Summary: Many would say they are committed Christians but what is their level of service?
Carry Your Cross
Rev. Phillip A. Wright
Mark 8: 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. NKJ
Need: Every believer needs to make a conscious choice about where they personally stand in regard to serving the Lord with their life.
Textual Idea: Mark points out the choices believers must make and the broad ranges between those choices. There are real choices we must make in whether to serve the Lord and the costs associated with disobedience.
Will you carry your cross or be found hiding behind it?
Explanation: Many people openly state when they are first saved that they desire to serve the Lord with their life. However, in practice almost 95% of believers never share their faith with anyone. Many people jockey for positions so they can be in a position of leadership. What are their real motives?
Illustration: During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war.
First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.
Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ’And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ’We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.’"
Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people with their "faces to the coal" who help the church accomplish its mission.
Argumentation: You see some parts of Christian service will bring one into the limelight and others will be behind the scenes. However, God sees and judges the true intention of the heart. Before you push to rise to a position in the church please do a self test. Why? What? Credit?
Transition: Our text suggests two points. What is our:
1. Personal Expectations
a. There is a Choice (34a) – Service to the Lord is completely voluntary but it carries with it a value which can’t be beat. The whole illustration about denying oneself and taking up your cross concerns one’s personal choice to weigh the cost of Christian service. The jagged edge of which must be done in the proper spirit and with the right intentions.
Following Christ is not a promise of good things all the time and a joy filled life with plenty of money, time and great happiness. The opposite is frequently the case. When you align yourself with the Lord – the Prince of this world automatically hates you and wishes to destroy you.
b. There is a Condition (34b) - What does the Scripture mean by “deny himself?” That verb used to translate the word “deny” has a special ending which means “disown or renounce a claim to something.” This is specifically a self initiated act it is not having something taken from you. This is action with reference to one’s self. The command is to renounce ownership of your life and assign it to the Lord and there you will find your place of service.
c. There is a Connection (34c) – Yesterday I got a letter in the mail. The return address said, George W. Bush – President of the United States. I opened it and you guessed it – he wants money. I support him and I will give but this verse speaks to something a bit more important.
Jesus is inviting all those who are willing to follow him. The Lord is inviting you personally to be part of His Kingdom. Now you can’t beat a connection like that.
Application: What is your personal motivation? Is it a desire for recognition or is it a true and honest desire to serve the Lord without thought to personal cost or credit?
Transition: There are Personal Expectations showing a Choice, a Condition and a Connection. There is a Paradoxical Examination:
2. Paradoxical Examinations
Jesus asks three two part questions thought provoking questions.
Mark 8: 35-37 35 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (NKJV)