“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
“Faith does not make things easy; it makes them possible.” Anonymous
- Good morning my friend! Call your prayer partner for your 10-minute prayer call. God is the one who has the power to work in your heart and the hearts of those you love. Prayer changes everything!
- Jesus wants to reveal Himself to you today. Pray and ask Him to speak truth to your heart as you study His Word!
- Grab your Bible and read Matthew 16:24-26. Write verse 25 in your journal.
My dear friend, we all want ease in our lives, don’t we? The vision of absence of difficulty is different for everyone of course, but it’s what our flesh longs for. We can quote encouraging Scripture and credit our blessings to the grace of God. However, the possibility of picking up our crosses and following Jesus into rough waters can be terrifying.
Difficulties in life come in many forms: a devastating diagnosis, a challenging family member, depression or discouragement, financial struggle, unmet expectations, heartache over our children, or loss of a loved one—all of which are situations we wouldn’t choose if given the opportunity. I’ll admit that serving God in the hard places, selflessly loving difficult people, and praising Him in the midst of the world’s brokenness are fairly low on my list of desires. And yet even in the darkest times, I want everything in my life to reflect the light and hope of Christ—my plans, my personality, living out my strengths, accommodating for my weaknesses, my hopes, my dreams.
What about you? We sing worship songs on Sunday proclaiming “Jesus is enough for me,” but then leave the sanctuary with just ME at the forefront of our minds. Is Jesus really enough? Do we have enough faith to withstand the burden of the cross He has called us to shoulder?
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) speaks beautiful refreshment to my spirit: “Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith.” We don’t need to muster our own strength to live faith-filled lives. In Ephesians 2:8, we find that like salvation, our faith is an amazing gift from God! Faith is a result of the Holy Spirit’s grace at work in our lives! Our faith will continue to blossom as we become increasingly sensitive to the Holy Spirit, hearing God’s words spoken to our hearts.
Often, we try to fit Jesus into our lives. We squeeze a bit of Him in here and there when it is comfortable or agreeable to us. We wrap problems up with the grace of Jesus when they appear to be resolving in the way we wish. However, I truly think God is asking us to live a faith that is different, sweet sister. He has called us to fit our lives into Him and His ways, instead of fitting Him into ours. His desire is for us to live a cross-shaped life, instead of a life bearing the image of us.
How do we live out a life formed by the cross of Jesus? When we fit our lives into His desires, our mindset changes from “no, I could never…” to “Yes, God could do that even through me.” We truly begin to portray Galatians 2:20a, which says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Our faith begins to look like Him.
The most beautiful outcome of living a life shaped by the cross and being led by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit is that it ultimately results in something amazing. The cross is not the end. When we are led by the Holy Spirit as opposed to our own desires, glory is what is in store for each of us. We are embarking on a life filled with His beauty and grace, both on this earth and throughout eternity.
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- In what ways have you said no to the small whispers of the Holy Spirit in your life?
- Name a couple of areas in which you could pick up your cross and follow Him this week.
Pray that you would hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you and would feel Him directing you to the path of Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you to identify the cross He has asked you to carry. Bearing the cross of Jesus—whether it is in your personal relationships, in serving your husband and children, or in praising God in the daily mundane—will lead to eventual joy and growth in your relationship with Him.
My friend, it is absolutely worth it to live a life shaped by Jesus. Pray every day for more of Him in your life and less of you. As John said regarding his relationship with the Lord: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).