Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Luke 14:25-33

Scripture for this Sunday: Luke 14:25-33

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

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Who among us has not crammed at one time or another: cleaning the house before company arrives, studying for exams the night before, packing for vacation 20 minutes before it’s time to leave for the airport, ironing a pair slacks as our spouse says, “vámonos, we are going to be late,” working on a report that was due yesterday…

I remember especially vividly when I was cramming for the spelling bee the night before.

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Dentalcram – vigorous brushing of one’s teeth prior to a visit to their dentist.

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In today’s Gospel reading we heard Jesus say, “…whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

A picture is worth a thousand words and to illustrate that sentence, “…whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple,” I would like to show you some images.

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In today’s Gospel reading we learned that Jesus preached a sermon, and the gist, the essence of that sermon was “Be prepared! Think things through! If you do something, think of the consequences…” The sermon that Jesus preached that day was about overextending ourselves.

There are some words and phrases that we use in our daily conversations that sound so familiar, so intuitive, and so right. More often than not, that familiarity robs otherwise meaningful statements of their initial intent, and makes them into platitudes. The language of cross-bearing is one of those phrases.

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The sermon that Jesus preached that day, the sermon that became today’s Gospel reading, was preached not to his disciples or those that had already made a commitment to follow Jesus. In verse 25 we hear, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said…”

The sermon that introduces the concept of bearing one’s cross was originally preached to those who were curious, those who came to hear Jesus the way we would go to a concert or an appearance by a celebrity.

Jesus was warning the curious to make sure that they understood the consequences of following him before they made a commitment. Being Jesus’ follower is about being adaptable, flexible and patient with the changing time, and Jesus knew that times were about to drastically change with his crucifixion. The language of cross-bearing is about building a personal relationship with Jesus. It is about learning to think differently with every new stage of life, in response to the way that God interacts with us differently at each of those stages.

The language of cross-bearing and the illustrations that Jesus used have nothing to do with chronic illnesses, painful chronic conditions, trying family relationships or stoic perseverance facing unsurmountable odds. It does have a lot to do with how we live our lives.

I wish I could say that our lives will be a bed of roses and everything will go exactly the way we want it to. But that would be a lie. We can count on frustrations being a part of our lives because we live in a fallen world.

Frustrations do not have to be of epic proportions: every morning someone burns their toast, somebody else loses a sock, and someone spills a huge mug of coffee on their brand new carpet. Our cross-bearing is in the way we deal with those frustrations, because in learning to deal with little things, we learn to rely on God in all things – big or small.

And when we invest ourselves, our time, our efforts and our energy in building a relationship with Jesus, when we are truly following Jesus, all things are possible.

(Illustration: Possible does not equal Easy).

And that is what the sermon that Jesus preached that day long ago was about.

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Ann Landers paraphrased this quote from Jesus the best when she said, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Just like our parents help us to become great human beings with an unlimited potential, God is working in us teaching us to be the best version of what we were created to be. Cross-bearing has a lot to do with that.

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Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What did you learn from Jesus last week?

  • What is God teaching you in this period of your life?

  • What kind of questions are you asking God? What are you hoping to learn?

One of the ways to bear the cross of Jesus is to be excited for what God is doing in the world around us and to be a tool in God’s hands. Who did you help to build up? Who did you encourage? When people spend time with you, how does it leave them feel? Are you on fire for Jesus?

I want to leave you with this short poem (it is also printed in the front of the bulletin):

If my heart is not on fire,
And your heart is not on fire,
If we are not filled with the Spirit,
Who will then disperse the dark?

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Celebrating the Sacrament of the Holy Communion

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