Every now and then God will do something to get your attention in a new way. I’ve been in this season lately. The message that comes in loud and clear is the fact that Following Jesus is hard, and we must be willing to die to self. Since I didn’t have the time to write a really deep post this week I wanted to share with you a devotional that I wrote recently for the ladies I study with on Wednesday nights. I wrote it but ended up missing church and well I seek God for a fresh word each time I stand before them.
Mark 8:34-35 (AMP):
34 Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake and the gospel’s will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].
In the (MSG): 34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
Recently in our class, we talked about how David said I will not offer to the Lord My God that which costs me nothing. I think sometimes we mean that with all our hearts. We think God I want to do “this” for you, but…I want it to be easy. I want people to come to know you, but I don’t want them to reject me. I want to live my life surrendered to you….but don’t make it uncomfortable.
Then things get hard. We face spiritual attacks. People began to question our abilities, they don’t appreciate what we are doing, maybe they even turn on us. And we cry out to God, “This is too hard. I didn’t sign up for this.”
God didn’t offer us that which cost Him nothing. He sent His son to the Earth, then watched Him die. I believe that cost Him a lot. Could you imagine watching your child mocked, beaten, and crucified? Following God is costly.
The disciples many of them suffered hard deaths. Life was troubled and chaos and turmoil were all around them. I bet like most of us they liked their comfortable lives. I would even go so far as to say that there were times when they questioned if any of what they were doing made sense. They gave up all they knew. Following God is costly.
We love God because He first loved us. I love this quote “The hard part is that love requires the dying to self. Dying, you see, is never easy. It is strange, I know, that love begins with death, but you know, as you look to Jesus, that this is true.” -From Breathing Eden
When we surrender to God and Jesus as Lord we face the fact that we have to die. Dying is hard. Will we resist the cost of following Jesus giving Him only that which comes easy and costs us nothing? Or are we really willing to say this is harder than I ever thought it would be? Help me to do this according to your will. Being willing to see the flesh crucified, and handing over our dreams and ideas that we want to see come to pass so that He can lead us to the plans that He has already made for our lives.