Tag: take up cross

Listening and following!

Scripture reading for March 23rd:Deuteronomy 15-18, Psalm 115, Luke 9

Key Scriptures:  Luke 9:23-26 “And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers–it is to Him you shall listen–“

Moses of old prophesied that God would raise up a prophet–from among the Israelites, and the people must listen to Him.  As the answer of God, Jesus came to His own brothers and called them to follow Him, forsaking all else.  Accepting Jesus and His Words would mean acceptance by Jesus when He came in glory to earth.  Listening and obeying brings great reward!

Faith Confession and prayer:  Lord, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ as the final prophetic Word from heaven.  I am not ashamed to belong to Jesus and I love His Word.  Open doors to share the Word today!

Psalm 115:1-2  “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness.  Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”  Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.”  

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Counting the cost!

Scripture reading for March 21:  Luke 14, Psalm 58, Proverbs 27

Key Scriptures: Luke 14:25-28  “Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

Jesus was very straight-forward with the crowds of people who had followed Him and crowded around to hear His teaching.  He warned them of shallow commitment.  He demanded first place in the lives of those who would follow Him as disciples.  Their relationship with their family and even wife and children must be second to Him.  There would be a cross to bear as well!  Each person must count the cost!

Faith Confession:  Lord, following You is my choice.  I place You in first place.  You are worth any cost!

Psalm 58:11 “Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

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Faith to Follow Jesus

Scripture reading for February 19th:  Mark 8, Psalm 36, Proverbs 5

Key Scriptures: Mark 8:34-36  “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospels will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?”

Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart or the self-centered.  His way is the way of the cross.  It is a path of suffering and even leads to death.  It is a path of self-denial.  We can’t ‘have it our way’ and do God’s will.  There is nothing in this world that we can give to God to buy our own soul.  If we gained the whole world, it would not suffice!

Faith Confession: Lord, I count it a privilege to know and follow You.  Help me today to give my life, time, talent, and energy, to serve You.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and light!

Psalm 36:9-10 “For with You is the fountain of Life; in Your light do we see light.  Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright of heart.”

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Killing selfish ‘giants’!

Scripture reading for March 21st:  Joshua 15-18, Luke 14

Key Scriptures:  Luke 14:25-27  “Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yeas, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Jesus attracted great crowds but He did not want anyone following Him that had not truly counted the cost.  Following Jesus is a costly pursuit.  It could cost all relationships, for God must be put over all others.  It could even cost a person their life.  The willingness to die was in the metaphor of carrying a cross while following.  This idea would come into focus as Jesus carried His!

Joshua 15:13  “According to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak.  And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, . . “

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for being the ultimate example for us to follow.  May we bring You joy as we place You first above all else.  Amen.

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Jesus demands first place!

Scripture reading for March 23rd:  Luke 14

Key scriptures for over-comers:  Luke 14:25-27  “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said:  “I anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be My disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.””

This teaching of Jesus appears to go against His command for all disciples to ‘love one another’.  (John 15:17)  But Jesus was really saying that our love for Him must surpass our love for our father or mother and even our wife and children.  We must love Him more than our own life–enough to be willing to take up a cross and march with Him to death in obedience to the Father!  Discipleship is not a casual pursuit!  Jesus calls us into the most demanding of all relationships!  It takes our whole-hearted devotion and love to be a disciple!

Observations for over-comers:  It is easy to be part of a crowd traveling with Jesus but it costs total devotion to become one of His disciples!  It is worth the cost!  “I am the Lord; that is My Name!  I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.”  (Isaiah 42:8)

 

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The reward of following Jesus!

Scripture reading for January 22nd:  Matthew 16

Key Scriptures:  Matthew 16:24-27  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul.  For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Following Jesus is not a part-time calling!  We can’t keep one foot in the world and one on the path of Jesus.  Jesus’ path led to the cross and Christ called His followers to take up their cross in order to follow Him.  Jesus called for a complete sell-out and a denial of self-interest and pursuit of worldly wealth.  Nothing we gain here in that respect can purchase our souls, and in fact, we can lose them in the process!  Jesus, the Son of Man, will come with His angels to bring reward for those who overcome and successfully follow!  This ought to motivate each believer and test our hearts concerning our commitment to follow Jesus.

