Pastor Kirk

Reflections from a spiritual pilgrim in Toledo, Ohio

devotion

A Radical Command, 18 September 2011

  • Big Idea: Jesus demands everything—and He can be trusted.

  • The Bible

  • When I was a young boy, we used to sing this song called The B-I-B-L-E. The lyrics were, “The B-I-B-L-E/Yes that’s the book for me/I stand alone on the Word of God/The B-I-B-L-E.”

  • One of the core values of our tribe, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, states

  • Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. Joshua 1:8

  • Do you believe this book? It’s so much more than just pages of stories or wisdom. It is God’s precious Word. It is our guide for life. As some have said, it is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

  • For thousands of years people have been studying the Bible, seeking to know, understand and apply it. As Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel following Moses’ death, God told him

  • Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

  • Did you catch that? It is a command with a promise. I don’t know about you but I don’t like random rules. I want to know why! God promised Joshua prosperity and success if he read and obeyed the written Word.

  • So again I ask do you believe this book? Maybe you’re still not sure it’s trustworthy. After all, it’s thousands of years old and surely it’s been changed over time, right? The science of textual criticism evaluates manuscripts based upon their written date, the time span from the earliest copies, and the number of copies. No ancient book is even close to the Bible in terms of its preservation and authenticity.

  • The Bible is true. It can be trusted. There is nothing like it on the planet. Don’t take my word for it, though. Billions of people for generations have not only studied and obeyed it, many have given their lives to preserve and share it.

  • The All-Important Question is do we believe this Book?

  • If the answer is yes, the next several weeks will be challenging. See if you don’t believe it, you can ignore what it says and comfortably enjoy our weekly family reunions together. Belief, however, demands action.

  • A few weeks ago I told the story of the Great Blondin - the man who invented the high wire act. He crossed Niagara Falls again and again; blindfolded, carrying a stove, in chains, and on a bicycle. Just as he was about to begin yet another crossing— this time pushing a wheelbarrow—he turned to the crowd and shouted, "Who trusts that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow?" Every hand in the crowd went up. Blondin pointed at one man:

  • "Do you trust that I can do it?" he asked.
  • "Yes, I trust you can." said the man.
  • "Are you certain that you trust me?" said Blondin.
  • "Yes" said the man.
  • "Absolute trust? Absolutely certain?"
  • "Yes, absolute trust, with absolute certainty."
  • "Thank you," said Blondin, "please get into the wheelbarrow."

  • True faith requires action.

  • Do we believe this book? Do we believe what it says about the church? The cross? Mission? Decisions? The lost? The poor?

  • Our passage for this morning is very short. Jesus said to His followers

  • In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

  • You can look at the original Greek, examine the context, and do whatever you want to twist it, but you can’t really change the message: following Jesus requires giving up everything. No buts. No excuses.

  • That’s radical! He demands total devotion.

  • My wife demands total devotion. An occasional affair is unacceptable! Should God demand any less?

  • David Platt notes

  • Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples—“Follow me”—contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them. He was calling them to abandon their careers. They were reorienting their entire life’s work around discipleship to Jesus. Their plans and dreams were now being swallowed up in his. Jesus was calling them to abandon their possessions. “Drop your nets and your trades as successful fishermen,” he was saying in effect. Jesus was calling them to abandon their family and their friends. When James and John left their father, we see Jesus’ words in Luke 14 coming alive. Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation.

  • When we gather in our comfortable church building to worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.


  • Is it all about you? When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die…so he can truly live.

  • Francis Chan illustrated this idea of comfortable Christianity like this. He said, If I ask my daughter to do something (“Rach, clean your room”), I am not satisfied if she come back later and says that she has memorized what I said, or that she got her friends together to discuss what my request means or what it would look like if she cleaned her room, or that she made a poster or needlepoint with my command on it.” Commands are to be obeyed.

