know have also. Are there blessings? Yes. Is their fruit? Yes. Does it cost something? YES, a lot. However there is no greater joy than being obedient to Jesus simply because I love Him!
As followers of Jesus we have the urgent task of proclaiming and demonstrating the good news about Jesus. Of going and making disciple makers. Obedience to this command of Jesus takes priority. It’s time to stop procrastinating. It’s time to stop making excuses. Let’s decide to be obedient to what Jesus has commanded His church to do. Go and make disciples, baptize them and teach them to obey everything He has commanded. This will cost you something!
Following Jesus demands our undivided attention. Allowing distractions to get you off focus from being obedient to Jesus will not allow God to use you fully. You may miss out on His best for you. Do you want to be an all-in committed disciple of Jesus? It will cost you something!
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be My disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become My disciple without giving up everything you own. (Lk 14:25-33 NLT)
Jesus knew that the crowds were following Him because of His miracles. He knew that they followed Him for what He could do for them. So He turned around and defined the cost of true discipleship. This is a hard scripture to hear and even more difficult to be obedient too. We must put Jesus first. Above all earthly relationships. Even our husband, wife, children and parents. Jesus even uses the word ‘hate’ to emphasize the importance of putting Him first.
Being a disciple of Jesus means we must die to self-centredness. We must lay down all selfish interest for the sake of Jesus and be willing to endure suffering, persecution, danger and even death to follow Jesus.
Has Jesus asked you to give up something that was important to you? Has He asked you to give up comfort, time, possessions, finances, job or reputation just to name a few? Have you lost a relationship because you have decided to follow Jesus? Have you suffered or been persecuted in any way because you have decided to follow Jesus? This is the cost of following Jesus.
If you answer no to all these questions perhaps you are not listening or perhaps you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus in a way that costs you something? Think about that. Ponder these tough questions. Let’s be honest with ourselves, search our hearts and take a good hard look at our lives. Let’s ask Holy Spirit to show us distractions to being obedient to following Jesus and doing what He says. Let’s be willing to get rid of those distractions and give Jesus our undivided attention. Let’s decide that we are going to follow Jesus because we love Him and in a way that cost us something-our lives! Let’s be willing to lay down our lives for the One who laid down His!
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7 NKJV)