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January 22, 2019, Pastor Bob Wise


Matthew 16:24 – 25

Then Jesus told his disciples, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me

The what exactly is Jesus trying to tell us here. I believe what Jesus is trying to say is very simple if you're going to follow Christ that means that you have made a concerted decision you have made a covenant with Jesus himself to live a life that is as close to his life as you possibly can. Now to do that we must figure out what following Christ details or entails.

The Jesus said in John 15:6, if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is weathered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Now the word abide is a verb it's a primary verb which means: to stay. Let's use an example that's actually let's use a tree as an example of what I'm talking about here if Christ is a tree and we are the branches K as long as we stay connected to Christ we still are part of the tree. But, if we wither and die then we are separated from Christ just like a tree branch is separated from the tree. Jesus use that example so we can understand that just like a tree branch falls on the ground those branches are gathered up and burned in the fire there destroyed there no longer part of the tree they can't live on their own there no longer part of the of the growing tree which is Christ we if we fail and fall away from Christ, are just like the branch were thrown into the fire which is symbolic of the hell. So we have to decide within ourselves and by looking at the Scriptures what exactly does it mean to follow Christ and do we have the dedication and the understanding to do so. First off I'd like to mention that to follow Christ means that we have to be that shining example that when people watch us and hear us they want to have what we have now not talking about houses cars money material things that's not what I'm talking about. We have to be the shining light that draws those that not believe closer to us so they can see Christ in us. We have to be willing to step out as Christ did and go to the people.

An example this what I'm saying here is this. We being churchgoing people, when we are at church do we stand outside the door and just wait for nonbelievers to come walking up to us so that they can witness Jesus in us? Or, do we have to go out into the highways in the byways and search out these people who are not believers? You see some people are searching, they're searching for something because their life is not right. They know that inside them something's missing they may have a new house a nice car a great job but, they're still not satisfied something is missing and they don't know what it is. That something is the joy of the Lord. The assurance of salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. That freedom of knowing where you're going not only in this life but after this time on earth is gone so we have to be the ones who are willing to go out and meet these people and be the shining light that Christ wants us to be.

So we have to follow Jesus. To follow Jesus, means we have to be willing to do some things. Christ said that we have to deny ourselves and take up his cross our cross and follow him so we must be willing to die to ourselves to follow Jesus. Now maybe you wonder if you're ready to take up your cross so let's consider these questions.

Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some your closest friends?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your own family?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

Now in some places of the world, these consequences I just mentioned are reality but notice the questions are phrased, are you willing. Following Jesus doesn't necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you're faced with the choice, Jesus or the comforts of this life, which we you choose?

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily. Given up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you are willing to take up your cross may you be called his disciple. That's the Luke 14:27. The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed his call of death to self with the gift of life in Christ Matthew 16:25 – 26, for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

So what I'm saying into all of this is really simple yet very hard. It's simple in the fact that Christ laid it all out for us. He drew us a map per se of how our excuse of what we should do. He laid it all out force plainly to see what steps we need to take to follow him. Therefore if we follow his plan, if you follow his laid out directions, it's a simple thing to do.

The very hard part I mentioned, is actually doing these things. It's hard for us to mentally sometimes understand what it means to give up our life, to die from ourselves but what it means is we have to stop living for ourselves. We have to start living for Christ. We have to make a concerted effort and it dedicated the decision to give away everything that we might have if necessary and willingly follow Christ instead. It's hard to do sometimes. It's hard to look your mother and father or your sister or brother brother in the face and tell them that you've made a decision to follow Christ if they are unbelievers they don't understand you are doing and they will more than likely totally disagree with what you're doing and you have to be willing to accept the fact that they may disown you they may think that you're crazy they may think that you join some kind of a culture something because they don't understand what it means to have a savior like Jesus Christ in their lives real hard to do that.

But let me reassure you, that when you make that decision to follow Christ and take up his cross and follow him daily, you will find joy and peace that passes all understanding from that day forth when you make that decision, Jesus Christ along with the Holy Spirit and the father will all be working for you and with you to help carry you through any valleys that you may come up on. The Holy Spirit will give you guidance, direction and understanding. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom to understand God's words on a deeper basis than ever before so that you can walk following Christ. Alice doesn't mean you won't have trials and tribulations. Of course you will. But, the wonderful thing about all of that is that you'll also have Jesus Christ on your side standing beside you helping you and carrying you through the rough valleys that you do come on.

So ask yourself if you can take Matthew 16:24, and do what it says. Remember it says then Jesus told his disciples, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me

Are you willing and ready to take up your cross and follow him?

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