March 2 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 14)

Submitted by Bo C. from Gracepoint Davis Church.

Luke 14:25-27

  • What does it mean to “hate” his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—even his own life?

Jesus has become popular – Luke noted how there were large crowds traveling with Jesus, and here Jesus makes it very clear to them the cost of discipleship and the radical obedience. Commitment to Jesus must surpass all other commitments in life. Love for Jesus must surpass all other love and devotions. To “hate” my own father, mother, husband, children, brothers/sister, even my own life, means that my love and devotion for Jesus is greater, and it surpasses love in all other relationships or even love for myself. Because my love for Jesus should be greater, it makes relationships with others look like hate. It does not mean that I should neglect or abuse these verses by not caring, loving and honoring the people God places in my life.  And it doesn’t mean being irresponsible with my life.  Hating these relationships means that my love, commitment, priority and devotion to Jesus  should take precedence over my family loyalty and obligations.

  • What lessons can I learn from the Parable of the Great Banquet about why Jesus asks for such radical commitment?

The Parable of the Great Banquet from Thursday DT shows how people could quickly and easily agree and respond to invitation without such totality in commitment, such that when something better came along (“just bought a field”, “just bought…oxen”, “just got married”), they went back on the commitment and started excusing themselves to not go to the banquet. Jesus asks for such radical commitment because there will be good things in life that comes up like what happened to these people, and many times it is these good things that rob us from the best thing. Jesus asks for such radical commitment, greater commitment, that will not shift and change even in light of other “lesser” commitments – that even when something good comes along (blessings in life), we still love and commit to Jesus first and foremost.

Luke 14:28-34

  • Jesus does not hide the cost of discipleship.  Why does he tell the crowd to count the cost of following Him before they follow? 

Large crowds were following Jesus – they experienced so many miracles, amazing healing, feeding of the multitude. But Jesus was always told the followers about the cost of discipleship.  He  made sure that they knew what they are getting themselves into. There WILL be a cost – this is certain and guaranteed to happen, and Jesus wants us to be clear and examine if we are ready to embrace this.  Jesus is not interested in a large number of people following. He knows our sinful nature – without counting the cost, we can easily jump in but will be tempted to back out or call it quits when the cost seemed too great compared to the gain. Jesus asks us to consider if we will be willing to stick it out, even with the cost, because the gain of following Him and being Him is far greater in the end.

  • Compare the salt that loses its saltiness and the fellow who began to build but was not able to finish in v. 30. 

The salt that loses its saltiness is like the fellow who began to build but was not able to finish because it is no longer effective or can be for any good use. Half-finished tower is useless – it is neither a finished tower that people can use nor is it materials that can be useful for other purposes. It is like the salt that loses its saltiness, and it is not fit for the soil nor the manure pile (v35). The only solution for both is to throw it all out.

  • What warning does this provide for those who claim to be a disciple of Christ but have not counted the cost?  What would such a person’s life result in?

Warning for those who claim to be a disciple but not count the cost:

–        That I cannot finish something half-way. It almost does not matter how much of a great start we have in Christian life or how much zeal, passion or charisma we have as we carry on the work of building our Christian life.  If  we don’t count the cost and finish the journey, it is useless and will amount to nothing – a total waste. There is no such thing as half-way Christianity or half-way relationship with Jesus.

–        The person’s life will result in being ridiculed as he cannot finish what he started. Without counting the cost, we can fall away and Christianity will become only a phase that people go through and grow out of it, or people settle for what is more comfortable and just being Sunday church-goers. This is not only the source of ridicule or mockery, but it also has negative impact on non-believers as they see no difference in a Christian.

–        The person’s life can also result in great loss, damage and destruction, like in the case of the battle. The warning is that if we don’t count the cost and deepen the root, though we start with such fervor and zeal, we can become bitter, burned out or even angry at God when the cost seems too great. And this loss and damage can be difficult to repair, and some people actually walk away from the faith and forget about Christianity altogether.

  • Have you counted the cost of following Christ?

I have counted the cost of following Christ, and I am counting the cost again and again as it is a daily commitment to devote to Jesus first and surrender to Him all things, including my very self. The cost of following Jesus gets challenged again and again as I go through different stages of life, as Jesus open more doors in my life that I need to surrender to His Lordship – regarding my old lifestyle,  school, relationships, friendship, job, marriage, career, schedule, future plans, ministry, and many more. For each area and each door that He opens, the invitation is the same – to love Jesus above all, to deny myself and to give up everything. As must as I know, experience and understand, I’ve counted the cost of following Jesus and know what is entailed. But it is the daily obedience of submitting to that cost and it is a daily battle to give Jesus what is due Him as my Lord and King without being rebellious, stubborn, selfish and without turning it into a big drama to give Him what is already His.

