And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him, which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 14:1-11

For Our Good
We are in a time when great business concerns are busy reevaluating the cost, making sure that the manufacturing of their product, the cost of manufacturing, is not greater than the price they sell it for. Any manufacturer who would make a product that would cost him five dollars to make, and sell it for four dollars and fifty cents, would be out of business in a very short time. Too many would-be Christians go out of business for the same reason: they fail to stop as often as they ought and reevaluate the cost of being a disciple of Christ, and reevaluate what it brings in return. It is definitely necessary that we do this.

If we will honestly and sincerely [according to the Bible] count the cost of being a Christian and pay the price, we will definitely come up with the answer that the benefits of true Christianity far exceed the price it costs. Oh yes, it will do away with discouraging feelings. It will put an end to that old giving-up business. I am here to tell you, you are getting much more out of it than you are putting in. If you are not getting anything out of it, it is because you are not putting anything into it!

Jesus wants us to know that discipleship has been designed by God with our best interest at heart. The minds of men have been affected by the enemy of souls today and their own human nature, causing them to feel that all they are doing is giving up for God and not getting anything in return. I want you to see that God has designed discipleship for our best interest. The requirements in God's Word, the price we must pay, the conditions we must meet to be a true disciple, were designed to help us, not God. God was getting along fine before we ever came along.

Everything in the Bible is to help us. This is God's plan of real living. It is God's plan to help His people so that they would be able to live righteously here. Too many people get the idea that God has set this up for His good and our suffering. No, He set this up by His suffering for our good. Never forget it and never allow the enemy of your mind to think otherwise. True discipleship is designed to give us the help we need. If we do not stay close to the Word of God and stay close in communion with God, the enemy of our souls will get us to thinking otherwise.

Giving Up To God
Many who know the way are not serving God because they are not willing to pay the price. The reason they are not willing to pay the price is because the enemy is making them feel that they can get more blessing at a cheaper price, some other way; but everyone who knows the Bible knows that that is a deception of the devil.

I read one time about a man, his wife, and two children who were traveling through Georgia, driving all night, and a hard rain was pouring down. As they turned a curve, the lights fell on a man and a woman walking in the rain, carrying a little baby. Well, the people in the car went right on by. They said, "We cannot pick them up. We are in a Volkswagen--four of us and all the luggage--we cannot pick them up." The man drove on another mile and became troubled. He said, "Those people are in trouble. I do not know what it is, but have to go back." So he went back and asked them.

"Yes," they replied, "we are in trouble. We live 'way out here,' miles from nowhere, and our home just burnt to the ground. We lost everything, and we are walking seven miles to my sister's to stay with her until we can gather some things together and find another home." So the man reached in his pocket and gave the woman twenty dollars, then went on feeling pretty good. But he got down the road and was troubled again. He said to his wife, "Do you have any money?" She answered that she had a little. He then asked his children if they had any money and between the four of them, they came up with ninety-eight dollars.

He turned around and went back up the road and stopped again where the man and woman with their child were still walking. He said to the lady, "Do you still have that twenty dollars I gave you?" When she answered, "Yes," he asked her to give it back to him. With an astonished look on her face, she reached into her pocketbook and gave it back to him. He said, "I just wanted you to give it back so I could put ninety-eight dollars more with it."

Now this is exactly how God works with us. Anything you have that is worth anything, whether you are sinner or saint, God gave it to you. You are not as rich as you think you are. Anything you have at all, God gave it to you. All God asks us in discipleship is to give Him back what He gave us. Then He adds infinite power and glory with that to make you able to be everything you need to be in every way.

Too often, we hang up. We do not want to give back what God has given us in the first place. God wants to bless us individually and collectively. He has chosen a way to work, and He knows it will work. It is the right way, and it is the only way. If we will submit to it, we will be blessed by Him. I say again, God comes to us and asks us to give to Him what He has given us. He then combines it with His unlimited resources and gives it back to us.

What is real discipleship? It is an opportunity to tap in on the infinite resources of God. There is a difference between a Christian and a real disciple. A man or woman can come as a sinner in real repentance, old-time confession of sin, and be made a Christian in a second of time, but discipleship takes time. Christianity is a free gift of God, but discipleship costs. This is why we have too many who want to be Christians, but the cost of becoming a disciple seems too much.

