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When the Going Gets Tough

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When the Going Gets Tough                                                           January 4, 2009

Luke 9:18-27                                                                                

Pastor Chet Klope

Introduction: Back To Reality


After the Joy of Christmas

          Family gatherings

          Christmas Eve Services

          Presents & Food

                    Extended Family- The next week

          New Years Eve

Back to Reality

          Vacation is over

          Kids-  Back to school tomorrow

          Despite the mini-rally on Wall Street on Friday

                    With stocks climbing above 9,000

                    The hope placed in new presidential leadership

                    Lower oil prices

          Despite all the pleasant distraction of the past few weeks

                    WE STILL KNOW…that we are back in tough times

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

    Joseph P. Kennedy

Certainly…As we enter a New Year

          It would be our desire to seek after and follow Christ

          This year may be a year of more significant challenges

                    Than we have typically experienced

          I am not one to be a gloom and doomer…but…

                    There seem to be more reasons for that attitude

                              Then perhaps we have had in recent years

Let’s Pray… Lord Guide us into all truth today as we open your word

          We do not want our minds and actions controlled by what we see

                    But by what you see.

          Open our minds and hearts today to be responsive to what you will reveal

                    And let us be obedient to that truth.

          Guide my mind and mouth as I speak this morning

Following Christ

I invite you to turn in your Bibles to

Luke 9: 23-27 (pew rack page #  1112)


Background- “Who do the crowds say I am?

Perhaps a little background on this passage would be helpful

          Directly before the passage we will be looking at today

                    Jesus begins to reveal something very significant about Himself

          In response to “Who do the crowds say I am?”

                    Peter declares…You are the Christ of God

Jesus confirmation of this would seem to be exciting news

          News worth telling…

          But instead Jesus asks them to keep it to themselves

And it that is not enough

          Jesus goes on to describe to them

                    The seemingly terrible fate that lies before Him

                              He will suffer



                                        And then be resurrected from the dead

                                                  On the third day

  • \\ This is a familiar passage to those of us who have read our Bibles*

          The gospel of Matthew and Mark also include this account

And directly after it Jesus begins to share with His disciples

          What the implications of this fate will be for them

READ TEXT- Luke 9:23-28

Beginning in Verse 23 he describes to his disciples

          What is involved in their…


1. Choosing To Come After Him

It is fairly easy to pick out the three verbs…or actions words

          That are mentioned in this verse


          Take up


Jesus calls those who would come after Him

          Those that would have a sense of calling to do the things he has done

                    Those who would want to enter into Kingdom ministry

                              To do these three things

It is interesting to note that the Greek text shows all three things

          Deny, Take up and Follow

                    Are imperatives or commands that Jesus is making


          Basically…IF you want to know what it takes

to come after or pursue Christ

                                        These are the things he is telling you to do.

Let’s take a closer look at these three actions

Deny Himself

The concept of self-denial is a conscious action.

Illustration- FOOD @ Christmas

If your house is anything like mine

          You probably had the opportunity to practice this

over the past couple of weeks


          The candy dishes, the snacks and appetitizers

                    The special drinks and desserts


          They all scream out...take me…eat me…enjoy me

                    But I am sure that none of us over did any of that.


The truth is…That except for the likes of Michael Phelps

          In the middle of his 10 miles of swimming each day

                    All of us end up having to deny ourselves something

                              When we are eating.


This is probably especially true for people who are diabetic

          So much of the food that is part of most of our diets

                    Can be very troublesome for a person with diabetes

For a variety for reasons

          A person with diabetes has difficulty processing sugars in their bodies

Left untreated, the disease has both short and long term implications

I diabetic who is diligent in the care of their disease knows that

Denying themselves the temporary pleasure

that certain foods can bring

                              Can result in the long term reward of better health


That may not be a perfect analogy

          But in essence…Christ’s call to Deny Ourselves

                    Is built upon the same truth

                              Put aside short term things

                                        For long term gain

If we want to come after Christ

          We have to be willing to put aside what might seem like

                    Something good for ourselves

          In order to receive that which is Good for Christ and His Kingdom

We are told also that someone who will seek after Christ should

Take Up His Cross

In Biblical times, there were likely few more powerful images

than the image of the Cross

It was the instrument of death to those

who were being set out of culture


          It was the sign of complete and ultimate rejection

                    The cross meant no longer being a part of a society

                              It meant being completely separated from other human beings

Those sentenced to death…were made to carry the cross beam of their cross

          Upon their shoulders to the place where they would die

When Christ commands us to “Take Up Our Cross”

          It is a command to be separated from the world


          It is an understanding that the world may even want to kill us

          For not being like they are.

This is a serious commitment.

