Message Scripture:

“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. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 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? 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.” – Matthew 16:24-27 (NASB)

Introduction:

It’s a cold, snowy weekend here in Northwest Arkansas, and that means it’s a good day to write.  So, I hope y’all are staying warm and being safe on this cold, and snowy Saturday.  I’m hoping that I can keep the flow going this morning that started last night.  It’s strange around here that we barely see any snow around here all winter than February comes, and so does all the snow.  Which makes this a perfect day to tap into the Holy Ghost, and see what He wants to talk about.

So, let’s see what the Lord has to say to us through this side journey message.

Praise and Worship:

The cool thing is I found the perfect tune to listen to while you read this message.  It was a pretty popular song, but the message that rings through the song is one that’s become my own personal anthem.

I don’t want to gain the whole world…and lose my soul…how about you!?!

 

Discipleship Is Costly

You know, one thing I’ve learned since being in ministry is that not everyone is as thrilled about what you do for God as you are…and not everyone finds as much joy in what you do for the Lord as you do.  In reality, this is where you find out just who really supports you, and who is just there until you do or say (or in my case write) something they disagree with.  If they don’t like what you have to say, they just leave your group or un-follow you or they completely un-friend you.  But, I’ll also say that I understand that having people come and go is part of the cost of discipleship.  I mean Jesus always had people get offended enough to stop following Him…so why should I expect people to treat me any differently than they treated Him?

Friends, let me be transparent with you for a moment…if Christlike Ministries NWA was about gaining popularity for myself…I wouldn’t be doing this.  I would’ve quit long ago when I barely had anyone following along, and we won’t even talk about how little interaction there is with my posts…but if that was my purpose for doing this I wouldn’t be.  However, I’ve counted the cost, and I’m well aware that there are people who are going to get offended and leave because they don’t believe or agree like I do.  Like I just said…if they did that to Jesus then it’s a guarantee that they’re going to do that to me too…and that’s okay.  I know some will read what I just said as being prideful, but it’s not.  It’s understanding that not everyone is going to like what I say or agree and that some of those things are going to be the very reason why some people just stop following along.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to quit or give up…on the contrary…it encourages me because Jesus said this stuff would happen.

I am not interested in being popular, having the most liked and commented posts, but what I am interested in is being obedient to the call of God on my life.  I am interested in doing what God has called me to do, and serving Him how He’s called me to whether I have an audience of 1 or 1,000 or 100,000.  I have lost many friends and followers over the last three years, and I don’t expect that will change.  In fact, I expect that the closer I draw to the Lord the more He is going to separate the sheep from the goats in my life.

Friends, the one thing I will say about ministry is that it’s one of those jobs where no one will bother you at all until you do something they don’t believe in or agree with.  There’s no shaking hands with people after I post a message to say “good preaching pastor”,  but there are still people who let you know they are being reached.  On the other hand if you offend them they’ll just quietly leave the group or unlike your page or drop you as a friend.  However, I’ve also learned that ministry has faithful people who like and comment on everything you write…and those people are invaluable to me because believe it or not I read every comment and every like encourages me.  The thing of it is with social media is that most people will just leave, and  they won’t even tell you why…but reaching the social networks is my calling.

WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are my platform, and this is where I’m called to preach.  I don’t have a speaking or preaching anointing, but I do have a writing anointing…and that’s what I’m doing.  So, if God requires me to post 5 messages in a day then that’s what I’ll do.  If He leads me to post nothing for a week…then that’s what I’ll do.  Whatever God wants or however He leads is how I want to operate in this ministry.  It’s not about me at all…it’s about Jesus.

One thing that I would advise if you’re thinking about writing and posting things on Social Media for God is that you can’t judge how you are doing by who comes and goes.  You also can’t judge the effectiveness of your posts by the likes or comments because many people won’t like or comment…they will just read what you write.  Some will like the post just because they like you…so it’s hard to really judge your effectiveness because with this ministry I really have to have faith that I am impacting lives for the Kingdom of God.  In addition to that, there are people who are just going to leave, and there are also some that will write you some pretty rude comments.  There are people who will follow and leave and follow and leave.  So, you can’t judge anything on what people do or say…you really have to obey God and entrust the results to Him.  I wrote about trusting in man yesterday, and like I said if I was doing this to be popular I would’ve stopped a long time ago…but it’s not about me…it’s not about being popular it’s about this one simple statement the Lord said to me in January of 2001.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16 (NASB)

God chose me.  I don’t know why He chose me, but I don’t need to know why.  The Bible says He chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wisdom of the wise.  Lord knows I’m certainly one of the foolish things of the world.  I talk all the time about how in the natural I’m completely unqualified to be a pastor, have a ministry, or even serve God.  While people don’t recognize me as a pastor because I don’t hold a Bible College degree…God requires only that I obey what He asks me to do.  God didn’t say that once I graduate from ministry school then I would be qualified to serve Him. He also didn’t say I wasn’t qualified because I didn’t attend a Bible School.  The world has their standards, people have their “convictions”, but God didn’t chose me because I was equipped and graduated at the top of my class…I am equipped me to serve Him because He chose me.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.”  “God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called”.  These are the things the Lord has spoken to me time and time again when I find myself questioning my own qualifications.  He’s spoken to me over and over that He didn’t call me to be like anyone else, preach like anyone else, or walk like anyone else…He called me to be who He called and destined me to be.  It’s the same for you.  God isn’t asking you to be the next TD Jakes…He’s asking you to be who He called you to be.  He’s not asking you to serve Him like He’s asked Reinhard Bonnke…He’s asking you to serve Him how He wants YOU to serve Him.  He’s not asking us to do anything that He hasn’t already prepared and equipped and qualified us to do.  He just wants us to be obedient and trust Him…and leave the results up to Him.

