Good morning, friends!! Today was a great day in the house of the Lord, and I pray you are having an amazing Sunday. 🙂
Today in church, Pastor Mike was continuing a sermon he began last week titled, “Follow the Star.” The three Kings, or Magi, were following the star because they knew it would lead them to Jesus Christ their Messiah.
They were travelling on a journey of thousands of miles bringing gifts, worship, and joy to baby Jesus.
Think about it, this journey was long, at least over a year, and the star continued to shine brightly and guided them to their Messiah!
This star lead them to the Savior, in the same manner that the cross you bear daily will lead you to the Savior.
I know that I combined a lot into that sentence, but when Pastor Mike said it this morning, it combined two things that God has placed on my heart this morning: Jesus’ birth and the cross we bear.
Over the last week and a half, the Lord has been placing one scripture heavily on my heart and mind. In fact, several of my daily devotionals have spoken to me on it. The scripture is Luke 9:23 (NIV)
Ok, God. Wow, this is a tough one. What does denying self mean, and how do I carry my cross daily?? The February 18th Experiencing God day-by-day devotional says this:
Your “cross” is God’s will for you, regardless of the cost. Taking up your cross is a choice; it is not beyond your control. You may have health problems or a rebellious child or financial pressures, but do not mistake these as your “cross to bear.” Neither circumstances you face nor consequences of your own actions are your cross.
Your cross will be to voluntarily participate in Christ’s sufferings as He carries out His redemptive purposes (Phil. 3:10). Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings because he knew that by them he was able to participate in the suffering required to bring others into Christian maturity (Col. 1:24).
We tend to want to go immediately from “denying ourselves” to “following Jesus.” But you can never follow Jesus unless you have first taken up your cross. There are aspects of God’s redemptive work that can be accomplished only through suffering.
Just as Christ had to suffer in order to bring salvation, there will be hardships you may have to endure in order for God to bring salvation to those around you. Jesus did not talk with His disciples about the cross until they had come to know He was the Christ (Matt. 16:21).
You will never be able to endure the suffering of the cross unless you have first been convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Once you have settled your relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. There is no Christianity without a cross.
If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God’s will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow Him.
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. (Gotquestionsministries.org).
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?
God’s will in my life will not look that same as yours, and if I am committed to following Him daily, it will always change according to His will. Right now, the Lord has me writing for Him, being a stay at home mom to my daughters and making a home for my family, volunteering my time helping in the church office, participating in bible studies, and seeking His will daily in developing my writing. I don’t know what my future holds, but God does, and I love the people He places in my life to love and minister to.
God’s will may also be: becoming a missionary in a far away land, accepting a job with half the pay to lead others to Christ, becoming a youth pastor and mentoring tomorrow’s generation, becoming a stay at home mom or dad and ministering to your children and their friends, working in the medical field and showing the love of Jesus to others in their weakest moments. The list goes on and on.
God will use your strengths, weaknesses, hurts, pain, brokenness, and every other part He has created in you when you completely surrender to Him. Apostle Paul said it best when he explained that his message came from Christ and that he was chosen before he was even born in Galatians 1: 11-16:
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…”
God did not waste any part of Paul–his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind or even his weaknesses. Are you willing to let God do the same for you?
You will never know all He can do with you until you allow Him to have all that you are: complete surrender!
Remember, the cross you bear daily can lead you to Jesus, in fact He wants you to cast all of your cares on Him, and He will sustain you. (Psalm 55:22).
All the Glory to God!!
Blackaby, Richard. Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 897-899). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Image of Bethlehem Star-Magi by Messianic Bible
Image of Deny Yourself by GrittyGrace.com
Image of Pick Up your Cross by lovedasif.com
“What did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me”?. Got Questions ministries.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/take-up-your-cross.html
6 thoughts on “Pick Up Your Cross”
Author Ryan Callahan
Amen, very well said! So true! God bless!
Thank you, Ryan. I sometimes struggle with the words and thoughts the Lord puts on my heart to share. Writing does not come naturally to me in any way.
I am writing out of complete obedience to Him…one day at a time…and I am excited to see where He takes me.
Please pray for me and this ministry He has given me.
I’m praying for you and your family.
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Author Ryan Callahan
Thanks for the prayers! I will be praying for you and your family too! Blessings to you all! 🙂
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Beautiful description Shannon! It’s a challenge for me to die to myself(some issues smolder..rather than go completely away..) I am so encouraged by you! The struggle is real and I am going to keep my eyes on Jesus and listen to that soft voice in my heart…!
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Amen sister! Thanks!
We encourage each other!