Peace with God

Peace with God

Job 22:21-22 (NIV) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.

These are the words of Eliphaz to his friend, Job during the worst time of his life. Job’s children were gone. His wealth gone. Everything God had blessed him with in his lifetime taken from him within a single day. Even his own physical health compromised, I am quite certain that he was not looking for a sermon but sympathy from his friends. The story of Job is one, though hard to read and difficult to comprehend, is absolutely necessary to understand true submission to God. “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” This may imply that Eliphaz had decided that Job must have sinned against God to invite such tragedy into his life. From a human aspect – it would be the natural assumption. However, his words I believe are led by the Holy Spirit and not his own intellect. Submission to the Lord in all things will give us peace. The Holy Spirit produces peace in our life as a fruit. As our soul prospers so does our life, but I do not believe that God will allow us to prosper in this life if it compromises eternal life. “

“In this way prosperity will come to you.” Everyone has a natural desire to prosper. To see increase and live in abundance. It is a common thread of commerce. However, peace does not come from financial security but confident faith that there is more to life than this. A place of eternity rest offered through Jesus Christ. The Lord has given us His Spirit to produce the kinds of fruit that satisfies our soul and causes our heart and mind to prosper in God’s Word which is His Plan for us. “Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” I have studied the Word of God every day for the last eight years. Each morning getting up early to read, study and meditate on it. I want to extract every single truth, promise and blessing hidden within the pages of text. I do not say this to boast but rather to share that even though I have spent countless hours poring over the Word of God, I find new things every single day. It is life to my heart, mind, thoughts and soul. It is never old but always fresh and new.

Romans 10:2-4 (NIV) For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Our zealousness and enthusiasm serving God must be based on His Word. Faith comes by hearing and found in God’s Word. We desire righteousness but do not fully understand what it entails. Pride wants to earn it. Somehow find a way to deserve the Grace of God. It is impossible. Yet still religiosity can interrupt our relationship when pride tells us – “I can do it.” The only way of reconciliation with God is through His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can make it to God except through Him. The Word made flesh to live among us is none other than Jesus. I must submit to God’s Righteousness fully accepting His Grace in my weakness. His Power is complete in my life when I do. The story of Job depicts man’s struggle with pride. Doing everything right cannot erase our sin or promote a relationship with God. It is our thriving relationship with Jesus that gives us total access to God the Father and His Power in this life.

Divine discipline as recorded in Hebrews 12 is not in the form of punishment. It is God’s Love at work in us to remove barriers of pride, fear, and insecurity that keep us from reconciling our life to God through His Son, Jesus. It is always born of love, mercy and grace. God cannot punish those who believe as it would be contrary to His Word. God doesn’t take back His Promises but daily pursues us in order to bless us. It is His Desire to give us the desires of our heart. Misalignment spiritually creates conflict in our life. (James 4:1-6) Our friendship with God makes us enemies of the world. I want more of God’s Grace. To have it means moving my life from this world to Kingdom living by constantly pursuing a relationship with God by way of accepting His Grace more and more which means I must decrease and He must increase in me. Pride is crucified in this place and submission fully embraced as a way of life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To be reconciled with God is live at peace with Him. Submission to God comes in the form of acceptance of His Grace as enough for my life. His Power is manifested in my weakness and inability to accomplish anything of worth outside of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must become a new creation. Pride must be executed so that the fulfillment of His Purpose can be accomplished in me. I must learn to submit. Humbling myself before the Lord and other people. God has a plan containing a future and hope that oversteps death into eternity. By faith, I can achieve it. I must understand my place as a participant in this process. I must humble myself before the Lord which means also extending it to other people.

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him” is not a threat or form of punishment. It is an invitation. Like a wedding invitation all in white tied with a scarlet bow, bidding us to come and participate in the greatest love story ever written. To be His Bride. To await His Coming with real enthusiasm not overrated zeal. His Word gives us the opportunity to know Him. His Spirit is the intimate consummation of His Betrothal. We have a promise, not only of a fantastic future, but blessings for the land of the living. Pride will never exalt us to the level of confirmation that humility born of absolute trust in the Living God allows. It is the destruction of the platform of pride that spiritual elevation takes to the new levels and life intended by God. I must live in Christ to find them. He must increase and I must decrease. I must live at peace with God in Christ Jesus to reach my full potential. Sometimes it is the moment when all we have is the Lord, that we find He is all we ever need.

Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Advertisements

Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Cue the music, I love 80’s music. Although I tend to gravitate toward mostly Christian music nowadays, my kids hate when an oldie but goodie comes on because I cannot help but crank it up and sing along. “Don’t Stop Believing” is a classic. It’s funny how our mind works. Certain thoughts will filter through the folders of memory and pull out random thoughts and ideas. Lately the Holy Spirit has really been pressing me to evaluate my faith and belief system. Oh, I assure you that I am sold out to Jesus Christ just some spring cleaning meditation and self-examination. I do not want to become comfortable or complacent in my pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. But what I am beginning to see and now believe is that like the woman who had but a small jar of oil hidden on a shelf who did not tap into it until she was completely desperate (2 Kings 4), there are things in my life intended for prosperity and blessing that remain hidden. The Lord wants me to be like the woman with the alabaster box who broke the seal pouring her perfume over the head of Jesus. (Matthew 26) Why is it that we wait to believe until death knocks on the door when we should be beating down the door of God’s Kingdom? See the difference. I do, at least I am beginning to.

Keep asking and you will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks the door is opened. God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) His Grace is enough – it is sufficient in its ability to turn my weakness into His Power. God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) What does that have to do with me? Well in Genesis 1 – the Lord blessed us. He instructed us to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, and subdue it. Purpose, prosperity, generosity and power. It all belongs to us directly from God. But sin came hindered us from fulfilling His Mandate for us. (Romans 3:23) No longer able to live according to God’s Glorious Standard. Jesus came to remove the burden of sin and death so that once again the Kingdom of God and His Call could be fulfilled in our life. It is a free gift. (Romans 6:23) Now we have eternal life, the life that in our heart is our desire. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) When we connect with the Kingdom of God and live according to God’s Standard including His Glory and Grace – we become complete lacking no good thing. (James 1:4) This is all part of the reconciliation process as our life begins to come into alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God, the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Why am I not asking for every spiritual blessing I have been promised? Why am I not seeking the secrets and hidden things of the Kingdom every day? Why do I not beat down the doors to God’s Presence every single day until the door opens so I may come boldly before His Throne with every need, worry, care, burden and desire? Why? Have I stopped believing? Have I established a limit to the Love of God?

I Corinthians 15:9-10 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

The last rollercoaster I ever rode was at Six Flags over Georgia. I looked up the name so I could share it with you and laughed out loud. It was called Goliath. I have never been so terrified in all my life but gave in to the ridiculing of my children to ride it with them. When I got off the ride, I was mad. I remember walking away, shaking my head and declaring that I would never ever ride another thrill ride again. I haven’t. It was on that ride that our son blacked out. Having a major concussion in middle school, and after speaking to his doctor – it was concluded that because of post-concussion syndrome – he probably should not ride rollercoasters anymore. He was very disappointed but felt so bad agreed. Well, now I cannot help but wonder if it was his brain or the hidden tumor growing in his body next to it. I had no idea the giant that would soon be awakened in our life. After our son’s bone marrow transplant, he was declared in remission after three long years of battling. When I came home, life was far from normal. Within a month, my birth mother passed away unexpectedly and my oldest daughter married. Four months later, she and her husband were called to ministry 21 hours away. All those days to be made up from being apart while I cared for her brother, would have to wait for another day. I walked along that year deciding that I love God but I could not do this “faith” fight anymore. I took the sword that slayed those giants and gently hid it on a shelf. Believing came at a high price. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We can love the Lord and even trust Him but not believe for the Kingdom. We can accept His Daily Provision like manna but not press for the Promised Land of Favor that He has for us. The enemy uses fear and doubt to apprehend us and shut us in a cell with a lockless door. We wait for forever to come. We long for eternity. God has goodness for us in the land of the living. We must ask. We must seek. We must keep knocking. Why don’t we?

