Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Follow Me

And it happened that while He was praying alone,

the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them,
saying,“Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist,
and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”

And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying,

“The Son of Man must suffer many things
and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:18-24

What prompted Jesus who was praying alone, to ask the disciples: “Who do the people say that I am?” Maybe he was only opening the conversation to ask the next question. Once Peter answered correctly, Jesus then instructed them to be silent on this fact, and then for perhaps the first time explained to them what was about to happen to Him. He was to be murdered and resurrected on the third day. Surely this was a sad moment in their lives that without a doubt left all of them stunned and discouraged. Their Messiah crucified?

How could it be that the Holy Christ was to be crucified?

A thousand different thoughts must have been going through their minds. If we had been there, Peter’s reaction is one that most of us would have had much sympathy for. I cannot imagine the idea of Peter rebuking Christ, but he was obviously beside himself, and ready to defend Christ at any cost. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying; “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:22-23 We must always remember that what appears most logical, loyal, loving, and encouraging to us can often be the opposite of God’s will and purpose ... and a stumbling block to his plans for you and others. We must consider this truth daily and apply it to everything that we do and say, each of our remaining days on earth. Consider everything in the context of this question: “Is this my will; or Christ’s will?”

Jesus has given us three things we must do daily in this teaching that will transform our lives as we choose to live our remaining days on earth for Christ. They are clearly outlined in this most familiar verse.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

If we as Christians are serious about our commitment to Christ, we must take these words seriously.

First each believer must: “Deny Himself.” I know … you didn’t really want to do that … did you? Me neither! But of course Christianity is not about us deciding what is best for us ... is it? This is so hard for us alone; but not for us, with Him. We are talking about considering the needs of others as more important than our needs. You are to be sanctified by the blood of Christ, putting your old self on the cross daily. And actually caring about their salvation is more than you being embarrassed; or rejected, when you share the good news with them. Your lust and pride needs to be humbled to the things that would be most important to Jesus. It is as if He here, inside of you ... what would he do? This is so hard because it goes against the grain of your old nature, against everything that is in us of the world, and our old ways … and we can be sure the enemy will attempt to cause us to stumble daily. “What would Jesus do” really is a good question to ask the Holy Spirit daily as you meditate on your Lord, and set out to live for Him. "For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

We can have victory over our old self … as long as we daily have our mind, thoughts, vision, goals, plans, and priorities focused on Jesus, and those things that are eternal rather than temporal. Temporal pleasure is of diminished value to Christ, and so it must be for us also. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 New priorities, ideas and challenges, people to see, and new goals and plans will require new things to do each and every day. And you will be transformed as your mind is renewed and you abide above; here and now. There is no place for “me, myself, and I” … when we choose to stand on this ground. It is time to consider your hobbies, habits, relationship, friends, your career, in the context of being on a mission for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Those things that are not God’s best for you, will become apparent. Listen to the Holy Spirit … He will guide you in all wisdom and truth.

Next, you are told you must “Take Up your Cross Daily.” What is your cross today? Every day, Christ will give you something new that you need to die to. This is how he builds your character. You will want to resist and run from these challenges. This is how God helps us to become strong. This is the ground where we will have victory over the priorities of the world. Those things that are more important from a worldly point of view will now lose importance to you. We must put Him first in everything. In every choice, and every decision, we must place Christ first.

“The unique authority of Christianity rests not on great teaching, or feelings, or philosophies, or charismatic leaders, or the elevation of its followers to higher moral values, or any other temporal results. If it did, Christianity would have no more claims to authority than any other religion, cult, or philosophy. Christianity rests on historical proof: Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead to be our Lord for eternity.”
Chuck Colson … “Loving God”

This is the ground of Christian growth.

Third Christ says: you must “Follow Me” Memorize this verse and apply these words over and over all day long to that which is in front of you. He will transform your Life. These three instructions are not optional if you choose to come after Christ … all three are must dos. What is different about this third command? Well it is critical because so many are playing Christianity. They say they believe and will follow Him but in actuality ... they do the exact opposite, and then they pretend and play make believe Christianity. They profess Christ and then proceed to follow themselves, their feelings, wants, logic, plans lusts and pride; as well as other religions, and worldly teachings; and then they call it Christianity. When you are following Jesus, the Holy Spirit will set your agenda, and your things to do list. Wrong decisions will be a thing of the past. Think about it … Jesus never made a mistake. You can abide Above Now … here and now, every day. You can have His power and the Love of Christ will control you. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."
Luke 9:18-24

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

God Bless you my friend, Bob

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