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Count the Cost: What It Means to Follow Jesus

Jesus gave many commands and teachings during His ministry here on earth that the Bible accounts for in the Gospels. Many of those commands and teachings are very easy to take in. For example, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That’s sounds pretty good doesn’t it? I know in my life personally that I find myself weary of everyday life and would appreciate rest. So that commandment, teaching, promise, whatever you want to call it, sounds pretty good to me. Jesus also says, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Pretty easy to accept, right?

However, Jesus also says some things that are pretty hard to swallow. “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Woah, hold on a second. What did Jesus just say? Love my enemies? Pray for those who mistreat me? No, He couldn’t have said that right? I have to actually love them? I have to pray for them? As crazy or backwards that command seems to us, Jesus meant it. Jesus did not say, be nice to them or don’t be mean to your enemies. He said love them. Jesus didn’t say, wish well for those who mistreat you, He said pray for them. You may say, “There is no way I could do this, Jesus must not really understand what He’s asking.” Doesn’t He? Jesus portrayed this command no better than when He was on the cross. Jesus cried out to God while He was on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). While Jesus was being crucified, suffering the consequence for OUR SIN, He asked God to forgive those who were crucifying Him. Jesus continues to pray on our behalf, if we are maintaining a relationship with Him, for God to forgive us of our sin (Romans 8:34).

Another teaching that sounds pretty crazy to us can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. This is probably one of the most important teachings Jesus gives us. During this sermon, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). So I’m supposed to rejoice and be glad when I am suffering? My reward is great in heaven when I am persecuted for my faith in Christ? According to Jesus, and many other writers in the Bible, this is true. This flies completely against what the modern “Christian” message that is taught today, especially in the America. So many today want to follow Jesus, or accept Jesus, but they do not want to have to do anything that will cause them to be uncomfortable. Many want the blessing from Jesus, but do not want to suffer. Many want to reap the rewards of heaven, but don’t want to do any sowing themselves. The Bible is very clear; you reap what you sow. If you are in Christ, and are “making every effort to add to your faith” (2 Peter 1:5), then we as a believer in Jesus Christ you will have an inheritance in heaven. If you are not, you do not have that security in God.

Jesus tells us to count the cost of being His disciple. Jesus gives the illustration that if you were to sit down and build a tower, would you not sit down first and calculate whether or not you have the means and funds to build that tower? How absolutely ridiculous would it look if you started that tower, then halfway through you had to stop because you didn’t have the means to finish it? That would be foolish! That is what Jesus is saying in Luke 14:25-34. Jesus is essentially saying, “If you are going to be my disciple, you need to know what I taught, and decide in your heart whether you are going to follow through with all My commands.” When Jesus says, “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), He means that if you don’t share in my suffering (carry your cross) and follow me (follow my commands, live as He did, share in suffering), then you can not be His disciple.

When you pursue righteousness, you better expect to face opposition and persecution. Now, at first glance that does not sound encouraging. But Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus has overcome everything (the world) by His victory on the cross. We can share in that victory by staying faithful to Jesus.

Jesus also says, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) Nobody likes to be disliked or likes to have hardships, but don’t be discouraged if you face trouble while pursuing God! You have a promise from God Himself that He will be with you always and you will partake with Him in heaven for standing firm until the end! (Matthew 10:22 & Matthew 28:20) Remember that God sees everything that happens to you in advance. He knows what you are going through and wouldn’t allow you to be in a situation that you couldn’t overcome. He will give you everything you need to come out victorious! “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I want to encourage you to really count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are many other teachings that Jesus gave that I did not mention. Many of those commands are very easy to apply to our lives; others may be a hard to apply. But I promise you, if you devote the time to allow Jesus to come into your heart and teach you His way, you will find delight in obeying His commands. Maybe you are a new Christian and need somewhere to start reading. Maybe you aren’t a Christian at all and aren’t really sure about this whole “Jesus thing”. Take some time to read through the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Really pay attention and focus on the teachings Jesus gives His disciples. The promises Jesus gives are not full of worldly riches, comfort, and pleasure, but they are full of love, hope, and eternal life. You will face hard times in this life, but if you remain true to Jesus and follow His commands, you will be with Him forever in Heaven one day. I pray that God will speak to you and truly work His Spirit in your life everyday.

