“By God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. “ Romans 15:32

Thought

Our lives, our futures, and our plans are in God’s hands. This inescapable reality is the basis of our existence. It is also the foundation of our joy and refreshment when we are with each other. Think about it a second: our meetings with each other, and our ministry to each other, are not chance happenings. They are acts of God’s grace that gives us a chance to share in God’s blessing and joy.

Prayer

Holy Father, thank you for your direct involvement in my life. Thank you for the leading of your Spirit, the guidance of your Word, and the wisdom of older Christians. These have all deepened the meaning of my life and empowered my service to your Kingdom. Please give me a more profound sense of grace and joy when I am able to be with Christians wherever that may be. I know these precious members of your family are not chance acquaintances I make along the way, but are the reminders of your desire to bless me and refresh your children with your presence. In Jesus’ name I thank you. Amen.


Then he said to them all:

”Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Luke records Jesus’ words about what it means to be his disciple. Two thousand years later, the requirements for Christ followers remain the same. Each must do three things.

      1. Deny himself or herself.
      2. Daily take up his or her cross.
      3. Follow Jesus.

Following Christ is a costly venture. Disciples renounce personal comfort and selfish desires. They do not demand their rights. Instead of seeking their own good, they seek God’s will.

Every day, as disciples of Jesus, we acknowledge that when Christ died on the cross, we died with him. The cross ended the life that sought personal gain and personal glory. Now, we live to serve God by serving others. Paul put it this way,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ, who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus gave up his life to save ours. He expects us to give up our lives and live for him, instead of living for ourselves.

Autonomy may be our day’s greatest idol. Everyone craves the power and freedom to make their own decisions. A three-year-old says it best, “You’re not the boss of me.”

God’s kingdom, however, does not follow the principles of this world. Jesus turned the world upside-down with an amazing pronouncement.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).

He calls us to die.

This daily death brings abundant life. The temporary pleasures of this world soon end. Conversely, knowing Jesus satisfies the deep longing of our souls, eternally.

Holy God, thank you for saving me through your Son. May I daily die to sin — pride, anger, lust, greed, envy, and discontent. May I live for you alone. Amen.