As we read the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us we often like cherry picking the verses we like to believe, but that is not the way God’s word is arranged. We are to believe every word in the Scriptures or none of the word of God. The truth of the word of God is not according to what we believe, have been told over many years, or what we feel, but according to God’s sovereign will and His pleasure.

I wonder why we think God does things in His universe according to what we want? Paul tells us, “For by him (God) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-19) God does whatsoever He wants to do when He wants to do it. I wonder why we think we have a right to expect Him to dance to our tune? I am afraid this thinking comes out our selfish, self-center nature of wanting our way. Why, did you know God even creates darkness and evil, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7) but God’s darkness is filled with many treasures so that we may know He is God, “And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3) God does not have to do what we want Him to do. As our scholarly and loving Pastor Jim Kelley often says, “He is God and we are not” wise advice for us all to heed. There are two types of darkness in the world today; an unhappy darkness that arise out from sin that leads us to eternal death. And the second type of darkness is a darkness: confusion, bewilderment at times, uncertainty, feelings of abandonment by God, and great insecurity that arises in us as God works in our heart and lives. Even Jesus felt this darkness in His dark night of prayer in Gethsemane “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:37-39) and on the cross, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) If the Master went through this darkness and came out into the glorious light, will not the servant? This darkness which God allows within our inward parts is to establish and settle virtue in us. This is a happy darkness because it illuminates our inward spirit, strengthens and establishes us, and gives us greater light, if we allow God to. All things in God depends not on God, but on us allowing God to do the work in us. This is why receiving from God depends not on working for Him as many denominations stress, but becoming what God wants us to become in Him. Receiving from God has little to do with God’s giving (He wants so to give us His good things), but us desiring to go through the things we must go through to be able to receive God’s things. One of the greatest mysteries of our sovereign God (and I will be honest I do not understand it) is why God gives us the ability to reject Him. It is a great mystery as much as the mystery of the God-head. But, that’s okay I like serving a God I cannot figure out. I like the mystery of not being able to know what I am really doing, where I am really going, and what I am really saying at times. I hear the topic explained again and again, but I just do not understand it. I guess knowing God knows all things is good enough for me.

My friend if we are going to become a disciple of Christ we will have to walk in this darkness to the point it shakes us to our knees and shakes the very foundation we are built on. This darkness is one of God’s tools He uses to conform us into the image and character of His precious Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus often spoke words that were darkness (hard to understand) to the disciples and people who follows Him. For us to become a disciple of Christ we too must become the work of God (Ephesians 2:10) so that we can receive revelation to the darkness and mysteries those “treasures of darkness” so we, like Jesus, can come into this glorious light of God. It is God’s intention for us, He expects this to happen in our lives. In the 14th Chapter of Luke Jesus was sharing with the “multitudes” a time of darkness and mystery. Here Jesus was telling the people what they must do to become a disciple of Christ. Three times in these verses (26-33) Jesus speaks the words, “cannot be my disciple.” If you do not do this then you “cannot be my disciple.” Please understand there is a condition in God to meet to receive a reward from God. Now when we hear the word reward we often think of something good, well in God a reward is what we receive from Him based on our motives, intentions, and actions. It may be what we call good or it may be what we call bad, but never the less it is a reward from God based on our heart condition and our choices. Jesus said and says to us today, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:24-33) When many hear or read verse 26 they focus on the word “hate” and miss the truth of this verse. Now the word “hate” does mean (Strong’s #3404 and in the Greek #3631) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest, but is not talking about a feeling or anger as we use the word hate, but to a degree and extent of suffering loss for the sake of Christ. To become a disciple of Christ we must suffer loss in all earthly relationships. He and He alone must be #1 in our lives. As much as I love my wife and sweetheart Karen (even our children and grandchildren), she is not to be more important to me than Christ. Even, “yea and his own life.” Now my friend this really hits home with me. Over the last three or so years God has been after my self-life. How I hold on to it. How it screams for life, but I know it must be put to death if I am going to do what God has called me to do. When we travel every ache and pain screams for attention, but this too must be put to death so that Christ may live through me, so that I can be a disciple of Christ. The next condition we must meet to receive the reward of becoming a disciple of Christ is we must “bear his cross, and come after me” now that is we must bear our cross, not Christ’s cross, but the cross God has ordained us to be daily impaled on. God has chosen a way for us to go so that we may die to our selfishness, fleshly, and carnal ways. He has chosen things and people to bring into our lives to grind off our rough edges as, Job said, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. 8I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:” (Job 5:7-8) My friend God has a way for us to go to fall into the ground and die which is God major goal in our lives because He knows if we can die He can life through us. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25) He knows if we can fall into the ground and die He can save us from our sins. If we do not fall into the ground and die to our selfishness, ungodly motives, self-seeking, and so much more we cannot become a disciple of Christ. And the third things Jesus said, (and was the Rich Young and Rulers stumbling block maybe ours too) “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.” We must forsake all we have to be a disciple of Christ! I hear many Christians friends say they are not of this world, but do all they can to sink their heels into the earth with all of their might. If we are to forsake all why do we keep building bigger and bigger churches? Why do we go after bigger houses and better cars? Fatter and fatter retirement plans while people around the world and in America go hungry from both spiritual and physical food? The extravagances and flamboyance of the church (remember we are the church) is staggering and appalling in the eyes of God. Now when Jesus says we must forsake all He was not talking about us not having anything or having to live in a tent, but the Son of sorrows, the one who did not have a place to lay His head, again was talking about the degree of the forsaking we must do to become a disciple of Christ. This same Jesus called His servants and said, “occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13) Since we are in the world (but not of the world) we will need a home and other things, but we are not to place these things before God and we are not to keep building bigger and better when good will do. God is not anymore gloried with a 50,000 seat building than a 50 seat building. In God big is not better, He measures things much different than us. Greatest in God is not measured by how much or how beautiful, but how humble and how broken. My friend all of the earthly things we have must take a lower place in our heart and lives if we are going to be able to set our sights on things of the heavenly. Either we will have an earthly perspective or a heavenly perspective concerned about things of the earth or concerned about the things of God. For us to be able to have a heaven perspective and be concerned about heavenly things we first must forsake all of the earth and those things that are earthly. The measure of our perspective will be seen if we can forsake all, if we cannot then we shall not we cannot become a disciple of Christ.