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Years ago, when I was on the Sunday School Choir, there was a favourite song of mine, that said, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up the cross and follow me, deny yourself pick up the cross and follow Jesus, He is the Way, Truth and Life. It was such a cool song back then but I didn’t know that it was a scripture from Luke 9:23 that we were singing. What did Jesus really mean when He said this though?
What Jesus really meant was that you are going to have to deny how you feel when you approach a testing phase in your life, and stand in victory because you will be persecuted by the enemy. Jesus is the Truth/Word of God (John 17:17), and the devil is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44), so his aim is to keep you in a life of lie to seduce you into worldly cares and pleasures, even causing unbelief. Even very Christians are being deceived by the enemy walking in err of the Truth, all this to prevent you from living in eternal life through Jesus Christ. Deception.
In Matthew 4 Jesus was tempted of the devil 3 times after he came off His 40 day fast, even in your fast the enemy will come, Luke 4:13 (CEV) After the devil had finished testing Jesus in every way possible, he left him for a while. Observe that it is only for a time. Jesus had a set time for His testing to end, you have a set time, we all have a set time for our testing to come to an end for a season. So many people lose the fight because they gave up just before the season of testing ended. Some lost it because the cross became too heavy for them, and they threw it down and walked away and left it. Some did not believe in the cross, some just were not interested in the cross, some never understood the cross, losing the race but God is so very loving and faithful.
When Jesus called me to serve Him, the cross I carried was so heavy, and it was because I did not understand the Word of God, and understand that many are the afflictions of a righteous person but His love and peace would change it all making it easier. Psalms 34:19 (NET) says, "The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them". God will not leave you stranded.
As I walked down my avenue on that cold dark Tuesday morning, following my son to the bus stop for school, we lived ages from the bust stop, and we had a very long walk. I heard fast pacing running behind us, as he approached, I saw the silhouette of a man who we could not see his face because it was dark, my son had walked out the Friday before, and He was robbed of his school bag and books. My son got frightened because it was about to happen again.
Then I clearly heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say to me, Romans 10:13 says, "anyone that calls upon the name of Jesus shall be saved". Immediately I knelt and shouted Jesus 3 times loudly, and he got frightened and ran away. To God be all the glory. That was God showing up. He protected me. He protected me in my affliction, my trouble, my danger. He will protect you too.
What kind of cross do you carry today? Jesus carried a physical wooden cross over 2000 years ago, and was crucified on it, we carry a spiritual cross because as Ephesians 6:12 says, in this dark world, "we wrestle against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places". The devil and his legions, are in a desperate bid to rob our souls because His time is short. Whatever cross you carry today, are you willing to walk with it or throw it down? Jesus walked 62 miles with a heavy cross. He must have been exhausted. He fell many times with it but He did not throw it down. He held onto it.
Will you follow Christ's example today and walk with your cross, hold on to it? He will reward you in the end. Hebrews 11:6 God says "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him". The best gift He could ever have given us, was His perfect love which He displayed when He died on the cross for our sins, and the free gift of salvation. Today I encourage you to deny yourself, deny how you are feeling in your situation, and take up back your cross if you had put it aside, rise up with the cross if you fell, believe in the cross and you will have everlasting life through Jesus Christ.
Thank You Lord That even though I may be faced with many burdens and testing. You died on the cross to take those burdens away from us. Thank You that You have granted me the peace to walk boldly with my cross. I pray that others will see that through the cross that You carried they too can have eternal life in through You Jesus Christ, and when my season of temptation has ended, I will reap Your precious rewards for you glory in Jesus name. Amen