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The Cost of
 Discipleship

November 22, 2004

Letter 1:  Cut the Fat

Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Hi John:

I just again want to encourage you that if you are to succeed in Jesus will and plan for your life, you are going to have to cut out the fat in your life.  You must focus on your current goals and remove your fleshy activities in your life.  You must be brutal with yourself in your finances and place all focus and all attention and energy to the goals Jesus has given you.  When you complete these goals Jesus will bless you and provide you with the mate you need to do His work etcetera.  However, if you don't discipline yourself and "lay aside very encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles" you, you will not succeed and you will not win the prize.  You have to cut out the sin, You have to let go of right now your fleshy desires and focus your attention and strength on the goals Jesus has for you to do.  Focus right now on using your free time to do evangelism.  Galatians 5:16 states "Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh."  When you are idle you are focused on your fleshly desires.  When you are focused on evangelism, you are occupied in your free time with that and your flesh does not have opportunity to fulfill it lusts.  You will become whatever you are focused on.  Proverbs 23:7 states "For as he thinks within his soul, so he is."  If You are focused on God's will, you won't be focused on your fleshy desires and as a result you won't have opportunity to fulfill them or have all your money drained to support them.  The problems in your life are the result of what you are focusing your mind on.  God commands us in His word and then Paul promises as a result in Philippians 4:8-9,

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you."

If idle, you will gravitate to the flesh, so you need to fill your free time with what God wants you to do.  Then you won't have time to focus on your fleshly desires or be distracted by them.

Sincerely in Jesus,

Dale P. Kruse
Pastor Evangelist
__________

November 22, 2004

Letter 2:  The Cost of Discipleship

Dear John:

This is a follow up to my letter to you yesterday. You made some comments to me in response about having your old feelings back. Feelings are nice, they come and go, but feelings are not what we are to live or be guided by. feelings come and go, but Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away." Therefore, first, we are to be guided by God's word first. Jesus said in John 8:47 "He who is of God hears the Words of God." Second, we are to walk in the Holy Spirit. Again this is not talking about being guided by what we feel. Feelings are an organ of our human soul, not of our human spirit.  We are walking in the Holy Spirit when we choose to use our lives and time according to Jesus will and plan for our lives.  Note Paulís comments in Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." What are the desires of the flesh? They are what we feel or do not feel like doing. The desires of our flesh are always there.  Paul doesn't say if you walk in the Holy Spirit you will not have the desires of the flesh.  The desires of the flesh are always there tormenting us and tempting us.  Whenever we are doing or not doing based on how we feel, we are being guided and led by our flesh, not by the Holy Spirit. We are being guided by the Holy Spirit when what we do is, first, according to Godís Word, and, second, according to Jesusí revealed will and direction in our lives.

When Jesus told me He wanted me to go to Oral Roberts University and complete my studies in theology there, I then had a choice to make: to do what I needed to, to get there and see it through, or do what I felt like doing. I did npt find that it felt good to get up at 6am and go until 12am, to get up at 3am and go to work at 4am until 8:30am, and then rush to school, doing this every day five days a week. The only time I had to relax was on Friday nights. That was the only time I relaxed and did what I felt like doing for four hours, but of course even then according to God's will, not contrary to His will or His Word. The rest of the week I was choosing to walk in obedience to God and do his will whether I felt like doing it or not. Most the time I was fatigued and tired.

John, I didn't feel my way through my education. Once God revealed His will to me what He wanted me to do, I then had to plan and discipline myself to attain the goal whether it felt good or not. Jesus told the following story in Luke 14:26-33 to illustrate this point and to talk about what is necessary in order to attain and fulfill His will in our lives:

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his-own-soul, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ĎThis man began to build and was not able to finish.í Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."

