In our Wednesday night Bible studies, we are currently studying some of the parables found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Last Wednesday we studied about “counting the cost”. And any time we study the Bible, we not only try to understand what is being said/taught, (within the proper context), we also try to figure out how it applies to us. What does it teach us about how we are to live, and what we are to do… we do our reading, our discussing, we figure out what it says & move on.
But sometimes, you get the opportunity to actually see or experience what it really means… and why it’s in there. Such was the case with this one:
Title: “Counting the Cost”
Reading: Matthew 5:13, Matthew 10:37-38, Mark 9:49-50, Luke 9:57-62, Luke 14:25-35,
Counting the cost…. what is it?
Jesus says three times, “…cannot be my disciple“.
Why? Because it’s hard!! It’s challenging. It’s painful. It’s never-ending. It takes complete determination and total dedication… no matter what!!
Think about it… Jesus likens it to a builder planning to build, and a king with an army for battle. We are the bricklayers and soldiers. The enemy is like a lion… always prowling, looking, seeking… to steal, kill, and destroy. Who does he seek? He seeks us! The bricklayers and soldiers! Satan seeks those who are against him. Jesus says, “he who is not with me is against me”. So if we aren’t being attacked… then are we really “for Jesus”? Are we really on his team? Or are we being deceived, deceiving ourselves, or just being lazy?
There are certain facts, or laws of life… one of these is if we are serving God, then we are the enemy of Satan… and will be drawing his attention. So be ready!! Remember the FULL armor! Know your enemy! Learn his tactics… many times, he simply uses the same tricks and traps over and over- why? -Because they work. They are effective… and many times we never see it coming, and have no idea what’s really going on.
We do some building… we are being productive for God… we lay a brick, then BAM!! We get attacked!! Here comes the big bad lion… and chances are, we never even realize he has struck. We are such easy targets for him that he is able to get away without us even knowing it was him… we mistakenly are led to just blame others, or question God, because we become discouraged, depressed, or angry. Guess what– our enemy just scored another point!!
Every time we lay a brick for Christ, we make an “advance” on the enemy… and what happens during a battle when an advance is made?? Usually there are injuries! It’s only natural… if you engage in battle, you will sustain some injuries. But the important thing, is how we respond when we have been injured… Our natural instinct tells us to flee & go run off into a cave like an injured dog, and lick our wounds… and just what does that accomplish- it only serves to push us even farther back than we began! It benefits the enemy! While we are busy retreating, (away from the advance we just made), our enemy is at work gaining even more ground!!
We read much in the Bible about the Pharisees and the Jewish people… Jesus was Jewish. He warns his disciples that there will be wolves among the sheep. The Pharisees were supposed to be on the same team, in the same army, fighting against the same enemy as Jesus… yet they were not “for” Jesus… they chose to fight “against” him. He was in battle against an enemy that was supposed to be his own people… God’s chosen people! What was his example to us? He never stopped!!
We are told that the student is not above the teacher… what makes us believe that war is easy?
In the book , “The Art of War“, Sun Tzu says: “know your enemy”. That’s smart advice. It is advise that we should all take to heart. We need to take time to realize who & what we’re fighting, as well as how we are to fight, otherwise, what good do we do?
As for “knowing your enemy”… One easy “red-flag” for us to see, is “emotional response”. We humans are so easily manipulated by our emotions and feelings… guess what?…. that makes us extremely easy targets! It is a great weakness for us. Any time we have some sort of immediate emotional reaction about something- it’s time to take a step back, and say “whoa”! Take time to be still, and consult God to find out what’s really going on.
Maybe instead of always telling people how they should live, maybe we should simply teach by example, how to love. Then we all progress!
It is written:
Love one another
Deuteronomy 6:5 –
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
John 13:34-35 –
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
1 John 4:20 –
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
1 Peter 4:8
– And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
1 John 4:7-11 –
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 John 3:18 –
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1 Corinthians 13:1-
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Luke 6:35 –
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil.
1 John 3:17 –
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 John 3:16 –
Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.
John 15:13 –
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
In fact, we are told:
Romans 13:8 – Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
So what does it mean to say that “he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law”? Leviticus tells us:
9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the sojourner. I am the LORD your God.
11 You must not steal. You must not lie or deceive one another.
12 You must not swear falsely by My name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
13 You must not defraud your neighbor or rob him.
You must not withhold until morning the wages due a hired hand.
14 You must not curse the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind, but you are to fear your God. I am the LORD.
15 “You must not pervert justice; you must not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich; you are to judge your neighbor fairly.
16 You must not go about spreading slander among your people.
You must not endanger the life of your neighbor. I am the LORD.
17 You must not harbor hatred against your brother in your heart. Directly rebuke your neighbor, so that you will not incur guilt on account of him. 18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against any of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
We are told to put on the full armor of God… if you will notice, it is defensive armor, (except for the sword). Have you ever wondered why there is no armor protecting us from the rear… nothing covering our backs?? It is because we are not to run away from the fight. God has our back!! It’s that simple. We are told to “count the cost”…that it is better to just not even attempt to be a disciple, than to begin the battle, and then run away… It is better to not even begin building, than to leave the work started, yet unfinished…. it is a good thing for us that Christ FINISHED….. Just a little something to ponder.
This lesson also discussed the “salt of the earth”… as it was pointed out during our Bible study:
Salt was very valued.. so valued in fact, that it was required by God to be included in the sacrifices.
So, along with the innocent, perfect, animal, without blemish or defect… along with giving up it’s life-sustaining blood… salt was required.
The salt was sacrificed! It was given up to God. As we should be. We are told that we are the “salt of the earth”. In fact, we are loved and valued so much by God…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Now if we are God’s salt of the earth… Does that not mean that “we” are to sacrifice our “self”? I think it does. We are to give over our “desires of the flesh” to God. To submit fully and completely to his will. We are to obey Him at all costs… the cost of “self”, and of selfish and worldly ways and desires… completely trusting Him with our very lives, to use according to His purpose and perfect will.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples,
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
God’s cost- His only begotten son, Jesus.
Jesus’ cost- Everything, He gave all, including his life.
Our cost- denying the selfish human will.
John 17:21-26 21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.