Look.  I’m going to be honest with you for a moment.  At my core I’m some what of an insecure person.  At one time, my life resembled more of a Johnny Cash song then a song by Jesus Culture.  People used my life as a revolving door, and some of the people who left hurt when they left because of my love for them.  So, I most certainly wouldn’t choose to do something like this where I can see my numbers change.  I can see when people un-follow me, and if I were to react in the natural I can tell you like I’ve said many times already…I would’ve quit this long ago.  There was a time when my identity was found with the amount of people I had around me, but today my identity is in Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

It has cost me to follow Christ.  It has cost my family for me to follow Christ.  I have had to sacrifice and surrender many things as a result of embracing the call of God on my life.  I’ve had to let go of a lot of people who I loved dearly, and I’ve had people come into my life that have become some of my greatest supporters.  I would much rather be able to watch football or the NASCAR races on Sunday’s, but we haven’t been able to pay the DISH bill for months because I’m not working and there are more important things to pay for.  I would much rather listen to 3 Doors Down than Third Day, but the truth is secular music is turning my stomach and grieving my spirit more and more.  The other thing is, when you see your 18 month old daughter dancing and raising her hands to Jesus as the worship music is playing on her own…that changes things in your heart that I can’t even describe.  I would much rather watch my favorite television shows then write these messages or read my bible, but there are times when I am so intent on writing that I can’t even hear the television.  Those are just some of the things that I would like to do in the natural, but I’ve laid those things down for the cause of Christ…because the reality is that I will never lay down more for Jesus than Jesus laid down for me.  Let me say that again…

“WE WILL NEVER LAY DOWN MORE FOR JESUS THAN JESUS LAID DOWN FOR US.  IT WILL NEVER COST US MORE TO FOLLOW JESUS THAN THE PRICE JESUS PAID FOR US TO BE ABLE TO FOLLOW HIM.  THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP IS PENNIES COMPARED TO WHAT JESUS PAID SO THAT WE COULD BE DISCIPLES.  DISCIPLESHIP COSTS US STUFF…BUT THE CROSS COST JESUS EVERYTHING.  WE WILL NEVER, EVER LAY DOWN MORE FOR JESUS THAN WHAT JESUS LAID DOWN FOR US.” – Pastor Bryan J. Kizer

I haven’t surrendered everything, but the more I do this the more I realize that I actually want to lay those things down.  I want to deny myself of more.  I want more of myself to die so that Christ can use me more.  I have come to realize that the cost of discipleship are prices I’m willing to pay for a God that paid such a price for my life by sacrificing His.  The little bit that I have to surrender and sacrifice is NOTHING compared to what Jesus had to surrender and sacrifice to purchase my life and qualify me for what I am doing for Him today.

And that’s the bottom line.  Grace is free, but it didn’t come cheap.  It cost Jesus everything.  So, as I look at what it cost Jesus to purchase my life there’s nothing that I could ever surrender or sacrifice that would equal the price Jesus paid for me to be able to call Him Savior.  I wrote this point to close out the latest message in the Growing In Grace Series, and I believe it’s good enough to close this message with as well.  The reason I accept the cost of discipleship.  The reason I’m willing to at least try to lay down the things God asks me to lay down as I’m getting closer to being the person He called me to be is because of this very point right here…

He absorbed all of God’s fiery indignation and judgment against all your sins—past, present and future—so that you can be totally forgiven and have everlasting peace with God.”- written by Joseph Prince

Let’s Pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to follow you as disciples. Help us to respond wholeheartedly without counting the cost. Lord Jesus Christ, you invite us to proclaim your gospel of hope and salvation here at home and to all nations and people. Teach us to be faithful evangelists in word and in action. Lord Jesus Christ, you have given us every spiritual and material blessing. Show us how to share our gifts with others, and inspire us always to follow your example of generous self-giving. Gracious Lord, teach us to give with a joyous and grateful heart  that we may provide hope, consolation, and pastoral care to your people and thus give glory and honor to your holy name. AMEN

In Closing:

Jesus said these words to His disciples, but as you know they were written in red letters.  That means not only was Jesus talking to His disciples then, but He was also speaking to those of us who would become His disciples today.  I always like to think about the fact that the red letters of the Bible aren’t just to see what Jesus was teaching His disciples, but they’re for our benefit today as we know that’s God speaking to us through Jesus.  These words He said are the best way I can think to close this message, and see what else the Lord has to say to us this cold, snowy Saturday in February.

Before I close…Have you been blessed by this ministry? Would you like to help me out?

Here are some really practical ways you can help me out.
1) Engage – I don’t always have time to reply to everyone but I read every single comment and post on here. I reply to every message and email and every one blesses me! Please do get involved and let me get to know you in the little ways we can online.
2) Share – If you love the posts here, or maybe an article on the website… please share it on Facebook or Twitter… it really helps new people find this ministry and be blessed by the good news of the gospel…and tell people about us.
3) Pray – We really value your prayers. Pray for this message to find good soil – that God would continue to bring new faces to this ministry that are ready to accept His embrace.
4) Give – Running a ministry is a lot like running a business. There’s always a cost, and if this ministry blesses you in any way…you can now help by giving to it financially.
I’ve set up a ministry card that is used specifically for ministry needs & expenses.  If you’d like to give to this ministry contact me directly at christlikeministriesarkansas@yahoo.com
for more information.
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support. All of you who follow me are of great encouragement to me…and I’m grateful for all of you.

Have a blessed day…and please stay warm, safe, and dry.

Blessings & Grace;

Pastor B

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