If You Want to Follow Christ . . .

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew16:24

The cross has become a symbol of many things today. We see it depicted as a religious icon and in ornate jewelry. Yet the real cross of history was the symbol of a very cruel death. For people of the first century, the cross was a hated, despised symbol.

The Romans crucified many people on the roads leading into their cities as a warning to anyone who would dare to defy the powers of Rome.

So, when Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 16:24, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (NKJV), the meaning was not lost on them.

Jesus made this statement at Caesarea Philippi, after He predicted His betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection. At this point, Simon Peter took an authoritarian position and began to rebuke Jesus, saying, Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! (verse 22 NKJV).

Essentially Peter was saying, Avoid the unpleasant! Avoid the difficulty! Don’t give up anything! Let’s just continue as we have been up to this point.

But Jesus was saying to Peter and the others, Look, if you want to be my disciples, then you, too, will have to deny yourself and take up your cross. Yet as you do that, you will find life as it was meant to be lived.

Sometimes we identify whatever is bothering us or plaguing us as our cross to bear. But that isn’t correct. The cross symbolizes the same thing to every person: it speaks of dying to self, of putting God’s will before our own.

The meaning of life, the purpose of life, is to know God. The best life to live is the Christian life. And to live it the most effectively, we must take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ

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This is not a new thing to believe in, for God has proven Himself faithful by fulfilling all His promises from the Old Testament to the New Testament. God wants you to have a firm grip on Him and you will not be disappointed

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

God always demands a response from us whenever He is about to do something great. When Joshua was promised that he would be able to lead the Israelites to the promised land, his response was great courage. God through Moses told him to be courageous and be not afraid because God demands a faithful, trusting response from us. This verse tells us to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for the sake of the things we hoped and prayed for in life. This is how we respond to God’s faithfulness. This is not a new thing to believe in, for God has proven Himself faithful by fulfilling all His promises from the Old Testament to the New Testament. God wants you to have a firm grip on Him and you will not be disappointed

The Price for Rejecting God

1 John 5:11-13

Many people believe they’ll go to heaven because they tried to live a good life, but the only way to spend eternity with God is to receive Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation. Whoever refuses the gift will be separated from the Him for all eternity.

For a person to be saved, he must first recognize that on his own, he is not good enough to deserve anything from God. His sin is rebellion that alienates him from his Creator. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t avoid sinning again because it’s his nature. However, if he turns to Christ in faith, all his sins are forgiven. He’s pronounced not guilty and is given a brand-new nature.

But if someone rejects the truth that salvation comes only through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, that person has nowhere else to turn. His good works aren’t enough to get him into heaven, because his transgressions remain unforgiven.

These words are not meant to scare you; they’re a warning about what the future holds if you reject the Lord’s offer of salvation. God has set before you a choice between eternal life and death. What will you choose?

Shalom

SBS

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”—John 19:30

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
MATTHEW 27:46
Although heartbreaking and brutal, the death of Jesus is hands down the most beautiful act of love this world has ever seen. And while the Scriptures paint a beautifully epic timeline of this event, there is one part that has always seemed to create curiosity within my heart — the time of God’s silence while Jesus was on the cross.

“When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”—John 19:30

Why was God silent? Where did he Go? Why did he forsake Jesus?

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”—Matthew 27:46

These words that Jesus cried out as he was hanging on the Cross have been the source of much debate among Christians throughout the years.

Regardless of why…God’s voice was absent.

I write this because I feel like many people today struggle with knowing God’s voice, curious as to whether or not God is hearing their cries. Regardless of why Jesus thought God to be silent upon the cross, I believe that even in God’s silence there is power. We may not always understand what God is doing in the moment, but we must trust that God will provide for those who are in need and bring support for those who need it — in his timing, not ours.

There have been many times in my life where I felt God to was silent but later realized that “silence” was actually God doing a mighty work within me — I just failed to realize it. What we perceive as God being silent isn’t always the reality, and we must trust that God knows what he is doing when it comes to taking care of the children he created.

Whether you have financial burdens, relationship problems or even health issues, trust that God is always present, even amidst what you perceive as silence. He’s still there. He’s still taking care of you. He’s still God.

