Following Jesus – Values

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“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 What is the value of the Cross? Do we really understand what the Cross of Jesus is worth? I don’t believe that we do. We need to look closely at one of the most valuable things that God did for us. When measured by the Cross, no sacrifice we make is too great, no amount of suffering we endure is too unbearable, no burden we carry is too heavy, and no assignment we receive from God is too difficult. The glory of the Cross should humble us. Our worldly ambitions and achievements are worth nothing beside the Cross of Jesus Christ. Isaac Watts says it well, “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. Must Jesus bear the Cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.” When we bear the Cross, we save our lives. A life without the Cross is a wasted life. No matter how much enjoyment we experience or accomplishment we achieve, without the Cross our life is fruitless. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who […]

Following Jesus – Focus

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“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 If we are identified with Jesus Christ and we are taking up our cross daily, we have focus. Our hearts and minds will have a new direction. They will be directed heavenly. “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3) If by the Cross of Jesus Christ we are raised from the dead and we have a new life, I cannot image why we would not want to put our focus on the things of God. When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he did not leave on his grave clothes. He removed these clothes so that he could be free. If we are walking with Jesus in our new life, Christ is in us and we are in Him. We can’t imagine making plans or taking steps without considering His will. As we walk together with Jesus Christ, we become so united to Him we sense what will please Him and what will grieve Him. We will seek to do only those things that will please Him. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and […]

Following Jesus – Freedom

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“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 For the Disciple of Jesus Christ, the Cross means freedom. “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8) We were at one time slaves to sin, now because of the Cross we have our freedom in Jesus Christ. We have been identified with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. When He died, you died with Him and you were buried with Him. When He arose, you arose with Him, leaving the old life in the grave and walking in the newness of life. When He ascended, you ascended with Him to sit with Him on the throne of glory. You are identified with Jesus Christ in every victory He has won and every blessing He has gained. Because of the victories that Jesus won on the Cross we have the freedom in Him. With these wonderful privileges bring with them great responsibilities. The first of which is to present ourselves to Christ in total surrender to Him. “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” (Romans 6:13) To have the freedom, we must give it all to Jesus Christ. This is what it […]

Following Jesus – The Cross

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“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 Here Jesus is telling us to take up our Cross and follow Him. Before we can take up our Cross, we need to understand what this Cross of Jesus Christ is all about. The Cross of Jesus Christ is much more than a symbol of the Christian faith. It is much more than the symbol we wear around our necks and the Cross that we display in our Churches. It is so much more. It is the secret of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Roman world, it was an object of shame and scorn. To the Disciple of Jesus Christ, it is a source of blessing and glory. It is a symbol of life, not death, to the born-again Disciple. This is why Paul writes, “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6::14) It’s the Cross that makes all the difference. Once you have been identified with the Cross and understand some of the accomplishments of His death and resurrection, you will never be the same again. “Christ died for our sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:3) is a statement so simple that a child can believe and be saved, but so profound that a theologian can never fully understand. We do need some understanding before we can take up our cross and follow Him. In the next few devotions, we will be looking […]

Following Jesus – Endure

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“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 We have a real problem in the world that we live in; no one wants to commit. We see people start something only to stop when the going gets a little tough or things don’t go according to their plan. I write all the time that rest and peace come from walking with God. It does, but it is not always easy. In life sometimes we wonder why in the world I feel such peace. I look at what is going on in my life and it can be very upsetting. Not just my life but the lives of the ones that are close to me. I love the way that the Message puts this scripture, “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” (Matthew 10:38-39) Jesus tells us, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) If we stay with our walk with Jesus Christ, we will make it, but it will take commitment. It will take total trust in Jesus Christ; giving all to Him.

