Mark 8:31-38
Are You Getting It?

Jesus is teaching His disciples about His death.  We all understand that this was
not what they wanted to hear, especially as Jesus gets into some of the specifics.
I imagine that the Scripture only giving a summary of what Jesus actually stated.
    1. He indicates where they are headed - to Jerusalem.
    2. He tells them what will happen - He will be arrested and suffer.
    3. He tells them who will do it - the elders, chief priests, and scribes.
    4. He tells them His end - He will die.
    5. And He tells them of His glory - He will rise again on the third day.

Chances are good that they did not hear the part about the resurrection.  It seems
they never did here that part.  But they heard well of His arrest, suffering, and
death.

Peter is the one to so something.  He takes what Jesus is saying as a problem that
needs to be fixed.  It wasn't.  It was the eternal plan of God to redeem mankind!
So Peter takes Jesus apart and rebukes Him.  Thatís something.  A finite human man 
setting God straight!  Yeah, buddy, letís see how that is going to work out for 
you!

Notice what Jesus tells Peter \\#Mark 8:33\\, "Öthou savourest not the things
of GodÖ."  Thatís Bible talk for saying, "You donít get it."  Peter just wasnít
understanding the plan of God.  None of the disciples did.  They did not
comprehend that God had come in the flesh to die for the sins of man.  They were
looking for a King and a kingdom and nothing else was showing up on their radar.

You and I understand (I pray) that part of Godís planóthe death and resurrection
part.  But do we get the rest of the plan?  When Jesus left, He left us in charge
of getting the word out.  We are His disciples.  As disciples, we carry on Godís
work on earth.  We, and we only, are Godís spokes people, His witnesses, those He
is counting on to do His work.

We can say we get it (and many Christians do); but if we really get it, it will
show up in our lives.  That is what Jesus goes on to describe.  Mark will actually
go on to describe in great detail what a disciple is like for the next several
chapters.  So we have one question that leads to a second.
    1. Do you get that part of Godís plan where we go out and do the work of
        spreading the Good News?
    2. Has it affected your life?

If the answer to the second question is NO, then the answer to the first question
is also NO.

Letís see a few of the first conditions will exist in our lives if we really get
it.

    I. \\#34\\ We will be denying ourselves.
        A. One of the first step to serving God and true discipleship is to deny
            ourselves.
            1. This is a different concept that the one most follow.
                a. I have worked a lot of different kinds of jobs.
                b. On several occasions, I have tried sales.
                c. The motivation in sales is self.
                d. That is actually the motivation to most every job we work.
                e. In that way of speaking, we are all "self-employed."
                f. The more you sell, the more you make.
                g. I am not saying that is a wicked motivation.  Iím just saying
                    that when you move from the work force to the Christian force,
                    things change.
            2. In Godís work force, the motivation is not us.  Itís Him.
            3. We are working to serve Him and to serve Him we must deny
                ourselves.
        B. To use the words, "deny self," sounds pretty easy; but the practice of
            it is very hard.
            1. Most of us are not good at telling ourselves, "No."
                a. Give yourself a little self-denial test.
                b. Do you exercise like you say you will?
                c. Do you eat like you know you should?
                d. Are you the weight that you want to be?
            2. A good part of denying yourself is disciplining yourself.
                a. The word DISCIPLE comes from the word DISCIPLINE.
                b. To DISCIPLINE means to control yourself.
            3. In the everyday practical world, if we are to be disciples of
                Jesus, we must control ourselves.
                a. We should pray daily about everything.
                b. We should memorize and study the Bible.
                c. We should worship our God every day.
                d. We should bring ourselves into obedience of the Bible.
                    (1) We should be in control of our emotions and not have them
                         controlling us.
                    (2) We should not be bound by lusts.
                    (3) We should not be filled with greed.
            4. And on the list of disciplines goes.
                a. Someone says, "But I am too busy."  "I work a lot."  "I just
                    donít have time."
                b. You are not getting it!
                c. Putting Jesus ahead of your schedule is what denying yourself
                    is all about.
                d. If you donít do that, you are not His disciple and you are
                    not getting Godís work done!
                e. Remember, this is just phase one!
        C. However, at some point, those want to be disciples have to move from
            simply denying self to dying to self.  That will take us into the
            next quality of discipleship.

