Monday, September 18, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures on the topic of taking up our cross.
Treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Lord Jesus has been impressing on my heart for a while now the thought of a time that is coming in America, in particular, when we are going to have a financial crash of some kind, but at the hand of thieves who come to steal, kill and destroy, but from within our own nation, not from without. Yet, economics is not my strong suit, so I don’t comprehend it all. But, I do know that the “beast” is going to bring the world to the point where we can’t buy or sell unless we have its mark, so just from what the Word alone teaches, we know this is inevitable. We already know that our dollar is not worth anything, i.e. it an I.O.U., so America could go bankrupt, and at the hands of our own government, in agreement with their political allies in the world of banking and industry, i.e. the wealthy and powerful of the world.
So, our focus needs to be on our Lord God and on his kingdom and not on the things (possessions, wealth) of this world, because it could all go away in a flash. Yet, even if it didn’t, still we are not to focus our time, attention, value, passion and devotion on things that are bound to go away. But, we are to store up treasures in heaven. Our time, resources, talents, passion and affection should go to ministering to people’s needs and to sharing with them the gospel of our salvation instead of living for self-pleasure, fun, entertainment, and storing up “stuff” that is just going to rot one day anyway. We need to hold lightly the things of this world, and not make them our gods, and be ready to respond with grace when the time comes when our human resources all disappear. And, we must be about living for God and using what resources he has given us for his kingdom and for his glory.
A Person’s Enemies (Matthew 10:34-39)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
There is much talk these days both about “unity” and “peace.” But, what kind of unity, and what kind of peace is the question, even within the gatherings of the church. Much of it is unity with humankind and humanistic philosophy, values, morals, marketing schemes, attitudes and behaviors, and NOT unity with God/Christ and His Word. Much of it is also peace with other humans, but at the cost of compromise of truth, faith and conviction. So, we need to know the difference so that we don’t fall for a lie thinking we are actually following the truth. For many liars and deceivers exist even within the gatherings of the church who are leading God’s people astray.
Many of these liars and deceivers also mischaracterize Jesus, his mission, and his ministry on the earth, and in order to support their manipulations of truth. They do this to gain disciples after themselves, not after Jesus Christ. So, they paint Jesus as this “do-gooder” who went around making everyone feel good about themselves and who never made waves or made anyone uncomfortable or who never offended anyone with his words or actions. And, thus they promote that, to be like Christ, that is how we should also act.
But, Jesus didn’t come here to make everyone feel good or to be accepting of all religions and sinful addictions or immoral lifestyles. He came here to deliver us out of addiction (slavery) to sin and to free us to now come under the control of his righteousness, for this is why he died. What he taught stepped on a lot of toes, and made people very uncomfortable and even angry, and that is what got him killed. So, if we follow the Jesus of the Bible, and not the man-made version, we can expect to be hated and persecuted, not have everyone like us. Even people of our own faith, in our own cities, and in our own families are likely to turn against us and to reject us when we stand on what is truth and we reject the lies of Satan, so be prepared that if you truly follow Christ with your life, that it could cost you your life.
Losing and Saving (Luke 9:23-26)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
So many people today are teaching a false grace do-nothing “entitlement” gospel message which has Jesus doing everything for us but with us being required nothing in return. But, that is just not biblical. Jesus said we have to deny self and die daily to sin if we want to be his disciples. Paul said the same when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) after the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, we will live with Christ for eternity. The Bible does not teach that nothing is required of us. It teaches the opposite, for if we profess faith in Christ, but we continue living sinful lifestyles, in addictive sinful behavior, we do not have the hope of heaven when we die, but a fearful expectation of judgment. If we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we have to walk in obedience to him and to his Word.
For Our Good (Hebrews 12:7-11)
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Yet, we still live in these flesh bodies, and we still have the propensity to sin against God, so God disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness, and that it might yield a harvest of righteousness in the lives of those of us who have been trained by it.
What this discipline looks like, though, could vary depending upon the individual or depending on what God needs to do in an individual’s life to mature him or her in his or her faith and to conform them to his likeness. Yet, what we do know is that God’s Word says we will go through hardships, trials, persecutions and troubles, and that through these we will learn perseverance, patience, compassion and to rely on God and not on ourselves, among other things. So, such trials are for our good, and we should not fear them when they do come, but we should trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives, submit to his perfect will, and go with him wherever he sends us, for he has a plan and a purpose for it all.
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main
Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still mine own.
Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.
Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me; heav’n will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.