Watch yourselves – Luke 21:34-36

34 But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.

In a wider discussion about signs of the times and future things, Jesus turned his attention back to the present.  He knew that our interest in the future is not always correlated with vigilance in the present.  In fact, it can be used as a way to avoid it.

The person who is always looking just beyond the horizon can grow careless.  It doesn’t have to happen, but when attention is drawn to the “What if … ?” or “Is it maybe …?” we can lose sight of our current responsibilities.  

Character is inevitably developed in the present tense.  What we do today ripples into tomorrow in more ways than we can imagine.  Preparing for the future means doing something before the future gets here.  This was Christ’s concern for his disciples and it remains his concern for us.

If we become lax in our walk with Christ, in our disciplines, or in the little details of our spiritual life, the future will be here before we know it.  It will come quickly enough anyway, but it will seem even quicker for the one who is caught off guard.

Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down …

Luke 14 – Verse by Verse

Photo for Luke

This chapter starts with a miraculous healing.  Jesus then teaches us about following him.  His invitation is open to all, but those who accept it must be willing to place put Jesus before everyone or everything else and even their very lives.

Luke 14.pdf

Luke 14.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:  https://www.facebook.com/horizoncentral/videos/651452032317248/

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 14

Dear Heavenly Father,

Let us begin by humbling ourselves before you and accepting the invitation that you give to any and all who are willing to come to you.  We need your grace for our salvation and beyond – to live this Christian life from day to day.

Further, we know that discipleship is costly, but we also remember that any price we might have to pay will be worth it in the end.  We bring no merit of our own to this commitment. Help us to serve you well and serve you faithfully – to take up our cross, remembering that our lives are not our own but that we belong to you.

Finally, we also remember you as our healer – the one who has all power over all sickness and disease.  For those who are sick and for those who are working on their behalf, we pray for your grace and extra amounts of help from you at this time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Of course it’s worth it – Luke 14:26-33

There is a paradox involved in serving Jesus.  We know we are saved by grace and that the eternal life we receive from God is nothing but a gift from him.  At the same time, Jesus makes it very clear that discipleship is truly costly.  This is a cost we all need to count.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

First some clarification of that love/hate thing.  Those words, love and hate, were used in that culture at that time as comparative terms, not necessarily opposites. Matthew makes this clearer than Luke, in Matthew 10:37-38.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

But the point Jesus makes is still stark.  Our love of God and determination to follow Jesus must be our highest affections.  No person or thing, not even our own lives, can stand in the way of our commitment to Christ.  Nothing can be held as superior to him.  

These are serious words and must be taken as seriously as they are meant.  Jesus encourages us to count the cost.  Are we ready to pay this price?  Can we finish building the tower?  Are we ready to go to war?  Remember, we need to renounce all that we have.

Of course the most faithful, fully devoted discipleship worth any price we might pay.  Does  t bring tension into some relationships?  It’s worth it.  Do we even lose one or more of those relationships as result of following Christ?  Will it affect us materially, in the realm of our career goals, wealth or possessions?  Probably so, according to Jesus, to all of the above questions.  Still, it’s worth it.

Paul served Jesus a long time and endured far more than most in exchange.  Let’s remember the conclusions of his thorough assessment in 2 Corinthians 4:17.  No matter what we face as we follow Jesus, it is nearly nothing.  The glory that awaits us is better to an absurd extreme.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

We need to count the cost of discipleship, but of course this will only determine for us that it’s worth it in the end.