Tuesday, February 18, 2020
This is God's Will for You
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Your “cross” is God's will for you, regardless of the cost. Taking up your cross is a choice; it is not beyond your control. You may have health problems or a rebellious child or financial pressures, but do not mistake these as your “cross to bear.” Neither circumstances you face nor consequences of your own actions are your cross. Your cross will be to voluntarily participate in Christ's sufferings as He carries out His redemptive purposes (Phil. 3:10). Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings because he knew that by them he was able to participate in the suffering required to bring others into Christian maturity (Col. 1:24). We tend to want to go immediately from “denying ourselves” to “following Jesus.” But you can never follow Jesus unless you have first taken up your cross. There are aspects of God's redemptive work that can be accomplished only through suffering. Just as Christ had to suffer in order to bring salvation, there will be hardships you may have to endure in order for God to bring salvation to those around you. Jesus did not talk with His disciples about the cross until they had come to know He was the Christ (Matt. 16:21). You will never be able to endure the suffering of the cross unless you have first been convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Once you have settled your relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God's will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow Him. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day
Oh my dear reader, oh so many of us seek others to explain to us how to find the Will of God in our lives. I included myself in that group.
It's rather interesting, at least for me, that this particular devotional of his comes soon after my wondering about this very topic, taking up my cross and following Christ.
I have been well over 7 weeks now restarting my journey back through the Bible. I am in Leviticus. Something awesome hit me this morning that has everything to do with this from Blackaby.
In Romans it is written that the wages of sin is death. Chapter 6 verse 23.
Wages are what is given for something done. Agreed upon in advance. But how? You ask, how did I agree to what Romans 6:23 said? Actually it was agreed upon by the first guilty pair. Adam and Eve. God said it was binding to all generations.
In Leviticus and earlier we see how involved sin is in everyday life. It permeates everything.
Taking up our cross has everything to do with denying self and obedience to God.
We are just as deserving as all mankind is concerning sin. Only by coming to Christ, by receiving His free gift of Salvation, does God not see us, but sees Christ in us instead.
We can only learn in steps. Guess what, physically you can only move a large load, such as your cross, in steps.
But the truth to this is this, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The only one of the twelve to complain was Judas. It was to be that way. Jesus was patient and kind in His teaching His followers. He's no different with us. Same burden lifted by them is lifted by us.
Letting go of all the cares of this life is where they began. One purpose, one focus, on Christ alone. There was no storage unit full of their stuff to come back to later should their time with Jesus not work out. Their only possessions were on them. They admit they left everything to follow Christ. Read it. Those are their own words.
Read Paul on this subject to Timothy.
"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." 2 Timothy 2:1-7 NASB
They learned in stages, so do we. In our lives we have learned everything we know of life in stages. In your youth you cared not about things that concerned adults. As a youth you cared not about the things of infants. You had no context for understanding. In time you learned.
We live in a world that is impatient concerning learning. They want instant access, 3D printed, microwave results. Immediate acceptance without working for it.
No so for the believer in Jesus.
He often took His Disciples aside to get away from everyone to give them rest. To teach them in a more personal way.
Before a soldier is allowed on the battlefield he or she must learn what it is to be a soldier first.
Our enemy isn't other people. It's a fallen angel named Satan. As I read yesterday too. Satan is not the opposite of God. Satan's got a counterpart, it's Michael the Archangel. God has no equal.
We need to separate our thinking from the world. It's learning what is important to our Master, Jesus Christ. The instructions set forth for us are the same given to them. We don't just get saved then immediately jump into the Great Commission. Yes some have gifts for various purposes such as evangelism, but that's the Spirit working in willing people. Even evangelists need the same time in prayer and the Word of God as the rest of us. They are a mouthpiece of the Spirit. As Paul mentioned in his writing of the various parts of the body of Christ.
So realize that our lives are not about the things that are see. Taking up our cross is living in obedience to the one to whom we serve. Living for Jesus a life that is true. Striving to please Him in all that I do. As the hymn goes.
But what about all that life has to offer? It is true life has a lot to offer. But our first priority is living for Jesus.