OPEN WITH BIG BUT video!
“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
When we read these words that our Lord Jesus spoke while He was still on this earth, it paints a rather different picture of following Jesus than what many, if not most Christians have in their minds; if they even really think about the truth of following Him at all!
Just like the funny little video that we just watched, there are so many “BUTS” that we have in our lives which hinder or prevent us from moving into that deep and intimate relationship with Him that He desires and that is ABSOLUTELY necessary for us to be conformed more into His perfect image.
Being conformed into Jesus’ image is actually the will of God for you and I, as Paul wrote of in , “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
In , we see the scenario where Jesus is showing the imperative nature of following Him.
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
The Greek word used in verse 62 for “fit” is the word, euthetos, and it means, (suitable, fit, USABLE, of value).
So, if you are plowing, you would be making a straight line (looking forward to Jesus, as He directs you on this straight and narrow path). If, however, you turn and look back, you will veer off of the straight path and, according to Jesus, you are not suitable, or usable or of value for the Kingdom of God, while you are still looking back with desire to the world!
Very similar to Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water. As long as he was looking straight ahead at Jesus, he was doing good, but as soon as he turned away.........well you know the rest of that story, he sank (as do we when our faith is weakened and we turn away from Him!)
This same word, “euthetos”, is used , the opening passage that we just read, in the last two verses, where Jesus finishes by saying, “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
One more passage here from Jesus and then I am going to move into the overall theme of this morning’s message. ,
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
OK, so let’s take everything that we have just read that Jesus is saying and let’s form a conclusion as to the point that He is making.
From , Jesus is saying - I am to supersede every relationship that you have, that is, your love and devotion and attention is to be for me first and foremost above any other earthly relationship! Be very careful and weigh out the cost of saying you want to follow me, because I do no take it lightly and neither should you. Your desire for this world, (just like salt that has lost its flavor and is of no use), makes you of no use within my Father’s Kingdom.
, Jesus is saying - If you stop looking to me and you start looking back to the world out of a desire or a longing for any part of it, you are of no use for my Father’s Kingdom!
And then in , in Jesus’ priestly prayer that He made right before He was arrested and ultimately crucified, He said - It is my desire and wish that everyone who comes to Me through their belief in the gospel message, that they shall be ONE. Just as I am one with the Father, as the Father is in Me and I am in the Father, so may all of these be in us! I want them to be perfectly unified, so that the world will believe in who I am.
So, if you and I are to make Jesus the SUPREME Lord over our lives and not try to juggle our relationship with Him with the world also and if we are to be perfectly unified and operate as one (as the church should) with the Father and Son in us and us in them, this leads to a very simple understanding. I am going to use a common phrase to sum it up, that we are all probably familiar with this morning, and that phrase is, “SOLD OUT”!
We MUST be SOLD OUT for Jesus, if we are to have this unified and complete relationship with Him and His Father that HE said we must have!
He was SOLD OUT for US and proved it by going the full distance to the Cross of Calvary!
Look here, those weren’t drops of sweat that rolled down that old wooden cross; they were drops and streams of His precious, pure untainted blood that He allowed to be poured out for each and every one of us!
Jesus was sold out to the will and plan of His Father and He proved at the Cross!
I would like to stop here real quickly and give a BIG SHOUT out and thanks to brother Jon Krause and the awesome word that he brought this past Wednesday evening, that God had birthed in his heart last week!
What God gave Jon, fits in perfectly with the message today. The message of Joshua and Caleb is a prime example of those who are sold out to God and the reward that goes with it!
It was Joshua and Caleb who affirmed that the promised land was theirs for the taking, because it would be God who would give it to them!
Joshua and Caleb were SOLD OUT to God!
The great Judge Gideon from , was sold out to God and along with 300 men, he destroyed thousands of Midianites with just horns and torches and shouting!
When you are SOLD OUT for God and His will, He will do the fighting for you!
In retrospect, the great Judge Samson, from , was too caught up in the world and was not completely SOLD OUT to God (He served God, when it served him and his desire. Sounds like a lot of people today, right?) God still used Samson, but in the end, Samson lost everything. Even in his final petition to God to let him have his strength back one more time, it wasn’t for the glory of God, it was for retribution and repayment for his losing his eyes to the Philistines! Yet, God honored his request and gave him back his supernatural strength one last time, as it was also judgement against the enemies of Israel, who God had appointed Samson over to begin with.
The great King David, was SOLD OUT to God, as were a host of others from the Old Testament.
In Daniel chapter 3, we read of the account of the three friends of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their refusal to worship the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar.
This account has, possibly one of the most notoriously brave statements ever uttered in the recorded history of the Bible and as it turns out, it is a BUT statement.
Actually, this account we are about to read, is the clashing of the BUTS, as there are two specific BUTS found in this story; one opposing God and one honoring God!
