You can’t go where Jesus is and stay where you are.

The title of today’s article is a quote from Henry Blackaby. He paraphrased Jesus’ invitation to discipleship.

Luke 9.23Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

People who follow Jesus don’t have the opportunity to pick and choose their level of commitment. We appear to think it is acceptable to live this way, but Jesus counsels us differently.

Here are a couple of examples that explain why Jesus insisted that his followers take the path he called for.

— The human heart has a throne. Two people can’t sit on the throne at the same time.

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.

“You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6.24).

Jesus could have substituted self, lust, power, and addictions, for wealth and been perfectly correct.

— The devil will do everything he can to keep you from praying. He will make you too busy to pray. He will cause you to get sleepy, or distracted, or many other things.

If you will deny these distractions and go to the place of prayer, you will find how powerful and fulfilling prayer can be.

— Someone has said, “Prayer will keep you from sinning, or sin will keep you from praying.”

A preacher in the 70’s challenged his audience to stop smoking. He said, “I can’t see Jesus sitting on a horse, saying ‘I’m looking for Marlboro country.'”

That preacher’s logic can be applied to pet sins that we are tempted to hold on to.

Truly, we can’t go where Jesus is and stay where we are.

Full of Themselves

The most miserable people on earth are those who can only think of themselves. The first phrase of the next verse declares this to be true.

Luke 9.24 “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”

The Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous explains why self-will does not work.

“Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery, and the rest of the players in his own way.

“If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.

“In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous, even modest and self sacrificing.

“On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But as with moth humans he is more likely to have varied traits.

“What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t’ treat him right.

“He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble?

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.

“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. The arise out of ourselves, and {we are} an extreme example of self-will run riot, though {we} usually {don’t} think so.

“Above everything else we must be rid of selfishness. We must or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.”

What is the cure for self-centeredness run riot? Jesus comes to our aid and shows us how to lose our lives in his agenda and find abundant life at the same time.

A Bad Bargain

One of the wealthiest men in my hometown had a talk with a deacon in my first church.

He pointed to part of his vast business empire and said, “You’re happier than me. I have all of this, but I don’t have happiness.”

Jesus put his finger on the problem of every person who climbs the ladder of success only to find it is leaning against the wrong building.

Luke 9.25“What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?”

How many people live by the slogan, “Anything it takes”?

In sports, business, politics, and life people are willing to do anything to reach a level of success.

To paraphrase Jesus, “What is the value of all of our striving, if we end up losing the very heart of our self.”

Put Your Reputation on the Line

In some environments it is very uncomfortable to be identified as a Christian. I don’t think anyone enjoys being mocked and shunned by their peers.

Jesus puts this situation in perspective.

Luke 9.26 “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Who do we want to please? A few people who care so little about us that they are willing to disrespect us?

Or, do we want to please the Creator of the Universe and Savior of the world?

The choice is clear. Let’s stand with the One who matters the most.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Rudy and I get honest about our own failings in the video.

You can see the video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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