“What did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)?”

Take-up-your-cross
Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25). Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.

Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds. Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah, their view of who the Messiah really was—and what He would do—was distorted. They thought the Christ would usher in the restored kingdom. They believed He would free them from the oppressive rule of their Roman occupiers. Even Christ’s own inner circle of disciples thought the kingdom was coming soon (Luke 19:11). When Jesus began teaching that He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and their Gentile overlords (Luke 9:22), His popularity sank. Many of the shocked followers rejected Him. Truly, they were not able to put to death their own ideas, plans, and desires, and exchange them for His.

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.

In Luke 9:57-62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.

Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? The number of false converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27). The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26).

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Money or Water?

Water-Money
If you were offered a handful of $1,000 bills or a glass of cool water, which would you choose? The $1,000 bills, of course- anyone in his right mind would. However, if you were crawling through the desert, dying of thirst, and you were offered a glass of water or a handful of $1,000 bills, which would you take? The water of course-anyone in his right mind would. That’s called “circumstantial priorities.” Your priorities change according to your circumstances.

If there were a way to find everlasting life, would you want to know about it? The answer is “yes,” of course- anyone in his right mind would. What the Bible contains may surprise you. The scriptures speak of riches beyond our wildest dreams- the “riches” of everlasting life- and they are offered in the form of cool, clear water. “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). At the moment, you may not be interested in the offer, but on Judgment Day your circumstances will radically change. Then it will be too late.

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40 in the Bible!

40years-300x184

Instances in the Bible where God made major changes and transformations after the period of 40

It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over.(Gen 7:12 KJV) And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark.(Gen 8:6 KJV) And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

Embalming required 40 days (although this was an Egyptian custom, the Egyptians recognized the period of 40 for the preparation of going into a new life, what they called the afterlife)(Gen 50:3 KJV) And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE)(Exo 24:18 KJV) And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.(Exo 34:28-29 KJV) And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.(Deu 10:10 NIV) Now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and nights, as I did the first time, and the LORD listened to me at this time also. It was not his will to destroy you.

Moses’ face shone after the 40 days on the mountain.(Exo 34:29 KJV) And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit(Num 13:25 KJV) And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land.(Exo 16:35 KJV) And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.(Num 14:33-34 NIV) Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. {34} For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land-you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.

Goliath came for 40 days before being killed by David(1 Sam 17:16 NLT) For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army.

Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went 40 days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God(1 Ki 19:8 KJV) And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city.(Jonah 3:4 and 10 KJV) And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness(Mat 3:17 KJV) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.(Mat 4:1-2 KJV) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. {2} And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.

Jesus was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion(Acts 1:3 NIV) After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

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10 Scriptures to Pray for Children…

1. Pray that they know the Lord.

John 1:12 “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”

2. Pray that they Love the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

3. Pray that they grow in the Lord.

Luke 2:40 “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

4. Pray that they trust the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

5. Pray that they submit to the Lord.

James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to

you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

6. Pray that they serve the Lord.

Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your lights shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your

Father who is in Heaven.”

7. Pray that they have friends who love the Lord.

Proverbs 13.20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

8. Pray that they stand strong in the Lord.

Ephesians 6:10-11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able

to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

9. Pray that they work hard for the Lord.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the

inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

10.Pray that, if straying, they return to the Lord.

Isaiah 42:6 ” I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will take you by the hand and keep you, I will give you as a covenant

for the people, a light for the nations.”

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The Disciples Pledge

Following Christ
Today is a new day and I am a new creation through Christ Jesus. I choose to follow You, while You empower me to turn away from the sinfulness of this world. I surrender my life including my dreams & ambitions, my feelings & emotions, my time & energy, to You afresh this day. I know as I follow You today, You will put a spring in my step, and fresh joy in my heart. Give me Divine appointments where I can share Your Gospel and shine Your light into this hurting world. I remember that although most people won’t read a Bible today, I have the opportunity to show them Your love in a real and tangible way through my life. Help me to live up to that responsibility as I go today.

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. (Matt 16:24)

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Fantastic Words of Warning for Fathers ~ by John MacArthur

If you fail, father, to teach your son to fear God, the devil will teach him to hate God.

If you fail to teach your son to guard his mind, the devil will gladly teach him to have an open mind.

If you fail to teach your son to obey his parents, the devil will teach him to rebel and break his parent’s heart.

If you fail to teach your son to select his companions, the devil will gladly choose them for him.

If you fail to teach your son to control his body, the devil will teach him to give it over completely to lust.

If you fail to teach your son to enjoy the marriage partner that God has given him, the devil will teach him to destroy the marriage.

If you fail to teach your son to watch his words, the devil will fill his mouth with filth.

If you fail to teach your son to pursue his work, the devil will make his laziness a tool of hell.

If you fail to teach your son to manage his money, the devil will teach him to waste it on riotous living.

And if you fail to teach your son to love his neighbor, the devil will gladly teach him to love only himself.
John MacArthur

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God Is!

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It Will Cost You Everything

Paul Washer preaching the gospel.

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The Key

The Key

Back in the Old West, a number of men were upstairs in a boarding house amusing themselves with a game of cards when there was a cry from the street below of “Fire! Fire!” The men looked at one another in disbelief. One of the windows grew orange with the flames. “Wait!” said the dealer. “Let’s just finish this hand, we’ve got plenty of time- I have a key to the back door.” The men nodded in approval, then quickly picked up the dealt cards.

Precious minutes passed. One of the men became nervous as the flames licked through the now broken window. With darting eyes and a sweat-filled brow, he asked for the key. “Coward!” muttered the dealer as he tossed the key. Each of them then rushed to the door and waited with bated breath as the key was placed into the lock. “It won’t turn!” was the cry. “Let me have it!” said the dealer. As he tried in vain to turn the key, he whispered in horror, “It’s the wrong key!”

The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is the way to death.” The world with all of it’s false religions, want us to believe that God’s message is universal, but Jesus said in John 14:6, “I AM the Way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, No one comes to the FATHER, except through ME.”

“ Today, if you will hear His voice.”

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99 Balloons

God is Sovereign in all things for His purpose, and for reasons we don’t always understand.

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