However, this one is in favor of serving God and not an excuse to shy away from Him.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
“But if not....”, “God could save us from your wrath, BUT IF NOT”, “God could stop you from ever sending us near that furnace, BUT IF NOT”, “God could make it so that the fire keeps going out in the furnace and you have nothing to throw us in, BUT IF NOT....”
“We want you to know, personally O king, that we will never turn our back on the one true God and worship anything or anyone else.....PERIOD!”
THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE BOLD DECLARATION OF PEOPLE WHO ARE SOLD OUT TO GOD!!
That is in your face, BOLD and SOLD OUT!
And look how God honored their faith and belief.
King Nebuchadnezzar, stood up suddenly and asked, “Didn’t we throw three men into the furnace?”, at which his men said, “Yes, definitely, O king!” Then Nebuchadnezzar says, “Then someone tell me why I see FOUR men walking around inside the furnace, unbound and the fourth one, looks like a son of a god; a deity?!”
Could it have been, that this was a theophany? An appearance of the Messiah Himself, walking around with the three SOLD OUT young men in the midst of the furnace, as God bent the laws of physics and nature and turned the whole thing into a relaxing chat session?!
SOLD OUT BABY!
Jesus never recanted or changed His mind about the matter. (Evidently, it must run in the family, because His Father never changes and neither does the Son. When they say do or don’t do something, you had better know that they mean it!)
, in Jesus’ letter to the church of Laodicea, He informs them that they have become self sufficient in their own mind and thus they are lukewarm, that is, they didn’t see fit to submit totally to Jesus and become SOLD OUT! He told them to very quickly turn from their indifference and pick one or the other! “You either become SOLD OUT, or walk away!”
In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, we find a very familiar story that is referred to as the Rich Young Ruler. I am primarily pulling the account from , although, I have blended the accounts together for some details.( For instance, Matthew tells us that he was young and Luke tells us that he was in fact a ruler.)
Mark says that the young ruler RUNS up to Jesus and kneels down and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Up to this point, none of the disciples had even asked Jesus such am imperative and pertinent question and one that would completely reveal His purpose in coming!
Before Jesus addresses the million dollar question, He points the young ruler’s attention to the manner in which he addressed Jesus, by calling Him, “Good teacher”.
Jesus told him that no one, except for God, was GOOD!
(In Judaism only God was considered good, not the teachers, scribes or rulers.)
So, Jesus was directing the young man’s attention at this point to God and possibly, trying to make the connection with the young man’s mind that since he had called Jesus good and no one was good accept God, then possibly the young ruler would see that there was a link from God to Jesus! (Since the young man called Jesus teacher, he, like most people, including the disciples, didn’t truly recognize who Jesus was and His connection with the Father!)
Jesus then mentions the second half of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), the half addressing how man corresponded with man.
He didn’t mention the first five commandments, as to how man was to revere and live in relation with almighty God, but only those of man dealing with man.
The young ruler says that he had kept all of those commandments.
It is interesting that Mark alone, mentions the next part of this encounter, where he says that, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”
Many people look at this young man’s encounter with Jesus and the way that he brought his MORAL report card to Jesus as a sort of prideful and boastful gesture, as in, “Look at what I have been able to do! What more needs to be done to inherit eternal life?”
However, Jesus, knowing the truth of the young man’s heart, saw what was inside, unlike many of the religious hypocrites that approached Jesus, Jesus was drawn to this young man from his sincerity and felt a genuine, AGAPE, love for him!
In fact, no one else in the Gospel of Mark, does Mark say this about, that Jesus “loved him”, as He did so for this young man!
Jesus didn’t question or challenge the young ruler’s statement that he had kept the commandments, as to the ones pertaining to his dealings with others, which eludes to the fact that the young man was probably very diligent in his pursuit of eternal life and was truly looking for the path to obtain it!
Then, Jesus told him, “There is still one thing you haven’t done, one thing that you lack. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, (not to your friends and your family, but to the poor) and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this, the Bible says that the young man’s face fell; that is, he became very sad and at this statement and he went away. (No rebuttal, no progressive action plan, or anything else. He just walked away.
The reason for the sudden change in affect and his walking away, was told in the same verse, because this young man had MANY possessions! He was RICH and the instant that he heard that the money was the only thing stopping him from having eternal life, he never challenged or questioned it, because the truth of his heart had been found out by this GOOD TEACHER!
It is worth mentioning here, that the verses right before this account in , record the instance where the disciples are trying to stop the children from being brought to Jesus and Jesus becomes angry with them and then breaks the news to them all, that unless someone receives the Kingdom of God as a child, they will never enter into it!
Well, what does this really mean? A child has nothing, on their own. They are completely DEPENDENT on their parents for support and sustenance and all forms of protection!
The young ruler, like so many other people, was too dependent and in love with his great wealth and thus he wouldn’t let go of them to come humbly and dependent to God.
A little child, according to Jesus has everything they need to possess the kingdom and lacks nothing,
This young ruler, has everything in life that a person could NATURALLY want, and yet he still lacks what is needed to enter into the kingdom!
