Going Places with God: Rules for the Road
by Derek Gentle

Matthew 16:21-28

There is a story about two New York men who had never been out of the city. They decided that they had had it with city living, so they bought a ranch down in Texas in order to live off the land like their ancestors.

The first thing they decided they needed was a mule. So they went to a neighboring rancher and asked him if he had a mule to sell. The rancher answered, "No, I'm afraid not."

They were disappointed, but as they visited with the rancher for a few moments one of them saw some honeydew melons stacked against the barn and asked, "What are those?" The rancher, seeing that they were hopeless city slickers, decided to have some fun. "Oh," he answered, "those are mule eggs. You take one of those eggs home and wait for it to hatch, and you'll have a mule." The city slickers were overjoyed at this, so they bought one of the melons and headed down the bumpy country road toward their own ranch. Suddenly they hit an especially treacherous bump, and the honeydew melon bounced out the back of the pickup truck, hit the road, and burst open. Now, seeing in his rearview mirror what had happened, the driver turned his truck around and drove back to see if he could retrieve his mule egg.

Meanwhile a big old Texas jackrabbit came hopping by and saw this honeydew melon burst in the road. He hopped over to it and, standing in the middle of that mess, he began to eat. Now here came the two city slickers. They spied their mule egg burst open and this long-eared creature in the middle of it. One of the men shouted, "Our mule egg has hatched! Let's get our mule."

But seeing those two men coming toward it, the jackrabbit took off hopping in every direction with the two city fellows in hot pursuit. The two men from New York gave everything they had to catch him, but finally they could go no farther. Both men fell wearily onto the ground gasping for air while the jackrabbit hopped off into the distance. Raising up on his elbow, one of the men said to the other, "Well, I guess we lost our mule." The other man nodded grimly. "Yes, but you know," he said, "I'm not sure I wanted to plow that fast anyway.

There are a lot of people who look into Christianity, find it difficult, and give it all up with the attitude that it is too hard. But Jesus does not hide the cost of discipleship. He spells out the rules for the road.

When you go places with God. . .

1. No One Goes Who Doesn't Want To Go
"If anyone desires to come after Me" Vs. 24

No one will force you on this journey. When people are in love with each other they will follow the other to the ends of the earth and never consider it a burden. The same is true with Christ.

2. You Say No to Self
"Let him deny himself" vs. 24
"Let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests]" Amplified

    Saying No to:

    Selfishness is meeting my needs at someone else's expense. It is when I insist on having my happiness regardless of what it costs you. Jesus says we must say no to this attitude.

    Sometimes we flatter ourselves that we don't need anyone, not even God. We feel we have it all together. But Jesus says that the Christian life is one of constant dependance on the Father and of continuously following His leading.

    Self-will is when I insist on my own way, regardless of what God requires. Discipleship is a life of saying yes to God's will and saying no to self-will.

3. You Live Life as a Dead Man Walking
"Let him... take up his cross" vs. 24

This speaks to:

    How we are perceived - as trouble-makers
    In Jesus' day, when a person was crucified, they were paraded through the streets with a placard around their necks declaring their crimes. They would be forced to carry the cross beam of their cross and to face the ridicule of the crowds. Jesus experienced this. Like Him, even, when innocent, we will be misunderstood.

    Our Ultimate Loyalty
    Jesus says that He is headed to the place of execution and if we are willing to follow Him, we must be willing to follow Him there, too. That we will have no higher loyalty.

4. We Undertake Obedience as a Lifestyle
"Let him... follow Me" Vs. 24
Literally, "Keep on following me"

A college man walked into a photography studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. This involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph: "My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity." It was signed "Diane," and it contained a P.S.: "If we ever break up, I want this picture back."

Sometimes, would-be disciples will place a PS on their commitment to Christ. Now Lord, I am giving you the rest of my life, but if it gets too hard I want my life back.

Continuous Process
Discipleship is a life-long process -- Keep on following Me -- one step at a time, through the process of growth, toward the goal of Christian maturity... Keep on following.

Lord, what if temptation gets very strong? Keep following Me. What if there is suffering? Keep following Me. What if church services seem less thrilling for a while - or my quiet time is dry? Keep following Me. What if I would just rather take the day off - or give up altogether? Keep following Me.