“If you love Me, you will obey My commandments”~ John 14:15

-Joey

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Do We Really Understand Forgiveness?

Let me ask a question. Do we understand what it means to forgive? I mean really? Do we? The word used in the Bible for forgive or forgiveness is aphiēmiAphiēmi literally means to send away, disregard, to depart, leave behind, abandon. There are many other ways it is used, but are you seeing the impact of the word? The Bible says we are to forgive one another of our wrongs, both to each other and ones that are committed to others. That lie that your best friend said about you that embarrassed you in front of everyone, Jesus says to forgive them. Disregard that incident. Leave it behind. What about that thief that stole the only money you had to pay for your bills? Forgive them, abandon the trespass, send it away. I could go on with example after example and make a list of “what you should forgive others of”, but you see the point. As followers of Christ, Jesus expects us to forgive anyone no matter what they have done. Does that make the actions that caused offense right? Absolutely not. But understand this, just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you are acknowledging what was done is right. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is so much more powerful than that. Forgiveness essentially says, “it is very clear that what has went down is wrong, it’s not fair, it is not right at all, but instead of remembering it and harboring bitterness or anger, you choose to forget about it. Let is pass. Abandon the trespass as if it never happened.” By understanding what forgiveness is, it makes the entire concept of forgiving someone so much more real. Even though what has happened is wrong, Jesus says you must forgive.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus really didn’t beat around the bush in this Scripture, nor does He ever. Jesus Himself says that if do not forgive others of their trespasses or sins against us, God will not forgive us of all trespasses or sin against Him. We are so quick to receive the grace of Jesus Christ openly anytime it appeals to us, but what about when the tables are turned? Are as quick to extend that same grace to others? I know in my life, I haven’t always been. It’s easier to think that I am right, the other person is wrong, and just stay bitter at them. The problem with that is you never live in freedom that way. At least not fully. I heard this quote once and it has really spoke to me in this area. “We actually lose more than we win when we choose not to extend forgiveness to someone.” What do we lose? Freedom, relationships, peace, and as Jesus warns possibly our salvation.  By choosing not to swallow our pride and going to whoever has offended you and offering forgiveness, we lose any relationship we have with that person, there is no peace in our hearts when that individual is around or mentioned, there is no happiness. We are trapped. I’ve said it before, but I think that unforgiveness is one of the most deadly sins that can ever enter our hearts. I heard my friend once say “when you don’t forgive, its like taking poison and expecting the other person to die – the longer you hold on to it the more damage it does to your mind and body.”

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” ~Luke 23:34

Jesus forgave those who were literally killing them. He didn’t hold their trespasses against them. He forgave them. He prayed for them. He loved them and still wanted them to receive eternal life with them. Jesus never once wanted to hold resentment in His heart to those people who had did Him wrong. So as His disciples who in the world can we ever expect to live different than Jesus? A disciple literally lives like their master, experiences the same things, says the same things. Jesus died to sin, so we must die to sin. Jesus loved, so we must love. Jesus forgave, so we must forgive.

Mike Donehey, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, posted a video about forgiveness that I drew a lot of thought from and I think it really illustrates forgiveness well. I’m attaching the video below.

I want to encourage you to make the effort to seek out those areas in your life that may be marred by bitterness and unforgiveness. Jesus wished to heal those scars and desires that you live in harmony with those who offended you. Your act of forgiveness could be a key factor in someone decided to accept Jesus. If they already know Jesus, it can push them closer to you and to God as well. Don’t allow that biterness to stay harbored in your heart. As stated before, Jesus claims that you put your own salvation at risk by choosing not to forgive. Nothing of this earth is worth that. Everything on this earth will pass away, but Jesus is forever. Learn to pick and choose what you get angry over. Nothing is so important that forgiveness can’t be extended. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. I’m sure family members of murder, rape, theft, etc, are not so quick to forgive right away. It would be easier to hate, but Jesus says to love. Be blessed today, and may the Lord guide You in forgiveness.

