Luke 9:23 - HOW TO FOLLOW JESUS.
Luke 9:23 (NLT) Then he said to the crowd,
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must
turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross
daily, and follow me.
It's easy to get confused these days.
"Out of control" isn't what we want to be. People
who drink too much are said to be "out of
control." Those who worry too much become emotionally
"out of control." The same goes for those who go
too far with anything: prescription drugs, food,
fitness, sex, work - you name it.
But wait. Does this mean we're supposed
to be "in control"? Is that our goal? I know a
boss (in fact I know several) who is definitely
"in control." Folks who work for him either grin
and bear it or jump ship as soon as another job
surfaces. Some fathers are, without question, "in
control." They intimidate, dominate, moderate, and
But being "in control" doesn't
necessarily mean "controlling." A healthy, happy life
requires being in control of ourselves. To be
punctual, we must control the use of our time. To be
prepared and ready, we must be in control of our
schedule. To be a good listener, our minds and tongue
must be controlled. To get a project completed,
our tendency to procrastinate must be under the
firm control of our determination.
This means, then, that we need to be in
firm control of ourselves but not controlling
of others. Our example? Christ, of course. He
got the job done. Without wasted effort,
personal panic, or extreme demands, He accomplished
the objective. Right on schedule, He went to
that cross. When He sighed, "It is finished," it
was. Absolutely and completely.
Did most believe? Are you kidding? The
vast majority back then, as now, didn't give Him
the time of day. Could He have grabbed the
controls and forced them to sit up and take notice? I
hope to shout! Remember what He said? "Do you
think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He
will at once put at My disposal more than twelve
legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). I'd call 72,000
angels being in charge, wouldn't you? It was His
own control that restrained Him from controlling
The Christian life boils down to a battle
of the wills: Christ's vs. our own. Every day
we live we must answer, "Who's in charge
Recently I received a letter from a fine
Christian couple, and I smiled understandingly at one
line: "Although the Lord has taken good care of my
wife and me for the past thirty-eight years, He
has taken control of us for the past two and a
Tell me, how long has the Lord taken care
of you? Be honest now has He also taken
control of you? It's easy to get confused these
days. It's even easier to take control.
Don't get "out of control" because you're
so determined to stay "in control."
The Christian life boils down to a battle
of our will vs. Christ's. Each day we must
answer, "Who's in charge here?" [Chuck Swindoll
Winning by Surrendering
The Bible tells the story of a man who
had been sick for 38 years, He hung out by a
body of water called the Pool of Bethesda, where
there were many disabled people. Tradition said
that periodically an angel would appear and stir
up the waters, and the first person into the
water would be healed.
One day Jesus showed up and asked this
man an unusual question: Do you want to be
made well? Now what kind of question is that
to ask someone whos been waiting years by a
body of water thats occasionally stirred by an
Its a very good question actually. Not
everyone wants to change. You can go to an alcoholic
and say, Do you want to be free from
alcohol? Do you think everyone will say yes? No, not
You can go to a person on drugs and say,
Do you really want to be free from drugs? Or
you can go to someone else and say, Do you
really want to be free from pornography? Not
everyone wants to change. Some people are comfortable
right where they are, and they want to stay
exactly where they are.
There has to come a moment in every
believers life when he or she surrenders to God. It
isnt always easy, of course. Often Gods plans
are plans that we love and agree with, but then
sometimes Gods plans are different than ours. It is
then that we have to say, as Jesus said in the
Garden of Gethsemane, Not My will, but Yours, be
done (Luke 22:42 NKJV).
Thats what was happening in the life
of Jacob when he wrestled with God. He went
from resisting to resting and from cunning to
When we surrender to God, we ultimately
win. [By Greg Laurie from Harvest Ministries;
https://www.harvestdaily.com re Gen. 32:30-31]
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
The phrase take up your cross has
not fared well through the generations. Ask for
a definition, and youll hear answers like,
My cross is my mother-in-law, my job, my bad
marriage, my cranky boss, or the dull preacher. The
cross, we assume, is any besetting affliction or
personal hassle. My thesaurus agrees. It lists the
following synonyms for cross: frustration, trying
situation, snag, hitch, and drawback.
The cross means so much more. It is
Gods tool of redemption, instrument of salvation
- proof of his love for people. To take up the
cross, then, is to take up Christs burden for
the people of the world.