   II. We will be dying to self.
        A. Jesus mentions taking up a cross and following Him.
            1. They both go together.
                a. You cannot follow Jesus without a cross.
                b. The trail is simply too hard.
                c. Both of these notions speaks of our devotion to Jesus.
                d. This kind of devotion to Jesus is far beyond the stage of
                    simply denying oneself.
            2. You say going to church, praying, reading your Bible, tithing,
                controlling your lusts, your angers, and doing things like loving
                your neighbor are just the easy, first-stage, denials of self?
                a. Yes.
                b. You ask, "What could be harder than that?"
        B. What are the dying to self tasks?
            1. Those would be things like:
                a. Quitting your job and serving Christ with little or even no
                    guarantee of income.
                b. Leaving the city and neighborhood you grew up in.
                c. Leaving your mother, father, maybe some of your grown children
                    to serve Jesus.
                d. Having to uproot your younger children from everyone and every-
                    thing they have known.
                e. Having to learn a new culture or language so that you can do
                    what Christ would have you to do.
                f. Living in a substandard environment.
                    (1) Maybe living in a place with no doctor or medicine.
                    (2) Maybe living in a place with wild and dangerous animals
                         just outside your door.
                    (3) Maybe living in a place where the political winds can
                         change over night and, if it does, you whole ministry
                         might be confiscated and your very life be in danger.
                g. Working every day for the remainder of your life in the most
                    difficult situations, living mostly off the things that other
                    people donít want, and seeing little in the way of results.
                h. Putting yourself and your family last in all things.
                i. Being beaten for speaking about Jesus.
                j. Having your money and property taken for being a Christian.
                k. Watching as your family is beaten, molested, and killed for
                    being a Christian.
                l. Dying for Jesus.
            2. Remember that we are talking about following Jesus here!
                a. Most Christians do not get this.  We are following JESUS and
                    His life.
                b. This will not be a walk of leisure.
                c. Jesus modeled for us a life of sacrifices, daily discomfort,
                    hardships, and pain that we cannot we cannot comprehend.
                d. Do we think that all Jesus did was to die for us?
                    (1) What about those other thirty-three years?
                    (2) Do we forget His humble birth?
                         Do we forget the poverty of the time period He lived in?
                         Do we forget the oppressive society?
                         Do we forget the sins of mankind that surrounded Him?
                e. This was the live to which Jesus was born and gave Himself
                    wholly to!
        C. Jesus only had to die on the cross once, but He died daily to Himself.
            1. I do not mean to diminish Jesusí death on the cross.  Rather I mean
                to exalt His dying to self everyday.
            2. If you think you have to die to self to live the kind of life
                that Jesus lived, think how much more Jesusí had to die to
                self to live the life He lived.
            3. This is the One who had the power to remove every personal obstacle,
                 fix every personal problem,
                 end every personal aggravation, and
                 right every personal wrong.
            4. Satan picked up on this challenge at the very beginning.
                a. Jesus fasted forty days and the Bible says that He was hungry.
                b. Jesus appeared before Him and tempted Him, "Turn these stone
                    into bread."
                c. What was the temptation?
                    (1) It was, "DO FOR YOURSELF."
                    (2)  "Youíre hungry, but You donít have to be.
                          Use Your power to fix this.
                          Donít put Yourself out.
                          Do what you can do for Yourself."
                    (3) What was Jesusí answer?
                         (a) "Man shall not live by bread alone."
                         (b) Jesus was saying that there are more important things
                              than taking care of My body."
            5. Have you ever noticed that of all the miracles that Jesus performed,
                He didnít do any for Himself?
                a. The closest Jesus ever came to doing something for Himself was
                    to tell Peter to take the coin he found in the fishís mouth and
                    pay both of their taxes.
                b. God in flesh with unlimited power and He never found occasion to
                    do anything for Himself?
                c. Why?  He was dead to self.
                d. Fulfilling selfís desires was last.
        D. He not only died on the cross and died daily but He has commanded us to
            follow Him. To do so, we must carry our cross and die daily as well.
            1. You say, "God has not called upon me to make those kinds of
                sacrifices."
            2. If that is so, is it because He knows that we would not?
                a. Is it because we are not even to the place where we will deny
                    ourselves?
                b. Does God not ask because He already knows our answer.
            3. Then again, what makes us so certain He hasnít called us?
                a. Is the text that we are reading not scripted to all of His
                    followers?
                b. Did you hear the voice of God tell you not to go to the
                    mission field?
                c. Did God give you an exemption to witness and pass out tracts?
                d. Did God tell you that you HAD to keep 90% of your income for
                    self?
            4. I wonder how many of us ever really asked God what He wanted us to
                do?
                a. Even if you did, how many years ago was it?  What were you?
                    ten?  fourteen?  eighteen?
                b. Why not ask now that we are grown and more experienced in the
                    Word?
                c. Are we afraid of what God might tell us?
            5. The truth is most Christians never gave God a chance to call them.
                They donít God what they were going to do and dared God to tell
                them otherwise.
            6. Most Christians just donít get it.
        E. \\#35\\ The self denying and self dying life is what Jesus calls living.
            1. According to Jesus, living any other kind of life is wasting your
                life.
            2. I am not saying you have to be a missionary or a preacher.
            3. I am saying that all are called to serve with all of their might.
            4. If we missed that, we arenít getting it.

