Make Sure You Count the Cost

“One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, ‘Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple. Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’

Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?…

True to His Word

Joseph’s next steps were planned out. He would get married and move into a new season of life with his wife. Yet, in the process of carrying out his plan, God had a different plan. Mary didn’t seem to be the person whom he had originally known. While Joseph was trying to figure out how to deal with the situation, God showed up in a dream to reveal something that Joseph could not have otherwise known. While Joseph was planning how to get out, God was preparing him to walk through a change in his plans. The angel of the Lord explained the situation to Joseph in a dream. Interestingly, Joseph did what he was instructed to do in the dream. For most of us, we would need additional confirmation, signs, directions, and negotiating. Yet, Joseph followed the Lord without delay. Joseph didn’t sit around and ponder what he had eaten the night before that caused him to have a far-fetched dream. He understood that God could use a variety of means to speak. While God had been silent for hundreds of years leading up to the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, God’s silence was not a sign that He was not doing anything. He was actually setting the stage for the greatest story ever lived, and He was inviting Joseph to be part of the story

Loving Like Jesus

As Jesus spent his final moments with the disciples, he took time to talk to them as friends. Although Jesus would have had the weight of the cross that was before Him on His mind, He shared a few things that the disciples needed to know in His absence. He started with an analogy explaining to them that He was the vine and they were the branches. He would be their source and supply. As they were continually in relationship with Him, Jesus would empower them to do what they couldn’t do on their own. The sequential order of Jesus’ words is noteworthy. Following this analogy, Jesus talked to the disciples about friendship. Jesus called the disciples friends, because He knew the depth of His love for them. He was about to practice what He was preaching as He faced the cross. During this moment, the disciples could not fully understand what Jesus was saying. Yet, they would remember that moment when Jesus demonstrated His love by laying His life down.

When Pressure Gets the Best of Us

Peter was in a high pressure situation. Jesus had just been arrested and was on trial, all while the darkness hovered around Peter. He went to the high priest’s home but did not get close to the crowd in order to avoid association. While he was watching, waiting, and observing, three people pointed their finger at him and associated him with Jesus. Peter was watching Jesus be put on trial, and he was trying to sort out all of these things. What would happen if he associated with Jesus? Would he experience the same treatment? In a split second, Peter denied his association with Jesus. The pressure continued to mount as others tried to point out his identity. And over the span of an hour, Peter did what he said he would never do; the rooster was a reminder of Jesus’ words that told Peter of this event that would come. When Jesus’ eyes connected with Peter, something changed inside of his heart.

The Trap of Subtle Compromise

The Lord’s hand was upon Samson’s life. From the time he was born, the Lord gave his parents specific instructions of how Samson would be used to deliver the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines. While Samson did have several victories over the Philistines, he kept getting closer and closer to them. Samson was to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, not become a Philistine. The Lord continued to show favor on Samson’s life until Samson placed himself in comprising after comprising situation. In Judges 16, Samson is spending time with Delilah, a Philistine woman, who is being used to try to find the secret to his strength. Samson kept leading her astray, until finally he told her the secret to his strength. When the Philistines attacked him again, he assumed that he would have the same victory as before. He assumed that his comprise had nothing to do with God’s presence on his life. He assumed that his strength came from himself instead of God…