In Matthew 28:19,20, where He instructed the disciples to go into all nations, He actually was saying to go make disciples. Discipleship involves teaching, lining up with teaching, squaring up. All you have to do to become a Christian is really be sick of your sin, ready to turn from it, and confess. God will change you, but discipleship is molding a Christian life by the teaching of God's Word, being willing to hold still while God lays down the price, the cost.

Discipleship, from the very depth of it, is an opportunity to tap into the infinite resources of God. It is a chance to give our lives to real significance rather than to mediocrity. There can be some real significance in your life. You will never again say, "Why was I ever born?" If you will adhere to this message, you will not wonder why you are here. You will not wonder what is going on. You will not be wondering what your future will be. Life will bear a deep significance to us in true discipleship.

We are not doing God a favor. He is doing us a favor. We need to grasp this truth. Too many think they are doing God a favor. No matter how you live, no matter how much of yourself you give, no matter how much you pour your efforts out to God, you are not giving God anything: He is giving you something. Jesus warns us in the latter part of this fourteenth chapter to weigh the cost. Think on it; make sure you are ready to pay the price of being a disciple before you ever start for Christ. Count the cost of finishing before you ever start.

Let's read Luke 14:1 again: And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. They watched Him because He claimed to be different. They watched Him because He claimed to be the author of a brand-new way of life. His words in John 10:10 tell us, ...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. They watched Him to see if He was genuinely what He claimed to be. You and I are His disciples, church, and they are going to watch us. You may as well get rid of this idea that it is nobody's business what you do. It is everybody's business.

They watched Him, and they will watch us. Why? Because you claim to be in touch with reality. Right in the midst of a supposed-to-be Christian nation that has fallen to a level of false, ceremonial, fake religion, you claim to be a true disciple of Christ. You claim to be genuine; you claim to have the real goods, and they are going to watch you. Not only will they watch you: God has ordained for them to watch you! Paul said to the church, " were made a gazingstock..." (Hebrews 10:33). God has put you here for people to watch. They watched Him (Jesus) there, and they are going to watch you and me now. We need to be very careful, very careful, right here since a world out there is watching us. There are more victories lost and more souls lost by the world watching some supposed-to-be Christian doing what he should not be doing than by any other means the devil uses. We need to be careful and prayerful how we live.

Our Lord lived by principle, not circumstance. If we are going to be true disciples, we have to get some things settled and fixed in our hearts and minds. We must start living as Jesus did, by principle, not circumstance. People change the standard of their lives too much because of circumstances. You do not have any control over circumstances; they are going to arise. The devil works through circumstances, but you do have some control over how circumstances affect you. The Lord lived by principle, and a true disciple of Christ lives by principle. Circumstance is not allowed to change that principle.

Let me illustrate: the old car gets worn and you think it is time to trade it in because it has so many things wrong with it. The dealer goes out to appraise it: "What about this car? Anything wrong with it?" Right there, you are going to make a decision to go by circumstance or by principle. By circumstance, you will try to be a half-Christian: "Well, he is a man. He knows cars, let him find it out." If he did that to you, you would sue him and claim to be a Christian all the time. Right here is where we are losing out: living by circumstance. The enemy is right there in the circumstance.

There is never a time when it is better not to tell the truth than to tell the truth. Why? You are to live by principle, not circumstance. Sure, there are corners you can cut and there are ways of cutting them that will never be found out before you die. You may think that nobody knows, but God does. A true disciple is one who determines from the Bible what is right and lives it consistently. He does not allow circumstances to shape his conduct.

We find another mark of discipleship in Luke 14:2, which reads, And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. A true disciple is one who is in constant touch with people in need. Jesus went to a Pharisee's house to eat, but there was one before Him. Brother, when you are where God wants you to be and you are a true disciple, the needs of others will be before you all the time.

Why are we here? Some will tell you that it is a selfish gospel: "If you serve the Lord, the Lord will give you a new home and three new cars." Too many are trying to be disciples of Christ, and all they want to hear is a message of how God will bless them. Brother, a real disciple will always place the needs of others before himself.

Somebody might remind you, "The poor you always have with you." Jesus implied that there are people that you definitely cannot help. Certainly, it takes discernment, but we are here in Christ's stead. He said, ...the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works... [not in kind, but in number] John 14:12.