  III. \\#38\\ We will be emboldened for Jesus.
        A. Those who get it are not bashful about Jesus.  Why should they be?
            1. There is nothing that the world can do to them.
                a. They have given up everything that they are or wanted, even
                    to the place where they would lay down their lives if called
                    upon to do so.
                b. If those things are settled, what can the world do to you to
                    stop you?
                    (1) Laugh at you?
                    (2) Threaten you?
                    (3) Fire you?
            2. Are you going to feel bad if someone misunderstands what you do?
                a. No one likes to offend someone else.
                b. A disciple who gets it understands that he is the only line
                    of defense standing between souls and hell.
                c. However, every person that you MUST offend to talk to them
                    about Jesus today, will be grateful in eternity.
                    (1) Notice that I said, "MUST offend."
                    (2) If you being rude and offensive on your own, you are
                         doing damage to the cause of Christ.  It is not doing
                         damage to you.
                    (3) However, if you, in love, attempt to tell someone else
                         of Jesus, and they get offended, they will be well over
                         it when their eternity startsówhether they got saved
                         or not.
                d. The disciple understands that the greatest insult is not to
                    have someone who doesnít like or understand them, but rather
                    to have someone go to hell.
        B. The question of being bashful or too ashamed to tell others of Jesus
            boils down to who do you want to please the most?
            1. Do you want to be appreciated, understood, and liked by others?
            2. Or do you want Jesus to be happy with you?
        C. If you have to stop and think about that answer for more than a second,
            you arenít getting it!
            1. This is what we have been given the Holy Spirit for.
            2. This is why we have church.
            3. This is why we preach and teach the Word of God.
            4. This is why we have life and spiritual gifts.
            5. It is our purpose to tell everyone about Jesus!
                a. It does not matter if they are rich or poor.
                b. It does not matter if we know them or not.
                c. It does not matter if they are older than us or younger.
                d. It does not matter if they have more or less education than we.
                e. It does not matter if they are our employers or our co-
                    laborers.
                f. It does not matter if they have their own religion or no
                    religion.
                g. To some degree, it does not even matter if they want to be told
                    or not.
                    (a) I understand that God gives to every person a free-will.
                    (b) And I try to honor the gift that God has given.
                    (c) But letís at least make a good-faith attempt to be certain
                         a person understands what Jesus has done for them before
                         we walk away!
                    (d) This is their eternity.
        D. Godís people will have a little bit of Holy boldness.
            1. Not arrogance or pride.
            2. Not a "holier-than-thou" attitude.
            3. Not a cocky demeanor.
            4. But a Holy Ghost centered, burden of love that emboldens us to take
                the first step of love and witness to others.

True story:
When General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, told of a man leaving
Australia who had been working in the gold fields, and had acquired a fortune.
They were on the ship, when a leak was sprung, and the life-boats were lost, and
the people were without hope. This strong man thought he could fight through the
waves to the island, and he was about to spring into the water, when a little bit
of a girl, whose mother had been lost in the storm, asked of him, "Sir, can you
save me?"

He looked at his belt of gold, and then at the child, and then at the belt, and
then at the child again. And then he threw the belt of gold away, took her on his
back, and threw himself into the sea. He struggled through the waves and with life
almost gone he reached the land.

The next day, when consciousness returned to him, the little girl put her arms
around his neck, and her lips to his cheek, and said, "I am so glad you saved me."
He said that was worth more than all the gold in Australia.

There are souls out there who have no knowledge of the danger they are in, but
their ship is sinking.  And there are some who save others but they donít get it.
They cling to their belts of gold and their lives of comfort.  Will you cast yours
aside tonight and do what God has called you to do?

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