In this episode we look at the verse where Jesus commands us to take up our cross daily. We discuss some Good News regarding pro-life and abortion laws in California. The Khmer of Central Cambodia is our Unreached People group. And I touch on the sometimes controversial topic of alcohol when we look at Today’s Word in John 2:1-12.
So as we continue our discussion in what it looks like to follow Jesus daily. We need to take some time to discuss one of the most famous verses regarding daily living for Christ. Luke 9:23 says “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Here we find Jesus praying alone with just his disciples with him. When he asks them who do they say I am? He gets responses about him being John the Baptist, Elijah or another prophet from old. He asks the disciples, who do you say that I am and Peter responds, you are the Christ. Jesus then predicts his death in verse 22 by saying “The Son of Man must suffer many things, He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Jesus then gives us this command that if we are to follow him, you must deny yourself, take your cross daily and follow me. I’ve heard many sermons over the years on these verses and most of them get to the part about taking up your cross and they turn it into a personal sacrifice, meaning that you need to find something to sacrifice for God. Maybe television or video games or Facebook.
And while I agree that the Christian life requires sacrifice, I believe this really doesn’t do justice to this passage. This statement is harder than that. It’s meant to really shake you to the core. This passage really means to die to one’s self. It means to crucify yourself. Not in a literal sense, but in the sense that the flesh has to die.
Paul echoes this in Romans chapter 8, when he says that we have to put to death the deeds of the body in order to truly live. So when we look at taking up our cross. We are really talking about putting to death the flesh.
So let’s look at three ways we can put the flesh to death:
- We set our minds on the things of the Spirit. In Romans 8:5 it says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” If we are going to take up our cross daily, then we must set our mind on what the Spirit desires. Our mind is a battleground between our flesh and the Spirit of God. We have to control our thoughts. We have to “take every thought captive” as Paul says in Corinthians. This means that our mind must change. And if our mind changes, our behaviors will change with it.
- We are led by the Spirit. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God,” Paul says in Romans 8:14. In order to put the flesh to death, we must led by the Spirit. This is a daily thing. We must continually be looking toward the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us. This means we can’t lead ourselves. We change our plans to match God’s plans. We change our path to meet God’s path. Look to God for guidance in your life. Pray for the Lord to lead you. We cannot serve the flesh if we are serving God.
- We deny ourselves. Jesus was very clear in Luke 9 that we have to deny ourselves. If we are seeking our priorities, our plans, our ways, then we are feeding the flesh. I think one way we can practically do that is by fasting. In fasting we deny ourselves food. This brings the body under subjection of the Spirit. Another practical way to do this is to put God first in all things. When we put Him first, we are denying our wants and wills.
Clearly God knew this wouldn’t be easy. That we would struggle with fulfilling these commands. He gives us the strength we need to do it, if we ask Him. Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit helps us in our weakness by interceding for us through our prayers. It says that when we do not know what to pray, the Spirit will pray through us with wordless groans. When we are serious about taking up our cross daily, we will get serious about prayer.
The Good News –
Unreached People Group –
Today’s Word – John 2:1-12
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.”
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Catch up by listening to last week’s episode: