Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Take up Thy Cross – Part 1

This week, Michael writes that in Luke Chapter 9, Jesus continued his training of the twelve disciples. He reminded them twice in this passage that He would go to Jerusalem to be beaten and tortured and then He would have to die. Jesus was dedicated to His mission to draw men and women unto Him, to have fellowship with Him. Ever since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, fellowship was broken between God and Man. Christ’s mission was to redeem mankind by paying the price for sins and the sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. We've been redeemed by Jesus' payment for our debt of sin through the sacrifice of His innocent blood. We have been bought with a price. Because of our righteousness in Him, those “born again” of the Spirit have been reconciled to God in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

After Adam's fall, God asked Adam, "Why were you hiding from me?" Adam said, "Because I was naked and ashamed." God said to Adam, "Who told you that you were naked?" The devil has been reminding us of our shame and our shortcomings ever since. However, the “wisdom from above” is learning to see life from God's point of view, not Satan's. Jesus came to reconcile men and women back to God ...  to restore the broken fellowship between God and mankind. In a “fallen” world, if we look around us, if we look at others, or at the person in the mirror, we'll be depressed. However, when we look to the Lord, we'll be blessed. The devil will try to get you to "eat your words."  He'll accuse us of being hypocrites when we speak the Word, because the Word is perfect, but in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. When the crisis comes, God expects his people to be the reliable ones ... ones in whom His testimony is true and faithful. When you become a Christian, the call to worship is "the Lord, your God, is one God." We shall worship Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We shall worship him with our very essence. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Our strength and our perfection is not in our flesh, but only in His gift of Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Christ in us.  In verse 23 of Luke 9 Jesus said, "If any man desires to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me." The five thousand men in the crowd had just been fed. They were in awe of Jesus because He had performed a miracle by feeding the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus told His twelve disciples, if you want to be my disciplined followers, you need to forsake yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me. Jesus said two things are required to follow Him.  The first is to give up the rights to yourself ... to deny yourself. The second is to take up your cross daily. The cross is the symbol of death, shame, ridicule, and mocking ... for cursed is anyone who hangs on a cross. The people understood that the cross was a symbol of a shameful death for sin, guilt and iniquity. Before we can follow Him, we must crucify our flesh. Jesus said, “For whosoever shall save his life shall loose it.  But whosoever shall loose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

In Chronicles, the there are four prerequisites to hear from heaven: to humble yourself, to forsake your wicked ways, to pray, and to seek His face. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, they taunted Him saying, “if you're the son of God, walk off of the cross and save yourself.” He could have called 72,000 angels from heaven, but He didn't. It wasn't the nails that kept Him hanging on the cross. Rather, it was the love that He had for us ... for He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Let's continue Michael's message on "taking up your Cross" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

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