Summary: There is a cost to be paid for everything we do in life, even in our spiritual lives. We explore this concept using King Jehoshaphat and his decision to turn the battle over to God and let God fight it for him.
Last week, we spoke about our having problems and how those problems will undermine our walk with Christ if we let them. I reminded you of just how important it is to stay on top of the storms in your life, and that you can only do that by fully relying, not on yourself, but on Jesus Christ to get you through.
It does not matter where you go, or in some people’s lives, where they try and hide. Jesus is still with you. He knows everything you do; He hears everything you say; and He sees exactly where you are. And what Jesus wants more than anything else is for you to stop running and just turn to follow Him. But you must know that to everything, there is a cost to pay.
If I am hungry and you put a sandwich on the table, I must make a sacrifice to get up and get that sandwich. It will not suddenly appear in my hands. If I need to go to the store, I must sacrifice my time to get in the car and go. And if I expect to be a Christian, I must sacrifice, too. Except this time, I must be faithful in my sacrifice, and I must be accountable enough to continue doing so.
The sacrifice, or the cost, of being a follower of Jesus, is that you have to turn your back on certain things of this world. What things are we talking about? I think that might vary a lot from one person to another. But anything in your life that keeps you from being fully devoted to Christ must be sacrificed.
What do you do, who do you know, or where do you go that you know in your heart you shouldn’t do, know, or go? Could it be that you are in a situation that you should not be taking part of as a Christian? Sometimes, it isn’t even any of the above, but a simple desire that you do not find church interesting anymore, or that you need your rest on Sundays because you have been so busy the week before. That would be Satan steering you away from the Lord. Are you accountable enough to Jesus to keep your focus – every week, no matter what? Especially if you have children at home.
Jesus wants you to be a follower, but He also expects you to take the responsibilities of being a follower very seriously. I wonder if today’s Christians really see it that way.
In the 1800’s, there was an Italian leader named Garibaldi. He had one of the most dedicated volunteer armies in history. What was his secret? He told the truth and laid in out on the line for them to know what they were getting into BEFORE they got into it.
He advertised by saying, ‘I offer no pay, no quarters, and times of little or no provisions. I offer you hunger, thirst, forced marches, and deadly battles. Let him who loves his country with his whole heart, and not just his lips, come and follow me!’ And in so doing, those that responded were truly dedicated men who followed him into battle and and trusted him enough to follow never slack off.
The Lord invites you into such an agreement today. And, just like Garibaldi, the Lord lays the total truth on the line for you before you even decide. Let me paraphrase Garibaldi if I might: ‘Let him who loves the Lord with his whole heart, and not just with his lips, come and follow Jesus!’
Now, we have something presented to us that requires us to make a choice, perhaps a real choice for the first time in our lives. Forget the words we love to use, and let us delve deep into the center of our hearts. Do we care enough about the Lord to follow Him or not? What are the consequences if we do, and what are they if we don’t?
We sometimes claim that we are being attacked by the enemy and we blame the enemy for stealing our focus from God. That is pure rubbish! The enemy cannot steal our focus, but we can decide to change our focus.
Just like the Israelites did, we often find ourselves in the midst of trouble, too. But we must always remember two things: First of all, by ourselves, we have no defense against the attacks of the enemy. And considering how helpless we really are, we must then come to terms that the only place we can find real help is to go to God and let Him battle the enemy on our behalf.
Our mistake is that we think we can handle the trouble by ourselves, without depending fully on God. And that leads many ill-informed Christians to challenge the devil with only their power to do it. This will always end in the devil showing you that you have no power. We are told in no uncertain terms that it is not our duty to battle the devil, but to stand in the shadow of God and let Him engage in that battle.