Jesus said no one can be His disciple, meaning attain the goals He has for them if they are not first willing to let go of the world, their current desires and put all their focus on Jesusí will and desire for them. That is what I had to do to complete the education God wanted me to complete, to develop the Basic and Advanced Evangelism Training Program, I had to set my desire aside, what I felt like doing and force myself to focus on what Jesus needed me to focus on. John, it is nice to feel good, to feel like doing what you need to do. However, if you only do what God wants you to do when you feel like doing it, you will never accomplish the will and purpose Jesus has for you.  Why?   Because what the flesh desires and feels is always contrary to what God wants and desires.  Paul wrote in the Bible,

Romans 8:6-8 "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh with-strong-passion-fights against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

Again, we are in the flesh when we do with our lives what we feel like doing.  How often in your walk with Jesus have you felt like doing His will?  Paul states above that the flesh never did obey God's laws and it never will.  Why? Because the flesh never feels like doing Godís will. That is why serving and walking with Jesus is a choice, a decision of your will, and most of the time totally contrary to your feelings. Love, by the Bible's definition, is not an emotion or a feeling either.  Love defined by the Bible is a choice, a decision we make with our will, often times completely contrary to our feelings. The Bible tells us that the only time we are loving God, loving our brother and sister is not when we feel love toward God or feel love toward our brother and sister, but only when we are choosing to and obeying God.  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:1-2 "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments."

John, the Bible teaches us that being or feeling happy, again an organ of the soul, not our human spirit, is optional.  However, our choosing with our will to do Godís will is not an option. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ĎLord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven."  The Bible teaches in Proverbs 14:13 "Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief."  Once I was sharing the Gospel with a woman on campus from my Salvation Tract What Is Eternal Life?  When I came to page 7 and read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 to her,

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, Nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God,"

She said to me in response,

"Why do you want to make Homosexuals unhappy by reading a passage like that to them?  They are now at a place where they are happy together in their life styles.  Why would you want to make them unhappy?"

I said to her in response,

"Your homosexual friends may be happy, but that will not keep them from going to hell forever when they die if they do not repent of their sin and surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives."

You see Happiness is not a gage of how right or wrong our lives are.  What is God saying to us in Proverbs 14:13 I quoted above?  He is telling us that what we feel or do not feel is not what life is all about.  Life on this earth, this probationary period of our existence, is about whether we are going to allow Jesus to reign over us or not.  We are allowing Jesus to reign over us when we choose with our will, whether we feel like doing it to or not, to obey Jesus and do His will. Feelings are an organ of our fallen soul. They come and go with the wind. This is what I was talking about when I said that I do not live to be happy, I live to do Jesus' will.  Being happy is optional, submitting myself to Jesus and doing His will is not.  Jesus put it this way while a man on earth, He said about Himself as a man on earth in John 4:34 "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish his work." Jesus was telling us in this verse,

"My feelings, what I feel like doing or not doing, are not my food or what motivates me to do or not do what I do with my human life on earth.  What makes me happy is not what motivates Me or determines My choices and direction in this temporary life on earth as a Man.  My food, what I choose to do or not do with my human life on this earth, is to do the will of My Father and to accomplish the work He has called Me to do."

Jesus then, in the light of His own example for us as a man on earth, said to us in John 6:27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son-of-Man shall give to you, for on Him God-the-Father has set His seal." Feelings come and go and will parish.  They will not follow us into Heaven, into eternity.  Only what we choose to do in Jesus' will, will last for ever, will go on into eternity.

ONLY ONE LIFE, IT WILL SOON BE PAST,
ONLY WHAT IS DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST!

