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Monday, January 23, 2017

Risky Faith: Faith with a cost! (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“So, likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”-Luke 14:33

Jesus does not mince words when it comes to the cost of true discipleship; following Him will cost you everything! Salvation is a gift from God, one that cost Him everything, but costs us nothing. However, following Jesus comes at a premium. This is precisely what Jesus told the disciples in Luke 18:26-30:

“And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Nevertheless, how can we be sure that if we give up so much that we will gain eternal blessings? That’s what makes faith so risky. It forces us to answer the question: Is the benefit going to be greater than the sacrifice? That is the essence of risk.

Risk means to expose (someone or something of value) to danger, harm, or loss in anticipation of a greater return. Serving God is risky because it can cost us relationships, comfort, finances, lifestyle, and even our own lives. It costs more than a couple hours of your time, once a week, to attend church. It is more than sacrificing a couple bucks in the offering plate. Thats’ not risk. 

Risk is believing without seeing. It is stepping out into the unknown. Risk is going without knowing the final destination. It is about sacrificing what I have to pursue what God has ahead for me. Jack Hyles once said:

“Faith is the willingness to risk anything for God.”

Christians around the world are being martyred for their faith in Christ while we get upset when someone is sitting in our seat at church. Compared to Christianity around the world our version is safe and comfortable. In fact, many churches have worked very hard eliminate any mention of risk from the messages that they preach; worried that preaching the cost of following Jesus will ultimately cost them members. 

This is a gross injustice. Someday, when we are no longer protected by our religious freedoms; many will not have the fortitude to stand in the face of persecution because they were not taught that there is a cost to following Christ. 

Following God isn’t safe! It is risky! There is a cost to following Jesus. Have you counted it? The reality is that we would have a lot less backslidden believers today, if more people would have count the cost of following Jesus before they started. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, January 16, 2017

Risky Faith: Faith with a cost! (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”-Luke 14:25-27

Throughout the New Testament there are passages of scripture that I consider to be thinning passages. Bold statements made by Jesus designed to flesh out, uncover, and distinguish those who were serious about following Him. This, to me, is one of those passages. Jesus is being followed by a great multitude of people, when suddenly He stops, turns to them, and declares that if anyone does not hate their father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife and children; even their own lives they could not be His disciple!

A statement like that is designed to make people stop and think. Did Jesus mean what He said? Yes! Does it mean we have to hate all these people? No, but it should challenge you to consider if any of these relationships holds a greater place in your heart and life than He does! Although Jesus will go on to explain this extravagant statement in the passages following; it surely gave people pause to consider their own realistic level of commitment.

Recently I read a report given by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity that stated in 2016 there were 90,000 Christians murdered for their faith around the world. The CSGC additionally reported the number of Christians martyred in the last decade reached 900,000, which amounts to one being killed every six minutes. The CSGC defines a martyr as anyone who lost their life prematurely as a result of human hostility, while they were upholding Christianity. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world.

It is hard for us here in our western culture to fathom such a thing. Because of the religious freedoms we enjoy we have the luxury of gathering for worship each week without fear of being bombed, gunned down, or burned out. We do not live with the daily threat of having our houses and property destroyed because of our faith in Jesus. However, this has caused us to become very lackadaisical in our approach to holiness, witnessing, and disciple-making. Compared to Christianity around the world our version is safe and comfortable, which I fear is producing a church that is void of the power of God.

Part of the problem is that the message we are proclaiming is devoid of any mention of the cost. There is a  cost associated with following Jesus. Jesus spoke a lot about the cost of following Him. In Luke 14: 28-30 Jesus stated:

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”-Luke 14:28-30

Jesus’ parable describes a man who sets out to build a tower, but does not calculate how much it will cost to build it. He is able to start, but is not able to finish. How many people do we know like that; who start off with every intention of following Jesus, but ultimately do not finish because the price to follow became too great?

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Unfinished Business (Pt. 2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”-John 21:15

After the group finished breakfast, Jesus turned His attention to Peter. It became, painfully obvious, very quickly, that Jesus’ visit to them (this third time) was because Jesus and Peter had some unfinished business.

It had not been that many days ago, that Peter, who once declared his unwavering allegiance to Christ; scurried off into the night heartbroken after denying Jesus three times. Upon finding him back at his old trade, Jesus begins to question Peter’s love for Him.

Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” The first time Jesus poses the question He uses the Greek word agape. This term for love means unconditional devotion. However, when Peter responds he uses the Greek word phileo which is more of a brotherly love. It is interesting that Peter is much more reserved in his proclamation of devotion to Christ.

The second time Jesus asks Peter the question, Jesus again uses the word agape; to which Peter once again responds with the word phileo. Finally, Jesus asks Peter one more time if he loves Him. This time Jesus uses the word phileo, to which Peter responds, “Lord you know all things, you know that I love you.” The scriptures tell us that when Jesus asked the third time that Peter was grieved:

“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you  love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love me?”-John 21:17

Peter understood the significance of the question being asked three times. It was a plain reminder of the previous three-times he had denied Jesus.

Have you ever mad a mistake you just can’t seem to put behind you? A grand mistake that has caused you so much shame that you believe God cannot bear to love you again. Peter made a lot of mistakes! On more than one occasion he was caught arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom, he was among those who fussed at Mary when she broke the alabaster jar on Jesus’s feet, he even cut off a man’s ear! However, it was when Peter denied Jesus three times; that he began to question his own worth, love, and loyalty to Christ.

I can only imagine how Peter felt after being asked repeatedly by Jesus if he loved Him. He had to remember the immense shame he felt after he had denied Jesus publicly. Because of this, Jesus used this public occasion to restore Peter; to declare to him in front of everyone that God wasn’t done with him yet! Three times He told Peter, if you love me then feed my sheep. Jesus was challenging Peter to focus his eyes on the work ahead an not on his past failures.

Jesus even went as far as to share with Peter the cost of accepting that mission. It would ultimately mean his own crucifixion (John 21:18-19).

In this dramatic moment, Jesus posed these last words to Peter; “Follow Me.” Years before He called Peter to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-19), now Peter knew that continuing to follow Jesus would mean a certain death. Peter was once again challenged to follow his Lord!

Perhaps you have made one of those grand mistakes; a mistake that has caused you so much shame that you believe God cannot bear to love you again. Can I tell you that God can restore you! Perhaps you feel as though God has forgiven you, but He can never use you again because of what you did! Can I tell you that God is calling out to you to feed His sheep! Perhaps He called you once to follow Him and you did, but somewhere along the way you got off track, can I tell you that Jesus is calling out to you today to once again follow Him!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Unfinished Business (Pt. 1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“ After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately[a] got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.’-John 21:1-3

“After these things” is a curious phrase, because it demands that you remember what happened just prior to this in order to appreciate what you are about to read next. Let’s face it, some pretty amazing things had happened prior to this. Jesus was arrested, beaten, crucified, buried, rose again, and then appeared to his disciples on two different occasions. The first time He appeared to them was to confirm His resurrection. The second was specifically for Thomas. Now He is about to show Himself again. The question is why?

We know from Matthew 28:10 that Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples to go to Galilee and there they would see Him. It appears, however, as they waited they grew a little impatient and Peter decides to go fishing. He is accompanied by six other disciples; several of which were fishermen by trade, yet they did not catch a single fish all night. 

When morning came, Jesus stood on the shore and called to them John 21:4-6:

“But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”

The Apostle John recognized that it was the Lord and when Peter heard this, he bailed out of the boat and swam to shore (John 21:7-11). When he arrived on shore, Jesus had a fire going and breakfast ready, but why was He here?

Because this is where it all began:

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”-Matthew 4:18-20

It was here that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him. As they finished eating their breakfast, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and asked him a very deliberate question:

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”-John 21:15

The passage is a little vague about whom or what Jesus is referring. Was He referring to the fish and the fisherman’s lifestyle that Peter once worked. Fishing was his comfort zone. Jesus had called Peter to follow Him and taught him how to be a fisher of men; now, however, Peter found himself once again back in a boat, back to his old trade. 

Or was Jesus speaking about the other disciples? Let’s face it Peter made some pretty bold statements concerning his devotion compared to the others: 

“Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”-Matthew 26:33

Whichever the case may be, it became clear, very quickly, that Jesus’ visit to them (this third time) was because Jesus and Peter had some unfinished business. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church