Written and preached by David P. Nolte

LUKE 14:25-33

Jesus has a goal. His goal is bringing every person in every part of the world in every generation to God. He could do that in any number of ways. He could just make everyone believe. He could send angels with such persuasion that nobody could resist believing. But you know what He did? He spent three years preparing twelve men and in their hands placed the outcome of His purpose. He called disciples, followers, students, learners, and taught them to go into every part of the world winning other disciples.
    1. Let me hasten to say that Jesus in no wise would diminish your love for parents or other significant people. He would have you love them beyond what you can describe. But as much as you love them, love Him more!
    2. Do you love Him most? Do I love Him most? How do I know if I love Him? I don't feel toward Him as I do to my parents or wife or children - so, do I love Him? Let me say this:
      1. Loving Jesus is not an emotion, but may be accompanied by an emotion. It is not just a feeling.
      2. Loving Jesus is not feeling toward Him just as you do to a buddy or pal you go fishing with, though He is your Best Friend. Loving Jesus is not just feeling friendly toward Him.
      3. Loving Jesus is not a protective, sheltering kind of love like you feel toward your family. It is not the love of the strong toward the weak, or the protector to the defenseless.
    3. So what is loving Jesus? Let Him define it. Loving Jesus is action, not feeling.
      1. If you love Jesus, put Him first! Even above the most beloved in your life. Even above yourself.
      2. Jesus said, "If you love Me, obey My commandments." John 14:15 (NLT). Loving Jesus is obeying Him.
      3. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?" Peter said, "Yes, Lord, You know I love You." Jesus said, "Then feed My lambs." John 21:15 (NLT). Loving Jesus is taking care of one another in the church.
    4. One boy said to his mother, "I love you, Mommy! Can I have a popsicle?" Later she asked him to help her set the table for dinner. He folded his arms and defiantly refused, saying, "No! Don't wanna!" Did He love her? Maybe, in an immature way. Another boy said, "I love you Mommy!" Later she asked him to help her set the table for dinner and he smilingly joined in the task. Now, which truly loved Mommy most? Both may have thought they did, and both may have loved Mommy - but only the latter boy proved it by going beyond words to deeds. Do you love Jesus? To be His disciple, you must.
    1. He said we must take up a cross. A cross is always a choice. It is not something foisted or forced upon us. It is not something that happens to us. Jesus chose the cross, so must we.
    2. But what does that mean?
      1. The cross represents unconditional obedience. After praying that He not have to go to the cross, Jesus said, "Not My will but Yours be done." We don't bear a cross until we obey like that.
      2. The Cross represented sacrifice. On it Jesus sacrificed His life. It means radical self-denial, even to dying to self. We don't bear a cross until we deny self like that.
      3. To take up one's cross is to follow in the steps of Jesus Who models total and radical obedience and self-denial. We don't bear a cross until we follow Jesus sacrificially to the cross.
    3. Bearing a cross is coming to the point of surrender where we realize it is not all about us, it is not just for self, it is not just about what we want. It's about Him, and being like Him.
    4. Years ago my nephew Ronnie, about 11 at the time, demonstrated this kind of self-denial. His mother fixed a dessert that Ronnie particularly loved and hardly ever got. He noticed that his sister, Connie, was not there and asked where she was. His mother told him she was eating at a friend's house. He noticed that there was no dessert left over after his mother had dished it out. He took his and put it in the freezer. His mother asked what he was doing, and he said, "I'm saving this for Connie so she will have some when she comes home." Unselfish, willing to deny self, giving up what he loved, for his sister. That's the heart of following Jesus sacrificially. To be His disciple, you must do that.
    1. He demonstrates the need for counting the cost, for not jumping into something without prudence and forethought. You want to be sure you can complete a building before starting and that you can win a war before waging one. Even being a disciple is not an impetuous decision, we must follow Him sensibly if we follow Him at all.
    2. Following Him sensibly merely means, "Count the cost! Know what is entailed in being a disciple." So, what will it cost you to follow Jesus and to serve Him?
      1. It will cost you your self will.
      2. It will cost you your indulgence in lust.
      3. It will cost you your desire for revenge.
      4. It will cost you your self indulgence.
      5. It will cost you your time.
      6. It will cost you your energy.
      7. It will cost you your money.
      8. It will cost you your pride.
      9. It will cost you your self-sufficiency.
    3. To follow Him sensibly, you must make a deliberate commitment to Him, not just an emotional, temporary irrational decision. It means making at least the following kind of commitments ana making them with eyes wide open to the cost. Take a look at the card from the bulletin. This is a commitment between you and God. Do not turn this card in. Keep it in your Bible. Will you, as His disciple, make these commitments?
      1. I will attend all the regular services of the church unless I have a reason I would give the Lord Himself.
      2. I will set my plans and will aside when they conflict with His plans and will.
      3. I will give sacrificially and faithfully of my finances through the church.
      4. I will avail myself of scheduled opportunities to learn from God's Word.
      5. I will make honest effort to lead others to Christ.
      6. I will spend time daily in prayer and Bible reading.
      7. I will commit to breaking any habit that is detrimental to my witness or my relationship to Christ and other Christians.
      8. I will take my responsibility to work in the Body of Christ seriously and will use my gifts and abilities faithfully for Him.
      9. I will endeavor to lead a Christlike life both at home, in church, and in public society.
    4. Gary, a friend of mine was counseling a couple for marriage. He asked, "Now, what particular commitments do you want to make to each other?" The man said, "Commitments? What do you mean?" Gary said, "A commitment is a promise." The man said, "Well, what kind of promises?" Gary said, "You know, promises like, 'I will be faithful to you.'" "Faithful?" The man asked, "What do you mean 'faithful?'" Gary, exasperated by now, said, "Faithful means you won't cheat on her or have any girl friends." The man said, "I don't want to promise that!" Needless to say, the girl didn't want to make commitment to a jerk who didn't want to make commitment to her. The wedding was off. Jesus wants us to make commitments to Him. Promises we fully intend to keep. Vows we fully intend to carry out. He has made commitment to you - what commitment will you make to Him? Make that commitment rationally, wisely, and sensibly. To be His disciple, you must.

Even a trip around the world begins with the first step. So the journey to becoming a disciple begins with the first step. Will you take that step? Step out to yield your entire life to Christ for His use. Step out to declare yourself on His side. Step out to be His disciple, one who loves Him supremely, one who follows Him sacrificially and one who is committed to Him sensibly. While we sing our song of commitment "I surrender all" will you just translate those words into action?

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