Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Donít Turn Back
Pastor Steve Schell
Luke 9:57-62
I can’t think of an area of life in which one’s ability to persevere through hardship is not a critical factor for success. Think about it. Whether it be in relationships with family or friends; job or career directions; schooling, raising of children; recreation, hobbies, sports, health; and certainly in all areas of spiritual growth and fruitfulness our commitment to continue steadfast in our decisions greatly influences the outcome. We’ve all heard tales of heroes who have endured insurmountable odds or refused to give up in the face of apparent defeat. Their examples always inspire us, but when it comes our turn to walk through a valley it’s surprising how powerful the desire to quit can be. It’s one thing to admire those who endure hardship, it’s another to do it. Yet, if we never learn to overcome we’ll miss out on so much God has planned for us.

In today’s lesson Jesus issues a powerful warning to all who wish to become His disciples. He says those who can’t endure hardship will be completely ineffective at doing God’s work. So every one of us who intends to fulfill God’s plan for our life must learn to persevere. The desire is not enough. There are too many forces set against us. Only when that desire is reinforced with wisdom will we be able to succeed.

A. The Encounters (vs 57-61)
- (Note: v 9:51) Jesus knows His time is short now. The days are approaching for His “lifting up” and He (firmly fixed) “set” His face to go to Jerusalem. These encounters take place about six months before the cross. He’s on His way to the Feast of Tabernacles.
- (Note: v 10:1) He is also about to initiate discipleship training in earnest. Seventy will be selected and sent out in pairs. There isn’t time to go home and come back later.
B. The Illustration (v 62)
1. Q: What does it mean to be “fit” (well-placed, suitable, usable) for the Kingdom of God?
A: Serviceable, useful in doing God’s work.
2. Q: What does “putting his hand to the plow” mean?
A: Stepping out and doing what God has asked me to do.
3. Q: What does it mean “to look back”?
A: Wanting to quit and return to the things I left behind.
God allows people to reflect and prepare themselves, but moments arrive when a decision must be made, and it must be made with the understanding there is no turning back.
- God’s word to me: “You’re a son, not a slave so I won’t force your decisions. But be careful what you choose because what you start you must finish”
- “How long do I plow?” “Until the field is complete” (God’s victory is obvious and you don’t want to leave anymore).
Restatement: So in order to serve God effectively I must fully commit to the things He asks me to do, and refuse to quit until the assignment is complete.
C. The Problem: He asks us to do things that require superhuman strength.
I face a field full of:
- Spiritual opposition
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Family opposition
- Frustratingly long seasons of waiting
- Temptation to envy those who are living self-indulgent lives
- Unexpected changes (unforeseen circumstances)
God doesn’t ask us to do things that are hard. He asks us to do things that are impossible.
- If you look at yourself and say, “I can’t do that!” you would be correct.
- The Kingdom of God is not built by us doing what we can for God. It’s built by God doing what He can through us (He always plans to do a miracle).
D. The Pillars
Q: How is it possible for me to persevere until the field is plowed when there is so much set against me?
A: By ensuring that these three pillars of wisdom are in place to support my decision:
Pillar #1:
God’s call: The inner conviction that God has asked me to serve Him in a certain way, in a certain place, at a certain time.
- The power of call is the knowledge that God initiated what I am doing not me.
- When troubles come the doubt arises, “Maybe I should never have started this”
- The importance of “call” applies to many areas including:
- Marriage
- Job, career
- Location
- Children (“do we want kids?”)
- Church
- Ministry
Pillar #2:
God’s community: We are not meant to serve alone. I must have standing beside me those who know me at a heart level, support me in prayer and believe in my call. (see: 10:1)
Pillar #3:
Contact between me and the Vine (Jn 15:4). I must have a genuine communicative relationship with Jesus through worship and prayer.
I need to hear His call over and over again. I need His strength, comfort, guidance, love, peace, protection, provision over and over again.
E. The Harvest
You don’t plow a field just to plow it. You break up the soil so it can be planted and grow a crop. If we refuse to quit the assignments God gives us we can always expect a harvest. Our perseverance buys God time to work.
Remember: He changes things organically, not magically. He “parents” us into change, not alters our brains. This is often why His work takes so long.
- He respects our free-will but works with us until we see the truth (removes the demonic deception, grants revelation, arranges events)
- “Old Avocado Tree”
- 1Co 13:7 - love “suffers long” (v 4) because it “covers… believes … hopes… endures…”

Discussion Questions:
1. Describe a situation where you agreed to do something and then found the circumstances were very different then you first thought. How did you feel when you first discovered this?
2. It’s important to distinguish between things God calls us to do, and messes we get ourselves into. Describe a “mess” you got yourself into. How did you get out? (Let’s leave the topic of painful marriages out of this answer.)
3. Describe something you know God has “called” you to do (if you’re aware of one).
4. Identify someone who is part of your “community” (see: pillar #2).

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