WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 9, 2022
TOPIC: YOU ARE NOT DOING GOD A FAVOUR BY FOLLOWING JESUS
BY T. O. BANSO
“We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you-be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 The Living Bible).
Because preachers do beg people to come to Christ, some of them erroneously think that by following Jesus they are doing God a favour! That’s why some give conditions for accepting Christ into their lives. But if sinners know the danger ahead of them, they will run to Christ. Unfortunately, Satan has blinded their minds.
Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 New King James Version).
There is hellfire waiting for sinners but to them, it’s like a folktale. That was what the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 thought too. He realized his folly too late. Nobody who loves himself should want to take a risk to end his life in hell! Any wise person will sacrifice anything to avoid hellfire where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48).
The danger ahead of sinners is an eternal one that they shouldn’t think that they’re doing God or any pastor a favour coming to Christ. Nobody should give any condition before coming to Christ. Paul said, “We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you-be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 The Living Bible). Although preachers beg sinners to receive the gift of eternal life which God offers through His Son, it is for their sake, not for Christ’s sake. Nobody who follows Jesus is doing God a favour.
It’s to save anyone who comes to him from hell fire that shall never be quenched that Jesus tells him to do three things in Luke 9:23: (1) Deny himself (2) Take up his cross daily (3) Follow him. Luke 9:23 says, “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). Matthew 16:24 and Mark 8:34 say a similar thing. To come after Jesus means to follow Him. When you do so, you’re doing yourself a favour, not God.
Becoming Jesus’ follower requires that someone denies himself, which, as used in Luke 9:23, means to “disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself” (The Amplified Bible). It also means, “you must turn from your selfish ways” (New Living Translation). The Living Bible puts Luke 9:23 this way: “Then he said to all, ‘Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!’”
To be a disciple or follower of Jesus means to allow Him to be your guide or leader while you give up yourself to follow Him. It also means not to have your own agenda but His agenda.
To take up your cross daily as Jesus said in Luke 9:23 means not to run away from suffering but embrace it. In other words, such people “must be willing to give up their lives daily” (New Century Version). “Follow me” in that passage, means, “cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also” (The Amplified Bible). Don’t follow Jesus only because of the miracles you need as many did during His earthly ministry. They sought Him because He had fed them (John 6:26).
If you’ve given your life to Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him despite your problems. Jesus said, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38 New King James Version). Also, 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).
Some are looking for a life devoid of personal problems or life challenges before they follow Jesus. But problems or challenges are a reality of human existence. If all your problems are solved today, new ones will soon come up. We live in a broken world; we are not yet in heaven. Therefore, we must deal with different problems as part of human existence. Nobody is free of life’s challenges; they only vary from one person to the other. What is a challenge to a Christian brother/sister or family may not be to another.
Nevertheless, you must deny yourself, carry your cross daily, and follow Him as Abraham did, not because of God but because of yourself. Abraham was without a child for 25 years yet he continued to follow God. The apostles, including Paul, also had to carry their cross daily to follow Christ.
Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 New King James Version).
Even while in Roman prison, Paul didn’t feel sorry for himself, complain about his condition, or ask for people’s sympathy. Whether he was free or in prison, he remained an ambassador of Christ. In Ephesians 6:19-10, he said, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (New International Version). Please take note of the phrase “I am an ambassador in chains.” The chains didn’t change who he was. He denied himself, carried his cross daily, and followed Jesus.
Though it is not easy, true disciples of Jesus continue to follow Him despite their problems. Be a Christian who denies himself, carries his cross daily, and follows Jesus, understanding that you are not doing God a favour by following Jesus. You are doing yourself a favour. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 New King James Version). Paul later said, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b New King James Version).
Nobody can be victorious by his power. It must be through the grace of God. God told Paul His grace was sufficient for him. Paul said he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13). Receive grace to continue to follow Jesus to the end, no matter your condition. Hear Paul again: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 New King James Version).
You must look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). You are not doing God a favour but yourself. As Paul also said, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17 New King James Version). The eternal glory you will gain is much greater than the troubles or afflictions you see now. Hallelujah!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. 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: Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. Holy Spirit, help me to deny myself, carry my cross daily, and follow Jesus to the end, not with the attitude that I am doing God a favour but myself. I pray that everyone who thinks following Jesus is doing God a favour will repent, give their lives to Jesus, deny themselves, carry their cross daily, and follow Him to the end.
(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
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947