Proverbs 20:24-25 (TLB)
Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way? It is foolish and rash to make a promise to the Lord before counting the cost.
With some time to kill before the football game, the kids and I decided to take a walk through the local dollar store. Too bad my husband had already gone ahead to the field because I love to walk through with him. He is amazed that everything on the overflowing shelves is only one dollar. As we walk through, he is astonished at the “value” of his money in such a place. The kids laugh at all the stuff they find within the establishments eclectic selection. However, my perspective is just a little bit different. I am the shopper in the family. The official grocery getter, pantry stocker, supply builder, clothes hoarder, and overall budget manager, I am well aware of the price of such items in other places. There are many hidden tricks in the dollar store such as reduced quantities in comparison to standard sizing which actually makes it more expensive. Many of the food items are close to or have expired. The quality of some of the items are not as good as that of other brands. For example, the wrapping paper is very thin. In order for the dollar store to truly offer the treasure trove of bargains that it boasts, one must consider the cost of each item compared to quality and quantity. Isn’t that how it is with most things? With some things in life, it’s okay to choose the off brand but there are other things that to do so limits the potential.
A dollar is a dollar. If we both have one dollar it is of equal value and worth. What we do with that dollar determines its true potential. All five of my children have very different personalities. A dollar in the hand of one versus the other has very different worth. Some are spenders, easy come easy go. Others carefully consider each purchase to make the most of that single bill. I actually have one kid that you can’t peel money out of his hand without a fight. He is a minimalist who would rather keep his money than spend it. Our life’s worth is not determined by our cash flow though some may beg to differ, but we must budget our life to know its true worth and potential. Time is the most valuable asset that we have. You are allotted only so much and once it is gone – it cannot be replenished. Do we value our time more than money?
It is foolish to promise God our time without counting the cost. This would be true of anything that we invest our life in. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The great potential that we have is based on confident hope. It does not always produce worldly wealth and influence. Prosperity in the Kingdom is very different than here on the earth. Do we have faith the size of a mustard seed? Think about the size of a mustard seed. It could fit on the head of a pin. Yet the potential of faith is far greater than a single dollar. It is more life changing than any other thing that we could invest our life in. Have you considered the cost? Sometimes I think that we budget our money better than our faith.
Luke 14:25-27 (TLB)
Great crowds were following him. He turned around and addressed them as follows: “Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—yes, more than his own life—otherwise he cannot be my disciple. And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me.”
Great crowds were following Jesus. It is the same today. There are many who call themselves Christians, but live on the fringe of faith. They do want to invest their life unless they know it is sure thing or He is someone they truly want. But who wants to go to hell? So they try to get just close enough to ride on the coattails of faith and hope with just enough grace to get by. Jesus turned to them that day and said, “Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more” and then he listed family members before leveling the bomb. He said that we must love Him far more than our own life. Otherwise, you cannot be a true disciple. Okay. There were twelve disciples who followed Jesus yet even one fell away into the lie of the enemy. Peter denied Christ three times as He was preparing to die for the man’s sins. We have trouble following Jesus and going the distance. The things of life are very distracting. Peter at one point asked the Lord what He was going to do for them because they had given up their “life” for Him. Oh, Peter would soon find out.
As a Christian, we are part of an organization. It is when a Christian becomes a believer that things begin to change. Disciples are disciplined. The definition of “disciple” is to be a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another. Faith is useless unless we do something with it. You will not seek to find it unless it is worth something. You will give up nothing for something that is of no value or use. We must be followers of Christ. True followers must make Christ the Center of their existence. They must love Christ far more than their own life, the people in it, personal goals and aspirations, giving up their time, talents and treasure to discover His Love. “Forsaking all others I choose you” is a traditional wedding vow. It must become our commitment to Christ.
Luke 14:28-30 (TLB)
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise he might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh! ‘See that fellow there?’ they would mock. ‘He started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’”
Jesus did not stop there. He went on to say, “But don’t begin until you count the cost?” What is your life worth to you? For those who are living in darkness, this life is all they have. After all, you only live once (YOLO) right? If you are not willing to make a total commitment to Christ, you might as well live by that philosophy. Grace is not a doormat to come and go from the Kingdom as one pleases. Grace is access to the Kingdom for those who make the determination that Jesus is better than anything offered in this life. We must compare the cost of true faith and confident hope with the things of this world AND make a decision. When my children hit the local dollar store, it is like a feeding frenzy. Suddenly, they want it all because after all it is only a dollar. Many people go through life the same way. Grace is not worth a dollar. It may be free but it cost Christ everything. Why wouldn’t faith demand the same? His Grace is sufficient for me. It is all that I need. But it is not to be an excuse to sin. For many, sin is a dime a dozen. Imagine the difference if we had to pay in our own blood. What if every time we told a little white lie we had to prick our finger and squeeze out some blood to make ourselves right with God again? I hate to get stuck once a year at my annual doctor visit, I cannot imagine if I had to pay for sin with my blood because I have sinned a lot. My sin is determined by the Word of God not society’s norm. A lie cost Jesus as much as murder.
