“If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily,
and follow Me.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Jesus’ followers are called to leave self-centered ways in pursuit of Him and His will on a daily basis. Living like this is never easy but it will be blessed - eventually - in this life and the one to come.
As a believer since childhood, I admit it is impossible to live like this for long without His help; which is why seeking Him in prayer is so important because praying is where we receive needed strength.
On this subject, Jesus said two things that work together as one. He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” LUKE 9:23
Accordingly, we must deny ourselves in order to be able to follow Him and we must follow Him in order to be able to deny ourselves. It seems both actions are dependent upon the other.
Christians often talk about their conversion as being the time when they first gave their life to the Lord. While I remember such a time, I also remember many such times, not in being re-converted but in giving my life to Him again. Almost every time I pray, my prayers include a fresh surrendering of my life to God.
As Jesus’ people, we are called to daily give up our lives for Him completely. Doing so, leads to fulfillment beyond anything human selfishness can ever produce and blesses everyone around us - including our families, churches and community - resulting in His will being done. This is why Jesus went on to say, “….whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…” That’s really living!
Growing up with southern gospel music I remember a Gaither song that said, “...I lost it all, to find everything. I died a pauper, to become a king. When I learned how to lose, that’s when I learned how to win. Oh, I lost it all, to find everything…...”
Unlike a silly old Alka-Seltzer commercial, in which an actor says, “Try it, you’ll like it. Try it, you’ll like it…...” when we go beyond just trying to surrender to Him with human efforts and really give our lives to the Lord daily, we will do more than just like it. In fact, we will grow to love it because we will enjoy the fruit of doing so.
Sometimes, in order to focus my heart and mind while praying, I will take off my watch and lay it down as act of recognizing the value of yielding my time to God. I may even slip off my shoes as a reminder to give up my strength to Him. Then, I might remove my glasses and lay them down in recognition of my weaknesses before Him and the need for His power in my life. Next,….. (I think you get the point).
Exercises like this often help me fervently focus on totally surrendering my will to God.
“Try it, you’ll love it…..”
Father in Heaven,
I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ. Help me to know Your will for my life and to surrender my will to You every day.
Whenever I miss opportunities to surrender, please have Your Holy Spirit convict me and guide me away from self-willed living to You.
May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth and in my life; just as Your will is being done in Heaven.
For Your fulfilled will, blessing and glory,
Following the Lord empowers us to deny self and denying self frees us to follow the Lord. Doing this should be part of our daily lifestyle.
· When did you give your life to the Lord?