Counting the Cost

March 22, 2002 PM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Romans chapter one. Romans chapter one. And when you reach the book of Romans chapter one, please signify by saying amen. Praise the Lord. We won’t be long tonight. Amen. In Romans chapter one, verse thirteen through verse sixteen. And I’m in the Amplified Version of the Bible tonight. Pray with me tonight.

13. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

14. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

15. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Verse seventeen.

17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

May we bow our heads?

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for who You are and for what You do. Father, hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. Father, as I decrease, I ask that You would increase. Let the words of my mouth tonight and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

You may be seated in the house of God.

We as Christians are faced with great challenges. Paul said in the midst of his great challenges that, “I am ready and I am willing.” What does it mean to be ready? It means to be prepared for use or action, available right away. To be willing (glory to God) means not slow or lazy, but to be done of one’s own choice.

Several things about Paul being ready tonight we will discuss. He was ready from the day of conversion.

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Acts chapter nine and verse six. And we’re going to go through the Scripture together tonight. Amen? In Acts chapter nine and verse six. And remember I’m in the Amplified Bible tonight. It said,

6. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Immediately at the point of conversion Paul was ready. It didn’t take him (glory to God) years to make up his mind (glory to God) about his conviction and his conversion. But he said, “I’m ready. What do you want me to do?” He was ready at that day. He was also ready with everything that he had. He was also ready for service at any time and any place.

Listen, people of God. All it takes is a willing vessel. All it takes is somebody to say, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” After you say that, He’s going to give you instruction. Do you hear what I’m saying tonight? It doesn’t take years and years and years to get instruction for your life. He’ll give you instruction immediately if you’re ready and if you’re willing.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise tonight.

Go with me to the book of Philippians chapter three. How long was he ready? How long was he ready to take on the task that the Lord had for him? In Philippians chapter three, and verse thirteen through verse sixteen he said,

13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

He was ready to do God’s will until the end. You see, even at conversion he was ready. And in between he was ready. And even to the time of the end he pronounced that he was ready. He didn’t have a relapse in the middle. He didn’t have a relapse at the beginning. And he didn’t have a relapse at the end.

He said, “I’m pressing forward. I’m not going back no more. I’m not looking back no more. But I’m going to stay on course with God. I’m going to stay on course until the end.”

You see, many times we allow our minds to start thinking. And we begin to think of how we can add to the purpose or the plan. We begin to start thinking of how we can enhance it. But once you receive your instruction from the Lord, stick with your instruction from the Lord. Only allow the Lord to enhance when He needs to enhance.

Paul said, “I’m ready.” And not only did Paul say he was ready. He said, “I’m willing.” You see, if you pronounce yourself ready God will prepare you. All you got to do is say, “Lord, I’m ready.” Do you hear what I’m saying tonight? All you got to do is say, “Lord, I’m ready.” That’s all you got to say is that, “I’m ready, and I’m willing.”

Why was Paul so ready and so willing? It wasn’t because he was ignorant of the cost of what he was about to take on. Go with me tonight to Second Timothy chapter four. He was not ignorant of the cost of what he was taking on. In Second Timothy chapter four, beginning with verse six, he said,

6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

He understood that it was going to cost him his life.

You see, when you begin to get in the mold that you are ready to take on something from God, you have got to understand from the beginning that it’s going to cost you your life.

You see, your life is not your own any more. Oh, you don’t hear me tonight. But you belong to God. And whatever God says, you’re under His command. You’re submitted to the will of God. He understood the cost. He understood it was going to cause him to have to deny himself, to have to deny worldly pleasure. It was going to cost him his life.

You see, too many times we get in the midst of it. But then it start costing too much, doesn’t it? It start costing too much time. It start costing too much money. Oh, hello, somebody. It cost me my family. It cost every aspect of my being.

But Paul counted the cost from the beginning. If you don’t think that you can handle it, then don’t step into it. Hello, somebody. Because there was much warfare that came with the territory. When you decide that you are ready, there’s going to be much warfare that’s going to come with what you’re saying you are ready for.

But he counted the cost. He wasn’t worried about what folks were going to say. He wasn’t even worried about what folks were going to do. He understood who he belonged to. He belonged to Jesus. He said, “I’m not a man pleaser. I’m a God pleaser. I’m a bond slave of Jesus Christ. I’m a servant of Jesus Christ. I’m a son of God.”