A man with dropsy was before Jesus. Before He could eat, He had to help a man with dropsy, and He had a tough time doing it because there was a lot of supposed-to-be religious folks there. He knew what they were thinking: "Watch Him now! If He heals this man on the Sabbath, He is not of God!" Jesus turned around (He knew what they were thinking) and said, "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5) They could not answer Him becasue they knew if they said, "Sure, we would take care of that temporal need," He would say, "Is that temporal need greater than this man's need? He is 'in the ditch' with dropsy, and I merely reached in and got him out."

The whole turn of the age is toward selfishness, Brother. We have people crooked as a snake, draining the many funds of the government. It is not coming to them, but by hook or crook, they are getting it. They could not care less if the nation goes broke, just so they can get what they want. That is the spirit that is out there, and it is abounding and will get right in the work of the church if we are not careful. The very things of God that bring us to the vital place of real Christianity are being looked upon as foolishness. The reason for it is that we are using the natural mind to weigh things. True disciples are in constant touch with people in need. Why are we here? To help the world.

Keys of Christianity
In verses 8-11, He talks about a man being bidden to a wedding. Because this man feels he is really somebody, when he goes in he takes the uppermost seat, the seat where the host or the guest of honor was supposed to sit. So when the host comes in, he comes over and says, "Sir, would you mind getting out of that seat and taking a lower seat?" Then that man is ashamed in front of everybody. We are instructed by Jesus to hunt for the lowest seat. Then when the host comes in, he will say, "Why are you sitting 'way down there?" Jesus made the lesson plain in verse 11: For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Our appetites and innate desires are not wrong in themselves; they only become wrong when we seek to satisfy them in an unscriptural manner. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a leader. There is nothing wrong with you wanting to have the cleanest house on the street. There is nothing wrong with you trying to keep your clothes better than anybody else. Humility is not shown forth in unpressed trousers, dirty dresses, or houses that stink. You show me somebody who is what they need to be and I will show you somebody who wants to be a leader. I believe every Christian ought to want to be the best Christian who ever walked. Too many today are satisfied to ride the caboose instead of trying to get up to the locomotive. There are good desires, good drives, good appetites. God put them in us, but we get in trouble when we try to satisfy them in an unscriptural manner.

  • The key to being first is being last. This is what Jesus taught, and that is not last in service. Jesus set up some keys to discipleship. If you want to be first, you must be willing to be last.

  • The key to living is dying. If you really want to live, come to the place where you die at an altar of prayer. Completely die out to your own will so that you can truthfully say, "From this point forth, not my will, but Thine be done." That is the key to real living. Too many today want to live, but nobody wants to die. People say that they want to live and do right, but they are not willing to die out to their own selfish will and way, where they can say, "For me to live is Christ." The only way to live is to die.

  • The key to being free is becoming Christ's slave. Paul was a prisoner of the Lord, and he was the freest man who ever walked on earth. Real freedom is not being able to do what you want to do, but being able to do what you ought to do. Real freedom is being able to be what you ought to be, and that comes about by a real submission to Christ. So the key to being free is being Christ's slave.

  • The key to being a leader is to be willing to be a servant. Jesus taught that the greatest among you is servant of all. The key to being exalted is to be humble, but the sad part is, too many are only interested in being served, not serving. Too many only want "master" positions--they are not willing to be servants in order to learn what they first need to know.

  • The key to getting is giving. It is God's way of doing it. There are many people today who want to get more, but they do not want to give. The key to getting is giving. We read in Luke 6:38, ...For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

This is where so many run into conflict with God. God is not in Heaven thinking, "I wonder how I can make life more miserable for My creatures on earth?" A lot of people evidently have that attitude toward God. They think He is out to make us miserable, binding us with statutes and commandments. No, God's thoughts are this: "What are the guidelines that I can give My people so that they will know how to find life at its fullest?" This is the way God is thinking.

God's Guidebook
The laws of the New Testament are made to help us, not hinder us. God's New Testament laws are meant to make us happy and to help us find the real fulfillment of life. They are written to us to keep us out of trouble, and they will work. If we as God's disciples could learn this one lesson, many of our problems would be solved. What lesson? Why Verse 11: For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

God created the world. He made us. He made life. He made the rules that we must live by to find life in its blessedness. God knows more about life than all of us put together will ever know. He created life, and He knows what rules you have to follow.

If you buy a new lawnmower, they give you a book with it telling you how to start it and how to keep it functioning. Well, that is what the Bible is: it tells us how to get this life started and how to keep it functioning. It even shows us how to trouble-shoot when it misfires. God's Word is to help us. I pray that we understand that point: He made the rules by which we ought to live our lives. It is sad today to see so many who want the results, but will not pay the price. Whether it is consistent living with power in your life, living an overcoming life, having revival, or whatever it is, if we are not careful we are going to be pleading with God to give us the results when we will not pay the price.

Brother, I am here to tell you, if you will pay the price, you will not have to plead to God for the results. I have learned a couple of things. One of them is that I am the biggest fool on earth if I try to have prayer meetings and pray to God to send down the results if I am not paying the price. Christian life can be more simple if we will allow it. Let us not want results and not be willing to pay the price. Let us not allow our little scheming minds to think that surely it would be possible for me to get without giving. This is what your mind will do to you, but you cannot truly get without giving. Your little scheming mind will tell you that there must be some way to be first without having to be last, so you go to tromping on people. No, the way up is down. If you want to come up to a higher level of living, get down in humility with much prayer before God. The more you get down, the higher you get.

We cannot get around God's law. When we endeavor to take shortcuts on God's rules, we short-circuit the system and it will not work. I am telling you about a system, God's system, for real living; God's system for being effective in your witnessing life and helping others. God knows what will work, but when we try to shortcut it, we short-circuit it. The power is not there, and we wonder why. The true disciple is one who has learned this great truth: there is no way a person can truly get without giving, or truly live without dying.

Let's read Luke 14:15-17. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse...

Verses 15-24 deal with preoccupation. Those people were tied up in insignificant things, so tied up that it was impossible to bring priorities where they ought to be. Many cannot be a good disciple because they are too preoccupied. Preoccupation is ruining lots of peoples' Christian experience. Preoccupation, regardless of what it is, will not and can not take priority over your service to God.

Ephesians 2:8 tells us, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [God furnishes everything]: it is the gift of God -- but discipleship costs. What does it cost to be a disciple? It costs becoming involved in God's things instead of your own. It costs working at reaching the goal that God has set in your life, not a goal you have set. It is very easy for believers to become preoccupied with their own dreams and aspirations and miss God's perfect plan for life.

I want to tell you with kindness, you need to listen along these lines. God rarely shouts at a person who is being led away. No, the Holy Spirit will usually deal in a slight, inner prodding. While the believer reads the Scriptures and communes with God, there will be a stirring down inside to reveal your error to you.

This is why the devil tries to hinder your prayer life. He tries to hinder you from reading the Bible as you ought. If you do not read and pray, you will not get any proddings from the Holy Spirit, so you feel that everything is all right. We need to get back to where God speaks. True disciples are ones who are in tune with the voice of the Spirit of God.

Counting The Cost
Let's read Luke 14:25-27: And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Then Jesus began to talk about the man who started to build the tower but could not finish it because he had not counted the cost. He also spoke of one king going out against another king. The odds were great against him, and without consulting, he went out and was overpowered; he had to make a treaty with the enemy.

In verses 25-35, Jesus was laying down the law of true discipleship. When He turned around, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the professed religious folks were gone. All He had to do was lay down the law of discipleship, what it costs, and they were not willing to pay the price.

Luke 51:1 tells us, Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. It was just like the multitudes are today who claim to be with Him, who are not with Him at all. When Jesus lay down the law of true discipleship, the professors of religion left, but when the professors ran, the sinners drew closer. There are many who claim to be with Him today who are not with Him. How are you going to know where you are? If you are having difficulty with this message, perhaps you need to honestly try to determine if the problem is with the message, or ask yourself, "Am I falling short?'

We have two kinds of people: some who did not want to hear and some who did. Luke's Chapter Fifteen pictures those sinners and publicans who wanted to hear Him. It is always this way because true Christianity is a religion of rescue. It is designed for the desperate, for those who have a craving to do more than they can do by themselves. It is designed for people who are weary with the kind of life they are living, who want to live a different life.

That is what Christianity is for today. It is not to appease those who are not being truly honest -- those who know they are just professing. It is for people who are desperate about their condition; people who can say, "I know I am not right as I ought to be. Can't you tell me something that will change me? I want to know what life really is."