-Joey

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ONECRY PRAYER SUMMIT

ONECRY PRAYER SUMMIT

This information came from OneCry.com:

Join the OneCry Prayer Summit

The OneCry Prayer Summit will be a live, participatory radio event starting on the National Day of Prayer and continuing throughout the month of May. The focus will be on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening within the North American church and weaving Scripture, meditations, worship, and reflections throughout. Listeners will be able to engage and participate through live chatting and social media.

Hosted by Moody Radio and in partnership with many others passionate about spiritual awakening, we’re excited to bring you this  live radio event beginning on the National Day of Prayer and continuing  Thursdays in May.

Prayer Summit Dates

May 3 (8 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET)      

May 10 (8 p.m. – 9 p.m. ET)

May 17 (8 p.m. – 9 p.m. ET)

May 24 (8 p.m. – 9 p.m. ET)

How to Listen

Listen live right here at OneCry.com or see if there is a radio station in your area carrying the OneCry prayer summit.

*  *  *  *  *

More information can be found here.  If anyone would like to do another day of fasting and prayer to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, leave a comment below.

This was originally posted on Drusilla Mott, you can see the original post here. Thanks to Drusilla for posting this on her site!

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A Call To Action – Fasting and Prayer

We are going to begin setting up a day (or days) to call our fellow bloggers to join us in fasting and prayer for a revival in the United States.  If you are not from the U.S. you are still welcome to join us to fast and pray for the church as a whole.

If you have not already done so, and would like to, you can join OneCry.com -a site for people wanting to join together in prayer for the country and the church.  Greg Holt from Believing God Today has set up a group at OneCry called Believers United for Revival which can be found here if you care to join.

OneCry.com has set up a united time of prayer every Tuesday from 8:00-8:30 PM Eastern Time.  There is a phone number on their site if you wish to participate in this prayer time.  Info can be found here.  Long distance rates are applied.

Please see one of the two links below for the rest of this post. There is more info on fasting and a date that has been set up as our first day of fasting. We also have a group on Facebook which you can find here. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this.

Greg

http://drusillamott.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/a-call-to-action-fasting-and-prayer/

http://ptl2010.com/2012/03/24/a-call-to-action-fasting-and-prayer/

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A Call To Action – Fasting and Prayer

We are going to begin setting up a day (or days) to call our fellow bloggers to join us in fasting and prayer for a revival in the United States.  If you are not from the U.S. you are still welcome to join us to fast and pray for the church as a whole.

If you have not already done so, and would like to, you can join OneCry.com -a site for people wanting to join together in prayer for the country and the church.  Greg Holt from Believing God Today has set up a group at OneCry called Believers United for Revival which can be found here if you care to join.

OneCry.com has set up a united time of prayer every Tuesday from 8:00-8:30 PM Eastern Time.  There is a phone number on their site if you wish to participate in this prayer time.  Info can be found here.  Long distance rates are applied.

Please see one of the two links below for the rest of this post. There is more info on fasting and a date that has been set up as our first day of fasting. We also have a group on Facebook which you can find here. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this.

Greg

http://drusillamott.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/a-call-to-action-fasting-and-prayer/

http://ptl2010.com/2012/03/24/a-call-to-action-fasting-and-prayer/

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OneCry…Prayer for Revival

  • To my valued readers,

  • Would you please take a moment and read this letter I wrote inviting people to join us in prayer for our country? Do you maybe not live in the U.S? Maybe you have friends who do and would like to join us anyway.

    Would you please consider joining us?
    We are a group of people who are part of a larger group of groups on OneCry.com.

    What is OneCry? We are actively calling out to God in prayer for a revival to happen in our country. This nation has slid so far downhill, God has been taken out of schools, courts and practically everything else! We want God back into our lives, our schools…our everything!

