One Priority - Luke 14:27-35
Intro - Let’s pick up where we left off last week. Jesus said that if we are truly Christ-followers (disciples) that we will always choose Jesus as our highest priority - over family, education, work, spouse, investments, retirement, even our own lives!
Jesus continues this theme today with these words…
“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 (and 9:23) NIV
What does it mean to take up my cross?
A - ______________
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”Matthew 19:29 NASB
Self-denial is really another way of saying the opposite of selfishness. Therefore it is highly intentional. You’re never NATURALLY going to choose Jesus over the other things / people / relationships / opportunities that attract you. If you don’t think about it you’ll deceive yourself into thinking it’s ok. Jesus would approve. It’s not "no" to Jesus. It’s Jesus + other things .
B - _________________
“All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-26 MSG
Anyone who has ever trained hard knows that you never accidentally do such a thing. It takes dedication. Choice followed by action that isn’t your first, natural inclination. It changes everything about you - including and especially your schedule. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. If you are taking up your cross for Jesus, then Jesus will be your priority and your schedule every day! That’s complete dedication!
C - _________________
“If you love me, you will obey my commands. / You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 14:15 and 15:14 NCV
Jesus could not be more clear about this. True friendship with him as the priority of our lives is not the result of some warm, fuzzy, emotional feelings. True friendship (and priority of Jesus relationship) is doing what he commanded. Living out his principles. Knowing them / living them out.
Why My Response To Jesus’ Invitation Should Be Rational, Considered and Enlightened (And Not Emotional, Naive or Foolish)
Reason #1 - So that my resolve will be _________________.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28 NIV
Deciding to make Jesus THE priority of my life MEANS I know this decision is going to cost me. I may not know everything it will eventually cost, but I know some of the costs up front. I think about it. And I choose Jesus as #1 in my life anyway. Why? So that when trouble comes my way I won’t lose my resolve. We don’t do anyone any favors by selling them Jesus as the answer to prosperity!
Reason #2 - So that my reputation will be ______________.
“For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”Luke 14:29-30 NIV
Jesus is talking about reputation here. When you name yourself as a Christ-follower and then you don’t finish well - you not only hurt your reputation, but you hurt His too! Jesus tells us that when we come to him with our brains as well as our hearts - rational, considered, enlightened - we are more likely to keep Jesus #1.
Reason #3 - So that my resistance will be _________________.
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” Luke 14:31 NIV
Why would Jesus use this parable about a king going to war? It speaks to opposition. Living the Jesus way means you WILL encounter pressure and opposition. There will be a fight. That’s why we have the famous Biblical passages from Paul about putting on the full armor of God, because the Christian walk is not a stroll through the park. It’s a dark, hard spiritual battle. If you have thought about this when you choose to follow Christ, then you can EXPECT the resistance that is sure to come.
Reason #4 - So that my reliance (on God) will be ______________.
“If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”Luke 14:32 NIV
Presuming a reliance upon God to make Christ our first priority IS rational, considered and enlightened. ESPECIALLY when we’ve tried to do this without God’s help. Some people consider failure to be an emotional experience. And it can be VERY emotional. But failure that leads to success ultimately is always rational, considered & enlightened. Failure forces us to think through WHY we have failed.
Ultimately when we recognize our utter inability to live righteously and fall helplessly at God’s throne and say, “I can’t do this. Will you help me?” He answers us with His power. We rely on His power rather than on ours.
Reason #5 - So that my relationship (to God) will be _______________.
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 NIV
You can’t give up what you don’t consciously consider. You cannot hold back parts of your life from Jesus when you shed the enlightened meditation on the shadows of your life. Being a disciple of Jesus is such a privilege. Following Jesus and living for Him is such a great opportunity. It is so rewarding… for all of eternity. But Jesus never soft pedals this truth: It’s going to cost you everything you have.
Jesus isn’t saying we can’t love others or make others a priority in our lives; he is saying He should be our highest priority. When you think of Jesus, could you ever think of him as having greater loyalty to anyone but God the Father? Yet Jesus also loves us dearly, so much that he gave his life for us.
Reason #6 - So that my results (for God) will be ____________.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” Luke 14:34 NIV
There is nothing more worthless than unsalty salt. Chemically, how does salt become NOT salt? NaCl. Sodium Chlorine. The bond between Sodium and Chlorine is very tight. They are happy to share one electron. They love to stick together. You can dilute salt in water - loses it’s effectiveness, but it’s still salt. You have to electrically charge it to break it up for salt to be no longer salt.
As a Christian, you too can become diluted. Mixing in so many other priorities that you lose effectiveness for Jesus. Eventually the shock of other priorities can take over so that you were really never really a Christ follower in the first place! Never lose your savor. Always keep Jesus #1. Let’s pray.