Take Up Your Cross & Follow Him

Ever since the message about “Simple Faith – All In, ” I have had the concept of “taking up our cross to follow Jesus” stuck in my head.
But what does it mean to “take up our personal cross?”
When he described this choice, Jesus had a decision that only he recognized. On one hand was a path that other people wanted for him, to make him king of the Israelites. They could have deposed Herod, put Jesus in the place David once held, therein fulfilling their limited, social understanding of who their Messiah would be.
Or as Jesus knew, he could give himself over to the people in a different way, to torture and death, sacrificed because humanity is too broken and sinful to honor goodness and truth when it stands in our midst.
Only Jesus knew that through death on the cross, he would become the ultimate King of all nations, the Savior and the mighty Lamb. Only Jesus valued that path more than becoming the king of a small, impoverished nation, fully under Roman occupation. See almost every time, we humans will choose a lesser victory rather than accepting the challenge and pain of acquiring God’s purpose for our lives. Let me reiterate that – EVERYONE else wanted Jesus to aspire to being king of the poor, occupied, conquered Jewish nation of that time… NOT King of kings for all time and all people.
Only Jesus pursued his calling, his purpose from God. No one else understood.
And only Jesus had to literally carry the cross to become Savior of the universe. For the rest of us our cross is not literal, but a description of our burden, our pain, that stands between us now, and the life God calls us towards.
The choice is always ours. We can live a lesser path. We can become kings of our own broken country. Or we can pursue God’s will alone, and live the triumph only He knows is ours to claim.
It won’t be easy.
We will have to let go of our false hopes.
We will have to deal in truth.
It will likely hurt sometimes.
It will take great courage.
It will require trust in God – the One who sees what we cannot yet see.
Yet it will be greater than any other possibility for our lives.
“Take up your cross, and follow Him.”
In Christ!

-M4



Simple Faith-One Thing

Through media and other social pressures, our nation has become one of tantalizing and convenient fast food, but also one so defined by image that it seems every other person is on a diet. Although the desire to shed a few pounds and exercise honors God and the life and body He has given all of us, we have another responsibility, which is to shed some excess weight spiritually.
How many of us have carried excess “baggage” in our hearts and on our minds for so long, that we aren’t even aware of how it affects who we have become and how we interact with others?
As difficult as it is to admit to a weight or health issue and to take the step to sign up for a gym membership, the most difficult part is keeping consistent—getting the weight off and keeping it off!
In Mark 10: 21-22 Jesus responded to a man who had appealed to him regarding his good intentions; he had always followed the commandments, and so the man felt that by doing so, it was good enough to guarantee his entrance into Heaven: “21 Jesus looked him hard in the eye – and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” 22 The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”
Admittance of what we carry around on our hearts and cannot let go of, is what weighs us down from truly allowing God to do His work in our lives. It is also one of the most difficult things to do. We all have “extra weight” that is affecting our interactions and self-perceptions in the workplace, in relationships, and in our family life. Take the first step and keep consistent! —Pray to God in a prayer of admittance. Then, pray a prayer of redemption and thankfulness.—You will feel the weight lifted as He embraces you, loves you, and lifts your burdens.
God is With You.



Simple Faith – Let Go

All of us have been around people who constantly seem to complain about anything and everything. We typically respond in one of two ways: 1) excuse ourselves with reference to something we must attend to in the near future, or 2) engage and add fuel to their fire—misery loves company, right? At times it’s as if certain people cast their complaints wide, just waiting for the nearest prey to wrap up in their web of negativity. Beware! Webs are precarious! At a moment of weakness, you can become encompassed and devoured! However, there IS a third option: bring light to the situation and invite God in to guide you to help the person with whatever is pressing on their heart. Be a servant to others as Jesus has led us to be. “5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6 He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7 Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8 Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. 9 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything…” Philippians 2 (The Message).
At work, at home, during sporting and social events, weave not a web for dissenting company, but weave a beautiful tapestry for them. Help them and serve them and you will honor God.
God is with you.