Message No. 4: Our Enlisting In Discipleship
Reading Luke Ch. 9v18-26. Part 1.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
"I will make the place of my feet glorious"-among the poor, the devil-possessed, the mean, the decrepit, the selfish, the sinful, the misunderstood-that is where Jesus went, and that is exactly where he will take you if you are his disciple. Oswald Chambers.
A believer comes to Christ, a disciple come after Christ. Sadly, many having taken up the challenge dropout and go back. Remember there is no standing still in the Christian life, we either go forward or we go backwards.
How then can you, can I, having enlisted in the Lord's army, keep going forward, after all that is the way to present blessing and future reward.
Dr. Vance Havner quotes: I have read of a poor man who while travelling on board a large liner became dreadfully seasick. A cheerful soul, such as always shows up at such times, said to the suffer, "Cheer up, seasickness never killed anybody." "Don’t tell me that," was the reply of the sick man, "It’s the hope of dying that has kept me going this long."
And folks, it’s the hope of dying that can get us going and keep us going on. The man who is prepared to die to self is prepared to live unto the Lord.
Our text, Luke 9v23 says:
"And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
To take up the cross daily means death to self. It's not that we do ourselves some fatal injury in our persons! No, it means that we must be prepared on a daily basis to offer these bodies a living sacrifice to the Lord Romans 12v1-2.
A sacrifice is an offering placed before the Lord so that he can make something of it. Once offered it is in God's hand to do with what he will. It is no longer in your hands to improve a little more. ... His will is to work with offerings, not your perfection's or your press clippings. Just leave it. You have lived your day; now leave it on the alter, an offering. Eugene Peterson in Answering God. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 4.
1. Enlisting Is Inescapable In Its Directive! John 12v26. "Follow me."
"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour."
The text is plain, pointed and very personal! Service and following are inextricably linked together. When Jesus walked this earth and you wanted to find a disciple, find Jesus. Where is Jesus today? Why he lives with our hearts, so it should be today, if you want to find Jesus find a disciple. You may reply, why, that's simplistic! Of course, that's why so many are missing the mark
Donald G. Bloesch in his book 'The Crisis of Piety' says:
"The Spiritual disciplines are not to be seen as a pretext for separation and isolation from the world. Rather they should be regarded as a means to conquest over the world. Not the renunciation of the world but service in the world-this is the purpose of the disciplines of the spirit as seen in the Bible." End quote!
When Jesus walked this earth and you wanted to find a disciple, find Jesus. Wherever Jesus was there were always disciples following Him.
Where is Jesus today? Why He lives within the heart of every true believer!
So it should be today, if you want to find Jesus, find a disciple, you are sure to find Jesus. You may say, oh, that’s so simplistic! Of course it is, that’s why so many are missing the mark. In 1 John 2v6 we are reminded by the Holy Spirit through John.
"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."
And by the same Spirit through 1 Peter 2v21.
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps."
You say, listen I am a Christian: Jesus says, follow me!
You say, listen I am a Believer: Jesus says, follow me!
You say, listen I am a Member: Jesus says, follow me!
You say, listen I am a Teacher: Jesus says, follow me!
You say, listen I am a Leader: Jesus says, follow me!
To follow Jesus in this way involves direction, onwards and upwards.
To follow Jesus in this way involves destination; there’s a goal, a potential.
To follow Jesus in this way involves departure; we cannot "follow me" as He commands unless we leave where we are at this point in time.
In an airport there are signs for ‘Arrivals’ and ‘Departures’ you cannot arrive at a given point without departing from a given point.
So in discipleship, there must be a departure before there is an arrival. You have been called out of darkness and death! You have been called into light and life. You had to depart from the kingdom of darkness and death to arrive in the kingdom of light and life. You had to leave the past to arrive in this present. You will have to leave this present to arrive at a future point. But that’s the most natural thing in this life, you just do it without even thinking about it or dwelling upon it.
That’s the way to follow Him! That’s it. That’s it. That’s the way to follow Him. You see its so a part of His plan and purpose for us it should just flow as naturally as life because of our close relationship with Him. Just as a child will follow parents while crossing the road, hand in hand as though they are one.
The Pony Express was a private express company that carried mail by an organised relay of horseback riders. The eastern end was St. Joseph, Missouri, and the western terminal was in Sacramento, California. The cost of sending a letter by Pony Express was $2-50 an ounce. If the weather and horses held out and the Indians held off, that letter would complete the entire two-thousand-mile journey in a speedy ten days. It may surprise some to know that the Pony Express was only in operation from April 3, 1860, until November 18, 1861, just seventeen months. When the telegraph line was completed between two cities, the service was no longer needed.
Being a rider for the Pony Express was a tough job. You were expected to ride seventy-five to one hundred miles a day, changes horses every fifteen to twenty five miles. Other than the mail, the only baggage you carried contained a few provisions, including a kit of flour, cornmeal, and bacon. in case of danger, you also had a medical pack of turpentine, borax, and cream of tarter. In order to travel light and to increase speed of mobility during Indian attacks, the men always rode in shirtsleeves, even during the fierce winter weather. How would you recruit volunteers for this hazardous job? An 1860 San Francisco newspaper printed this ad for the Pony Express: "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk daily. Orphans preferred."
