Friday, February 3, 2012

Lose Your Life 2/1/2012

Tonight’s discussion started off with a question about Mark 8:35.  They asked what it meant for someone to want to save his life?  Does that mean if I enjoy my life or love life that I’m doing the wrong thing?  This lead us to a really good discussion of the total passage.  To really understand this verse you have to look back at the previous verse.  It’s a critical verse to really understand what it means to be a Christian.  Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

Deny Yourself:
To deny yourself is not a simple thing.  It requires real sacrifice.  God is calling us to set aside our desires and dreams to pursue His purpose.  To some that may sound like a terrible thing.  Trust me the trade off is well worth it.  When we begin to put what God wants first in our life everything else begins to fall into place.  We live in a completely selfish culture.  It’s all about ME in America.  It’s time for Christians to stand up and counter the culture and live a life that is all about HIM (that’s God in case you missed it).  It’s time we grabbed hold of the heart of God for lost sinners and lived a life that reflected that heart.  It will change the way we think.  It will change the way we act.  It will change the way we talk.  It will change the way we live.

Take up Your Cross:
What does that mean today?  First, what did the cross mean to Jesus?  It meant humiliation, sacrifice, suffering, surrender, torture, obedience and love.  Jesus endured incredible suffering and pain to purchase our salvation.  He was beaten beyond recognition before being nailed to the cross and crucified for our sins.  He obeyed His Father’s will even to the point of death on the cross (Phil 2:5-11).  So, for us, we may have to suffer a little.  We might be teased and ridiculed for being a Christian.  The Bible says to rejoice in those moments (Mt 5:11-12).  You might have to suffer for following Christ.  The time may come when following biblical principles will be against the law.  You may think that’s not possible here in America.  Just read the headlines.  Our first amendment freedom of religion is under fire even now.  Who knows what the future will bring?  To take up your cross mean you live a life of total surrender to the will of God.  You can’t do this thing half way.  There is no such thing as an almost Christian or a mostly Christian.  You either are or you aren’t.  Finally, the cross was all about love.  Jesus loved you more than His own life.  Will you return the sentiment?

Follow Him:
This is simple to understand, but a challenge to accomplish.  This requires you to study His word (Bible) and get to know Jesus.  It’s time that we develop a loving relationship with a real God.  Spend time with Him in prayer.  Listen for His voice.  He will speak to you.  And then do what He says.  Again, simple in principle and challenging in reality.  To follow Christ means to live a life of obedience to Him.  It’s the same call Jesus gave to each of His disciples.  It’s the same call He gives to you today.  Will you follow Him?  Even more will you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him?

That is what it means to lose your life for Christ.  This is what it means to be a Christian.  Are you up for the challenge?

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