  • John Stumbo of the Alliance writes,

  • Have you wondered why the Church in places like China and Vietnam has grown rapidly and vibrantly, even in the face of terrible persecution, while many churches in America struggle just to maintain the status quo? In China and Vietnam believers have few resources and even fewer trained pastors. Most congregations have no facilities, and members often are persecuted by hostile government officials. There are not even enough Bibles for every Christian. Yet the Church moves triumphantly forward.

  • In the West it is a different story. We do not lack resources. There are millions of dollars available to build spacious buildings and to fund evangelism and discipleship training. Bible colleges and seminaries train thousands of students every year, and many congregations have two or more well- trained pastors. There is no dearth of Christian literature, and every Christian home contains not one, but many, Bibles.

  • I am firmly convinced that the reason for our spiritual impotence in the midst of material affluence is simple. We have been discipled toward knowledge, believing that a mature Christian is one who knows a lot about Christ and the Bible. Christians in places like China and Vietnam have been discipled toward obedience. In their paradigm, a mature Christian is one who obeys all that he or she has learned of God’s Word and of Christ.

  • Are you pursuing the American Dream of Jesus’ dream for your life?

  • What do you have?
  • Do you really have it?
  • Does it have you?

  • Pearls

  • This is a very heavy message. Who wants to give up everything? It all begins with our understanding of God. He is not out to ruin your life, but instead He wants you to experience the most abundant, exciting, joy-filled life imaginable. Really.

  • The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

  • "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

  • As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. James if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

  • Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere - Sunday School, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

  • Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

  • "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

  • "Then give me your pearls." "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess - the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

  • "That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night."

  • And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

  • "Daddy, you know I love you."

  • "Then give me your pearls." "Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

  • "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

  • A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

  • Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

  • With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

  • Jenny's father is like our heavenly Father. He also is waiting for us to give up our dime store stuff and seek Him first ... so He can fling open the windows of Heaven and pour us out such a blessing that we will not have room enough to hold it.

  • Next week we’ll look at the context of this radical verse and see that Jesus literally wants us to give up everything.

  • Treasures
  • Time
  • Talents
  • Future
  • Relationships

  • What do you most fear right now? What can’t you surrender? There’s a good chance that it is an idol in your life. God wants it, not because He wants to rob you of your joy, but so that He can BE your joy.

  • Take My Life

  • The word “consecrate” means to solemnly dedicate to God or sanctify.

  • Frances Havergal, at age 36, received a book called, "All for Jesus", which stresses the importance of making Christ Lord over every dimension of one's life. On Advent Sunday, Dec. 2, 1873, she saw the blessedness of consecration and made a full surrender of her all to Christ. Not long after she was visiting ten people in a house, of which she writes: "I went for a little visit of five days (to Areley House.) There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted, but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, 'Lord, give me all in this house!' And He did just that. Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying; then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced; it was nearly midnight. I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished wit h'Ever, Only ALL for Thee!'" (Havergal Manuscripts)

  • Chris Tomlin said of the hymn “Take My Life,” “This hymn sums up what we all want to say to God: Take everything about me…take all I am and all I own—it’s yours Lord. Louie and I penned these simple four lines of refrain to amplify what we felt the writer was wanting to communicate, and to give us the chance to step back from the numerous lines of the song and voice our all to the Father.”

  • As we sing, I want to challenge you with two things. First, I invite you to lift your open hands in front of you, offering everything to God. Second, pour out your heart to God. Tell Him your hopes and dreams. He’s not out to get you. He’s out to bless you, but when we are clinging to what we have, there’s no way He can give us anything. When we surrender, we lose, but we also gain. Like baptism last week, we must die in order to be resurrected. He gives and takes away.

  • Conclusion

  • This week I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you whatever is holding you back from being completely surrendered to Jesus, a fully-devoted disciple.

  • I also challenge you this week to get into the Word. Read through the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

  • Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

  • We all want to prosper and be successful. Let’s get into the Word and discover all that He has for us.

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