Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday's Thought of the Day !!

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." - Luke 9:23 (NIV)

This might be one of the most overlooked or disregarded verses in the whole bible for us Christians here in America.  It's not so in areas of the world where persecution is a daily thing.  But here, where we boast about our freedom, we are free to become lukewarm in our faith and complacent in our lives lived out for Jesus.  

"If anyone would come after me."  This means us who call on the name of the Lord Jesus to be our Savior.  As Christians we are followers of Christ.  We have felt the call to "come after" Jesus. 

"He (she) must deny himself."  Really?  How many of us make it a habit of denying ourselves of anything?  I could ask, "What would you give up for Jesus?", but the real question is "What are you giving up for him now?"  It's not that Jesus wants us to be denied of our pleasures.  But in a world that Satan has a grip on, there will be decisions everyday made that have to do with choosing Jesus or ourselves (the choice Satan wants us to make).  Will you deny yourself the television show that you know Jesus doesn't really want you watching?  Will you deny yourself that next alcoholic beverage when you know it will change you from having a drink to becoming drunk?  Will you deny yourself time spent on the couch so that you can spend it in God's Word and in prayer?  Will you deny yourself or break that law that everyone else does like speeding or fudging on your taxes?  And so on and so on it goes.  The list is endless of the choices we make daily.  We won't be perfect, but the question is, "Are we denying ourselves at all?"

"...take up his cross and follow me."  In Jesus' day the people understood the cross much differently that we do.  We wear them around our necks or hang them on walls to remind us of the glorious gift that God gave us through His Son.  But for the people then it was a reminder of pain and death.  There was no resurrection affiliated with it.  It was seen as a gruesome form of suffering.  Following Jesus in the Middle East or China or North Korea or other places where Christianity is illegal or just barely tolerated, means suffering.  Those people know that they are marked for life as criminals.  They're stuff can be confiscated.  They're lives can even be taken (legally in some places).  But here we claim that we suffer when someone takes the 10 Commandments out of a courtroom or says we can't pray in school.  Our suffering for Christ might be small here compared to other places, but we will have to endure some things for the cause of Christ.  Since we don't suffer much or often, when it does come up we might try to ignore it or get around it.  "Blessed are those who suffer for my sake", says Jesus in the Beatitudes.  Be blessed by Jesus by standing up for him.  But do so in the love that he teaches instead of the anger that Satan tries to get you to have.  Speak out in Jesus name to those who are on the wrong path, even though you might suffer.  Care for those who are less fortunate, even though you might suffer.  In other words, take up your cross and follow Jesus.

In the love of Christ,



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