When the movie Endgame was released, it became one of the biggest blockbusters to ever hit the screens. In the movie, Tony Stark (Ironman) is being recruited by the remaining Avengers to help restore what Thanos destroyed. They’ve got a plan to go back in time, but they need Tony’s superpower, which is actually his brain. The Avengers need him to be able to help them figure everything out, but he’s weighing the cost. Tony realizes that he has too much to lose. He knows everyone else has lost family and half the Avengers are gone, but Tony still has his family that he needs to think about. At the beginning he says no, but later he changes his mind and helps them figure everything out. But before he could get to that point, he had to count the cost.
Luke 14:28-30 (NIV)
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay down the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
Jesus says that if you really want to follow Him, you need to weigh out how much it’s going to cost first. Even though salvation is free, it still cost the heavenly Father and His Son something. We have to be willing to make a trade, are you willing to make a trade? The trade that needs to be made is not just your sin, for His spirit, but you’ve got to trade your life and plans for what He has in store for the world.
Luke 9:57-58 (NIV)
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nest, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
The man said he wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus wanted him to know that it comes at a cost. It isn’t easy following Jesus, it will cost you your comfort. If we’re going to follow where Jesus leads, you need to make sure you have counted the cost.
Do you understand that some of our comforts that we have created for ourselves are going to have to go if we’re going to grow? It’s impossible to stay comfortable and grow at the same time. God wants you to grow. He wants you to thrive, and join in His plan for the world. He has a purpose for your life, but sometimes our comforts are keeping us from stepping out in faith.
Are you willing to trade COMFORTS for PROVISION?
God is still going to take care of you, but He is going to do it His way. It might look different than how we would picture it. When I first got saved, I was 20 years old. At the time, I was renting a great house with my friends. The rent was so cheap that I was able to work part time, play 30 hours a week of Xbox and go to community college. It was awesome and very comfortable. Then one day, I got saved and decided to give my life to God. I had to stop and count the cost. I got on my knees and said, “God, I will follow you, whatever you have for me.” By the time I started to stand up from being on my knees, He was already telling me what to do next. He told me to move out from the comfortable house I was living in with my friends. My friends were my support system and my community. But God was asking me to move, because just a few weeks later the fall semester of Bible College was starting. He wanted me to move out from the partying/comfortable lifestyle I was living in and move to Bible college where I didn’t know one person. I went from living in an amazing house to sleeping on the top bunk in a dorm room. The plan that God had for me was requiring me to sacrifice the comfort that I had gotten used to.
If you want to follow Jesus, are you ready to trade in some of your comforts for His provision? Let’s start with the fact that by God’s grace and mercy, He spoke to me. I came to him on my knees offering Him my life and he took me back even though I was a failure. God provided a way for us to be in relationship with Him again through His Son, Jesus. He provided me with forgiveness, gave me the Holy Spirit and set me on the plan He has for me. Let’s just talk about what a miracle that is. When I realized how much mercy God was showing me, I obeyed and immediately moved away. I knew I needed to pay for tuition as well as room and board for the dorm, so I made another sacrifice. I used the money I had been saving for the comfort of a new car to cover my expenses for Bible college. I had to sacrifice some things that were bringing me comfort, but what I got on the other side of that trade was provision, guidance and direction.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Everything changed when I decided to not rely on my comforts, but instead trade them in for God’s plan. When he called me to follow him, at times it felt like I was taking steps backwards instead of forwards. That’s what many of us feel like when following Jesus. Faith is counting the cost and trusting God even when he asks you to do things that you don’t understand. But I promise you this, when you do obey Him and step out of your comforts for his provision, you’ll never regret it. You’ll never regret obeying Jesus and following him. I promise you that.
Jesus tells us in Luke 14 that choosing to follow Him is like building a tower. Before starting, you’ve got to know how many bricks or supplies you’ll need to complete the task. If not, everyone is going to laugh at you because you didn’t plan a head and only built half a tower. You’ve got to count the costs. When Tony Stark is talking to the Avengers, he’s thinking about his wife and daughter and the cost this mission could cost his family. After saying he couldn’t do it, because the risk is too high, they understand because he would need to sacrifice his world (family) for the new world.
