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Author: Ron Graham

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Ten Challenges
—From Jesus to you

In this lesson we look at ten statements that Jesus made. If you consider these statements, especially in the context in which they appear, you will find them to be challenging statements indeed.

1 Be available as a worker to bring in a harvest for Jesus.

Matthew 9:37-38

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.' "

Jesus challenges us to look at the plight of other souls. There is plenty to harvest, but workers are few . We are challenged to pray and work that the potential harvest will be gathered in before it is too late.

2 Don't gain worldly things at the expense of losing your soul.

Matthew 16:26

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Jesus challenges us to look at the value of our own souls. He asks two questions: (1) What benefit is it to gain the whole world at the forfeit of your soul? (2) What will you give to buy back your soul? These are not rhetorical questions entirely. They demand a thoughtful answer from us.

3 Take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Luke 9:23

"If any one wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me"

Sometimes, when preachers proclaim the benefit of the cross of Christ, through their word many begin to follow Jesus because of those blessings of the cross. But perhaps they have not been made aware of the sharing of the cross. There is pain and loss that comes, in some form, to all who truly follow Jesus. Jesus challenges us to take up our cross daily.

We may have to forfeit even things we hold most dear. We must bear any sacrifice that following Christ forces upon us. We must always trust that we shall gain by losing. That is one of the great challenges Jesus holds out to us.

4 Keep your hand on the plough and eyes straight ahead.

Luke 9:62

"No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God"

For many, becoming a Christian seems to be a very difficult decision, and they agonise over it for many years. Perhaps this is because they realise that once they commit themselves there can be no going back.

There is, of course, not enough strength in any of us to go it alone. We cannot plough without the aid of power greater than our own. But once we start, we must keep our eyes concentrated ahead, We cannot look back to where we were resting in the shade. So Jesus challenges us to keep on going ahead until the work is over.

5 When you are given much, do much with it.

Luke 12:48

"From everyone who has been given much, much shall be required"

It is easy to feel that we have been granted special priveleges by God and he favours us more than others. But when one realise that with every blessing comes responsibility, one is challenged to use God’s blessings for his glory. This passage clearly teaches that those of us most blessed are most responsible. Our condemnation will be greater if we don't serve God with what he has given into our hands. Every gift from the Lord is a challenge.

6 Follow Jesus, but count the cost

Luke 14:28-30

"If any of you, wishes to build a tower, would you not first sit down and count the cost to see if you have the resources to complete it? Otherwise, if you lay the foundation and cannot finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This man could not finish what he started to build.' "

When we are faced with any worthwhile endeavour, two questions must be honestly answered: what will it cost me to do it, and what whill it cost me to fail? Jesus challenges us to count the cost of losing our soul. But he also challenges us to count the cost of saving our soul. Are we facing up to what we must sacrifice in order to gain the rewards of following Christ?

7 Do all that Jesus commands you, but see your unworthiness.

Luke 17:10

"When you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable slaves; we have only done our duty'."

Jesus challenges us to look at our own unworthiness. Self-righteousness is sometimes a problem in the Christian community. However, we are saved by grace, by undeserved mercy.

8 Worship God truly, in spirit and in truth

John 4:24

"God is a spirit, and those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Jesus challenges us to look at the quality of our worship. It is an odd fact that on one hand much worship is heartfelt yet takes a form never commanded by God, while on another hand worship that is formally correct may be merely going through the motions without the heart being in it.

Jesus challenges us to worship not merely in acts of worship but in spirit. Christ also challenges us not to neglect our acts of worship, to see that they are those authorised by the word of truth from God.

9 Love Jesus, keep his commandments.

John 14:15

"If you love me, keep my commandments."

"It is very easy to talk about loving Jesus. It is very easy to feel emotion. But if that is as far as our love goes, then it is a very shallow love. Loving Jesus must embrace trusting Jesus. That trust must show itself in obedience. That obedience must include self-denial.

So many people quite sincerely claim to love Jesus and to trust him. Yet they will not do as he says. He challenges such people: 'If you love me, keep my commandments.'' Just to keep his most simple commandments can bring great stress into our lives. But we must accept it as a challenge to be met with his help.

10 Let all that you say and do help the disciples of Jesus to be united

John 17:20-21

"I do not pray for [my apostles] alone, but for all who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one as you Father are in me and I in you. May they also be one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me."

Jesus challenges us to look at possibly the greatest problem in the kingdom of God: disunity. 'May they all be one' he prays. Perhaps our greatest challenge is to answer that prayer. Let us face up to disunity wherever we find it and abhor it, instead of making excuses for it.

❖ You may wish to study the words of Jesus and find other challenges besides the ten above.

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