  • What cost have you paid since following Christ?

The cost that I have paid since following Christ include:

–        I have given up a life living selfishly for myself and my pleasure.

–        I trusted God with my grades/school.

–        I surrendered relationships that were not pleasing to God even though it was difficult to cut off those relationships.

–        I’ve embraced the cost of humbling myself, giving grace/forgiveness and working through difficult conflicts with other Christians even though it would have been easier to be closed off and not build God-honoring relationships. I’ve embraced the cost of inconveniences that come in relationships and community as I give myself to carry on the burdens of others.

–        I’ve embraced the cost of facing the unknowns, uncertainties and not having control and trusted God with my future plans. With our move to Davis, to leave what was comfortable and familiar.

–        I’ve embraced the cost of giving money sacrificially to love others and also to build God’s ministries through financial giving.

  • Is following Christ worth the cost?

I have gained so much in following Jesus as I reflected on the last question, that even with the cost I listed in the previous reflection question, it cannot compare to the blessings I’ve received in Christ. And it is not only the blessings in this life on earth, I’ve gain eternal life with Jesus that nothing can ever take away.  Following Christ worth the cost so much more, and I don’t know any other way I can live.

  • What is the cost of not following Christ?

The cost of not following Christ is that I will lose eternal life. And the cost of following Christ half-heartedly, without total and radical obedience, I will become like that salt that loses its saltiness that is good for nothing and will only be thrown out. Other consequences in not following Christ, like from this past College Retreat, a life of immaturity – and immaturity matures. If I continue my life of immaturities and sins, it will have real consequences in my life and all my relationships.

  • What have you gained in Christ?

I don’t even know where to begin to list all the gains I have received in Christ, that I can’t even call my cost as a “loss” because the gain outweighs them all:

–        I’ve gained eternal life and my relationship with God that nothing can ever take away.

–        Leaving my life of sins and living selfishly for myself and my pleasure, I’ve gained freedom from the enslavement of sins and I’ve received forgiveness from the condemnation of sins.

–        Entrusting my school/grade/career to God, I’ve gained true purpose and meaning in life, and my life was able to become a source of blessings to others

–        Cutting off unhealthy relationships and embracing the cost of building God-honoring relationship with other Christians, I’ve gained the riches and depth of relationship that I would never had been able to experience, and these are the very people who strengthen and spur me on in this journey of faith, and they are the people who keep me on track and point me back to Jesus when I stray away.

–        I’ve been blessed in my marriage and relationship with Phil when our marriage became God-centered, in so many more ways that I would not have been able to experience when my marriage was self-centered.

–        In embracing God’s calling to love and be a minister, I’ve gained and renewed my appreciation and understanding of God’s unconditional and persevering love for me, His heart, His compassion, mercy and grace. I’ve been convicted of my sinfulness and my deep need for the Gospel as I engage in the labor of love. And I’ve gain a bigger heart and bigger concern for people, far greater than a selfish and puny life I was living. In denying myself, God is able to shape and mature me to become more like Jesus, which is to my gain. And I’ve gained the joy and privilege of being part of God’s work that someone the Creator God can use a broken, sinful person like me. I’ve gain the excitement and adventure as I see Him working in the lives of people I came to really cherish and care about, and also see how He has been at worked in my life as well.

Submitted by Phil C. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 14:28-34

  • Every Christian is by definition a disciple of Christ (cf. Acts 11:26).  Three times, Jesus says, “You cannot be my disciple.” What does this reveal about the nature of being a disciple of Jesus?

It shows that being a disciple of Jesus isn’t easy. Why? It’s because there is a huge cost to it. It’s an all-consuming decision. Jesus says that we must hate even our own family, carry our cross, and give up everything – if we don’t do these things, we can’t be his disciples. It’s a high bar. It’s not like joining a fitness club where you can rescind your membership at any time, and you only decide to go every now and then. Jesus says, “I want all of you, or none at all.” So being a disciple of Christ is hard because it involves every aspect of our lives.

  • What cost have you paid since following Christ?