He counted the cost of what he was going into. He wasn’t willing and ready because he was better than anybody. He wasn’t willing and ready because of the training or the gifts that he had. Listen.

Too many times we think it’s the gifts that we have that’s going to get us over the top. Your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men, but you’ve got to remember the Giver of the gift.

Your training will help get you ready. But your training won’t mean that you’re better than anybody else. Hello, somebody. You see, so many times we obtain our training. And as we train to go higher, our nose goes a little bit higher.


But Paul understood taking the low road. He said, “I know how to both abased, and I know how to both abound.” He said, “I know how to suffer want.” And he also knew how to prosper. But in everything he knew that he had to be content, satisfied with Jesus.

Have you counted the cost lately? You see, when we start counting it up, sometime we start to slow down a little bit. You can tell when a person’s starting to count the cost, because they start to slow down a little bit. Hello, somebody. They used to be all gun hoe, but they ain’t gun hoe no more. Because they’re analyzing in they’re mind. They’re counting, “Do I really want this?”

You can tell somebody that really wants it. Even when all hell is broken loose they’re still on fire. That’s someone that has counted the cost. That’s somebody that’s really ready. That’s somebody that’s really willing. And that’s someone that doesn’t count themselves or their lives dear unto themselves.

He said, “I’m ready.” He said, “I’m ready.” Why was he ready and willing? Because his conversion was genuine. Hello. Jesus asked him in the book of Acts chapter nine, He said, “Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” Then Jesus began to ask him, “Why are you kicking against the prick.”

You know, a prick is something that’ll stick you, won’t it? Jesus was asking him, “Why are you kicking against something that’s going to stick you back?”

And Paul made a change, a serious change. He counted the cost of where he was and where he needed to be. His conversion was genuine. He got an immediate deliverance.

You see, when somebody really wants to be delivered, they can be delivered. Hello, somebody. If they really want to be delivered (Do you hear what I’m saying?) they will be delivered. That doesn’t mean that the devil won’t try to come and tempt them with the past. But if they really are genuinely converted, they’ll do all they can to remain steadfast and unmoveable. They will refuse to be shaken. Do you hear what I’m saying? I’m preaching to somebody.

At his conversion he was truly delivered. Salvation is a package. And I believe deliverance is a part of that package. If you get saved and you’re smoking, and you want to give it up, I guarantee you you’ll give it up. If you get saved and you’re fornicating, and you really want to give it up, I guarantee you you’ll give it up. I’m not saying it’ll be easy. But you’ll give it up. Because on that last day He’s not going to hear your excuse.

Paul said, “I’m ready.” And not only was he ready. He was willing. Why? Because he was a sanctified man.

Go to chapter two of Second Timothy for me. In chapter two of Second Timothy, verse twenty-one, it said,

21. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

If you’re going to be effective, you got to be sanctified. The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance. You can get up there and operate in that gift once you got it. But that don’t mean you’re sanctified. Do you hear what I’m saying?

The pastor can be sleeping all over the church. The Anointing be so high up in that place. Church be packed. But that don’t mean he’s sanctified. Do you hear what I’m saying tonight?

In order to be fit for the Master’s use... I’m not talking about fit for the folks’ use. You see, there’s a difference. But being fit for the Master’s use, I got to be set apart, set apart. Touching not the unclean thing. Separating myself. Allowing God to purge me every time He gets the chance.

Paul said, “I’m ready, because I’m willing to be sanctified.” He was a strong man with strong convictions. He believed that all are sinners at the beginning. He believed that the Gospel was the remedy to be able to enter into eternal life. He believed that he was a steward of the Gospel.

Go with me to First Corinthians chapter four. Thank You, Jesus. In First Corinthians chapter four and verse one and two, it says,

1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

We’re steward’s, aren’t we? But we’ve got to be found faithful, proving ourselves worthy of trust.

You see, when you see folks doing things, don’t just think that they’re doing them so that they can get brownie points. Hello, somebody. And don’t think that you don’t have to prove yourself in a certain manner. Do you hear what I’m saying? But you’ve got to prove yourself to be faithful.

If you want to do something in the ministry, if you want to do something for God, you’ve got to prove yourself faithful. When you see folks taking the oversight, don’t get upset with them. They’re proving themselves faithful. Do you hear what I’m saying tonight?

You’ve got to prove yourself faithful. You can’t expect someone to put you somewhere, and you ain’t going to be there. Hello, somebody. You’ve got to prove yourself faithful.