When Saul became Paul, he was called to minister to the family and friends of countless people were slaughtered at his hand or by his command. Yet somehow Paul discovered the sufficiency of God’s Grace was enough to stand before them and share of God’s Love, Grace and Favor. He overcame doubt and disbelief to live what He believed. My life must be lived to the Glory of God but what Glory is there to a lamp that is hidden under a basket out of sight. There are things God has called me to do, say and be that are well out of my comfort zone and will require a daily commitment to ask, seek and knock. The only reason that I have the Favor of God is because of the Blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:17-19) The Power of the Blood is for the remission of sins and restoration of the Glorious Standard of Living that is the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a multifaceted gift that takes a lifetime to unfold as God completes the good work that He began before you were born and insists on completing in spite of you.

Romans 14:16-17 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

God supplies everything we need every day. Is that enough for you? Are you okay with just enough? Why, when we serve a God of more than enough? The earth is all about daily provision or what we eat and drink. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of provision but a place of prosperity. We must learn to ask for, seek after and knock on the door of God’s Presence for Kingdom Favor rather than just getting by. You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2-3) We do not ask because we do not believe. We must believe with wholehearted confidence that God has a plan that contains a future and hope for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We must believe that He works every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must believe and be confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) To believe is to ask, to believe is to seek, and to believe is to knock – every day.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[f] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” Here me today – it doesn’t matter who God is to anyone else or the reality of Jesus for every other person in the world. Who do you say that He is? The life changing moment that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died for your sins, rose on the third day, and handed you the Keys to His Kingdom enough to do something with it – is the day heaven and earth become united in your life. The connection is made by faith. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for…your faith is shown not by what you say but what you do with your life. It is the evidence of things not seen soon to be a reality in your life and for the Kingdom. Why did you stop believing? Abraham took his faith all the way to the mountain with a knife poised and ready to plunge right through the beating heart of his 100-year-promise. God called Abraham – His Friend. Why? He believed. He believed in a God who can raise the dead back to life. What about you? If you believe that the moment you die, you will be brought to life in eternity, why can’t you believe God for simply things like favor? Increase? Prosperity? Power and influence? Such simple things offered by an awesome God left on the shelf like the bottle of oil, God has ordained and anointed you for His Glory. Is your life glorious? Maybe if like the woman with the alabaster box – we choose to ask, seek and beat open every door between us and Jesus to pour our life in His Lap, maybe we will discover the pressed down, shaken together and overflowing life that the Lord has promised His People. We must believe again. Believe that God is good. Believe that He is for us. Believe that He is with us. Believe that He desires us. Believe that the Lord will do exactly as He said. Don’t stop believing today! Crank it up and play it loud. Let your life be one of asking, seeking, knocking and believing and watch what the Lord will do!

James 2:21-24 (NLT)  Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

True Reconciliation

true-reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Probably one of the most difficult things to achieve among people is reconciliation. In this day and age, most people don’t reconcile their own bank account let alone anything else in their natural life so to consider spiritual reconciliation is out of the question. As believers, if we do not learn to reconcile our life first to Jesus Christ and then with other people, we miss the point of Kingdom building altogether. Christians and followers of Jesus are called to be the Body of Christ. To reconcile is to bring into agreement or harmony. It means to make compatible and consistent. Reconciliation is to reconsecrate our life to Jesus Christ and build relationships according to that connection. Our expectation is then removed from other people and placed fully in the Lord. Whatever we give to others is from the endless and limitless supply that Christ gives us. But how do we get there from here…

True reconciliation is only possible as the next step after true repentance. Put on your waders people because this is about to get deep. We are called to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. New creation. Not a fancy remodel. Not a Band-Aid fix. No weekend makeover. One or two trips to the altar does not instantly produce new attitudes, actions, thoughts or intentions. Salvation is a process. We must work it out inside of us to share it with the world. The trouble is the human component of pride that will not allow our heart and mind to be fully transformed by God. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are not like ours. The idea of surrender is not acceptable to our flesh. We don’t really want to be crucified with Christ. We want to walk with Him. Talk with Him. Even dine with Him in precious communion but when it comes to laying our whole life down for His Cause – it is a quick no thank you followed by a frigid plunge into denial. Religion makes us feel good about ourselves and what Christ is doing in us. Relationships make us feel good about other people and what Christ do within us together. How do I stop evaluating myself and others from a human point of view? After all I am only human. Oh how I loathe it when people confess this over their life. Just as much as, I am what I am. Stop limiting the potential of your life by remaining human, reconcile your life to Jesus Christ, put all your faith in Him, put all your trust in Him, surrender your whole life to the Lord and let Him make you into a new creation.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