When I think about my “costs,” it’s almost embarrassing to say in light of some of the other costs that people around the world have given up for Christ. My price has been much, much lower than others around the world who even go to the point of giving themselves up physically in order to follow Christ. I have never shed blood for my faith.

[…]

  • Is following Christ worth the cost?

Yes, it is worth the cost. Because what is the cost? The cost is only temporal things of this earth. It’s things like comfort, money, a good job, status, cattle, oxen, etc. It’s things that are of the world, and so will end up going the way of the world. They aren’t things that I can take with me when I die, and they don’t last forever. Jim Elliot said it best when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain which he cannot lose.” We aren’t fools when we give up this world and everything in it (because these things are fleeting and temporal) in order to gain eternity, a personal relationship with God and a glorious inheritance, as well as eternal relationships, in heaven.

  • What is the cost of not following Christ?

The cost is eternal damnation. During the Davis retreat, we talked about immaturity, and how if we don’t deal with our sins, it’s going to grow and we’re going to seriously hurt people in the future. That’s one of the costs of not following God. We don’t change, our sins continues to control us, and we get worse and worse and eventually our lives end up messed up and broken. Every murderer, rapist, adulterer, every person who was sent to jail asks themselves, “How did I get here?” That’s the curse of sin: it takes us further than we ever intended on going. And without Christ, we’re powerless against its will in our lives. Jesus has to be that stronger man who overcomes the sin in my life. So the cost of not following Jesus is that sin continues to reign in our lives, it grows, and eventually we become so desensitized to God’s ways that we end up doing things that we will regret for the rest of our lives and we become people we never intended on becoming.

  • What have you gained in Christ?

First of all, I have gained peace in my heart through Christ. Christ reconciled me to God, and I am no longer condemned because of my sin. I have forgiveness of sins, and the assurance of an eternity with God. But in addition to these things, I have gained the practical blessing of the church of God here on earth. The older I get, the more I appreciate the church, and how this is truly a blessing I have received in Christ. I’m 30 years old, and when I was about to turn 30, I often would think about my life and what it “would have been like” if I didn’t become a Christian. I would probably be divorced or a violent man, an angry person who didn’t have many friends, addicted to gambling, isolated without real friends. I could see how my life would end up like this. And so one way God saved me in college was that He saved me and placed me in the church, and my life is so blessed as a result. I may not have made a lot of money or got the high-status job that I wanted before Christ, but my life is full of relationships that I treasure. I have relationships here in Davis, and in Taiwan where I spent 3 years. I have connections with other people in church plants like Pastor Timothy and Alice in Minnesota, Tony and Jesse in SD, former Taiwan missionaries in Riverside, friends in Austin and Berkeley, etc. I gained a huge family of God. And I know that I’m never going to be alone, and I’m not going to die lonely. No matter what life throws at me, I know I have people to help me through it. It’s really a blessing to have people in your life and to know that you are accepted for who you are. I’ve also gained meaningful work through ministry. It would have been really sad if I devoted my life to merely making money. But now I devote my time and energy to ministering to students, and some of the highest joys of my life is when someone I ministered to accepts Christ. I personally experience the “party in heaven” in my own heart, and those are moments of clarity for me that remind me, “This is why we do what we do; it’s all worth it.” So I’ve gained this joy in my life, knowing that what I do has eternal impact.

Submitted by Richard L. from Gracepoint Davis Church
Luke 14:25-27
• What does it mean to “hate” his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—even his own life?

To “hate” father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters – even his own life – means that his devotion to Christ is so much more important and takes such high priority that it seems like he hates himself and his family.  By choosing to prioritize following Jesus as number one, it will come in conflict with those family relationships and even what he himself wants to do.  And especially with family relationships, its close and almost sacred to some; at least in our culture still, families are precious, sacred and respected things.  People get applauded for making sacrifices for their family, or quit positions to “spend more time” with their families.  At the same time, family relationships can be some of the most emotionally charged relationships (they say “blood is thicker than water”); with that closeness, history, and intimacy, it’s especially difficult when someone puts their relationship with Jesus above family.  To choose Jesus first may seem like hatred towards family and himself, but it’s not actual “hate” but putting Jesus as number one in his life regardless of any implications on family and himself.