Counting the cost starts with a willingness to renounce all other loyalties in place of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26) The word hate here simply means to come to the place where you love God supremely. Your love for Him will make you a better husband to your wife; a wife will be a better wife; children will be better children, and parents will be better parents. The point is, in order to be a true disciple, you have to come to the place that you discount everything else. If you do not, all those other things will hinder you.

In Numbers 13 and 14, we read of the children of Israel standing right on the promised ground, Kadesh-barnea. There was no stream to cross. They went right in on dry ground, but after they set their feet inside Canaan, unbelief rose up, doubt and fear. When ten of the twelve scouts returned with an evil report, they felt the cost of entering Canaan was much too high. In that moment of terror that came upon them because of unbelief, they decided to turn back. Not a one of them but Joshua and Caleb ever got in; they died in the Wilderness of Sin.

What does that have to do with forsaking father, mother, and so on and so forth? God never promised there would not be giants. He never promised that there would be no giants, mountains, or hard places but He did promise to assume the responsibility for a safe survival into the promised land. He has promised to take me to Heaven, to let me plant my feet on Heaven's shore. He accepts the responsibility of protecting me and fighting my battles. All I have to do is make and keep a full commitment of my life to Him; He will do the rest.

Well, what does that have to do with children? Those Hebrews hid behind the women and children. They were not worrying too much about their wives and children; they were worrying about their own necks. They hid behind the women and children--how many hide behind them today? God sees the real reason, that we do not have that willingness we must have and keep to eat of the good of the land.

Verse 28 talks about somebody starting to build something and not being able to finish it. Have you ever started something and could not finish it? Do you ever get an impression that God called you to do something, but you have never done it? Ecclesiastes 5:2-5 gives us solid admonition. It tells us to not have many words coming out of your mouth when you are not sure what you are talking about.

Maybe you felt the Lord was definitely leading you to do something, or to some field of labor, but you have not gone and years have passed. If God is in it, it will work out. Nothing can hinder God's will being done. When you misfire and misfire, people do not place much confidence in your new ideas because they simply think it will be another misfire. I dare say, we have all started something we could not finish. God only asks us to be humble enough to own up to it.

Our Will
Ability in our Christian life is through the resources of Jesus Christ. The only factor we need to add to the resources of Christ is our will. We read in II Peter 1:2,3, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. God, through Jesus Christ, has given all things, everything, we need for godliness, to live in this real life. We need to add to that our will. God will not force you or make you serve Him. There has to be willingness on our part.

Let's read Luke 14:34,35. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. These verses picture a believer who refuses to be a disciple, one who goes back on his own commitment. He made a commitment, perhaps even started out, to be the salt of the earth, but he has backed off. Jesus said that it is good for nothing.

He is picturing you, if you are in that shape: you believe Christ, you have made a commitment, but you have not been willing to hold to your commitment. There you sit; you are a believer you say, but you are not a disciple. You are in a betwixt-between position. A person like that cannot be saved. Oh, what a shape you get into by being a believer, but not a real disciple. All messages on salvation will never reach you. You will never get saved because you are not lost.

Jesus used the expression, "good for nothing". You cannot use that individual because he is unavailable, tied up. As a believer, he keeps right on going to church and becomes an example of what not to be. Every one of us are examples of something. Some of us are examples of what people ought not to be. So people who will not hold to their commitment come in the midst. It is necessary for parents sometimes to tell their children that he (or she) is an example of what not to be.

When Cortez landed to begin his conquest of Mexico, he only had seven hundred men. When the soldiers had all set their feet on the land, he sent one soldier back to purposely set fire to the seven ships. He told the soldiers to watch as their only chance of retreat burned. He said, "There is no way to go backward. Let us go forward," and they took Mexico.

God is trying to help us today. As it was in the example of Cortez, there cannot be any means of retreat. There is only one way to go--forward. I ask you, have you burned the bridges? Do you have a way of retreat in your life? If you have held to some reserves and if you have a ready way of retreat, you will be retreating. If you will come clean with God and burn every bridge to where there can be no thought, no way of retreating, there will be nothing left to do but go forward with God and press the battle on. True disciples have destroyed all avenues of retreat.

A true disciple's attitude is to go forward, whatever it costs. We must give up all. ALL is a big word and it lasts a long time.

JCSM's Top 1000 Christian Sites - Free Traffic Sharing Service!