Matthew 16:24 - Deny Self - Take Up Your Cross - Follow Jesus.

Matthew 16:24 - Deny Self - Take Up Your Cross - Follow Jesus.

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) 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.  

Matthew 16:24 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone 
would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and 
follow me. 

Matthew 16:24 (EAV) Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone 
desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight 
of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross 
and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My 
example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. 

Matthew 16:24 (TLB) Then Jesus said to the disciples, "If anyone 
wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his 
cross and follow me. 


   Sin causes us to be self-centered, shifting our hearts from 
God to self. The essence of salvation is an about-face from 
self-centeredness to God-centeredness. The Christian must spend a lifetime denying 
self. Our great temptation will be to affirm ourselves while we follow 
Jesus. James and John did this when they chose to follow Jesus but 
asked for the two most prominent positions in Jesus' kingdom (Mk 
10:35-37). James and John wanted a discipleship that would not impede their 
personal desires and aspirations. Like them, we say, "Lord, I want to be 
pleasing to you, but I want to stay where I am." 
   Self-centered people try to keep their lives unruffled and 
undisturbed, safe and secure. Our temptation is to give our time and effort 
to the goals of this world. Then, when we are successful in the 
world's eyes, we seek to bring God into our world by honoring Him with 
our success. We may say, "Now that I have succeeded in business [or 
sports, or politics, or with my family, or even Christian ministry], I 
want to give God the glory for it!" God is not interested in 
receiving secondhand glory from our activity. God receives glory from His 
activity through our lives. 
   The world will entice you to adopt its goals and to invest in 
temporal things. Resist the temptation to pursue your own goals, asking 
God to bless them. Rather, deny yourself and join the activity of 
God as He reveals it to you. [Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry 
and Richard Blackaby re Mat. 16:24] 


   Your "cross" is God's will for you, regardless of the cost. 
Taking up your cross is a choice; it is not beyond your control. You 
may have health problems or a rebellious child or financial 
pressures, but do not mistake these as your "cross to bear." Neither 
circumstances you face nor consequences of your own actions are your cross. 
Your cross will be to voluntarily participate in Christ's sufferings 
as He carries out His redemptive purposes (Php 3:10). Paul said he 
rejoiced in his sufferings because he knew that by them he was able to 
participate in the suffering required to bring others into Christian 
maturity (Col 1:24). 
   We tend to want to go immediately from "denying ourselves" to 
"following Jesus." But you can never follow Jesus unless you have first 
taken up your cross. There are aspects of God's redemptive work that 
can be accomplished only through suffering. Just as Christ had to 
suffer in order to bring salvation, there will be hardships you may 
have to endure in order for God to bring salvation to those around 
you. Jesus did not talk with His disciples about the cross until they 
had come to know He was the Christ (Mt 16:21). You will never be 
able to endure the suffering of the cross unless you have first been 
convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Once you have settled your 
relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. 
   There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting 
for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or 
inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God's will for you 
involves a cross. First, take up your cross, then you can follow Him. 
[Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby re Mat. 16:24] 


   We can take God's presence for granted. We can assume that 
because Jesus said He would be with us always, He will follow us 
wherever we go (Mt 28:20). Jesus does not follow us; we are to follow 
Him. You do not invite God to join you in your activity. He invites 
you to become involved in His activity. Jesus said: "You did not 
choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). Following Jesus requires 
absolute obedience. He does not seek our counsel about which direction we 
think is suitable. God already knows what is best without ever having 
to consult with us. 
   Following Jesus will lead you into experiences you never 
dreamed of! You will be with Jesus as He weeps over those trapped in 
sin. You will feel the pain that Jesus feels. You will see those who 
were spiritually blind experience the joy of coming to see God for 
the first time. You will see lives that were broken, made whole. You 
will see marriages restored; those in bondage, released; and those 
who mourn, comforted. At times it will be easy to follow Jesus. At 
other times, you will be tempted to abandon Him. Following Jesus can 
mean going through a storm or standing on a mountaintop. 
   You may have stopped following Jesus, but now you want to 
follow again. When you stopped following Jesus, you did so on your 
terms. But the returning to Jesus is strictly under His conditions. He 
is God, and you are not. Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere, 
at any time, under any condition? That is the only way you can 
follow Him. [Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby 
re Mat. 16:24] 


   The natural inclination in Christian living is to act on the 
impulse of a good idea. Not every good idea is from God. Sometimes good 
ideas get in the way of God ideas.  
   Where does your inspiration come from? The vision of the 
transfigured Christ inspired Peter: "O Lord, it is good for us to be here. If 
you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses 
and one for Elijah" (Matthew 17:4). Our natural impulse is to do 
something good for God and suggest it to Him.  
   The tendency of the well-meaning person is to prepare a plan 
to do some good idea, and then pray, "Jesus, this is my plan. It is 
a good plan. It hurts no one, and I want it to please You. Lord, 
please bless my plan." It is plan, then pray.  
   So many of our ideas are impetuous. They are not what the 
Lord wants to do. They do not resemble in any way the things which 
concern Him. We have good ideas, but they are not God ideas. His agenda 
and our agenda conflict. We want to build Him a shelter but that is 
not what He wants.... When Peter, James, and John heard the voice of 
the Lord . . . they abandoned their inventive-but-self-made idea. 
The presence of the Lord magnified, and His holiness brought them to 
their senses. Jesus gained their attention, not by subduing them with 
a stem scolding, but by magnifying His presence until all the 
genius of their human ideas was bleached out by His refulgent face. 
   When they abandoned their good idea and fell facedown before 
the Lord, He could work with them again.... 
   When you and I abandon our good idea and fall to our face 
before me Lord, then He will come and touch us, too. When we pursue our 
own plan He cannot use us. We must abandon our good idea and fall 
facedown before Him. Then He will be able to use us again. Then He will 
reveal what He is doing - a God idea.... It is pray, then plan. Through 
prayer, Jesus instructs of His plan, a God idea. 
   Prayer removes the impulse of the good idea, the good idea 
born of human ingenuity but not of God. Pray, then plan. It is the 
habit of the surrendered saint. (From Walking with Christ in the 
Details of Life by Patrick M. Morley) [Inspirational SB re Isa. 55:8]