“The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  You cannot step into a new place without leaving the old place. It requires an exchange of where you are for where you are going. You cannot live in the past and step into the future. Time will pass but nothing will ever change. To be crucified with Christ means that I lay down my old life for a brand new one. No longer living by the same set of standards, I accept God’s Glorious Standard which now belongs to me in Christ. Now I must daily examine my life for those things that do not “reconcile” with what God has promised me according to the New Covenant handed to me when I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” How is that even possible? To be alive in our body yet dead to ourselves. Welcome to the plight of all mankind? We must die to our flesh and live by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in us. He is our Helper. He is our Advocate. Our Teacher who guides us and instructs us along the way. So how am I reconciled to Christ exactly? The Christ in me is greater than any other force in the world around us. He is the Sovereign Living God in us who has all power and authority in Heaven and earth. I have a free will. I can call Jesus my Savior in Name only but until I call Him Lord and surrender my life – I cannot be reconciled or called a new creation.

Matthew 9:19-21 (NLT) So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Everyone has issues. Everyone has problems. Everyone has hang ups. Everyone sins. You can dress it up. Clean it up. Pretend. But the truth is that every moment of every day every single one of us need Jesus Christ completely. The woman who bled for 12 years. She sought help from doctors. She expected comfort from her friends. She was shunned by religion. Twelve years of disappointment, hurt and isolation that finally led to desperation. She was desperate for change. She was focused on deliverance. She had heard of Jesus. She saw a glimmer of hope. As her desperation grew she would make one final attempt. The crowd was packed. The road was narrow. The way was blocked. She lunged for the hem of his garment just as Peter did when the waves and wind wrecked his faith. In that instant, the glorious and marvelous moment, she was healed. Set free. Delivered of pain and shame just because she reached out to touch Him. In that second, her body became reconciled to Christ and started working properly again. Her heart took a long time to decide. Twelve years of reconciling her trust to others. She took it back and handed it to Jesus. She was complete.

Jesus can only heal those who admit that they are hurting. The man with the withered hand had to reach out to receive restoration just like the woman who touched the hem of his robe. Are you reaching out today? Or are you still trying to fix it, resolve it or heal it yourself? Afraid of disappointment or worse devastation? Our faith is not worth anything outside of Jesus Christ. If we reaching within for solutions rather than crying out and reaching out – restoration is not possible.

Jesus can only comfort those who are broken. He is close to the brokenhearted. Hearts filled with pride and surrounded by unforgiveness are uninhabitable by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, fear and anxiety make people who live in such strongholds feel safe and secure. Pride bolsters their confidence with the lie that this is a godly position rather than a horrible compromise. We must let our walls be broken down and live openly. Forgiveness is essential to spiritual freedom. It is trusting Jesus to guard our heart, keep us safe, and restore our brokenness with hope that never leads to disappointment.

Jesus can only satisfy those who are empty. We cannot be full of our self and full of His Spirit. The two are like oil and water. They conflict. If what we are doing does not stem from our heart but our hands it is hard to be fulfilled in Christ. Every good thing comes from the Father. It is looking for a place to fill or void to replace. I must lay down my life on earth to inherit the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not something that I can see but must experience. If God’s Glory is not filling my life, it means that I have not given Him room to move or a space to fill.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot be an effective minister or ambassador for Christ if I do not submit my weaknesses to Him every single day. I cannot be an effective messenger unless I am willing to share my inabilities with other and point to Christ for the change that people see. We do not glory in our transgressions but to paint a perfect picture is a lie. No one can live up to that. Church is for the hurting, broken and those desperate to reconcile their life to Jesus Christ. For when I am weak, I am strong. God never called me to be the strong one. I am just to have faith. Not a bucket of faith, but a teeny tiny mustard seed because let’s face it that is really all we can muster. It is my total inadequacy to save myself and redeem my life that I am made into a new creation. It is not my ability to serve God with my hands but in full surrender of my heart.