What is required in order for us to do Jesusí will and accomplish the work He has called us to? First, Jesus says letting go of our wants and desires, possessions and all current earthly relationships. Just as we must come naked before the cross, depending on no works of ours, in order to receive Jesus' total and complete salvation for us, so to we we must come naked before Him of any wants or desires, of any possessions or relationships with others if we are to receive and succeed in the will, plan and purpose He has for us on this earth.  Anything not of Him, Satan will use to distract us and keep us from accomplishing His will.  This then means we only accept and only have in our lives the possessions and relationships which He chooses to give and assign to us in order to accomplish and fulfill His will for us in this temporary life on earth, nothing else. The Apostle Paul said of those Christians who do not do this in their relationship with Jesus in Philippians 3:18-20,

"For many walk of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

John, this is what my walk with Jesus is all about, it is not about what I need or I want or what I desire, it is about what Jesus wants and desires for my life in order to accomplish His will for me on this earth.  I do not have much.  I need a computer in order to produce Evangelism Training material and the tools God's people need to fulfill His will and purpose for them on earth.  He provides all that and that is all I have, nothing else.

Second, He says we must let go of the relationships of the world we want to hang onto. Why? Because those relationships and friendships we have, they weigh us down, distract us, rob us of our resources and keep us from accomplishing Godís will. That is why Proverbs 18:24 states "A man of many friends comes to ruin." Jesus says we must let go of our relationships of the world and then only accept the relationships He chooses to give us, again for the purpose of accomplishing His will. That is why He has me in your life. This is what Jesus means when He says in Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his-own-soul, he cannot be my disciple." When He says if you donít hate these things, He means that if you choose relationships with others He has not assigned to you in your use of time, His will for Your life will not be able to be accomplished, it will be frustrated and brought to a halt due to the distraction of those non Holy Spirit assigned relationships.  He means in order to love and obey Him, you will have to in some cases sever your ties with those close to you who are not seeking His will and only seek to hinder His will in your life.

John, the only way Jesusí will in your life is going to be accomplished, is not when you feel like doing Godís will, but when you die to your feelings and self, your soul all together; when you die to your desires, your wishes, your wants, the relationships you want and come naked before Jesus and then build your life only on what Jesus assigns and gives to you in order to accomplish His will.

Some times Christians says to me "Jesus just wants you to be happy!" Happiness is optional, Godís will in our lives is not. John, If Jesus will in your life is to be fulfilled then you are going to have to give up pursuing soulish happiness, self, and choose instead with your life and will to do only one thing: what Jesus assigns and commands you to do and then focus on that and on that alone.  Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26,

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his soul shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?í"

Until you come to that place of heart and decision, Godís will in your life will never be accomplished. Why? Because whenever your soul does not feel like doing Godís will, you will not do His will, if you only do Jesus' will when you feel like the Holy Spirit is upon you or you feel like witnessing. My life is not regulated by how I feel, my life is regulated by what I know is Godís revealed will for me, and then my choosing and committing myself to do it, nothing else. I do not live to be happy, I live to do Jesusí will for my life.

Jesus said in John 4:34 "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish his work," nothing else. Facing the cross caused Jesus so much distress and pain that He sweat blood. He said in Luke 22:42 "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me."  Then Luke 22:44 tells us "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."  Jesus did not feel like going to the cross. It was totally contrary to His humanity to the point of sweating blood. However, He then said "Not My will, but Yourís be done."  Against what He felt like doing, He went to the cross and died for our sins. Why? Because He found joy in it? No. He allowed the Father to have His way in His life because of the joy that was set before Him in Heaven. What was that joy? The millions of men and woman who would be saved through His obedience to God. John, there are men and women Jesus wants to use you to bring to saving faith in Him.  He has a work for you to do. However, He cannot bring that about until you first give up your soul, your self, and crucify your flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24) and go to the cross of Jesusí will for you in preparing for that and make the required sacrifices you must make to accomplish it. If you do not you will end up like the man Jesus talked about who did not accomplish his goal. Why? because he did not first count the cost to make sure he had what he needed to accomplish it. Jesus said,

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ĎThis man began to build and was not able to finish.í"

Brother, this is the cost of being Jesus' Disciple.  I wish to see you succeed and fulfill the will and plan Jesus has for you, so please head the words of Jesus to you in this letter.  God bless you!

Sincerely in Jesus,

Dale P. Kruse
Pastor Evangelist

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