The point of the story for today, is that the young man, without hesitation, instantly weighed out and counted the cost in his heart and knew that he could not follow Jesus.
Even though this meant the loss of eternal life, the very thing that he was seeking, he could not let go of his wealth to become SOLD OUT for Jesus!
There will always be those who use lip service and say that they are fully submitted and SOLD OUT for the Kingdom of God, and yet they hold back and try to hold onto pieces of the world, SECRETLY!
Look this week in your Bibles at and read of the account of Ananias and Sapphira and see how well trying to deceive God and appear SOLD OUT for Jesus turned out for them!
TALK BRIEFLY ABOUT THE APOSTLE PAUL AND HOW HE WAS SOLD OUT.
Pharisee of pharisees, Hebrew of Hebrews. Perfect in keeping the law. Zealous to persecute the church. Yet, Paul said that he counted everything that he had amassed as garbage, as dung, in comparison for what lied ahead of him as he pursued finishing the race and obtaining the prize of Jesus Christ.
Listen to this survey done by LifeWay Research:
Six out of 10! A full 60 percent of Christians in this survey say they're too busy for God. And this appalling statistic represents only the Christians who are committed enough to take time to complete a discipleship survey.
Also consider the other evidence of Christian overload. Four out of 10 Christians say they often or always "rush from task to task." Half say they often or always eat quickly. Half say they're often or always "exhausted at the end of my day," and about one in three admits that "I often or always hurry, even when I don't have to hurry."
Besides saying that we are too busy to be SOLD OUT for God, then we complicate the matter by adding in increased activity that is completely and without a question, not relevant to and hindering to (in many cases) our walk with the Lord.
Listen to this: The share of Americans that own smartphones is now ~ 81%, which has more than doubled in the last 6 years.
Of this total, the millennials who are between the ages of 18-24, have an astounding record of 98% of them owning a smartphone!
Now, this, in and of itself, is no big deal. But, when you factor in that Americans now spend about 5 hours a day sitting in front of their smartphones, this is staggering. (Teens average up to 9 hours per day on social media platforms!!!)
The average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday!
Well, what is the big deal with this? A study done recently of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.
Basically, we are obtaining identity and self worth from others who are posting on social media! The numbers of people who feel depressed after reading the social media posts are astounding!
A recent UCLA study where they mapped the brains of 32 teenagers, revealed that the teens brains were becoming highly engaged with social media. This study showed that teens brains were HIGHLY activated in the reward center of the brain with approval on social media apps.
Basically, they are getting more satisfaction from social media than real life itself!
Not only this, but texting and social media is changing the abilities of many teens and young people’s social interaction skills.
Tell account of the neuroscientist and his book in which he tells of a mom (a sociologist by trade) and her 9 year old daughter’s sleep over and of how the girls spent all of their time on their smartphones. She noticed that there were issues, much like 4 year old’s in how they interacted with non-verbal communication skills. The neuroscientist said that about 8 years ago, 20% of the words that kids were coming in contact with, were coming from texting!
The great commission is to go out and make disciples and teach of Jesus commands! How can people do that, when their communication skills are next to zero and we do not know how to interact with each other socially?
Talk of how you see whole families sitting in restaurants with their phones out and messaging other people who are not even there, versus engaging in conversation with their own family!!!
Our priorities have changed for the worse!
This last year, 36% of the US citizens said that they attended church once per week. So, if we take that stat and apply it to our national population, then, on Sunday February 7th, there would have been ~ 116.3 million people attending church!
Well, that same day, which happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, there were over 167 million loyal watchers sitting in front of the TV to watch the game! (Over half of the US population!)
According to one source, SELLING OUT means - a common idiomatic expression for the compromising of a person's integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money.
Now, Biblically, there is a person that we are pretty much all familiar with and who best fits this description with respect to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
That person would be Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. (ELABORATE!)
Now before you begin placing your judgement so harshly and quickly on Judas (Though there is no doubt of his crime and his guilt), consider this.
In terms of SELLING OUT, he did it. He served the mammon rather than God!
Yet, Judas was at least man enough to take ownership of his SELLING OUT and he walked up to Jesus in the garden and kissed Him as a sign of who Jesus was for the guards, but it was also, a sign of who Judas truly was, a SELL OUT!
How many people that call themselves Christians in the church today, when something comes up requires them to take a firm stand of boldness and faith, they quickly turn and walk away!
How many “Christians”, when confronted with tough, in your face, Biblical doctrinal matters that the world is embracing, they cave and take the easier path and follow the world, as opposed to following God and His word? THE SELL OUT!!
And while doing it, they are hiding behind the anonymity and proclivity of their Christian faith. They are betraying Jesus, more so than Judas and without the strength or courage to man up, own up to it and walk up to Jesus and kiss Him on the cheek, as if to say, “I am SELLING OUT to the world and wanted you to know!”
Do not judge Judas, when you may be doing the same thing, under a different rationale!
ARE YOU SOLD OUT for Jesus, or are you SELLING OUT to the world in your own life?