Tag: take up cross

The secret to finding true life!

Scripture reading for August 8th: Hosea 1-3, Matthew 16

Matthew 16: 24-26 “Then Jesus told His disciples, “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 will find it.”

As Jesus approached the time of His departure and His encounter with death, Jesus called His disciples to a full dedication of their lives in following Him. This was a choice for each person to make freely from their own will, Jesus did not force or coerce anyone. This choice involved taking up a cross and following Jesus, even to death. Those wanting to save their lives must be willing to lose it. Anyone who would lose their life in following Jesus would find life eternal!

Matthew 16:26-28 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what they have done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Prayer: Father God, I look forward to the Day of Christ when He comes with all His angels in the glory of His Father. I know there is nothing I can give for my own soul. I trust solely in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. I am willing to follow Jesus Christ and take up my cross, dying to myself and living fully for Your will. Indwell me today by the Holy Spirit and lead me into Your will and everlasting peace.

Hosea 2:18-20 “And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”

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Jesus ashamed of me?

Scripture reading for March 15th: 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 of the holy angels.”

Jesus was calling those to Himself who would be willing to lay down their lives to follow Him. In fact, those who would make the choice to follow Him, would necessarily take up a personal cross each day in doing so. The cross signifies a willingness to die to ourselves and to willingly give up our life. In doing this, His followers would actually receive their life back eternally. Those who were ashamed of Jesus and their cross signifying obedience to His Words would ultimately make Jesus ashamed of them when He comes in triumph and judgment of the wicked. How will Jesus react to me at His coming? Thankfully, today is a time to repent!

Luke 9:22 “. . . saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for calling Your followers to Your example. Unashamed You carried Your cross, beaten and bruised and suffered rejection and death for us. I will not be ashamed of You or Your Words as You empower me with Your amazing grace.

Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

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Don’t let Jesus be ashamed!

Scripture reading for January 27th: Mark 8

Key Scriptures: Mark 8:34-38 “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 for the Gospel’s 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? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.””

Peter had just confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and Jesus began to teach the disciples about his coming death and resurrection. Peter began to rebuke Him and Jesus, looking at the other disciples, turned and rebuked Satan for tempting Him and Peter for having a carnal mind. Then Jesus called the crowd and His disciples to come to Him and stated the cost of following after Him. Each follower would have to take up a cross and be willing to lose their life! They would need to chose between gaining the world and following Jesus as He carried His cross. Following Jesus would bring shame from the world but would bring a bold profession by Jesus before the Father of acceptance and eternal life. Those ashamed of Him and His cross would suffer the ultimate shame of eternal damnation at Christ’s return.

1st John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am willing to take up my cross and to follow You out of love for You and the Father. Deliver me from any love of the world and empower me do Your will and to make You smile on the Day of Your Glory!

Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

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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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