“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
What have you given up to follow Christ?
A job? A relationship? Money and financial security? A lifestyle? A hobby, a lifelong dream?
American Christians have the tendency to twist Jesus’ teachings around until they fit comfortably into the American Dream. In all likelihood, If a person decides to follow Christ, there will ultimately be a sacrifice. A sacrifice of family, security, comfort, and or financial stability.
Believe it or not, there’s another version of Christianity out there, one that tells us that Jesus wants us to be happy, healthy, and financially secure… and while I don’t think that’s Biblical Christianity, it sure sounds a lot better to me when we are faced with uncertainty and challenges in life.
Let me ask you this: When life throws you a curve ball, what do you pray for? Are your prayers aimed at convincing God to not force you to make sacrifices in your life?
Today I want to tell you to emerge from your comfort zone. sacrificing financial stability, good health, and happy relationships is the whole point, and our prayers for happy resolutions to all our problems are just us furiously clinging to a false “suburban Christianity.”
Matthew 19:27-30 declares, Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
To surrender means to relinquish possession or control to another, to submit to the power, authority, and control of another. To Surrender to Jesus, is part of the pathway to maturity and an effective Christ-like ministry.
Let’s never forget the great benefit to God’s glory and kingdom that has come through the lives of thousands of people who have surrendered to agendas beyond their own. Some have gone to faraway lands as missionaries. Mothers have surrendered careers and opportunities for significance to teach their children God’s truth. Fathers have changed careers or turned down promotions that conflicted with God’s will for them or their families. Pastors have faithfully served in out-of-the-way places where no one knows their names or asks them to speak at high-profile conferences.
Sacrifice follows a life surrendered onto God. The aspect of sacrifice is emphasized in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
The bottom line is this: Christ voluntarily emptied Himself of anything and everything that stood in the way of the glory and gain of His Father through Him.
What about us? Although rights, privileges, pleasures, possessions, expectations, and well-formed plans may not be wrong in and of themselves, but are we willing to hold them loosely and even let them go—to sacrifice them—if emptying ourselves of them will enable us to fulfill God’s agenda for our lives?…
As Jesus made so indelibly clear in the metaphors of Matthew 6:19-24, a man’s heart (his aspiration, desires, pursuits) depends on his treasure, and what he treasures depends on his perspective or insight to life according to biblical and eternal values versus worldly and temporal values. Holding tightly to God’s kingdom determines priorities which in turn will determine one’s objectives and pursuits—what one is willing to surrender to and sacrifice for. Therefore, one who holds tightly to God’s kingdom may often have to say no to many things, even many good things, because they will get in the way of God’s plans for us.
Meditate on this question today, Will you lay down your life to follow Jesus?
Scripture of the day: For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
Copyright Reserved, 2012.
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