• Why lessons can I learn from the Parable of the Great Banquet about why Jesus asks for such radical commitment?
From yesterday, there was a sense of urgency, and there was also the tragedy of something good – those blessings materially or relationally – getting in the way of what was best.  If only those people saw what a Great Banquet they were being invited to, and to look beyond their immediate blessings to see an even greater blessing, then they would have chosen the better.  Likewise, Jesus asks for such radical commitment – even putting him above oneself and family relationships – because a relationship with him is the best.  And, a radical commitment is required because it’s so easy to settle for less than a relationship with Jesus, as being his disciple and living it out is so rare and strange in our world today.

Luke 14:28-34
• Jesus does not hide the cost of discipleship.  Why does he tell the crowd to count the cost of following Him before they follow?  

He tells the crowd to count the cost before following because he doesn’t want them to follow and quit in the middle.  He warns multiple times against not being able to finish.  He also tells them to count the cost because it’s not an easy of flippant decision.  It is very costly to follow him – highlighted by redefined relationships with family and oneself like he just mentioned – and he wants to lay this out clearly.  Ultimately, it shows how important the decision to follow him is.  It is a life-changing decision, so you wouldn’t go about it lightly.

• Compare the salt that loses its saltiness and the fellow who began to build but was not able to finish in v. 30.
The salt that loses its saltiness is a failure.  It’s lost its essence and identity.  And it is worthless and should be thrown out.  Likewise, the builder unable to finish is left with just a half-finish product that is good for nothing.  Who lives in a half-built tower?  Of what use is that?  At that point, it should just be demolished or dismantled for the parts.

• What warning does this provide for those who claim to be a disciple of Christ but have not counted the cost?  What would such a person’s life result in?
There is a huge warning against mindlessly following and following without the proper convictions, i.e., without counting the cost.  That warning is that at some point, you will realize you don’t have the motivation, the “resources” to continue building – you will run out of steam and “supplies” to continue to build and to press on.  If you haven’t counted the cost, but have started following, it is bound to get harder to follow, and as time goes on, there will be a greater cost to pay in following Jesus.

Without counting the cost and making that clear decision to follow, a person’s life will result in bitterness and quitting when it gets hard.  Practically, I walked down that road where I decided to follow in college and things were so exciting and new.  What sustained me was competing with my friends, trying to “keep up” with them, maintain a good reputation.  I really did not have much personal conviction to follow Jesus.  That soon ran out after college as the “costs” went up.  The “costs” became more practical and real in terms of time, energy, spending free time.  Instead of the “free” life of a lot of leisure time to pursue whatever I wanted to do that I saw my non-Christian friends doing, I was involved at church, in college ministry, but I really wanted to live like my non-Christian friends.  It was clear that I hadn’t counted the cost and decided to follow, and so I became increasingly bitter.  I almost walked away, and if I had, I would have seen my college years and 20s as a waste and would have been full of regrets.  I would have been just half-formed, and probably would have grown cynical about God and church.

• Every Christian is by definition a disciple of Christ (cf. Acts 11:26).  Three times, Jesus says, “You cannot be my disciple.” What does this reveal about the nature of being a disciple of Jesus?
As I heard in a recent message, being a Christian means that I have Lordship of Christ in my life.  Jesus calls the shots in my life.  And, I am saved by being saved from myself, in other words I am saved into the Lordship of Christ.  So, being a disciple of Jesus means that I follow him and he has control over my life.  With him in control, of course he is the highest priority, over myself, over my relationships including my family.  Of course carrying the cross, denying myself, giving up everything I have – this is all part of being a disciple of Jesus.  What Jesus says about “you cannot be my disciple” also tells me that whether you’re a disciple is black and white and it’s simple to tell.  Either you are or you aren’t following Jesus.  There really is no middle ground.  You can’t follow Jesus without following him completely, or you aren’t following at all.

• Have you counted the cost of following Christ?
I have counted the cost, and fortunately after graduating, God really intervened and gave me another chance to follow him and I chose to follow after counting the cost at that time.  I continue to count the cost at each of the different points in my life.  As I am looking at being a parent very soon, I’m counting the cost and deciding to follow Jesus once again with this new reality in life.

• What is the cost of not following Christ?
The cost of not following Christ after starting to follow is really high.  There’s that bitterness and regret that I wrote about.  But the cost of not following Christ at all – counting the cost and saying “no” – is regret that maybe you’ve walked away from what was really the best and worthy.  You see the picture of this cost in Luke 18 as the Rich Young Ruler walked away from Jesus.  He went away sad, because he probably knew he was walking away from something great but couldn’t give up his riches.  The cost of not following Christ is a life of meaningless existence and sense of purposelessness.

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