    We are as a nation poised on the brink of a fall, a very bad fall. Either we are going to turn to God because of disasters, or the economy collapsing, political reasons, war, or maybe a combination of many things; or we are going to turn back to God as a nation through prayer and fasting for a revival to happen. Look at the world around you, more specifically our country…it doesn’t look good does it? You need not look any further then the news to see what we have turned into in this country; an immoral, God hating or at least uncaring of what God says, anything goes, I can do whatever I want nation. It’s positively sickening! This is an opportunity to help change that. God does listen to prayer, the more of us praying, the better.

    I need to say here however, that if you can’t seriously commit to praying daily for revival, then maybe this isn’t for you. I’m not doing this to make a big group on facebook or on OneCry or to promote me…forget about me. This is serious and I would like people to treat it as such. Please don’t join just to join. Join us to be a part of this growing movement to bring this country back into the fear of God. He is what matters, not me and not anyone else either.

    Pray about this and give it some thought before you say no. I know all of you are busy, but I deem this to be of utmost importance. This could make a huge change in this country!

    You can find us on OneCry here, http://www.onecry.com/group/eversUnitedforRevival/
    You will see a welcoming message from me; sign the declaration, join the group, and download the PDF’s and go over them as you can. The PDF’s I’m referring to are, Draw a Circle
    Praying for Spiritual Awakening.
    You can also find us on Facebook here, https://www.facebook.com/groups/230652333699363/

    Thank you
    Greg

  • www.onecry.com

    With heavy hearts, we recognize that the church in America is in a state of spiritual emergency. Like the churches warned in Revelation, we have become lukewarm and compromised, and the light of our witness has grown dim. We confess that despite access to more resources and biblical teaching than an…

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OneCry…Prayer for Revival

  • To my valued readers,

  • Would you please take a moment and read this letter I wrote inviting people to join us in prayer for our country? Do you maybe not live in the U.S? Maybe you have friends who do and would like to join us anyway.

    Would you please consider joining us?
    We are a group of people who are part of a larger group of groups on OneCry.com.

    What is OneCry? We are actively calling out to God in prayer for a revival to happen in our country. This nation has slid so far downhill, God has been taken out of schools, courts and practically everything else! We want God back into our lives, our schools…our everything!

    We are as a nation poised on the brink of a fall, a very bad fall. Either we are going to turn to God because of disasters, or the economy collapsing, political reasons, war, or maybe a combination of many things; or we are going to turn back to God as a nation through prayer and fasting for a revival to happen. Look at the world around you, more specifically our country…it doesn’t look good does it? You need not look any further then the news to see what we have turned into in this country; an immoral, God hating or at least uncaring of what God says, anything goes, I can do whatever I want nation. It’s positively sickening! This is an opportunity to help change that. God does listen to prayer, the more of us praying, the better.

    I need to say here however, that if you can’t seriously commit to praying daily for revival, then maybe this isn’t for you. I’m not doing this to make a big group on facebook or on OneCry or to promote me…forget about me. This is serious and I would like people to treat it as such. Please don’t join just to join. Join us to be a part of this growing movement to bring this country back into the fear of God. He is what matters, not me and not anyone else either.

    Pray about this and give it some thought before you say no. I know all of you are busy, but I deem this to be of utmost importance. This could make a huge change in this country!

    You can find us on OneCry here, http://www.onecry.com/group/eversUnitedforRevival/
    You will see a welcoming message from me; sign the declaration, join the group, and download the PDF’s and go over them as you can. The PDF’s I’m referring to are, Draw a Circle
    Praying for Spiritual Awakening.
    You can also find us on Facebook here, https://www.facebook.com/groups/230652333699363/

    Thank you
    Greg

  • www.onecry.com

    With heavy hearts, we recognize that the church in America is in a state of spiritual emergency. Like the churches warned in Revelation, we have become lukewarm and compromised, and the light of our witness has grown dim. We confess that despite access to more resources and biblical teaching than an…

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