John 15:5-9 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ is an act of surrender. To maintain the constant conviction that apart from Jesus Christ I can do nothing. It’s true. Apart from Him, you can do nothing of worth just random acts of kindness and some generosity. I cannot save a single life, fill an empty void or offer anything of worth outside of Christ in me. If I construct a wall of pride to protect me or a fence of offense to secure my feelings, there is nothing of worth that God can do through me because Christ cannot move in my life. He is with you. He will sit behind that wall with you as long as you want. He will never leave you or forsake you. But if the Glory of God is not manifested all around you – lives changed, people healed, strongholds broken and chains falling as revival breaks out – it might not be a God thing…it might be a you thing or a me thing.

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ means reconciliation with the Body of Christ. God desires that all of humanity to be saved even though He knows full well it is not going to happen. Jesus tells us to “remain in His Love.” His Love is farther, deeper, wider and longer than our human comprehension can ever conceive let alone experience. His Love is big enough for everyone. How big is your love today? If it is your own heart, emotions and feelings, it will only be big enough for the first hurt, insult or let down. It is in Jesus Christ that we can tap into unconditional love and never-ending grace that we as human beings are incapable of.

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

Pride keeps us from renewal and restoration in Jesus Christ. Self-preservation tells us to hold on so we don’t fall apart. The truth is if we do not fall apart and had all those pieces to Jesus Christ there is nothing for Him to work with. He will not take our life from us. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him. Jesus Christ invites us to think about all the possibilities of heaven not the things of this earth. If you are willing to die to this life including all the drama, emotions, feelings, hurts, injustices, unfairness and let Him flood those empty spaces – the Lord will fill  your life with every good and gracious blessing that Heaven has to offer. It belongs to you. True reconciliation is giving up less to acquire Heaven’s All. You are worth it. You may not feel like it. You may even doubt it. The work of Jesus Christ on the Cross says differently. You are worth it all. All of Jesus. Why not give Him your all today? Every disappointment, hurt, shortcoming, downfall, broken piece, letdown, all of it. His Hope never leads to disappointment instead He will fill you up! True repentance must be followed by true reconciliation to seal the deal. Hold tightly to your promise of new life today.

Hebrews 10:20-23 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

Life Estimate

LIfe Estimate

Luke 14:33 (Message)

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”

 

In the past couple of years, our yard has shown signs of erosion. Living in this home for more than ten years, there are obviously some things that are in need of repair. We called a friend who is a professional landscaper to come and assess the problem. After wandering around the backyard for an hour, he described a solution to our problem that would be a wonderful addition to the existing pool deck. Solving the erosion issue, it would still create lovely living space for our family. We trust this young man. Not only is a long-time friend, but he has built a thriving business in his profession and his work is superb. When he left, my husband and I also departed on our nightly walk. The new renovation was obviously the main topic of our conversation. Of course, at some point, we began to consider the cost. I honestly have no idea what it will cost to do this repair and renovation. We must wait for the estimate to be completed. Like any other home improvement project, the estimate must be compared to the other priorities in our life as we budget to make the change. In life, we must constantly evaluate our priorities and determine what is most important. This will lead to a well-balanced life. When we impulsively jump from here to there, not considering the steps that we take, it can be disastrous.

I have read Luke 14 many times and rely heavily on the Words of Jesus as He tells His Disciples that in life they must count the cost to follow Him. However, there are many times that I do not fully count the cost and jump rather than waiting on God’s Direction and Guidance in my life. If I am not willing to take what is dearest to me including people and plans willing to walk away to follow Jesus – I cannot be His Disciple. Surely Jesus does not mean that I have to leave my husband and children to follow Him and be His Follower. Jesus Christ must be the highest priority in my life. (Period.) He must be the One who is dearest to me to live in proper order and experience the life that God created me to have. But I don’t always get that. What if… for just one day – I consider the price of being a true follower as I have the rebuilding of our backyard and the new renovation. How would I do that? Jesus paid the price. All I have left to give is my life. Am I doing that today?

