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  Click here to see the "Take Up Your Cross" slideshow from the beginning.


Alas, all too often, we complain about the cross that we choose to bear while failing to realize that we must be prepared for "the gaps we'll encounter in our daily walk." God knows well about such gaps or challenges, but, sadly, we cannot foresee them.

Whatever your cross, whatever your pain,
There will always be sunshine, after the rain....

Perhaps you may stumble, perhaps even fall;
But God's always ready, to answer your call....

He knows every heartache, sees every tear,
A word from His lips, can calm every fear....

Your sorrows may linger, throughout the night,
But suddenly vanish, by dawn's early light....

The Savior is waiting, somewhere above,
To give you His grace, and send you His love.

"Take Up Your Cross and Follow Savior Jesus"
(Matthew 16:24–26)<click to open and read)

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Many think that the meaning of this passage's title suggests that you bear burdens and suffer hardships for the Lord. Surely such hardships will at times be required, but there's a fuller meaning once we consider the context.

(1.) What is a cross for? It's not just "a burden to be borne." Far more than that, it's the instrument of Jesus' death and total sacrifice.

(2.) Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. Because He bore His cross, we must bear our cross and follow Him. But where was He going with His cross? He had simply told His disciples that He was "going to die."

(3.) In verses 25 and 26, Jesus tells us that we must dedicate our lives to Him by changing our priorities; from living for ourselves to helping others meet God, dedicating our lives to God's fulfillment. Such change in personal priorities is called "repentance."

There's room in each of our lives for only one master (Matthew 6:19–24).

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

If God is to rule in our lives, then our personal will cannot be equal to or superior to God's will. Our will must be made subservient to His. We must repent and be willing to give up anything in life and do that which serves and pleases God, as documented in Scriptures: (Click to open and close each.)

Romans 12:1–2,

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Matthew 6:33,

33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 14:25–33,

25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 10:38, 39)

38". . . and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

2 Corinthians 5:14–15)

14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

Hence, "taking up your cross," as shown in the above image and the preceding five passages, refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus gave His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, yours and others'; Jesus carries our burdens; we're to carry the burdens of others directly to Jesus. But it's deeper than that.

It's a total re-dedication of your life. This will lead you willingly denying "self." Following Him then requires you to live as He lived His life, as follows:

1 Peter 2:21

21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Corinthians 11:1

11Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Luke adds, with specificity: "take up your cross daily" (Luke 9:23).

23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

There's a sense in which Christians must give their lives to God; every day. Not necessarily the physical death that Jesus died but a daily, total sacrifice of self, to prioritize and do the will of Jesus.

There can be no greater, clearer teaching anywhere of the meaning of being a disciple. This is how our Master lived. It's how His disciples (you and I) must live; lives of complete and total submission to the will of God. He comes first.

Are you ready to answer this critical question?   

Perhaps . . . Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
this inviting image
. . . can help you answer the question,
take action and intercede for others, and "bear your cross" daily.