Mark 8:34-35, “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.  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.”

Everyone has their own personal cross to bear.  The plans and choices that each man and woman have.  All of that has to be let go of in order to follow Jesus.  We are to deny who we are in order to follow Jesus.  Follow Jesus at the cost of everything.  Only when giving up everything do we gain all that we could want or need.  We must take up our cross and follow Jesus.

We are all called to follow Jesus.  Jesus called all the people including His disciples to Himself.  We are all invited to what Jesus has to offer.  What Jesus has is not available in the world.  What Jesus has to offer is not of this world.  Jesus offers salvation.  Salvation from sin and death and Hell.  Salvation from pain and suffering as well.

The people who were called to Jesus were given specific instructions.  Those who desired to follow Jesus were to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.  Denying oneself is saying no to what the world has to offer.  Not being willing to serve others, the world, or anything else.  No other gods.  Nothing before God.  This does not mean that you cannot have nice things.  That does not mean that you have to live in poverty.  What it means is that what you have never comes before God.  What you have does not replace God.  So much of the time, stuff stops us from serving God the way we should.  We judge those that have nothing.  We judge those that are really rich.  This is not how God wants us to be.

Take up your cross.  The cross that Jesus carried contained all the sins of all the world from the beginning of time until the end of the world in the future.  Our crosses are significantly “lighter” than that.  Each personal cross contains our individual plans and choices.  Each of our crosses are what we have prior to coming to Jesus.  When we come to Jesus and are saved, we are to take up our cross and give it to Jesus.  We give Him our plans and our lives and our choices and take His plan.  His plan is greater than our plan.  We take on a part of Jesus when we give our cross to Him.

Follow Jesus.  To follow is walk behind a leader.  The leader in this case is Jesus.  When we follow, we are putting our trust in Jesus.  As we walk with Jesus,  we notice His footprints.  We are to follow those footprints on the path that He goes on.  Jesus will never led us down a path that He Himself has not been down.  Jesus goes before us.  All we have to do is trust and follow.  Follow the One True God.

To save your life you must lose it.  If you try to save your life on your own, you will lose it.  Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?  In order to have life, you must give your life to God.  When you give your life to God, He takes that life and gives you eternal life.  Eternal life in Heaven.  This life is short and full of pain and suffering.  Eternal life is long and full of joy and happiness.  So why would you not want to trade a life that is short and painful for a life that is long and full of joy?  Doesn’t seem so counter-intuitive now, does it?  Without God, your life is lost.  Without God, all you get is this life and nothing more.  Why give up eternal life for such a short life that is filled with pain?  You wouldn’t or shouldn’t.

Only Jesus can save Your life.  Only Jesus is the one to follow.  Only Jesus.  Take up your cross today and take it to Jesus.  Hand it to Him to carry.  He will take your load and ease your burden.  Accept the gift of eternal life.  Live with Jesus in Heaven forever.  All that is required is faith and trust in God.  Sounds like a good plan.  Sounds like a perfect plan.  God’s perfect plan.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for all that You are.  You take our lives that are so short, painful, and burden-filled.  In their place, You give us a life that is forever.  You give us a life that is filled with all that is holy.  All that is perfect because You are perfect.  You are holy.  You are our God.  Let us forsake all else and accept You.  Accept Your gift.  Accept Your plan.  Your plan is greater than our plans.  Your ways are greater than our ways.  You are greater than us.  Thank You for being our God, now and forever.  I pray that more people come to a knowledge of You, Lord.  Everyone should come to You and accept what You offer.  It is a perfect gift that requires little in return.  Thank You.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

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