WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 14, 2022
TOPIC: WHAT YOU MUST DO TO FOLLOW JESUS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 New King James Version).
Every Christian should make it his goal to follow Jesus whatever the condition he may find himself. He should follow Jesus in all seasons. He should not follow Jesus alone when he is experiencing favourable conditions or things are going on well for him. He should follow Him even in difficult times.
Although this is not easy, those who believe in Jesus Christ should realize that this is what He expects of them. But those who follow Jesus only because of what they want to get from Him, not because they love Him, are likely to abandon Him when things are tough. Indeed, Jesus said that He had come that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). But many people focus on material blessings only.
The Bible records in Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (New King James Version). These words of Jesus are powerful words that those who have selfish reasons for following Him would be uncomfortable with.
Take note of three phrases in that scripture, namely, “deny himself”, “take up his cross daily” and “follow Me.” Some Bible translations omit the word “daily” and have “take up his cross.” Matthew and Mark also record these three phrases thus: “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34).
It is not enough to confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you must do these three. You must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, day by day, or every day, and follow Him. Unless you do these, you will never be able to follow Him to the end.
Look at the way the Amplified Bible puts Luke 9:23: “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
This translation helps us to understand better the three things Jesus said we should do in the passage as presented in the New King James Version. The explanation in the Amplified Bible shows that to deny yourself means to set aside selfish interests. Also, to take up your cross daily means to express a willingness to endure whatever may come. And to follow Jesus means to believe in Him, conform to His example in living and, if need be, suffer or perhaps die because of your faith in Him.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, are you doing what Jesus said in this passage? If you want to be His disciple, are you ready to do what He asked you to do? Will you deny yourself, disown yourself, or put aside your selfish ambition? Will you express a willingness to endure whatever may come? Are you prepared to believe in Him, conform to His example in living, and, if necessary, suffer or die because of your faith in Him?
Not many people who call the name of Jesus today could be said to have satisfied the requirements of Jesus in the passage. Many have their personal agenda; they have not abandoned their selfish interests. They are not ready to endure whatever may come because of following Jesus. They don’t believe in Him and conform to His example in living. Neither are they ready to, if necessary, suffer or die because of their faith in Him
Many people come to Jesus because of what they have heard that they would enjoy. But they have not been taught or have not learnt that they will also suffer and endure some things if they follow Him. John 6:26-27 says, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him’” (New King James Version).
Don’t follow Jesus because of miracles only. Indeed, Jesus will perform miracles in your life and even through you but you must also be ready to deny yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow Him. If you’ve given your life to Jesus, take up your cross daily and follow him, despite your problems or life’s challenges. Jesus said in Matthew 10:38, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (New King James Version).
The true disciples of Jesus continue to follow him despite the problems they face in life. They don’t backslide or fall away because of life’s challenges. The three Hebrews, who were thrown into the burning fiery furnace in Daniel 3, did not lament or say that they would no longer serve God if He didn’t deliver them.
Rather, before they were thrown into the fiery furnace, they boldly told the king, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 New King James Version). They were totally committed to God, absolutely loyal to Him, no matter what happened. This is the attitude of those who deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Jesus.
Paul and Silas, during their missionary to Philippi, were beaten and thrown into prison. But they weren’t sorrowful. Rather, Acts 16:25 says at midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prison inmates were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake. The foundations of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. But Paul and Silas didn’t escape. That shows that they did not consider their imprisonment a problem to worry about. Of course, they were later released. Did the suffering in Philippi make them quit the ministry? No. They proceeded to Thessalonica where they preached the Word of God boldly.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul talked, among other things, about the persecutions and afflictions that he suffered and the Lord delivered him out of them all (2 Timothy 3:11). He said all who desired to live godly in Christ Jesus would suffer persecution (verse 12).
Also, Paul learnt to be content in whatever state he was in. He knew how to be abased and abound. Everywhere and in all things, he learnt to be full and hungry and to abound and suffer need. He said he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:10-13). Paul adapted to whatever situation he found himself in. He enjoyed abundance and endured lack until God supplied his need, yet he was a man of faith. That should be the attitude of every true follower of Christ.
Just as Paul endured afflictions, he told Timothy to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). He also encouraged the Thessalonians not to be shaken by their afflictions because Christians were meant to go through such afflictions or troubles (1 Thessalonians 3:3). This is what the disciples of Jesus should do, knowing that we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22b). Only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13b). Jesus said in Luke 14:27, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (New King James Version). Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus.
If you are not born again, I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, I receive Your help to set aside selfish interests and express a willingness to endure whatever may come, as I follow Jesus. Holy Spirit, with Your help, I believe in Jesus and will conform to His example in living and, if necessary, suffer or die because of my faith in Him. I shall deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Jesus. Father, I pray that everyone who believes in Your Son, Jesus Christ, will be totally committed to Him in all circumstances and will never forsake Him, no matter what.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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