“And He said to them all, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me’.”

Luke 9:23

     You can’t follow Him and stay where you are.

     The terms seem so difficult, so austere:  “If you would come after Me, deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me.”

     What happened to the “health, wealth and prosperity” gospel, where everything’s going to come up roses because God wants me to have the best?  Having no place to lay your head (Lk. 9:58). . .being continually ridiculed, maligned, mocked, mistreated, misunderstood, etc. . .and being expected to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt. 6:44). . .doesn’t sound too exciting or inviting.
     Yet, it’s the only way to “be the children of the Father which is in Heaven” (Mt. 5:45).

     And, it’s the only way to be a true follower/disciple of Christ.

     The only Way.
     It’s walking the way He walked.  Talking the way He talked.  Treating others the way He treated them (and us).

     We can’t do it in our own strength.  Partly because we’re incapable of doing so.  And, partly because we don’t want to.
     That’s why “being crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) is an indispensable part of “denying (Grk. ‘arneomai’—‘to disavow, contradict, reject, refuse, etc.’) ourselves.”  By nature, our choices are always AGAINST God.  By nature, we’ll choose SELF over the Savior in the blink of an eye.
     But, no one said “taking up our cross daily” would be easy.  Or painless.  Or quick.

     It’s a slow death.  An agonizing death—for the “old man” dies slowly and is quickly resuscitated.

     And, all of this is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit.  No one will feel “blessed” and want to “leap for joy” when persecution comes without His in-filling (Lk. 6:22-23; 1:15, 41, 44).  No one.  Instead, we want to harbor resentment. . .a “root of bitterness” (Heb. 12:15). . .feeling pious while muttering “He’ll get his one of these days” or “What goes around comes around,” forgetting “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord; I will repay” (Rom. 12:19).
     So, stop right now and ask yourself, “Do I really want to follow Christ?  Am I serious when I say ‘Yes, Lord, I’ll deny myself, take up my cross and follow You’ or is that just cheap talk rooted in cheap grace?”

     As someone said, “The proof of the pudding’s in the eating.”
     You’ll know your answer this morning when someone insults you. . .cuts you off in traffic. . . takes advantage of you. . .steps on you to get ahead. . .belittles you for what you believe.  Don’t say “I’ll follow You, Jesus” unless you’re willing to go where He goes, say what He says and do what He would do.  And, if you are, hang on for the ride.  The “Best is yet to be.”

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated March 28, 2010

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