Taking up the Cross
DEVOTIONAL for Thursday 6th April 2017
Matt 16:24 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.
To live the life of self-denial that Jesus is suggesting here involves 3 things:
- Focusing our attention upon Him,
- Listening to His voice and
- Focusing upon His purposes in the lives of others.
This is the pain of the cross – putting others before ourselves.
Jesus wants us to make ourselves fully available to Him so that He can use us to touch other people. He desires to “partner” with us so that together we can see growth take place in the Kingdom of God. When we surrender to Him and allow ourselves to be motivated and moved by Him we see miracles take place. We experience the deep joy of watching another person encounter the kindness of God. We soon realize too, that through our giving we have uniquely positioned ourselves to receive from the Father, and His blessing flows in abundance.
Learning from Barnabas
I think that Barnabas is a good example of this. Barnabas staked his reputation upon a man that was considered untrustworthy and suspicious because of his past. He believed in who this man was and who he could become in the future. Finally, Barnabas continually sought to help and support this mans ministry by sharing the opportunities that came his way. The man of course was Paul. He didn’t have to do this, but he did. We could ask, if Barnabas had not acted in the selfless way he did – would we have seen Paul, would he have become the giant in God he became? Of course God always finds a way – but often His way is through servanthood.
It is clear that Barnabas lived his life in daily obedience to Christ and as a result was used by the Spirit to become a catalyst for the release of one of the great Fathers of the Church. Our maturity in God is revealed when the Lord instructs us to lay down our lives for others, or promote others above ourselves. Especially so when we must move aside to allow them to become prominent or take a position that we desire. Yet if we would only embrace His ways we would find that in giving we receive much more and in serving we become “great” in God’s eyes. You really have to choose – do you want man’s “well done” or God’s?
This is the pain of the cross
This is the “pain” of the cross. Living our lives in obedience to Christ, considering others above ourselves and taking the role of a servant. Yet through the pain comes the release of resurrection power and greater intimacy with the Father. . . . . and we are invited to do it every day.
Prayer: Father, I take up the cross again today and determine that I will live for you and for others above myself. Give me Grace today to be like Barnabas, a son of encouragement. One that serves and blesses and makes a way for others. Amen.