DATE WRITTEN: Sunday, 2021-02-27
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL
BIBLE REFERENCE: Matthew 16:24
TRANSLATION: Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
BIBLE TEXT: 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [[p]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].
OBSERVATION: Peter ridiculed Jesus for talking to His closest companions about His death. Peter had seen the miracles Jesus was capable of, and Peter just knew that there was no way that Jesus would be taken hostage and crucified by mere men. In our Scripture today, we can read how Jesus corrected Peter. I wonder, how are we doing with the direction given by Jesus to those who are interested in being His follower?
APPLICATION: In most Bible translations that we use today, we are told to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ. I believe many of my readers, like myself, would appreciate seeing that command in a much simpler form so that we could understand exactly what Jesus is teaching us. I found two translations that helped with this, one of them being the Amplified version that I am sharing with you today. Unfortunately I find where I need serious help from the Master to change my ways and truly follow Him, if I am to live by His commands. Perhaps many of you might also find this need to be true in your life. Let’s take our time and break this down so that it is clear what we need to plead with God for, since He commanded us to:
– Deny self:
> disregard self – As we meditate on this, we may surprise ourselves how selfish we truly are in what we do, what we say, where we go, and why we do these things. It’s all about ‘me’, whether we care to admit it or not;
> lose sight of selfish desires – In our own flesh, we will always desire things that are good for us. This may also be the reason why so many marriages fail, for we find it so challenging to please the other party. What if we had The strength to always please God when we make our plans, or respond to life’s various scenarios?
> forget about self and our personal interests – Can’t you hear a therapist telling you in marriage counseling: ‘Can you just forget about yourself for once, and think about what might make your spouse happy?’ I believe that’s what Jesus is telling us to do, for then we will love like He loved, and obey His other commandments;
– Take up our cross and follow Christ:
> cleave steadfastly to Jesus – You might cleave steadfastly to a life raft if your boat sank and there is no land in sight. That raft becomes the most important thing in life to you at that point. Don’t you know that ‘cleaving’ to Jesus is very much the same way? Like the life raft, Jesus is the only way to Heaven, the only healer of all our diseases, the One who loves us in spite of our wicked selves, the One who prepared a place for us to go when we pass from this world. Why not cleave to Jesus?
> wholly conform to the example of Jesus in our living, or even if circumstances dictate – in death – Many will question what this might mean. I believe that if we do all of the above, we will realize that we are conforming to the example and will of the Father, and not simply seeking after our own selfish desires. Life will look much different my friend, so brace yourself for being called such things as ‘Holy roller’, or Jesus freak, or you have gone nuts, etc, etc.
So why do you suppose that Jesus thought this was important for Peter, his fellow disciples, or ourselves? I believe that just as Peter surprised Jesus with his efforts to correct Jesus, we too might disappoint Jesus with the some of the things we say, or do, or the selfish attitudes we have about helping others, being kind to others, or loving even the unlovable. In trying to be a Jesus follower, surely we must make every effort to look, sound and act just like Him. Many are looking at us as an example of the One we say that we are following. Do you suppose they’re getting a fair assessment of Jesus? Try taking up your cross and follow Him in all things, and at all times. Perhaps then you may be seen as a true follower of Christ!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for doing Your part in saving us from our sin and preparing us for heaven. Please forgive us when we disappoint You like Peter did. We acknowledge that we are a sinful, selfish people who seek after our own likes, and shun from our dislikes, while always trying to promote self and please ourselves. I am convinced that only You can help us overcome this weakness and truly follow You in all sincerity, as You intended. Please give us the strength, boldness and wisdom to follow You in all aspects of our life. May others not be misled when the look at our example and our pattern for life. May they see Jesus in action through us and be drawn to You for all eternity. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog at https://NuggetsFromGodsWord.org that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading or listening to this devotional, please go to the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and see all of my posts, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!