Monday, May 18, 2020

The Cross and Your Cross

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25 There is no Christianity without a cross, for you cannot be a disciple of Jesus without taking up your cross. Crosses are painful; they forever change your life. But sometimes the greatest cost will not be to you but to those you love. You may be prepared to obey the Lord's commands, whatever they are, because you’ve walked with Him and know that His way is best. Yet there will be those close to you who have not related to Jesus in the same way and have not heard His voice as clearly. Jesus understood that His Father's will for Him led to a cross. The cross would mean a painful death for Jesus, and it would also bring suffering to those closest to Him. Because of the cross, Jesus’ mother would watch in agony as her son was publicly humiliated, tortured, and murdered. Jesus’ aunt and close friends would witness His excruciating death. His disciples would be scattered in terror and confusion in what would be the longest, darkest night of their lives. Because of Jesus’ obedience, there would also be a cross for each of His disciples. Obedience to your Lord's commands will affect others (Luke 14:26). Don’t refuse to obey what you know God is asking because you fear the cost to your family will be too great. Beware lest you seek to prevent those you love from taking up the cross God has for them. Don’t ever try to protect those you love by disobeying God. The cost of disobedience is always far greater. Rather, look to Jesus, your model, and see what it cost those around Him for Him to be obedient to His Father. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

It's sort of hard to take when it's put in a way that Blackaby writes.  It's truth alright, but sometimes it's a hard truth to accept. 

In our over sensationalized world trying to ride on every emotion we can possibly be stirred up to know a cross awaits each who comes to Christ is huge. 

Far too many Churches, let alone the judgmental outside looking in, teach a prosperity gospel.  One that really isn't found in the Bible.  To those on the outside looking in, in their condemnation of those within the Church, they mock and ridicule for their not having eyes to see. 

Jesus is THE authority on the Word of God.  He is the author. He also is the author and perfecter of our faith. 

If Jesus tells us that it's going to be difficult, but worth it, then that's what we should expect.  Of course we all would like to coast into Heaven.  But coasting doesn't produce growth. 

Many a fantastic looking tree are felled by a small storm due to shallow roots. 

We grow because the Holy Spirit loves us too much to leave us the way in which we were found by Christ.  It's probably not the perfect example but it's graphic enough to get the real point across.  The scene in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. When on the operating table Anakin is crying out in unsubdued pain while the robots removed the charred remnants of his fiery ordeal.  We too will often be in mental, physical and emotional pain as the Spirit does His work in us bringing us to be more like Christ.  Christ suffered heading to the cross. Christ suffered on the cross.  We who have come to Christ went through something getting to the foot of the cross. After coming to Christ we take up our cross.  To carry it means something. It really had better mean something more than what we often bring it out to mean.  

We began a revival series at Church last night.  There was a packet of worksheets to go through, questions to answer.  It was meant to get you to be real with yourself and God.  It by itself is only as good as how honest you are willing to be with Jesus and you.  

The hardest part in life is often our being real with ourselves more so than with others.  We can quite easily deceive others with a turn of a phrase or a quip. When we deceive ourselves, it's harder on us when the Spirit confronts it.

We cannot go through the Christian life without our cross.  Jesus said it's ours upon coming to Christ.  Life isn't guaranteed to be all roses and balloons. Jesus said that you will have enemies. His enemies will become ours. We are to be encouraged though because the world threw its best at Jesus and He overcame the world.  Satan did his best but Jesus prevailed. He is also a sore loser. 

To take up your cross means sacrifice.  There's many things that He shows us that have to go. The Spirit is another of the same kind as Jesus.  The Paraclete.  I really have a personal dislike at calling Him a Holy Ghost.  Because He is far from resembling a dead Spirit. He is alive and is equal to the Father and Jesus.  Holy Spirit has the connotation of life. Real life. 

Jesus said He would teach us all things. He would seal us for the day of His return. 
He would convict the world concerning sin. His power is equal to Jesus.  
And He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He is in us.  He sees past our distractions and our deceptions.

He has new clothes for us to wear but first we must be washed and cleaned up. Then begins the walking in obedience.  

We must, for a little while, go through much here on Earth. But with the Spirit of God we can make it.  It may not be pleasant but we can make it.  We may not like it at first but part of this walk, part of carrying your own cross, is denying yourself. 

Prayer was not just a habit of Jesus while He was here, it was essential. 
Prayer should be our habit.  We should be in our Bible.  Should be setting our minds on things above and not the things down here so much.  
We should be living as the Spirit directs. Should be letting go of what entangles us. 
Our feelings often get in our way.  We don't want to see people we care about suffering.  God doesn't either.  But what if this temporary suffering is to bring about something that is an answer to prayer? What if that painful moment is necessary for a breakthrough in someone else's life who is only watching from outside the family of God? 

We see death as an end, the Spirit sees it as a next step.  He sees it as a healing sometimes.  We often get the world's ideas on death mixed up with what the Spirit teaches. 

To take up your cross means a lot.  It means more to me now than it once did years ago.  But the funny thing is the more things that I let go of the closer to God I think I have come.  I let go of television many years ago.  I still enjoy snippets of video clips now and then but I don't set aside hours on a couch binge watching.  As we heard in the sermon yesterday morning when we come to Christ we become doers not sitters.  I would rather be doing something to help someone than mindlessly watching television.  God has granted me so much in life by letting go of things that have been a waste. 

Where is your cross? Did you put it down or are you carrying it?  If we are to do everything as unto the Lord, not grumbling or complaining, how's that working out for you?  Is it something you need to ask forgiveness from God for?

Look at where your cross is.
Look at where your treasure is. 
Look at where you are with Christ. 

Are you growing or getting by? 

The servants who were entrusted with the Master's treasures were only rewarded by doing something with what they were given.  The one that didn't was rebuked for his inaction.  What are you doing to cultivate your walk with Jesus today?

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