Have you ever been willing to take a risk and count the cost yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice your world for the world that God is making right now? It takes being willing to trade in your hearts desires for His heart’s desires. Are you willing to trade in your comforts for his provision? In Luke 14 the story continues with Jesus inviting a man to follow him and become his disciple.
Luke 14:59-60 (NIV)
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Jesus only ever asked a few people to follow him. That would have been a huge honor for a rabbi to ask someone to become his disciple. It sounds harsh when Jesus tells the man, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” At this point, Jesus only had 6-8 months left before he would be in Jerusalem offering his life as a sacrifice for us. When he asks someone to follow him, it is because there is little time left and Jesus is on a mission. We don’t know what Jesus saw in the man, but his answer disqualified him. Many scholars have studied this passage and the culture of the time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that his dad had already died and he needed to attend the funeral. It could have meant that his dad was dying. The greatest honor in Jewish culture was to bury your father and to make sure he got a the right kind of burial. He would also have the responsibility of handling the family possessions and receiving the family estate. So the man is saying, “Jesus, I want to follow you. But, I have all of this family stuff that I’ve got to take care of first. My dad’s dying and I’ve got the estate to think about. Let me finish controlling all the details then once I you know, it’s all tidy, then I’ll catch back up with you.” Jesus says, “No, it’ll be too late. Today is the day, let’s go. If you’re not ready to obey me now, you’re not ready to obey me ever.” Following Jesus will 100% cost you relationships in your life.
Recently, I was talking to my friend Matt. He and his family had attended our church for years. When it came time to take communion, he would sit while everyone else came forward to receive the juice and crackers. He didn’t want to do anything that would represent accepting Jesus. Matt was raised Jewish, but his wife was a believer. He came to church because he loved his wife. He and his family were in our small group and the thing I liked about him was that he wasn’t phony. He wasn’t going to receive Jesus as his Savior without really meaning it. After two years, God’s love melted his heart and he couldn’t run from God anymore. One Sunday, Matt, texted me to come out to the baptismal tank because he was ready. He walked into the tank with his hat turned backwards, big jeans, wallet on a chain, dickies jacket and a heart ready to go all in. He waited until he had fully counted the cost to become a follower of Jesus. Remember, Matt is from a Jewish family. When he went to lunch with a family friend, he told his friend about the decision he made to become a follower of Jesus. The friend slapped him. Not a super hard slap, but more like he had just said something disrespectful. This was one of the moments that Matt had counted the cost for. He traded in the respect of some people in this world, in order to have a place in God’s family. Now he’s in God’s family and in His purpose. That was a trade he was willing to make because he had first counted the cost.
You could be following Jesus and everything is going great right now. You are having fun attending services, learning about Jesus, seeing blessings in your life and you are just wondering if something like that will ever happen to you. I’m telling you that 100% this is going to happen to you. You will be tested, persecuted and face challenging times. I know that because Jesus said, “Look at the way they persecute the master. If they do that to the master, they’re going to be even worse to the students.” When we don’t have persecution or challenges, we have to ask ourselves, if we’re really living by faith. Are you willing to trade in the respect of some friends and family to know your place in God’s family?
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Imagine a plow similar to a wheelbarrow. In order to plow, you need to make straight lines. Jesus says, “Anybody who looks back over their shoulder is not fit for the kingdom of God.” What does he mean by that? When you’re distracted while plowing and looking over your shoulder, you’ll get off course.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked our for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
We find ourselves veering off when we start thinking our own ideas are better than God’s plan, even though in our heart we know that it isn’t a good idea. It’s like Jesus is saying, “You’re not fit for the kingdom of God, you need to count the cost.” Are you ready to keep both hands on the plow focused on Jesus the rest of your life? Are you ready to lay down your comforts, whether it’s family, or whether it’s your own dreams for God’s purpose?
I challenge you to say, “God, when I give you my heart, I also give you my future. Today, I want to tell you that this future belongs to you. My dreams belong to you. I’m trading in my dreams for your eternity.” We have counted the cost and we choose You!