Those were the honest facts of the service required, but the Pony Express never had a shortage of riders.
We need to be honest with the facts about the discipleship of serving God. Like the Pony Express, serving God is not a job for the casually interest. It’s costly service. He asks for your life. He asks for service to Him to become priority, not a pastime. He does not want servants who will give the leftovers of their life’s commitments. Serving God isn’t a short-term responsibility either. Unlike the Pony Express, His Kingdom will never go under, no matter how technological our world gets.
The mental picture we have of the Pony Express is probably much like the one imagined by the young men of 1860 who read that newspaper advertisement. Scenes of excitement, camaraderie, and the thrill of adventure filled their heads as they swaggered over to the Express Office to apply. Yet few of them envisioned that excitement would only occasionally punctuate the routine of the long, hard hours and loneliness of the work.
That’s why in Acts 9 Saul’s decision was so swift. "Lord what will you have me to do." All his life Saul had been a man under authority. That in fact, is what gave him his authority in the first place. He knew better than most, to have authority you must be willing to yield to authority. At his conversation therefore, he immediately yields to the one who has become his Lord and Master, and he does so without question. "Follow me" is Inescapable in its Directive.
Enlisting Is Interminable In Its Duration! Luke 9v23. "Daily"
Cross bearing to be effective must not be spasmodic but successive, not periodic but permanent. It is a day to day excise.
There are five delightful "Daily’s" in our New Testament worth thinking about!
Our Daily Bread: Matt. 6v11. Our daily Welfare!
The Daily Scriptures: Acts 17v11. Our daily Word!
The Daily Ministry: Acts 5v42. Our daily Witness!
The Daily Care: 2 Cor. 11v28. Our daily Work!
E. The Daily Cross: Luke 9v23. Our daily Walk!
And dear folks, we can no more do without Our Daily Cross than we can without Our Daily Bread. Put these five together and you have a disciple.
Our Lord's conception of discipleship is not that we work for God, but that God works through us; he uses us as he likes; he allots our work where he chooses. Oswald Chambers.
You see, every Christian is expected to serve and that throughout our whole Christian life that’s the kind of attitude needed in serving the Lord.
There is no such think as spiritual unemployment or spiritual retirement in the Kingdom of God. Of course, motives and attitudes matter in the service we offer to our Master.
Obedience Should Be Our First Motive In Service: Deut. 13v4.
"It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him."
Everything in that text relates to obedience to God. We should serve the Lord because there is an attitude of obedience in our lives. Obedience should be our driving motive.
John Newton, the slave-trader who became a preacher of the greatest ability after his conversation to Jesus Christ and penned such hymns as " Amazing Grace," gives us this illustration on obedience.
"If two angels were to receive at the same a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s greatest empire, the other to go down and sweep the street of some obscure village, it would be a matter of total indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of angels lie only in obedience to God’s will." End quote.
Can you imagine one of those angels refusing to serve? It’s unthinkable. It was the unwillingness to serve God that once turned some angels into demons. Then how can any professing Christian think it is okay to sit on the spiritual sidelines and watch others do the work of the Kingdom? Not to serve God is sinful!
(2) Gratitude Should Be Our Second Motive In Service: 1 Samuel 12v24.
"But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."
He has never done anything greater for anyone, nor could He do anything greater for you, than bring you to Himself. Suppose He placed one million pounds in your bank account every morning for the rest of your life, but he didn’t save you? What shall it profit you to gain so much and then at death to be cast into hell forever and lose everything. If we cannot be grateful servants of Him who is everything and in whom we have everything, what will make us grateful? When the fire of your service to God grows cold, consider what wonderful things the Lord has done for you, your heart will surely warm to serving Him.
(3) Gladness Should Be Our Third Motive In Service: Psalm 102v2.
"Serve the Lord with gladness."
We are not to serve the Lord grudgingly or grimly, but gladly. In the courts of the ancient kings, servants were often executed for nothing more than looking sad in the service of the king. Something is wrong if we cannot serve the Lord with gladness. I can understand why the person who serves God only out of obligation doesn’t serve with gladness. I can understand why the person who serves God in an attempt to earn his way to Heaven doesn’t serve with gladness. But the Christian who gratefully acknowledges what God has done for him for eternity should be able to serve God cheerfully and with deep joy.
For the believer, serving God should not be a burden, but a wonderful privilege.
If I can throw a single ray of light across the darkened pathway of another; if I can aid some soul to clearer sight of life and duty, and thus bless my brother; if I can wipe from any human cheek a tear, I shall not have lived my life in vain while here.
If I can guide some erring one to truth, inspire within his heart a sense of duty; if I can plant within my soul of rosy youth a sense of right, a love of truth and beauty; if I can teach one man that God and heaven are near, I shall not then have lived in vain while here.
