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
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]
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
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]