Now the reality for most of us is that it will not likely come to that…

          While there have been times in history where

                    Christians have been martyred for their faith in Christ

                              I don’t see that as being a tremendous threat here in NJ

But still…We are commanded to walk through life

          In way that we are specifically marked as Christ’s disciples

Thirdly, Jesus says that we should

Follow Him

While the commands to Deny Ourselves and Take Up Our Crosses

          Were written a verbal tense that is relatively undefined

                    So that it is unclear if the action

has taken place or is already completed

This final command to Follow is written with the sense of an on going process

When you are following something, you either are or you are not.

          Example:  Following a car.

                    At the point a the car you are following turns right

                              And you continue straight

                                        You are no longer following

                    You are following…only so long as you are actually…following    


This is the sense of the on going process

of following that Jesus is speaking of.

For those of us who have come to faith in Christ

          Who have heard the Gospel…Good News message

                    And responded to it

          It is not enough to sit back and wait for our death

                    And entrance into heaven

Christ’s command is to continually follow him.

These three commands…

          Deny, Take Up and Follow

                    All involve a decision to do them

                              They involve our choosing to Deny Ourselves

                                        Choosing to Take Up Our Cross

                                                  Continuously Choosing to Follow Christ

This is not merely an intellectual assent to truth

          Following Christ is not merely a question of what you believe

                    Or what you call truth

          It is about what you do with that truth

We see in the Gospel accounts the reality of this pattern


The gospels record that at times

          Larger crowds of people hung on every word Christ spoke

                    But was that sufficient?

Ulitmately we see that the numbers of people that followed after Christ

          Were greatly reduced

                    72 disciples mentioned…then…

                    12…and then…11

The disapparity in these numbers comes from the reality

          That…there is more to seeking or coming after Christ

                    Than simply hearing His words and thinking

                              They are comforting or inspirational or even divine

Christ’s words and ministry were meant to motivate us towards

          Self-denial so that His Kingdom’s purposes

Would grow to become more important to us

Than our own desires, plans and personal motivations

That words and ministry of Christ would encourage us

To be Identified with Christ and His Cross

To the point of having our very life despised

          Like that of Christ’s


Christ’s words and ministry were meant to motivate us to     

A life constantly following Him

                    To be focused upon Him

To seek to walk on the same track as he is.

It could be said that this concept of coming after or seeking Christ

          Involves choices we make

It is very tempting sometimes as we walk through life

          To have our decision processes driven by what is

                    Expedient or Easy

                              The things that seem to naturally make sense

Jesus understood that…

          And in verse 24-25 he encourages

his disciples and us to…make sure we are…

2. Choosing Wisely (v 24-25)

Luke 9:24

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

I would think that one of our strongest instincts as human beings

          Has got to be self preservation

                    That is the protection of one’s own life

We understand that whenever we are in a dire circumstance

          Our gut reaction is a Fight of Flight response

                    It is ingrained in us…we can almost not control it.

The concept of “Looking out for number 1”

          Is unavoidable

I have heard the expression numerous times:

          “The Lord helpth those who helpth themselves”

Yet this verse seems to say the exact opposite.

          It says…When it comes to life…there is a choice

                    Choose Wisely

Through out life we are tempted to make poor choices

          There is no getting around it.

Luke 9:25
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Jesus can make this statement…because he has lived this statement

Luke 4 describes that Jesus himself was tempted

by the Devil in the wilderness

                    He was led to a high place and promised

                              Authority and ownership of everything in the world

                    But, Jesus did not accept that offer…

                              He knew the choice to accept that would ultimately

                                        Lead to a demise of his very purpose and identity

Every one of us faces times of trial and temptation

          When gaining something in this world seems

So smart…So good…so right

Jesus says “Choose Wisely”

3. Our Choosing Revealed

Buyers Remorse

          Probably most of us have experienced this

                    The sinking feeling that you made a poor choice

          Omi- quick decisions…but content

Luke 9:26

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.


At the end of time…our choices will be revealed

          Good or bad…each of us can count on this truth

                    All will be revealed

Clearly the most important of the decision

that a person will have come to grips with is…

          What have I done with the very words of Jesus Christ?

Have I been ashamed of Christ and His words?

          Or have I been

a sincere and diligent follower of Christ and His words?




Luke 9:27
I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Mount of Transfiguration

Taking It Home

Standing here just a few days into this new year

          We know that much is ahead of us

I believe it is easy to conceive that there will potentially be

          Numerous challenges to our character

                    Many difficult choices we may face

                              Both individually…and collectively as a congregation

Fear…or at least concern seem to be very present in our society

          Economic, social, political

I believe it is completely appropriate to be asking

          “Lord…in the midst of all of this…what would you have me do?”

I believe we both individually and as a congregation

          Have the opportunity to be an example to the World

in these challenging days

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Deny Ourselves

          Our self center attitudes need to be transformed

          Our concern over our own comfort…rather than the things God desires

Hebrews 12:3

“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will now grow weary and lose heart.”

Take Up Our Cross

          Specifically identifying ourselves with Christ

          The public presence of Christ in us.


Colossians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make know among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Follow Christ

          Tom Tom

                    You are only following when you are following

Next Week:  Fear

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