With that in mind, we must budget our life more cautiously than money if our goal is discipleship. We cannot stay the same and follow Christ. We won’t make it a day if we do not find righteousness a worthwhile endeavor. We must want Christ with our whole heart to allow it to be broken for what breaks His Heart. We pay for faith with our life. The more of our life surrendered to the Lord in total weakness, the greater His Power and Potential become in our life. What is your life worth to you? Have you decided yet that there is more to life than this? Too many Christians who come to Christ are not led further to become true discipleship. There are far too many seeker sensitive churches who like dollar stores fill their shelves with substandard teaching and watered down preaching that pacifies rather than purifies. When the true test comes, people abandon their post and run back to the darkness. It happens every day because we have dollar store dreams rather than mountain moving faith.
Luke 14:31-33 (TLB)
“Or what king would ever dream of going to war without first sitting down with his counselors and discussing whether his army of 10,000 is strong enough to defeat the 20,000 men who are marching against him? If the decision is negative, then while the enemy troops are still far away, he will send a truce team to discuss terms of peace. So no one can become my disciple unless he first sits down and counts his blessings—and then renounces them all for me.”
True faith and confident hope are worth fighting for. I have never experienced the loving kindness and unending faithfulness that I have found in following Jesus. I also never imagined that I would survive some of the battles that I have engaged in. We must take authority over our life. Our circumstances do not determine our outcomes. The first fight is the inner battle that we face each day. Paul talks about in Romans 7:21-25. Our human nature will always fight to control our life. Surrendering our life to Christ means dying to self each day. Why wouldn’t our inner man fight to live? We must fight for our faith. Once our heart, mind and soul are in agreement, all I can say is watch out. The thief immediately goes to work looking for any unsecured window to our soul or door to our heart. (John 10:10) He wants to take from us the rich and satisfying life that Jesus is giving us day by day and moment by moment as we give Him our life. When Jesus died, He offered us eternal life. He gave us our life back to do with as we choose. We cannot live forever if we are living for today. When we decide that we want God’s Way in our life, the enemy attacks. The harder we fight for our faith and hold on to confident hope, the greater his efforts to disconnect us from Christ. We must decide that God is for us and Christ has secured our victory in order to win this battle. The enemy is much stronger than we are in our own strength so there is no need to engage in a war without the Lord. You will lose every single time. Victory is reserved for his disciples and Children of the Living God. No one can become a disciple without waging war against the enemy. This begins by nailing every sin and passion contradictory to God’s Will, Way and Word to the Cross. This requires a commitment of our time, talent and treasure to securing our faith and confident hope that is immovable and unshakeable even when all hell breaks loose. Forsaking all others, Jesus I choose you!
Luke 14:34-35 (TLB)
“What good is salt that has lost its saltiness? Flavorless salt is fit for nothing—not even for fertilizer. It is worthless and must be thrown out. Listen well if you would understand my meaning.”
We just completed a study in church called “Salt Life.” What good is salt that is no longer salty? Is flavorless salt worth anything? I wish I had all the dollars back wasted on trying to cut corners and save a few cents. I have thrown away so many products that looked like the original but cost less and did not do the job. I have tried generic brands that end up sitting on the shelf never being used because they taste different or don’t work like the original. Where is the savings when you have to buy what works next time you go? You cannot compromise on quality. You cannot substitute for taste. This is not to say that we do not pay too much for name brands sometimes, but simply to point out that we must count the cost. We budget our dollars. Why not budget our life? Invest in something or rather someone or maybe even better the ONLY ONE who can actually satisfy us from the inside out. Dollar store faith and dime store hope are all the cheap compromises and subtle substitutions that we make rather than investing all of our time and energy following Christ. We must be disciples. This will cost us our life. We must count the cost before venturing out on the limb called faith. What is God’s Way? What is His Plan? Do I trust Him enough to forsake all others and everything else? You cannot decide when you are already out there if you will trust Him? Faith begins now in every decision you make. Carefully consider each moment of our life and every step we take compared to the Word of God and whisper of His Spirit. Our life is worthless outside of Christ. People will let us down so why not put Jesus before others. Things will wear out, break and lose their desirability over time. Why not invest in Christ instead? Sowing into the Kingdom each day with our time, talent and resources. This is the life of a disciple. This is only for those who consider the cost and determine that the life they desire is at the foot of the Cross. Those who journey there must be prepared for war. Is your faith worth fighting for? One day it may be a matter of life or death. In the end, everlasting life is dependent on how we spent our life here on earth? Have you counted the cost of becoming a disciple? Are you willing to pay the price for a satisfied life? Is your faith worth fighting for? Faith demands a persistent “yes” to all these questions with our attitude and actions following suit. This is a requirement to become a disciple. It is offered to the crowd, but only a handful will come!
Matthew 16:25-27 (TLB)
For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world—and lose eternal life? What can be compared with the value of eternal life? For I, the Son of Mankind, shall come with my angels in the glory of my Father and judge each person according to his deeds.