You know, I love that Sister Wanita Bineham, because she tell it just like it is. Don’t she?

We got in our minds position, but in our hearts there’s no responsibility. Hello. But Paul understood position responsibility. There’s responsibility. You have to be responsible.

You have to be faithful, not just in front of your pastor, but behind your pastor’s back. Don’t just want me around sometime, when you feel like being good. Hello. Do you hear what I’m saying tonight? We kinfolk. There shouldn’t be a time when you can’t be around your pastor. Do you hear what I’m saying? We should have kindred spirits. Because we serve the same Father, the same Master.

But it’s when we want to do our do... Can I go there? Some of us want to sip a little wine sometimes. Some of us want to slip in the closet every now and then. Or should I say the bedroom? Do you hear what I’m saying tonight?

Count the cost of what you have been called to.

There’s not a man or woman on earth that does not get tempted. And if they say they’re never tempted, they’re a liar, and they don’t serve our God. Or either they’re already in it, so they’re not being tempted anyway.

But we have got to rise up and be strong for the Lord, and count the cost. We almost finished tonight.

What was the result of Paul’s readiness? When you are truly ready, you’ll become a very busy person. I don’t mean busy with your stuff. But I’m talking about being busy with His stuff. If it hurt, say ouch. If it’s stepping on your toes, say ouch.

Some folks are always busy. Well, what you doing? “Well...” But it doesn’t have anything to do with the Kingdom of God. When you’re really ready, you’ll be busy for Him. And I’m not just talking about the five-fold ministry. Because we’re all ambassadors for Christ. And whatever you are doing, whatever task you are taking up, you are ministering Christ to somebody.

Because too many times when we preach from the pulpit and we begin to talk about leadership, and we begin to talk about those, you know, like Paul the apostle, a lot of times people don’t think that a preacher’s talking to everybody. But he’s talking to everybody.

The Bible says that in all that we say or do, do in the Name of the Lord Jesus, to bring glory and honor to Him. And when we work the Bible says work as unto the Lord. Why? Because you’re ministering Christ.

Paul said, “I’m ready, because I forgot about who I was. And I’m ready to minister Christ.” He was effective, and he was successful. He knew his work was ordained of God. He knew (glory to God) that the heavens resources were behind him. He believed in the product that he was selling.

See, too many times we can’t witness because we don’t believe in the product that we’re selling. And too many times when we pray for folks they don’t get delivered. It’s not always them. Sometimes it’s us, because we don’t believe that they can be healed.

But Paul believed in the product. He believed in it. How much do you believe in it?

I had a brother tell me before... You know, I prayed for him before. He said, “Pray for me, pray for me, pray for me.” I prayed for him. And then one night he told me he got on his knees and he prayed for himself.

I said, “Praise the Lord.”

He said, “Guess what.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “I worked.”

I said, “Yeah, it works.”

You got to believe in the Gospel. God needs people who will accept the challenge, the challenge of Christian leadership, and the challenge of faithful stewardship.

We’re coming to a place in this church... Let me tell you this. There are people that are joining the church, and we have not even given them the right hand of fellowship yet. The church is truly growing. And some of us have stepped up to the plate.

But God is still looking for some of us to step up to the plate and get ready to bat. Because there’s so much that’s in us. And we’ll show them every now and then. But then we’ll go back again. And we constantly back and forth and back and forth.

But he said a faithful steward, someone that’s faithful, is going to have their feet planted. They won’t be wishy washy if a storm arises. They’ll be faithful.

Paul said, “I’m ready. And not only am I ready, but I’m willing.”

Some of us need to ask that question again. Am I ready and willing? Or am I just saying that I’m ready and willing? And when someone else starts to do something am I getting angry, even though I had many opportunities to do it?”

Take an inventory. Listen. If you and I will count the cost, and we will decide to give up ourselves, then we can really, really do something for the Lord. But getting into it and getting out of it, that’s not going to work. I need to get in it and stay in it. Get in it and stay in it.

It’s a simple word tonight, but it means a lot. Because we become busy. We become unavailable. Uh oh. I feel the Holy Ghost hit me. We used to be available. We’re not available any more. We’re only available by convenience. Uh oh. My God, my God. I feel the Holy Ghost all over me.

But be available. (Tongues.) Be available. Make a way. Make a way. Make a way. Be available. Make a way. If you can make a way when it seems like there’s no way, then you’re really ready. But if you can’t make a way, you may be willing, but you’re not ready.

Give God a handclap of praise.

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