Though our crosses are similar, none are
identical. If any of you want to be my followers,
you must forget about yourself. You must take up
your cross each day and follow me (Luke 9:23
CEV, emphasis mine).
We each have our own cross to carry - our
individual calling. Discover your God-designed task. It
fits. It matches your passions and enlists your
gifts and talents. Want to blow the cloud cover
off your gray day? Accept Gods direction.
The Lord has assigned to each his
task (1 Corinthians3:5 NIV). What is yours? What
is your unique call, assignment, mission? A
trio of questions might help.
In what directions has God taken you?
What needs has God revealed to you?
What abilities has God given to you?
Direction. Need. Ability. Your spiritual
DNA. You at your best. You and your cross.
While none of us is called to carry the
sin of the world (Jesus did that), all of us can
carry a burden for the world.
Check your vital signs. Something stirs
you. Some call brings energy to your voice,
conviction to your face, and direction to your step.
Isolate and embrace it. Nothing gives a day a
greater chance than a good wallop of passion. [Max
Lucado Daily Devotional at maxlucado.com]
Turn from your selfish ways - that
is, deny yourself. Jesus called this a "must,
and those who take His words seriously have
tried to do just that for centuries. We've seen
flagellants trying to beat themselves into submission,
disciplinarians trying to train themselves to be godly, and
the privileged taking vows of austerity to
divest themselves of attachments. We've also seen
people with genuine, God-given desires deny that
any human desire is worthy of fulfillment. What
we haven't seen - or at least haven't seen very
often - is people who so enjoy investing in others
that they neglect their own efforts and
That's a problem. Every effort to defeat
the self is self-defeating, and not in the way
intended. When self focuses its efforts on self, the
self is only going to get stronger. Flagellants,
disciplinarians, vow-takers, and desire-deniers have one
thing in common: They are extremely self-focused.
And that isn't self-denial at all.
No, true self-denial is simply a matter
of turning your attention toward God and others
so often that you hardly notice your own
issues. The question of whether your desires are
fulfilled or not doesn't need to be settled; you
simply choose not to notice it. Whether you've
disciplined sin out of your system isn't an issue you
obsess about; it just doesn't apply because you're
looking elsewhere, not inward. For true followers of
Jesus to deny themselves, they need only to look
at Him and love His people. That is
self-denial. It's an entirely outward focus.
Don't spend much energy trying to deny
yourself. It won't work. While denying yourself and
taking up your cross is a necessary value of the
Kingdom culture, it isn't one you fulfill by trying.
You don't empty yourself of selfishness by
looking at yourself; you empty yourself of
selfishness by filling yourself with something else. Let
yourself be filled with Jesus, and self will never be
a problem. [The One Year Heaven On Earth
Devotional by Chris Tiegreen]
For many, the cross is nothing more than
a fashionable ornament - an accessory, if you
will. We can buy them in gold or sterling silver,
studded with pearls or diamonds. But the cross on
which Jesus died was no fashion accessory. It was
a crude wooden device developed by the Romans
that functioned as a literal torture rack for
those who died on it.
The Bible tells us that Simon, a
Cyrenian, was selected to bear the cross of Jesus. He
was a visitor to Jerusalem. We dont know why
he was there that day. Maybe he was in town for
the Passover, or perhaps he saw the commotion
and went to see what was going on. Whatever his
reason for being there, Simon was given one of the
greatest privileges afforded to anyone in human
We, too, have that privilege today. Jesus
said, If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must give up your own way, take up your
cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23 NLT).
Jesus is still looking for people like Simon to
pick up the cross and carry it.
Sometimes people say, My cross in life
is my children. They are my cross to bear or
My cross in life is my disability. However,
the cross is not something that is troubling us.
The cross is the same for every person. And in
first-century Jerusalem, the people who were carrying
crosses were on their way to die.
So when Jesus said, Take up your cross
daily, what was He saying? To take up your cross is
to put Gods will above your own. It is to
die to your ambitions, to your plans, and to
your choices. To take up your cross is to love
God more than anyone or anything else. [By Greg
Laurie from Harvest Ministries;
https://www.harvestdaily.com re Luke 23:26]
Following Jesus requires a total commitment
to turn from selfish ways (Mark 8:34-35).