Dear God, please remind me daily that your silence never signifies your lack of love or presence in my life. Thank you for being my provider, protector, and comforter even amidst the silence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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During some of the toughest times in my life I’ve been told that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle. And I hate to break it to you guys. But we’re wrong. We are all getting it SO wrong.

Value What You Have

A man once robbed a bank in Ottawa, Canada, stealing $6,000. But the interesting part of the story is this: When they arrested him and took him to jail, they discovered he’d used a 1918 Colt revolver to commit that crime. Now, anyone who knows anything about guns already understands the point of this story. This gun was valued at more than $100,000, yet this man robbed a bank for only $6,000. He could have simply sold the gun and walked away with more than ten times what he got in the robbery. But he didn’t sell the gun because he didn’t know the worth of what he held in his hand.

Similarly, if you ever discover all that you have in your relationship with God and your faith walk with Him, you’ll understand that you don’t have to settle for cheap substitutes. You don’t have to spend your time stuck in a prison of bitterness, resentment, regret, hopelessness or blame. Rather, if you just look at the value of what you already have in God by faith and how it can be used to bring about a greater good and God’s glory, then you, too, will experience the fullness of His promises made manifest in your life.

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Facing Adversity

But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. – 1 Corinthians 16:8-9

There’s no such thing as a perfect workplace. Regardless if we give our best, there will always be someone who’s displeased with us for no reason at all. Some people thrive against adversity and in this environment, while many don’t. My cousin falls into the latter, and for this reason, he’s forced himself to frequently change jobs. I told him that we absolutely cannot avoid opposition or our critics forever. At some point, we need to stand our ground and defend our principles. Apostle Paul was no stranger to opposition. When preaching in Ephesus, he had many enemies, yet he chose to stay. A riot even broke out against him. I couldn’t imagine a riot instigated against me. It must have been terrifying being hunted by an angry mob. We may not face this kind of adversity, but opening our doors will always mean letting in opponents. Be like Paul and don’t be afraid of them. Put your trust in God. Never allow the enemy’s actions to deter you from continuing to do good work

Humbly Help


Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”

Galatians 6:1

Brothers and sisters, if someone gets caught in sin, you who are spiritual should tell as many people as possible and kick them while they’re down.

Have you ever read that verse? No, you haven’t, because it isn’t in the Bible. But you would think that it is when you see the actions of some people.

The Bible says that hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV).

We find a classic example of this in the way Jesus responded to the woman who was caught in adultery. He said, Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? . . . Neither do I. Go and sin no more (John 8:10, 11 NLT).

Galatians 6:1 tells us, Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself (NLT).

We want to restore those who have fallen. We want to help them get back on their feet. Some people who fall into sin don’t know how to get out of the pit they’re in. They don’t know how to break free.

That’s where you and I come in. You who are godly, Paul said, should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.

We also should note that the phrase overcome by some sin in Galatians 6:1 implies that it wasn’t premeditated. It speaks of someone who lowered their guard and got caught, like an animal in a trap.

Yes, they messed up, but it’s our job to restore them. How? Gently. The Greek word Paul used for restore refers to setting a broken bone or putting a dislocated limb back into place.

We should always desire to restore, not condemn, a person who is caught in sin

Shalom

SBS

A Little Religion?

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. Col2:14-15

When people want to change, they might say, Maybe I need a little religion.

But a little religion isn’t going to help them. What they need is a whole lot of Jesus, not a little religion.

That’s because Jesus Christ dealt a decisive blow against the devil and his minions when He cried out from the cross of Calvary, It is finished! (John 19:30 NKJV).

I believe those words reverberated through the corridors of Hell and sent a shiver down the spine of every demon because they realized the stranglehold they had on humanity was broken.

During Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, the Bible tells us that the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me (Matthew 4:8–9 NKJV).

But Jesus told him, Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve (verse 10 NKJV).

In other words, No, I am not giving in to that temptation. I’m going to go the cross. I’m going to bear the sin of the world, and I’m going to rise from the dead. And from the cross of Calvary, I’m going to say, ‘It is finished!’ You know what that means, and I know what that means.

When you put your faith in Christ, you can be free of the power of sin and no longer have to live with the guilt. And best of all, you can know with complete assurance that when you die, you will go to Heaven

The Bible says that at Calvary, Jesus disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:14–15 NLT).

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