We have spoken about the fact that when we sense the direction of
God and have received his invitation to join Him in what He wants to do through us, we come to a “crisis of belief.” Do I really believe that God can do through me what He is calling me to do? Once we have settled that questions with a resounding “yes,” then we are to demonstrate our faith by making whatever adjustments in our life might be necessary to obey God. That will always be the order of our responding properly to the call of God:
In our text, we note that the Son had to make some adjustments before he could obey the father and thus, join the father in the work of world redemption. He made the necessary adjustments (vs. 6-7), so He might obey (v. 8), and receive the resulting reward (vs. 9-11).
In the same way, when we sense God’s call to take a new step of obedience in our walk with Him and determine to respond by faith to His call, that we will first have to make the necessary adjustments to walk in obedience. Once we do that, we can than obey and be blessed as we receive the rewards that accompany that step of obedience to God.
What kinds of adjustments might we have to make in order to obey the call of God? Typically, the adjustments we might have to make in our lives in order to obey God will fall into one of the following categories:
1. An adjustment regarding our attitude - vs. 5-7
Note the attitude of the Son that put him in a position to obey the Father. His attitude was that any price was worth paying in order to join the Father in doing his will.
Even so, God’s invitation to us will also require a similar attitude if we would be in a position to obey. With regard to whatever is required to obey the father’s call, we must have the attitude that any sacrifice that might be necessary to do God’s will is worth making in light of the inevitable reward for obedience.
It was this attitude that enabled Jesus to obey the call to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sake.
“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” - Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)
Obeying God will always require an adjustment in our attitude regarding the worth of whatever sacrifice is required to obey him.
In Luke 18:18-27, we read that the rich young ruler wanted eternal life, but he didn’t want to make the necessary adjustment to Jesus. His money and wealth were more important. Jesus knew that. Jesus knew that an adjustment had to be made in this man’s life regarding his worship of money and wealth before he could enter into a personal relationship with God.
His money had become his god. The young ruler refused to make that necessary adjustment, and he missed out on reward of experiencing eternal life.
The rich young ruler’s love of money and greed made him an idolater. He missed coming to know the True God and Jesus Christ whom God had sent. He wanted eternal life, but he refused to make the necessary adjustment of his life to the True God.
Contrast his response to that of Elisha, as recorded in 1 Kings 19:15-21. In order to obey God, Elisha had to leave his family and career as a farmer in order to follow God’s call. You have heard the phrase “burning your bridges behind you.” Well, the Bible says that Elisha burned his farm equipment and killed his 24 oxen. He cooked the meat and fed the people of the community. He was not about to turn back! When he made the necessary adjustments, he was in a position to obey God. As a result, God worked through Elisha to perform some of the greatest signs and miracles recorded in the Old Testament (2 Kings 2 through 13).
Notice that Elisha had to make these adjustments on the front end of his call. It is the same for you and me. Every time God calls us to obey, before we can do so, we will adjust our attitude at the outset and determine that whatever sacrifice is necessary is worth making in order to obey the call of God.
2. An adjustment regarding our actions - v. 8
The Son took action to make the adjustments necessary to obey the Father, and we will have to do the same.
We cannot stay where we are and follow God.
Following His call will always require taking the necessary actions to adjust our lives so that we might obey.
Noah could not continue life as usual and build an ark at the same time (Genesis 6).
Abram could not stay in Ur or Haran and father a nation in Canaan (Genesis 12:1-8).
Moses could not stay on the back side of the desert herding sheep and stand before Pharaoh at the same time (Exodus 3).
David had to leave his sheep to become king (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
Amos had to leave the sycamore trees in order to preach in Israel (Amos 7:14-15).
Jonah had to leave his home and overcome a major prejudice in order to preach in Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2; 3:1-2; 4:1-11).
Peter, Andrew, James, and John had to leave their fishing businesses in order to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22).
Matthew had to leave his tax collector’s booth to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9).
Paul had to completely change directions in his life in order to be used of God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-19).
God will always make clear what actions we need to take in order to adjust and get in apposition to obey Him, because he wants to bless us.
You see, not only can we not stay where are and follow God, but:
We cannot follow God and stay the same!
Each time God calls us to a new step of obedience in our walk with Him, He is calling us to change in some way; and each change is designed to make us more like Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[ of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! - Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)
You see, we are never so much like Jesus as when we determine that any sacrifice is worth making in order to follow God and then take whatever action is necessary to obey Him and be rewarded by Him. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said:
“Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’” - Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat - I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?”
- Luke 9:23-24 (The Message)
Conclusion: How is God calling you to “take up your cross” today? How is He calling you to obey Him? What adjustments are you going to have to make in order to do so? Is it an adjustment in . . .
. . . your circumstances (like job, home, finances); your relationships (marriage, family, friends, business associates); your thinking (prejudices, methods, your potential); your commitments (to family, church, job. plans, tradition); your activities (how you pray, give, serve, spend your free time); your beliefs (about God, His purposes, His ways, yourself, your relationship to God)?
Mark this down, whatever changes or sacrifices I might have to make in order to obey God are always worth it because it is only in embracing my “cross” that I will fulfill my God-given destiny.
So which will it be? Will you waste your live or invest your live? Will you live for yourself or for your Savior? Will you follow the way of the crowd or the way of the cross?