Following Jesus – Submission

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“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 If we want the rest that Jesus can give, we need to submit to His yoke. We call ourselves disciples, but are we submitted to the yoke of Jesus? Are we willing to be attached to Jesus and go where He leads? Many of us start out slipping the yoke around our necks and then we walk a few steps and we stop. We refuse to trust in His gentleness and goodness. We look at the yoke and think it does not fit when in reality, it is designed to make us like Him, but it also is tailor made for us. As disciples, we must learn about the yoke and what it does for us. Just as with anything new in life, we must learn how to wear the yoke of Jesus. If we will only let Jesus teach us, we will be able to bear the yoke and feel the rest. Discipleship is about learning from Jesus. We cannot expect to know it all the first time we put on the yoke. It will take time as we are taught by Jesus and we study God’s Word. The longer we walk with Jesus, the easier it becomes to wear the yoke. Then the rest will come. “For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. […]

Following Jesus – Loving Invitation

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“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 We are all ragdolls. We are flawed, wounded, broken and bent. “We choose to deceive when the truth begs to be spoken. We grumble when a little generous praise is called for. We deliberately betray when we’re bound by oaths of loyalty. Like a splash of ink in a glass of water, this raggedness permeates our whole being. Our words and thoughts are never entirely free of it. We are ragdolls, all right.” But we are God’s rag dolls. He knows all about our raggedness, and He loves us anyway. Our raggedness is no longer the most important thing about us.” (John Ortberg) He loves us and in this scripture He bids us “Come to Me.” He tell us that I love you no matter who you are or what you have done. I love you so much that I want you to become yoked with Me so that I can help you through this life. I want to make your journey easy so that you don’t have to carry all the burdens of the world by yourself. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20) Accept this loving invitation and He will give you rest.

Following Jesus – Easy Yoke

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“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 I love this scripture. This scripture means so much to me because I need the rest of Jesus in my life. Do you need this is your life? At one point in my life, even after I knew that God had a calling on my life, I left the ministry and also I left God. As always, the hounds of heaven never quit, God finally won, but not without a fight and lots of discussion on our part. God was calling me back and all I could tell God was that I had been a failure at any ministry that I had tried. Guess what, God agreed with me. He told me that the reason for my failure was that I was trying to do the ministry by myself. I was trying to do all the planning. I was trying to force open the doors where I felt that God wanted me to go. Then I gave up and told the Lord that I would do whatever He wanted me to do. I would depend on Him to lead me and open the doors that needed opening and close the ones that were wrong. I stand in amazement that this really does work. God really will lead you in the right direction and He will give you the peace that passes all understanding. Do you feel weary? Come to Jesus and He will give you rest.

Following Jesus – Understanding

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“The Lord says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might. At last they will know and understand that I am the Lord.” Jeremiah 16:21 In the last few weeks, I have been writing on the commandments of Jesus. The ones that we just don’t quite understand. We read them and we think, Lord is that really what you mean by that scripture. I know as I write and pray about these devotions, I do understand more and more. There are still things I cannot understand. Why God heals some here on earth and He takes some to heaven which is the ultimate healing? Why does bad things happen to good people? I believe that the reason we don’t understand is found in the Book of John, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) We are too much of the world. We are part of this world, but we are only pilgrims. We have not quite come to the realization that the things of this world will pass away and be no more. Nothing here on earth will last for eternity. I mean nothing. Just as Paul tells us, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (Philippians 3:7) Everything in this world is worthless when compared to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. When God shows His power to us, we then can understand that He is our Lord and He loves us so much. Remember that we live in a physical world, but we are part of the spiritual world. This spiritual world will last forever.

Following Jesus – Solid Foundation

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“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 I have been writing about the narrow and the wide road. It seems that we have a choice which road we are going to take. Just as I wrote earlier, the road less traveled is the narrow road and this is the road that I took many years ago. It was only because of God and His leading that I took this road because I was very much on the wide road leading to death and destruction. I love these verses starting in verse 24. It has to do with which road we choose to take. If we are listening and obeying the teachings of Jesus, which is the narrow road, we are building a firm foundation. This is what we must have if we are going to make it in this world that is falling apart. Jesus goes on to tell us, “Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:25) When our world feels like it is falling apart and we don’t know where to turn, we turn to the bedrock which is Jesus Christ our Savior. The last few months in our family has been a time of the floodwaters rising and the wind blowing again our lives. It has been a time of testing and a time of learning. It has been a time of, “Lord, I don’t understand?” It has been a time of ruthless trusting in Jesus. Trusting that He knows the future better than me and He is in control of that future. I am going to build my house on […]