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Counting the Cost



Scripture: Matthew 4:18–22; Luke 9:23, 14:26–33; 22:39–43

Memory verse: Luke 9:23
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."


Display a prize for some achievement. Let the students tell of any honours or awards they have earned. Explain that ribbons and trophies are proof of hard work and dedication.

Tell the students to suppose a young man wants to become a track star and win a prize. What will he have to do in order to achieve his goal? Discuss the importance of consistent practice and care of his body.

What would happen if the young man practiced faithfully every day, but did not eat properly? What if he mainly ate sweets every day? What would happen if he also stayed up late every night and did not get enough rest? Let the students tell how the runner should eat and rest in order to stay in the best shape possible.

Explain that in order to reach a goal, a person must work diligently, being careful to pay attention to all aspects of his life that might affect his performance. This is called setting priorities.

If something or someone becomes a top priority in our lives, we will be faithful to give them our time, attention, and effort. After watching a person’s life for a while, it usually becomes obvious what is truly important to him. Tell the students to think about the things in their lives that take most of their time and attention. Ask if these things are worthy of being top priorities.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “What is a disciple?” (Allow students to give their various definitions.)


A disciple is a person who believes the teachings of a master and practices them. He spends a great deal of time with the master, watching him, listening to him, and learning to be like him.

Jesus chose 12 men who followed Him as His disciples. Later they were sent out to preach, which then made these men apostles. An apostle is someone who is sent out to preach. (Name several apostles and check Mark 3:16–19.) Although we tend to think of only 12 men when we hear the word disciple, there were other disciples in Jesus’ day.

It is exciting to learn what a disciple really is like because we find that all who love and obey Jesus can be disciples too. Jesus said that if anyone wanted to be His disciple, that person had to deny himself and daily follow Him. Jesus also said He is going to return with His angels to judge and reward each person according to what he has done in this life.

Denying Self

We all would like to be judged as true followers of Jesus. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? One thing it means is to deny ourselves.

Ask: “What do we mean when we say you should deny yourself?” (Allow discussion.)

To deny yourself means not to allow yourself those things that would keep you from being totally committed to Jesus.

Ask: “What are some of these things?” (Allow discussion.)

Both good and bad things can affect your commitment to God.

Ask: “What is something good that may be necessary to deny yourself?” (Allow discussion.)

Jesus gave examples of some good things people sometimes have to deny themselves. He said anyone who wants to be His follower must love Him more than his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—even more than his own life. Otherwise, that person cannot be His disciple.

Does this mean a Christian must leave his family in order to follow Jesus? Not necessarily, but it does mean he must not allow any member of his family to keep him from obeying and serving Jesus. Nor should what he wants be put ahead of what God wants. For example, a person may want to cheat on a test so he can make a good grade. God, however, wants us to be truthful and honest. So, in order to deny himself, the person would do what God wants instead of doing wrong for a better grade. If a person’s wants come first, it means he loves himself more than he loves Jesus.

Carrying Your Cross

We must yield, or give in to what God wants over what we want. The Holy Spirit will help us do this. Jesus said in Luke 14:27, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”.

Ask: “Does this mean we have to carry wooden crosses everywhere we go? What do you think Jesus meant?” (Allow discussion.)

To carry the cross means we are willing to give up our own wants and plans in exchange for God’s commands and plans. We must put God first even if it means we have to suffer for it.

Counting the Cost

Jesus knew it would sometimes be difficult to follow Him. He told us if we want to be His disciples, we should first consider what it would cost us. (Have the students turn to Luke 14 in their Bibles.) In Luke 14:28–32 Jesus gave examples to show how sensible it is to consider the cost of something before making an important decision.

Deciding to be a loyal disciple of Jesus is the most important decision we can make and the final reward will be more than we can imagine—eternal life in heaven with God. It is worth more than any cost we must pay here on earth. Let us look at a couple of examples Jesus gave.

Building: First, Jesus told about a builder. He said if a person plans to construct a building, he first sits down with the plans and figures out how much money it would cost. Then the man checks to see if he has enough money to finish the building once it is started. If he does not check the cost first, he might run out of money as soon as the building is started. People would walk by the unfinished building, look at the foundation without walls or a roof, and laugh at the foolishness of the man.

