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Count the cost

Matt 16:24; Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Matt 16:25; For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matt 16:26; For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matt 16:27; For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.

What does it mean to deny yourself?
What does it mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus?
What do the contrary statements - save his life will lose it, and lose his life will find it mean?

The Son of Man... is going to come... and repay every man for his deeds.

Denying self, taking up your cross, and losing your life are all about living for Christ.
No more living for yourself. No more "me", "me", "me". Doing what God wants you to do rather
than what you want to do.

Before I got married, and had children, I wasn't really walking the walk.
I spent a lot of time at the gym, I went out with my buddies, sometimes just hunting or fishing,
and sometimes out drinking... I was "free"... I could do whatever I wanted.

Then I got married... I lost a little of the freedom, it was a struggle at first...
I couldn't always go to the gym when I wanted, I couldn't always go out with the guys whenever I wanted.

I had to learn to deny myself a little. I had to learn to put someone else first sometimes.
Then I had a few children (four, two boys... two girls) uuggghh.. I love my kids... but they sure took
up a lot of my time...

Going out to the gym, and fishing, and drinking with the guys... well... I had to make a choice.
I could leave it all for my wife to take care of... and still be "free".. Or,... I could quit seeing the guys
so much and pay more attention to my family.

At first.. it was all about what I "had" to do. I "had" to change the diapers. I "had" to get at night
with the babies, when my wife was tired. I "had" to take out the trash. I "had" to mow the grass.
It almost got to the point, where I felt like everything was my wife's fault.
If I would have never married her in the first place... I wouldn't have all these things I "had" to do.
I wouldn't have children. I could have a lot more free time.

There were a few rough years during this time.
It didn't happen all at once, but over the years... I became aware that my wife loved me.
She always made my meals, washed my clothes, took care of me when I was sick...
and rarely complained about it. You would think I would have known this sooner.
I mean.. after all... would you marry someone that didn't love you?

I think I was less interested in "does she love me" and more interested in "does she make me happy".
But time... (and God ) change things.
I started doing things for her... things she didn't expect. Helping around the house more.
Telling her I loved her more, buying her flowers for no reason.
No longer was it I "had" to do all these things for my wife and children... but somehow it became
I "get" to do things for them. I get the opportunity to show them love.

I think sometimes, we as Christians are like this....
we think we "have" to do things for God... we have to deny ourselves, we have to take our cross...
We have to quit living our life our way... and start living it His way.
I was this way for a while... I thought being a Christian was about what I "had" to do for God.
But after I got to know Him... it became... what do I get to do for you today? Not because I had
to. Not because my salvation depended on it... but because I loved Him.
Luke 14:26; “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.
Luke 14:27; Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:28; 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?
Luke 14:29; Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
Luke 14:30; saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
Luke 14:31; Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
Luke 14:32; Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
Luke 14:33; So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Have you really counted the cost of following Jesus?
Have you really counted the cost of denying yourself? Of dying to self?
Do you think it's something you can start and stop whenever you want to?
Are you willing to die for Him? (that could be easy really... it could be painless, all over in a second)
But are you willing to live for Him... (that's harder... it takes all your life).

I think the translation is worded badly in some Bibles about hating your family...
Hating your father, mother, brothers and sisters... If we hated our parents, we would not be honoring them.
(Eph 6:2; )
But I think what this means is... if you love your family more than you love Jesus...
You haven't really died to yourself. You aren't really following Him.
Luke 9:57; As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”
Luke 9:58; And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:59; And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
Luke 9:60; But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:61; Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
Luke 9:62; But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I think some of us are like Peter sometimes....
Matt 25:34; Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
Matt 25:35; Peter *said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.

It's easy for us to say... even if I have to die... and yet when the times comes. We don't die to self.
We always want to save our lives. It's easy to say I will follow you Jesus.. ( Luke 9:57; )
But if you do... don't turn back to your old life, your old friends, and make them more important than following Jesus.
After you put your hand to the plow.... if you stop and go back to your old life... you are not fit for the kingdom of heaven.

Have you counted the cost?
Paul said... he dies "daily".

1 Cor 15:31; I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

This isn't a one time decision.... we have to make it every day. We have to decide whether to keep on
plowing, or turn back ( Luke 9:62; )

Jesus said we have to deny ourselves "daily" and take up our cross "daily" to follow Him. ( Luke 9:23; )
Once we know the truth... we are more accountable. Have you counted the cost?

Luke 12:35; “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.
Luke 12:36; Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.
Luke 12:37; Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
Luke 12:38; Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
Luke 12:39; “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
Luke 12:40; You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

This is an interesting parable.. about being ready when Jesus returns. What does being ready mean?
Peter asks Jesus about this parable in the next verse.

Luke 12:41; Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”
Luke 12:42; And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?
Luke 12:43; Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
Luke 12:44; Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Luke 12:45; But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk;
Luke 12:46; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
Luke 12:47; And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,
Luke 12:48; but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Who is the "faithful" steward? A good question. It seems some stewards will not be faithful.
Blessed is the one who is doing what the Master wants him to be doing when He returns.
But the ones who say Jesus isn't returning for a long time, I will just treat people meanly, and get drunk....
Jesus says the Master will assign him a place with the unbelievers.... apparently he was assigned a place
with the believers before the Master caught him living in debauchery.

The next two verses ( 47 & 48 ) are interesting from the perspective.. that if someone DOESN'T know what the Master
expects, and did deeds worthy of a flogging... will just receive a few.
But if someone DOES know what the Master expects, but doesn't do it... they will receive many lashes.
(and be put with the unbelievers).

Have you counted the cost? Will you be ready when the master returns?