Observation for over-comers:  When we lay our life down for Jesus, we actually gain what money and fame cannot buy!  Let’s embrace our cross and follow hard after our Lord! “Do not wear yourselves out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.  Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”  (Proverbs 23:4-5)

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Ashamed of Christ?

Scripture reading for February 26th: Mark 8:10-38, Psalms 42:1-11, Proverbs 10:17

“He (Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.” (Mark 8:31-32)  Peter was not at all happy with Jesus when He told the disciples of the coming events that would culminate with His death.  Peter began to scold Jesus and tell Him not to talk like that.  Jesus then rebuked Peter with a stern command, “Get behind me Satan!” he said.  “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33)

Jesus used this exchange to appeal to His disciples and the crowd that followed Him.  If anyone wanted to follow Him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow as well!  Anyone wanting to save their life would lose it and anyone losing their life, would save it.  Jesus knew the tendency of our flesh to want to preserve life as we know it.  We all want to be in control and think that by our own efforts can have the best life.  But we can’t have the world and it’s adulterous ways and Christ too!  The way of the cross and death somehow leads to gain and life.

Jesus asked a question of the crowd and His disciples: “What good is is for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37)  Our true life is eternal life and to enjoy that we must have our soul redeemed.  We must lose our “life” here to gain “eternal life”.  Jesus gave His listeners the answer, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” In Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection, we have our only hope of redeeming our soul.  We must die to our flesh and boldly stake our claim on Jesus and His words!  He is coming again soon!

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Lose it all and save your life!

Scripture reading for March 31st: Luke 9:7-27

As Jesus was alone with His disciples, He asked them who they though He was.  Peter spoke up, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)  This confession brought a warning from Jesus about His coming suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  Being the Christ of God would lead to some difficult experiences and it would also not be easy for His followers!   They would have to make a conscious commitment and really know who He was.

Jesus had some very difficult instructions for those that would follow Him as disciples.  Some of His instructions made them ponder who He really was and their conclusion determined if they were willing to follow Him. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?  If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26)

First, His followers must learn to deny themselves and their way of thinking.  The world puts ‘self’ first, but Jesus and His followers put God and His will first.  This choice is taken, even when it leads to a daily cross!  Jesus was daily denying His ‘self’ in order to follow His Father’s instructions.  For Him to enjoy resurrection, He must be willing to lose His life.  His followers must willingly do the same, by giving up seeking to gain the world and instead going for God’s approval.  This choice would eventually involve martyrdom for each of these disciples except John!  (and Judas)

Jesus’ crucifixion would involve shame and great fear of being identified with Him.  Jesus told them of their need for faith in Him to continue after the crucifixion and resurrection.  The end result would be eternal recognition when Jesus returned!  The willingness to lose life would bring great gain!

As we read these words of Jesus, we also ponder what it means to lose our life to gain it.  What does taking up our cross daily look like?  Are we ever ashamed to be associated with Jesus?

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Not Peace, but a Sword!

Scripture reading for January 13th: Matthew 10:24-42, Psalms 9:11-20, Proverbs 3:3-6

Jesus Christ is the “Prince of Peace” according to Isaiah 9:6!  Jesus lived a life of peace but preached a message that sometimes stirred up violent rejection and spiritual warfare.  In our reading today, Jesus was preparing His disciples for ministry in the world and the warfare that would result from spiritual conflict with the devil and those in league with him.

“”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)  Jesus offers us peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins.  In order to obtain this promise, we must repent or turn away from sin (breaking of God’s law) and turn toward God through Jesus Christ.  This all comes by faith through God’s grace and mercy freely given to those who believe. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Why does this message sometimes cause violence or division between people and even close family members?  The message of the cross is offensive to the human ego and religion’s rules.  We all want to work for our salvation or do something to earn it.  Religion is based on man’s efforts to do enough to appease God.  Even the Jews had drifted into a works-oriented religion instead of “by grace through faith”.  Jesus wisely taught His disciples about the conflict that would happen between the flesh and the Spirit.  When we turn to Jesus and begin to move in the Spirit, some will be convicted or resent this conviction and react in violence.

The disciples must not react, but keep on loving God and following Him.  “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)  God’s will is first and our love for God is demonstrated by taking up a cross!  This cross represents death to our own desires and even the need for acceptance by our own family.  Where is your heart today?  Are you worthy of the Lord?

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