War: Jesus’ second example of counting the cost is about a king. Suppose an army was getting ready to invade a kingdom. The ruler of that kingdom would want to go to war to defend his kingdom from the invading army. However, he would need to sit down with his counsellors to decide whether or not his army of 10,000 soldiers was strong enough to defeat the 20,000 soldiers who would march against them. If he realized his army was not strong enough, then he would know to make a peace treaty with the enemy king instead of fighting him. Otherwise he and most of his kingdom could be wiped out in battle.

Just a builder or a king should consider the cost of an important decision, so too a person wanting to follow Jesus needs to count the cost before he makes the important decision of becoming a disciple.

Do you know how to find out what the cost will be for you? Make a list of things in your life that are most important to you. Next, decide whether any of those things could come between you and God: Will it take time away from daily Bible study and prayer or time at God’s house; will it tempt you to disobey God; will it hurt your witness to others? You may have to ask for God’s help to lessen the importance of some things or get rid of some things that could come between you and Him. That is called getting your priorities straight.

Luke 14:33 says we must be willing to give up everything we have and everything we do to follow Jesus. That does not mean we cannot love other people or enjoy having certain hobbies or doing certain things. It means these things must not be more important to us than obeying and serving God. For example, if your friends want you to do something you know is wrong, you must choose what is more important—God or your friends. If you choose your friends instead of God, you are not committed to being a disciple of Jesus.

Partial Surrender

Our memory verse reminds us of the three things we must do to follow Jesus. (Recite Luke 9:23.) Is every person willing to do what it takes to be a disciple? No. It takes a strong person to be willing to give himself to Jesus. It is easier to be selfish and do whatever he feels like doing.

People will sometimes surrender only partly to God. A person may be willing to obey God by not lying and cheating but will still disobey his parents or misbehave in church. His actions do not match his words of loving Jesus. He is not truly a disciple.

Then there is the person who truly wants to do God’s will, but is worried about what God will do with his life. He obeys God, but he is not a happy Christian because he does not trust that God will do what is best for him in the end. He might thing: “Yes, God, I will do what you told me to do, but will everything turn out OK? Are you really doing what is best for me?”

Accepting God’s Word

To be a true disciple of Jesus, a person must surrender himself totally. A person who surrenders totally says, I am all Yours, God. I give up! I will obey you and I will trust You.” It takes a strong person to yield completely to God and say, “Here I am, God. Take all of me and help me obey and serve you with all of my life.”

God gives each person the freedom to choose to surrender to Him—or not. Surrendering to God is the wise thing to do because He knows what is best for us. Still, some people insist on going the easy, selfish way. A disciple must submit himself to God and obey God’s plan.

Final Visit

Following my arrival in Djibouti, the next day I went for an early morning walk. The city was awakening: shops were opening; workers were seated on stones, drinking tea and eating bread at makeshift breakfast bars before catching transport to their jobs; children were standing at the curb side waiting for their school bus. Life seemed so normal and safe.

One evening I attended a home Bible study. A Somali Christian led the study with six believers in attendance - three of them Somali. The government allows a person to express his faith in his home, but proselytizing other Somalis is against the law. Believers have to be careful or face persecution from family and government. The Christian's faith is often tested. Some become strong, but others return to Islam.

A Somali Christian organizes a few believers for a monthly prayer gathering under a tree outside the city. He calls it their "prayer tree." There they encourage one another, study the Bible and pray. I told him I would be praying for him and asked him to name his primary prayer need. "Security,” he replied. “Just to stay alive." Somali believers must have strong faith to stay true to Jesus Christ.

Pray for Somali Shop Owners 15

1. Owners business contacts lead them to interaction with a believer in Jesus,
2. Grasp the truth that Jesus paid a great price for their salvation,
3. Messengers take time to become friends with shop owners and share an in-depth presentation of the gospel with them.

Prayer Promise

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17).


Memory verse: Luke 9:23
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

1. Jesus chose me. I will follow him.
2. He has a tailor made plan for my life (my cross).
3. I am willing to pay whatever price is necessary to fulfill it.

Pray for Somali shop owners.


Study 15 | Come Holy Spirit/Born Again | africaatts.org/go-teach

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