Billy Sunday quote, cost of discipleship, count the cost, cruise control, dog chasing rabbit, fail to finish strong, hot-hearted, love or God, Luke 14:28-30, Noah, old man and younger believer, Philippians 1:6, self deception, Solomon, spiritually coasting, submit to our process, the demands of discipleship, we must see the Lord
The demands of discipleship are tough. Jesus demands we prefer Him above all relationships and carry our cross daily. Next, Jesus demands we count the cost of following Him, NOW, to ensure we are able to finish strong. I believe this step is basically ignored by most believers because they each instinctively believe they have what it takes to remain faithful to the end. This is simply self-deception or Jesus wouldn’t mention it. Remember, if Jesus mentions it… it is a problem.
The Bible is chock-full of stories of people who didn’t finish strong. Even though they started great, they finished poorly. Somewhere in the course of their race, they put their spiritual life in cruise control and started coasting. When we coast, we become fodder for the enemy. A quasi-delusion sets in and we believe we can simply rest on old victories, old words… and even the words of other believers.
Who of us could ever compete with Noah? His life story is the stuff of legends. Noah and his family were saved from the flood by God’s word, but poor Noah ended as a drunken man who got naked and cursed his son.
Solomon was the wisest man in all of history, but he didn’t finish well either. He loved women and his many foreign wives turned his heart from God. King David and King Saul before him each had fatal flaws as well.
Jesus presents a story about the importance of “counting the cost” so we each will finish what we started.
28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30
Now this little parable is about the cost of discipleship, not the cost of salvation. Like salvation, God provides everything we need to finish our race. We simply must submit to the process. The cost is really about submission. It is about valuing what God is doing in your life day in and day out. Like Paul said in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”
The key to remaining hot-hearted for God is to stay in love with the Lord. You may stray some but your love for the Lord will ultimately keep you on track! If you count the cost now… you will not be tempted when some cheap substitute for true obedience comes your way. If you count the cost now, you will not sell-out to other loves and idols. We are to guard our love relationship with Jesus.
So ask yourself… Are you going to finish well? Do you so value what God is doing in your life that you would never drift or coast on your personal process? The good news is your race is not over. You can still finish strong and be more in love with the Lord by the end than when you started. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, you still can finish strong. The finish line is still ahead.
An older Christian was sitting on the porch with his dog stretched out before him taking in a beautiful sunset. The younger believer posed this question:
“Why is it that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, but then fall into a complacent ritual of church twice a week and end up not looking any different from their neighbors who aren’t even Christians? I have heard you are not like that. I’ve been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout your years as a believer. People see something in you that they don’t see in most people who became Christians. What makes you different?”
The old man smiled and replied, “Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.
Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit.”
In that story, young man, is the answer to your question.”
The young believer sat in confused silence. Finally, he said, “Brother, I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?”
“You fail to understand,” answered the seasoned old man, “because you failed to ask the obvious question. Why didn’t the other dogs continue on the chase?
And the answer to that question is that they had not seen the rabbit. Unless you see the prey, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to keep up the chase.”
Listen, how we answer this question reveals whether we will pursue the Lord until the end. Have you seen and met with the Lord lately? Is His presence still burning in your heart? If you’re simply going through the motions because everyone else is and you know it is the right thing to do… you will eventually drop out. You must see Him!
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,