Every day – to the glory of God – an untold number of people hear the gospel message and prayerfully ask Jesus into their heart.
According to the “Story of the Sower and the Seed,” 3 out of 4 people, who hear the gospel message, fail to grow and mature in their faith…
“Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest-thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.”
Matthew 13:18 through Matthew 13:23 (NLT)
Jesus made it perfectly clear that those who accept His invitation to “Follow Me,” need to “Count the Cost” of being His disciple…
Great crowds were following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘there’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’
“Or what king would ever dream of going to war without first sitting down with his counselors and discussing whether his army of ten thousand is strong enough to defeat the twenty thousand soldiers who are marching against him? If he is not able, then while the enemy is still far away, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace. So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.”
Luke 14:25 through Luke 14:33 (NLT)
Unfortunately, there are many who claim to be “Christian,” that have no real understanding of what it truly means to be a follower of Christ…
As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you no matter where you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head.”
He said to another person, “Come, be my disciple.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
Jesus replied, “Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57 through Luke 9:62 (NLT)
Sadly, many people find Christ’s teachings too hard…
Even his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
Jesus knew within himself that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see me, the Son of Man, return to heaven again? It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you don’t believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is what I meant when I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father brings them to me.”
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you going to leave, too?”
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life. We believe them, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:60 through John 6:69 (NLT)
A true disciple of Christ has an unquenchable desire to live entirely for Him…
LORD, we love to obey your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. All night long I search for you; earnestly I seek for God. For only when you come to judge the earth will people turn from wickedness and do what is right.
Isaiah 26:8 through Isaiah 26:9 (NLT)
The heart of a true disciple of Christ is completely devoted to God. Nothing can be hidden from God. He sees and understands everything in our heart. David told Solomon to be completely open with God and dedicated to him…
“And Solomon, my son, get to know the God of your ancestors. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9 (NLT)
Additionally, a Christian disciple is devoted to a humble life of servitude…
“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat. He must first prepare his master’s meal and serve him his supper before eating his own. And the servant is not even thanked, because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.’” Luke 17:7 through Luke 17:10 (NLT)
Clearly, many people have yet to understand what it truly means to follow Christ and what type of heart is required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Consider the following…
“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. Many guests were invited, and when the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify everyone that it was time to come. But they all refused! So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘the feast has been prepared, and choice meats have been cooked. Everything is ready. Hurry!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went about their business, one to his farm, another to his store. Others seized his messengers and treated them shamefully, even killing some of them.
“Then the king became furious. He sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city. And he said to his servants, ‘the wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’
“So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ And the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:2 through Matthew 22:14 (NLT)
Many are called indeed, but only a few exhibit a life characteristic of a devoted, dedicated, disciple of Christ. Are you a disciple of Christ? How are you when it comes to…
- Obedience – “If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15 (NLT)
- Faithfulness – “My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:8 (NLT)
- Perseverance – Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.” John 8:31 (NLT)
- Love – “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 (NLT)
- Humility – “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. The student shares the teacher’s fate. The servant shares the master’s fate. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household!” Matthew 10:24-25 (NLT)
- Surrender of all – “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26 (NLT)
“So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.” Luke 14:33 (NLT)
- Bearing the cross – “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” Matthew 16:25 (NLT)
Do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Christ? Is your relationship with Christ the most important relationship of your life? Would you like it to be? Would you like to be so close to Christ that you can hear His heart beat? Would you like to be able to declare the name of Jesus as easily and with as much confidence as you do your own name?
If you said yes to one or more of the preceding questions, then I invite you to start right now and prayerfully ask Jesus to examine your heart and show you how to completely, and without any hesitation, set aside your own agenda and your own desires and allow Him to fill your heart and your life with His presence, passion and power.