Monday, April 23, 2012

Pick up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

    Today’s Reading:
  • Mark 8:11 - 38
  • Psalm 42:1 - 11
Read Bible Passages Online

Mark 8:11 - 38
Jesus warns those who follow him that they must give up all their selfish ways and follow him completely.  He says they must pick up their cross and follow him.  I believe that means that you must be willing to follow Jesus completely, even to the point of giving up your entire life to do so.  Giving up your entire life could manifest in many ways -- martyrdom, selling all your possessions and becoming a missionary, giving up a career in lieu of a calling from the Lord, or doing God's will and embracing your calling throughout the entire rest of your life.

Jesus also says the following in verse 8:38:
If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
I think that's a very stern warning that is definitely applicable to the people we surround ourselves with.  If you surround yourself with disbelievers, you must still stand up for your beliefs in the Lord.  If you are with them and are feeling ashamed to admit that you are a Christian to them, then you need to remove yourself from the situation and reevaluate who you are hanging around.

If you can hang with these crowds yet still hold fast to and practice your beliefs -- without being ashamed as to tell them why -- then that is a good thing.  Perhaps you can slowly crack open the door to their hearts (with prayer from the Lord to soften their hearts first, of course!) so that they will be willing to hear the Word of God.  

Just beware that you are not ashamed of being a Christian in any situation that you are put in, for you wouldn't want Jesus to be ashamed of you before the Lord.

Psalm 42:1 - 11 
This is a Psalm of the descendents of Korah. They are pleading to the Lord to rescue them from their enemies.  It was a very short Psalm -- only five verses.  The verse that stuck out to me the most was verse five:
Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again -- my Savior and my God!
I think this verse is an excellent reminder that no matter how hopeless, discouraged or depressed we feel; we should always lift our hearts to the Lord to guide us through those times.  There are occasions where I've had really bad days, and my emotions are overwhelming me.  When those days come to pass and it comes time for my nightly prayer, all I can do is release those feelings to the Lord.  Oftentimes I can't make a coherent prayer those nights, I just pray that the Lord be there for me and take those feelings from my heart.  When I do that, the next day is always a better day.

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