Taking up one's cross is a metaphor for giving up
one's life to follow Jesus even to death, as
illustrated by Jesus' crucifixion It requires
entrusting one's life entirely to Jesus (Mark 5:34)
[One Year NLT SB re Mark 3]
To follow Jesus, sooner or later we must
submit our wants and desires to his desires for us.
We must stop serving ourselves and start
serving him. If that means selling something, we
sell it. If it means stopping a certain behavior,
we stop it. If it means doing something we
don't want to do, we do it. It means the end of
what we want and the beginning of what Jesus
wants. That is why Jesus says, "If you try to keep
your life for yourself, you will lose it" -
because only by giving it up to Jesus can you gain
Is it worth it? If you have any doubt,
Jesus makes a good case for doing so: "What do you
benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself
lost or destroyed?" (Luke 9:25). Sure, there's a
price to be paid for following Jesus, but those
who pay it also receive an eternal benefit. [The
One Year Through the Bible Devotional by Dave
Veerman re Luke 9:18-21, 23-25]
We can't really experience His Presence
until we let go of ourselves. Jesus was clear that
no one can serve two masters. He said so in the
context of money, but the truth applies to all
relationships. Though our desires and His often overlap and
our agendas and His often align, we have to
choose which drives the other. In this relationship
between human and divine, one has to take the lead.
And it needs to be Him.
Some people try to crucify their
personality along with all their gifts and desires, as
though God wants the relationship to be all of Him
and none of us. But if God wanted that, why did
He create us to begin with? He already
experienced having "none of us." No, it's our
self-direction and search for self-fulfillment that need to
go to the Cross. We can't follow Him or know
His Presence until they do. But if we're able to
let go - to allow our agendas to bow to His - we
can know Him deeply and experience Him fully. He
picks up those who have let go. And He fills the
empty spaces of those who give Him room.
Jesus, I want to follow You fully, and I
know that means I need to let go of being
preoccupied with myself. Help me fully focus on You and
Your Kingdom - to be totally preoccupied with
Your purposes. Let me experience You to the
degree I follow You. [The One Year Experiencing
Gods Presence Devotional by Chris Tiegreen re
Living in the ER
The other day I heard a friend teach on
being POWERLESS. As he spoke he placed on the
stage three big cardboard boxes, each with a
syllable of the word powerless written on it, forming
As I was looking at these boxes, I
noticed how the letters break down. Think about
POW - when we try to live under our own
power, we are in essence a Prisoner Of War and a
slave to our junk.
ER - when we don't allow God to lead us
in our lives, we live in a constant state of
emergency, remaining in an emotional and dysfunctional
LESS - I now know that when I recognize
that I am not God and rely less on me and more on
him, the foundation for my life change begins to
He not only has the POWER to help us
recover, but he also cares, he is willing, he is more
than able, and the best part--we matter to him.
We don't have to live like POWs, in and out of
the ER, hoping each time that our wounds will be
healed. We can all rely LESS on ourselves and more
on him. We are POWERLESS in our weakness, but
with God's POWER, we can be made STRONG!
Lord God, I no longer want to live a
powerless life. Help me to lock into your power and
receive the healing and wholeness you want for me.
In Jesus' name, Amen. [Celebrate Recovery Daily
Devotional by John & Johnny Baker re Psa. 107:13-14]
I designed you to live in union with Me.
This union does not negate who you are; it
actually makes you more fully yourself. When you try
to live independently of Me, you experience
emptiness and dissatisfaction. You may gain the whole
world and yet lose everything that really counts.
Find fulfillment through living close to
Me, yielding to My purposes for you. Though I
may lead you along paths that feel alien to you,
trust that I know what I am doing. If you follow
Me wholeheartedly, you will discover facets of
yourself that were previously hidden. I know you
intimately - far better than you know yourself. In
union with Me, you are complete. In closeness to
Me, you are transformed more and more into the
one I designed you to be. (Mark 8:36; Psalm
139:13-16; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18) [Jesus Calling by
If we are Christ's, our thoughts are with
Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All
we have and are is consecrated to Him. Let's
thank Jesus for all that He has done for us. Let
us seek to bear His image, breathe His spirit,
do His will, and please Him in all things.
Pastor Arthur Gibbs
LINK FOR FURTHER STUDY ON THIS PASSAGE
If anyone has a paraphrase, commentary or
testimony on this passage of Scripture, either
personal or otherwise, I would be interested in
hearing from you. Thanks in advance and let's keep
uplifting Jesus that all might be drawn to Him. Fred