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 
everyone will. 
   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] 



   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 
eternal life.  
   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 
Mark 8:34] 


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 
an acrostic.  
   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 
Emergency Room.  
   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 
take shape.  
   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 
Sarah Young] 


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 




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