Luke 14:28-30 (Message)

“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’  “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

I am a bargain shopper. My mother used to be an extreme bargain hunter and instilled it into me. My own children have adopted such tendencies. There was a time in my own adult life when it was a necessity. The Lord has blessed our family and although there are things we still want – God has supplied every single need. However, when I go into a store let’s say looking for a dress – I already have decided in my mind what I am willing to pay for it. I have disciplined myself over time and now if I do not find what I want at the price I am willing to pay – I will walk away. Drives my kids crazy when I do it, but I just can’t bring myself to pay full price for anything. When it comes to money, most people are quite protective of this valuable resource. In Heaven, it means nothing but to the world’s economy it is everything. Obviously, the world in which we live puts a high priority and value on money. What about our time? We tend to protect our time as valuable and consider how we use it. We plan vacations, trips and outings to use our time the way that we want. We pick and choose our battles weighing the cost of losing to determine if we are willing to absorb collateral damage in our life. So many things that we think about, stress about and worry about all day long – but when it comes to Jesus – the Lover of our Soul – our Savior – our Healer – Deliverer – Provider – Protector – I could go on and on – we seldom factor Him into our daily lives but reserve Him for Sundays, Wednesdays, certain holidays and when we are out of other options.

Matthew 16:24-26 (Message)

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

 

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not in the driver’s seat; I am.” Plain and simple. We must surrender control of our life to the Will, Way and Word of God every single day to get where Jesus is going. No longer can Jesus be our last option, He must become our top priority. All our decisions in life should be considered and compared to the Lord and His Word. We must consult with God in prayer and in connection with His Spirit on the inside of us. We must count the cost of our life not to the opinions of this world but to the longing that Jesus has placed in our heart. Our desire to follow Jesus must become greater than any manmade plan or human being who we know. The enemy will use both to distract us. He will use any method that works to keep us from following Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:15-18 (Message)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

 

Those who seek to fulfill God’s Purpose for their life find that purpose in Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He came so that men and women could identify with that purpose and made the way for total and absolute fulfillment. You cannot be fulfilled if you do not surrender all of your life. Like a glass with a rock in it, water cannot fill every space because something else has taken its place. When we empty the glass of everything, it can be filled to the top until it overflows. We pack so many things in our life and call ourselves “Christians” but to be a true disciple and follower of Christ means emptying everything out of our life and comparing it to Christ. Every facet of our life must be reconciled to Christ to properly count the cost and make the true decision to follow Jesus.

Matthew 26:39-41 (Message)

Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

The time had finally come. Jesus was headed to the Cross. He had gone to the garden to pray. One last uninterrupted conversation with His Father before they would be separated for a time. He asked His Followers to stay alert, on guard, and pray. As Jesus poured out His Heart to the Father, the disciples fell asleep. Unaware of the urgency or desperation in that moment, the Lord came back to find them all asleep. The Lord asked Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” I find that in the midst of desperation or danger I can pray endlessly. Tirelessly I pour through His Word searching for His Way until the trouble passes, then I still love Jesus but my desperate pursuit becomes a distant wandering. Jesus went on to tell Peter look there is a part of you that is eager but another that is lazy. Is what I am missing out by not staying close to Christ worth losing? Not at all. I am counting the cost today. I am reconciling my life back to Jesus looking for the inconsistencies that have promoted compromise. I want all or nothing. How about you?

Last night as we walked and talked, I left the conversation with my husband getting lost in my own thoughts. I was counting the cost for our project in my head. I continued to think about our budget and how we would save to do it. I kept working out the plan in my head with my own timeline in mind. It was then I realized I was worried about something that in the grand scheme of things didn’t matter that much. That is how fast we get sidetracked in our thinking and begin to focus on unimportant things rather than those things that promote eternal life such as becoming close followers of Jesus Christ. No, I do not think that God wants me to struggle in life. I do not think He wants me to forget about having nice things or the things that I want. All He is asking is to take over the driver’s seat again. Jesus wants to be the number one priority in my life above all people and all things. I must count the cost of my life and see if I am willing to surrender it. I am.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

(I Surrender All – Judson W. Van DeVenter)