Page 85 was a Sunday and I was up early as I headed to work to make sure the building was ready for the day. I woke up before the alarm went off so I got up and went to work even earlier than I had planned. That turned out to be a good thing as there was more that needed done than what I had planned. As I cleaned, I prayed for the Sunday School classes and worship gathering that would take place and I prayed that God’s Spirit would prompt people to remember the importance of gathering together. It was raining when I left the house and the rain has been present for most of the day. As I finished up the cleaning, I stopped by my office before heading to Sunday School class and caught sight of a pair of cardinals out searching for food in the rain. They stayed further into the brush than what they normally do as they sought protection from the elements, but I still managed a photo of one of them for today’s page. Even when we need to take shelter, we still ought to be visible representatives of Jesus wherever we are.
Our Sunday School class continued our study in 1 Thessalonians and today we took a look at chapter 4. As Paul often does in his writings, he encouraged and praised the Christians for their work and growth in Christ as they shared His love with one another. But he also challenged them to continue their growth and to do more and more as they put aside the sin and impurity that would seek to contaminate their witness. There were also reminders that a life lived for Jesus was not in vain, that a confident expectation of eternal life with Him awaits those who finish this life in Him.
After the Sunday School hour we celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as we shared songs of worship, a time around the Lord’s Table, and a message that David brought about counting the cost. Many times in church and ministry settings, we choose not to count the costs because we don’t want to set aside our own agenda that the facts would say we are not prepared for. But more tragically, we often fail to consider the cost of being a disciple of Jesus as we’re really just playing at that hoping that He adds benefit to our life without expecting or demanding too much from us. Jesus insisted, however, that unless we give up everything we cannot be His disciple. So the real danger, especially in our United States culture, is that we go through life claiming to be a disciple without ever counting, and paying, the cost — the cost of full surrender.
As we considered the cost of being a disciple, David had us spend some time thinking about our priorities — the things that we actually do. While taking a hard look at the things we actually do can be uncomfortable, it ought to become convicting when we compare those things with the things that Jesus would say ought to be our priorities. For example, we are really good at making self a priority but Jesus says that to be His disciple we must deny our self. Most of us go out of our way to make comfort a priority but Jesus says that we must take up our cross daily if we are to be His disciple — doesn’t sound too comfortable. While some would say that the instruction to count the cost of being a disciple is to help us decide if it is worth it, I believe the real purpose is to help us commit at the beginning to following Jesus through all costs so that we are faithful to the end.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Sometimes I wake up before I think I need to. If I pay attention, I usually discover why.
- There is no such thing as a bad time or place to pray. In fact, the worse the time or place may appear, the more vital it is to pray.
- Sometimes we ought to seek shelter from the storms of life. Doing so shouldn’t keep Jesus from being seen in us.
- There is no place for complacency in the life of a Christian.
- The task of removing impurity from our life ought to be a continual, lifelong process.
- Hope is powerful.
- There is no greater hope than the confident expectation of life eternal that belongs to those who are in Christ.
- While Jesus has paid the price for our salvation with His blood, there is still a cost involved in being His disciple.
- Counting the cost of being a disciple is all about preparing us to surrender everything so that we remain faithful to the end.