If from my mind I banish doubt and fear, and keep my life attuned to love and kindness; if I can scatter light and hope and cheer, and help remove the curse of mental blindness; if I can make more joy, more hope, less pain, I shall not have lived and loved in vain.
If by life's roadside I can plant a tree, beneath whose shade some wearied head may rest, though I may never share its beauty, I shall yet be truly blest--though no one knows my name, nor drops a flower upon my grave, I shall not have lived in vain while here.
Do you serve the Lord and his Church with gladness or with gloom? Do your children or friends get the impression from you that serving God is something you really enjoy or merely endure?
Forgiveness Should Be Our Fourth Motive In Service: Isaiah 6v6-8.
Then flew one of the seraphim’s unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Like a dog on a leash, Isaiah was straining out of his skin to serve God in some way, any way! Because he felt guilty? No! because God had removed his guilt.
In a sermon preached in London on the 8th September 1867 C. H. Spurgeon put it like this.
The heir of heaven serves his Lord simply out of gratitude; he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose; … now, out of love to the God who chose him, and who gave so great price for his redemption, he desires to lay out himself entirely to his master’s service. O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law, what a miserable life yours must be! … you have that if you diligently persevere in obedience, you may perhaps obtain eternal life, though, alas! None of you dare to pretend that you have attained it. You toil and toil and toil, but you never get that which you toil after, and you never will, for, "by the works of the law there shall no flesh living be justified." … The child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved. End quote!
We serve willingly out of a heart of love!
Humility Should Be Our Fifth Motive In Service: John 13v12-16.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Our dear Lord Jesus was the perfect servant. He was willing to serve the very lowest needs of his disciples to display true humility.
Reminding us that we must totally reject self-righteous service as a sinful motivation and serve with humility, considering others better than ourselves Philippians 2v3. Self-righteous service is always looking for external rewards, it needs to be appreciated and applauded. Self-righteous service is highly dependent upon results, it hopes sincerely there will be reciprocation in kind.
You see, in this life there will always be a part of us (the Bible calls it the flesh) if I serve, I must get something in return, I must surely deserved to be rewarded.
In the discipline of service, the issue is not always how well you serve, for even the world serve well when it leads to reward and profit. But the Christian serves because it leads to Christlikeness.
Love Should Be Our Sixth Motive In Service: Gal. 5v13.
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love."
At the heart of all service, the disciple should and must portray love. That is to be the ultimate driving force of all we do for the master. There is no better fuel for service that burns longer and provides more energy than love. There are things I do in service to my Lord that I could and would not do for money.
I read of a missionary in Africa who was asked if he really liked his work for the Lord. His response was amazing. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I hate dirt. We have refined sensibilities. We do not like having to crawl through animal refuse to get into someone’s vile smelling hut, but is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to go work for the Lord in this field of service therefore we go because love constrains us.
Beloved, our motivation in service as disciples of the Master is all-important!
Enlisting Is Intentional In Its Decision! "Let him take up." Luke 9v23.
If you are carrying the cross today, it is because you intended to do so. No one wakes one morning and says, well, what do you know, I’m carrying my cross. I came into this cross-carrying business quite by accident, it just happened you know. No! No! No! a thousand time No!
Thomas a Kempees writes, "Jesus has many lovers of His kingdom but few bearers of His cross: all are disposed to rejoice with Him but few will suffer for His sake." End quote!
We are safe in the arms of Jesus, we are not always so sure about being soldiers in His army.
Many crowd the Saviour’s kingdom few receive the cross,
Many seek His consolation few are will to suffer loss.
He bore the cross to accomplish redemption; we should bear the cross to announce redemption.
W. Tozer speaks of a young Christian asking an older Christian what it means to take up the cross, three things came the reply.
The person on the cross is facing only one way!
The person on the cross is not going back!
The person on the cross has no further plans of his own!
Jesus I my cross have taken all to leave and follow thee
Destitute, despised, forsaken thou henceforth my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition all I’ve sought and hoped and known
Yet how rich is my condition God and Heaven are still my own.
"Let him take up" is a call to enlist in discipleship with intent and a determination to stay the course, not to give up, not to easily throw in the towel but to be found stand when day is done and our work is finished.
In the beginnings of communism Lenin laid down these four principles:
Total acceptance of the cause!
Total dedication to the cause!
Total discipline in the cause!
Total action for the cause!
I often wonder where he drew those principles from, for indeed they are the very principles of discipleship laid down by the Lord Jesus.
Watch where Jesus went. The one dominant note in his life was to do his Father's will. His is not the way of wisdom or of success, but the way of faithfulness. Oswald Chambers.
Laid on thine altar, O my Lord, Divine,
Accept my gift this day, for Jesus' sake;
I have no jewels to adorn thy shrine,
No world-famed sacrifice to make;
And here I bring within my trembling hands
This will of mine, a thing that seemeth small;
Yet thou alone canst understand
That when I yield Thee this, I yield Thee all!
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.
G. K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World.