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Summary: Jesus set standards high for His disciples. "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up cross and follow me."

Jesus set standards high for His disciples. "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up cross and follow me."

Illustration:I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, "If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me."

Soren Kierkagaard, in "And I looked Around and Nobody was Laughing."

1. Jesus knew that many people to offer sweet incentives while persuading people to join their cause. Jesus did not promise His disciples a bed of roses while inviting them to follow Him. The Lord knew that the path of godliness is filled with hardships, criticisms, and persecutions. Jesus never asked any of His followers to do something that He would not do. When you think it is best to sugar coat the path to discipleship, remember that Jesus was not ashamed of the full meaning of carrying one’s cross daily as a qualification to be His disciple.

Illustration:Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.

John Henry Jowett.

2. Jesus understood the full implication of the phrase, "Taking up your cross" to mean self-sacrifice. The cross was recognized in Christ’s day as a place of infamous and painful death. For someone to take up their cross meant that they had fully identified with a cause even to the point of being willing to give everything one had for their commitment. Ask the Lord to help you bear whatever cross God has chosen to give you for the sake of Christ and His kingdom and righteousness.

Illustration:Sometimes marriage to a great leader comes with a special price for his wife. Such was the case for Mary Moffatt Livingstone, wife of Dr. David Livingstone, perhaps the most celebrated missionary in the Western world. Mary was born in Africa as the daughter of Robert Moffatt, the missionary who inspired Livingstone to go to Africa. The Livingstones were married in Africa in 1845, but the years that followed were difficult for Mary. Finally, she and their six children returned to England so she could recuperate as Livingstone plunged deeper into the African interior. Unfortunately, even in England Mary lived in near poverty. The hardships and long separations took their toll on Mrs. Livingstone, who died when she was just forty-two.

Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 12.

3. Jesus knew that taking up one’s cross would likely result in scorning, mocking and false accusations of alleged guilt. The Lord wanted His followers to realize that the cross often involves grief and pain in the same manner that He suffered. Often the Lord uses tribulation, pain and suffering to mold us more into His image. God’s plans for us prepare us to be more useful to the "Potter" as long as we are willing to molded into the form of God’s liking. Ask the Lord for willingness to yield all of your rights to Him: social, emotional, inter-personal, financial, health, employment, location, relatives, goals, etc.

4. Jesus wants all of His disciples to be prepared to endure great hardships, disappointments and shame for His name’s sake. If you are weary of taking up your cross daily, consider Him who endured such sufferings of sinners against Himself, less you become weary and faint in your minds since you probably have not resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. (Heb. 12:1-3)

5. Jesus wants us to pray for those who persecute us rather than take revenge on them. Even when Jesus was on the cross upon Calvary’s hill, He prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Ask the Lord for the graciousness to show mercy as you have been shown mercy.

6. Jesus wants His disciples to know that they will probably lose many of their close companions and family friends while taking up their cross. More people reject Christ’s offer because they fear losing social friends and connections than any other reason. Yet, Jesus said, "Your love for Me should be so great that it would appear that you hate your Father, Mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even your own life." (Luke 14:26,27) Ask the Lord to fill you up with His love, companionship, and affection and compassion as a replacement for the lost social support that often comes with taking up your cross.

7. Jesus wants His followers to know that they are apt to be mistreated for taking up their cross. Each of the 11 apostles of Christ was martyred for their faith. Peter requested to be hung upside down because he did not feel worthy to enjoy the same death on the cross that His Lord suffered. The Lord wants all disciples to be willing to endure mistreatment, betrayals, and even false charges for His sake. Ask the Lord to help you become better not bitter for identifying with Christ in daily taking up your cross.

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