Our Greatest Single Difficulty in Following God
Title: OUR GREATEST SINGLE DIFFICULTY IN FOLLOWING GOD
Text: 1 Ki. 19: 15-21; Lk. 18:18-27
Before I proceed with this message, I want to remind you of what Jesus said in Luke 14:33. “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
The last message I left with you was that assignments from God are God-sized. If God ever gave someone an assignment that they could handle, they didn’t get recorded in the Bible. God-sized assignments cause a belief crisis that will require a real faith in order to complete them.
Well this morning I want to issue another wake-up call. And that is that when God gives us a God-sized assignment, it’s going to require major adjustments if we are going to join His work. Once the adjustments are made, God can accomplish His work through those He calls.
Once God reveals what He is about to do, that revelation is an invitation to adjust your life to Him. Once you adjust your life to Him, you are prepared for obedience. You cannot stay like you are and go with God at the same time. That’s true everywhere in Scripture.
· Noah’s life dramatically changed when God revealed He wanted him to build the ark.
· Abraham had to move to a foreign, unknown land to go with the work of God.
· Moses had to leave the comfortable life of shepherding to be a deliverer.
· Jonah had to leave his home to deliver God’s message of judgment.
· Matthew, Peter, James, John and Andrew left their businesses in order to follow Jesus.
· Paul had to completely turn his life around in order to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
Folks, when you get on board with Jesus, everything has to be yielded to God and your life adjusted to Him. God even required adjustments for His Son when it was time to do His will. 2 Cor. 8:9 If you want to follow Jesus, you have no choice. If you are unwilling to obey what God wants to do through you, you will be of little use to God! Our tendency is to skip the adjustment and go straight to the hall of fame of those who were greatly used of God! But God told Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55:9)
Thesis: I am calling you to make the necessary adjustments in your life in order to follow God.
Let’s look at two men who were given invitations to join God, what adjustments were required, and what was their response.
I. KINDS OF ADJUSTMENTS
A. Our first example is Elisha. 1 Kings 19:15-21
1. After Elijah’s victorious contest with the false prophets on Mt. Carmel, Elijah is threatened by Jezebel. He runs away and hides in a cave. He thinks he’s the only one left, so he asks God, “What’s next?”
2. God tells him to appoint his successor, Elisha. (Finds him plowing, 12 pair of oxen, he w/the twelfth, mantle)
3. What was Elisha’s adjustment to God’s call to join God’s work? He left his family & career. You’ve heard of burning bridges behind you…well, Elisha burned his farm equipment and killed his 23 oxen.
4. He was not about to turn back! He made the necessary adjustments, and now he was in a position to obey God! As a result, some of the greatest miracles recorded in the O.T. were performed through Elisha!
5. It wasn’t until Elisha made the adjustments that God was able to work through him!
Let’s look at another example and then draw the conclusions.
B. Luke 18:18-23 This influential rich man didn’t want to make the necessary adjustment to follow Jesus. His money was more important to him.
1. The interesting thing here is that Jesus knew that. So he asked him to put away the thing that had become his god.
2. Because he refused to make the needed adjustment, he missed out on experiencing eternal life.
C. Application: When God invites you to join Him in a God-sized assignment, you will have a crisis of belief, and your response will require FAITH. Faith is demonstrated by ACTION. The first action is making the needed adjustments; the second action is your obedience to what God asks you to do.
Folks, you can’t be obedient without fist making the adjustments! The order is: faith - adjustments - obedience! Adjustments prepare us for obedience. But one thing is for sure, I cannot stay where I am and go with God! Therefore, our greatest single difficulty if following God is at the point of adjustment!
D. Let me suggest some areas that may need adjustment:
1. In your circumstances: job, home, finances
2. In your relationships: family, friends, business associates
3. In your thinking: prejudices, methods, your potential
4. In your commitments: to family, church, job, plans, tradition
5. In your actions: prayer, giving, service
6. In your beliefs: about God, His will, your relationship with Him
E. Just as we saw with the rich ruler, God requires adjustments…and that can be costly.
II. OBEDIENCE IS COSTLY
A. You may have heard, “Don’t ever tell God something you will NOT do. That is what He will ask you to do.” Folks, God isn’t some mean boss who looks for ways to make you squirm! He does, however, want to be Lord of your life!
B. Whenever He finds a place where you refuse His lordship, that is where He will go to work. He wants your absolute surrender!
C. I’ve got a question for you. You may think it’s stupid, but I know how stubborn some people can be. “Who do you think is going to win the surrender game? Do you really think you can outlast God with your stubbornness?” I’ve been there folks, and it really is best to let Him be Lord of ALL!
D. Because God loves you, His will is always best for you.
E. As you follow Jesus, the time may come that your life and future may depend on your adjusting quickly to God’s directions. And when you make the necessary adjustments and then obey what He tells you, you will experience Him doing through you something only God can do!
F. Jim Elliot (missionary in South America): “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!” Bob Pierce (started World Vision): “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” C.T. Studd (missionary to China, India, Africa): If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice is too great for me to give for Him.”
Folks, let me draw this to a point of decision time. You cannot continue doing things your way and accomplish God’s work the way He wants it. Your thinking cannot come close to God’s thoughts! For you to DO the will of God, you must adjust your life to Him and His ways!
Obedience is costly to you and those around you. But you must decide today to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. To be obedient to die on a cross requires you to be totally dependent on God to work through you…just like Abraham had to put his trust in God when he was told to sacrifice Isaac!
Beloved, when God sees you make the adjustments and walk in obedience, that’s when there’s a miracle waiting in the bushes!!
Some of you are in stage one - you’re in the midst of your crisis and wondering if the cost is to great. I urge you, by faith, hang on…make the adjustments…obey Him…because God wants to do miraculous things through those who are willing to pay the price of obedience!
Let me give you one last quote that may inspire your commitment to pay the cost of following Christ. David Livingston: “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any tie EXCEPT the tie that binds me to You!” (PRAY)