Summary: We are called to be disciples of Christ and disciple-makers for Christ. Jesus challenges us to consider the cost commitment of discipleship, and not be distracted by the comfort and convenience this world offers.

Being the first Sunday of the year, I want to take some time to revisit our ES mission – to grow as disciples of Christ and be disciple-makers for Christ.

Why are we doing what we are doing? Why is this important? Can we do something else, or can we not do this at all?

• We are committed to this because it is the call of Christ.

• Frankly, this is the main call - the call to be LIKE CHRIST and helping others to KNOW Christ and be TRANSFORMED, just as we are, to be like Christ.

This to me is the core call of Christ. To BE like Christ and DO the work of Christ.

• We can do many good things in life, like helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and nursing the wounded.

• But all these still has to come under the call to transform lives (through the good news) into the likeness of Christ.

Therefore how we live our lives is of paramount importance. Only when we understand this, can our lives be PURPOSEFUL and IMPACTFUL.

• Otherwise, we can end up focusing on the temporal and neglecting the eternal; caring for the material and forgetting the spiritual.

• And then regret, at the end of our lives, that we have not lived a worthwhile life.

People nowadays are caught up by TWO concerns – comfort and convenience. We tend to filter things only from these two angles.

There is a beautiful place where hikers and campers go to in Wyoming (why o mi), USA called Bridger Wilderness. At the main office, there is the feedback box where members of the public can give their comments or suggestions. Here are some odd comments they received:

- trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.

- too many bugs and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.

- please pave the trails. Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to climb up steep slopes.

- a small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call my number _____.

- a McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.

- too many rocks on the mountains.

Cited by Mike Neifert, Light and Life (Feb 1997), p.27.

They do not really understand what it means to hike and camp in the “wilderness”.

• You want to camp out in the forest and yet without the inconveniences, to enjoy the adventure in the wild and yet without the discomfort.

• There is no such a thing. Without the inconveniences and discomfort, you won’t have a camping experience!

Many wants the Christian life minus all the negatives – no hardship, no pain, and no setbacks. This is not real.

Ravi Zacharias shared about the TWO KINDS of believers.

One is depicted by the attitude of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army (2 Kings 5). He was stricken with leprosy, came to prophet Elisha for help, and was asked to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan. “I expected him to just wave his hand and pray over me, or tell me to wash in the rivers back home in Damascus…” He wants the blessing but on his terms. He wants the healing, but in his way - the simple, convenient way.

It took a servant to knock the sense out of him. “Do you really want to be heal? This is a simple task that he is calling you to do.” He was healed. He offered gifts for Elisha but he declined and so they left.

Then came Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. He wanted those gifts, so he ran after Naaman and said that some prophets came and his master requested some gifts for them. Gehazi took the gifts and hid them in his house. That’s those who follows the ways of the world, but pretending that that’s the Master’s will. They follow the world but making it look like they are following God. We want what the world offers but camouflage it spiritually, to make it looks like it is God’s will.

If we go through life expecting God to do things on our terms, we are going to miss out on God’s best.

• Or if we do things on our own terms but then camouflaging it as God’s ways, we are deceiving ourselves. Either way, we are missing out on God’s best.

If we care only about the blessings of this world - wealth, health and success, we are in danger of falling into Satan’s traps.

• These are the baits Satan used on Jesus, in the wilderness, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

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