Day 16: Follow Me

Today’s reading is drawn from Luke 9:18-27.

IF ANY OF YOU WANTS TO BE MY FOLLOWER,” Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” If we really want to follow Jesus Christ, we need to obey the three commands in this verse.

Number one: We must give up our own way. Other Bible versions say that we must “deny ourselves.” Some have erroneously taken this to mean that we must deny ourselves certain pleasures or preferences in life. To some people this seems to mean that we should never own new cars or make a lot of money. They think every believer should look humble and cultivate a weak, nonassertive personality. But that is an inaccurate interpretation. You can look humble and be nonassertive all the time and still not “give up your own way” in the way Jesus intends. Giving up my own way means saying no to what I want to say yes to what He wants. Jesus Christ has the right to rule over me. So when He applies His rulership and leads me in a certain direction, I do not resist and I do not wrestle. I go, I do, I obey. I say no to what I want because He is in charge. He rules my life. I obey Him. I acknowledge that He has the right to rule over me. He is not only Savior, but He is also Lord . . . and as Lord, He’s in charge.

Number two: We must take up our cross daily. The same people who must give up our own way must now take up a cross every day.

These words had more meaning during the days when crucifixions were common than they do in our day. Back then, a condemned criminal would be forced to carry a cross­beam—a piece of timber that would later be attached to a vertical beam—to the place of execution. Criminals would leave the place where they were condemned, be given a piece of timber to carry on their shoulders, and drag or carry it, if they could, all the way to the execution site. When you saw somebody carrying a crossbeam, you knew it was a ­one ­way trip. You knew that individual’s time was about to end. He or she would die in a public execution. What a word picture for Jesus to use for people who were familiar with that kind of scene!

But there’s even more. To “take up your cross daily” means to die to your own plans and dreams and de-sires, to die to the pressing demands of your own physical cravings, and to put to death all of your selfish arrangements for living so that Christ has preeminence. It means making Him the One in charge of your life.

Number three: We must follow Him. Let the people follow Jesus who have denied themselves and are taking up their crosses on a daily basis. Once you have denied yourself, you can go in one of several directions. But only one direction is the path of obedience: following wherever Jesus leads.

[call out text: You can look humble and be nonassertive all the time and still not “give up your own way.”]

Bible Gateway

The Day I Stopped Living for Jesus

Micca Campbell May 30, 2018
MICCA CAMPBELL

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

There was a quiet hurt in my heart for decades. For some reason, being a Christian wasn’t working out like I had hoped. I was lacking real peace and intimacy with God like I’d seen in others. Deep inside myself, I knew there had to be more to a relationship with God than what I was experiencing.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered.

Daily, I struggled with secret thoughts and desires. Worse than the struggle, I found myself promising God I would give up some sin, only to repeat said sin the next day. It was a never-ending cycle.

Regardless of my sincerity to keep my vow, I failed religiously. I lost my temper with my children. Willpower evaded me. After consuming an entire bag of Oreos, I wrestled with feeling fat. Defeated. Worthless. At times, I even hated myself.

Wasn’t Jesus supposed to liberate me from all of this?

Perhaps you can relate. You desire to do right, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t.

Desperate to understand the reason behind my confusion, I turned to God’s Word for insight. In due course, I came across our key verse.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

It was an “aha moment” for me. Jesus not only saved me, but through His power, I’ve been given an inexhaustible heavenly resource that enables me to live a godly life.

This is good news! You and I can do what pleases God when we depend on the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it’s impossible to conquer temptation and sin or gain victory over ungodly habits or hurts. We must depend solely on God’s supernatural power to do in us what we cannot do ourselves.

Suddenly, it all became clear. There was never anything missing from my relationship with God. He hadn’t left me unequipped. I was simply trusting in my own ability instead of relying on God’s supernatural-ability in me.

It’s no wonder I was frustrated. True Christianity isn’t about me living for Jesus; it’s about letting Jesus live through me.

Trying to live the Christian life in my own strength was exhausting and discouraging. Once I began relying on the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ life was free to flow through me. Now, I have what my heart longed for most — an intimate relationship with God.

If you’re wondering, Can God really free me from my ungodly habits that I’ve tried so hard to change? Empower me to let go of past hurts? Survive life’s storms? Experience intimacy with Him and develop an unshakable faith? The answer is, “Yes!”

There comes a time, perhaps it’s today, when we must give up control, stop trying to be good enough and let God be God in us — doing what only He can do, leading us where He will and conforming us into the image of His Son for His glory.

I can honestly tell you the life Jesus promised is real. A supernatural change takes place in our lives when we stop trying to live for Jesus and let Jesus live in us.Dear God, I give up trying to do right. I can’t. Forgive me for trusting in myself instead of You. Today, I surrender all my efforts and give you complete charge of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NIV)

1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Have you been waiting to see the fruit of God’s promises? As the biblical resources from Proverbs 31 Ministries intersect with your day-to-day life, we hope they’ve helped you keep believing God’s promises … even when things don’t work out as planned. Will you help us continue to walk alongside you and many others by making a donation to Proverbs 31 Ministries? Click here to learn more.

CONNECT:
Connect with Micca Campbell on her blog for more about living the Christian life in God’s power.

As the 21-year-old mother of an infant son, Micca’s world was shattered when she lost her husband to a tragic accident. In her darkest moment, she discovered God’s remedy for our deepest fears. Get your copy of Micca’s book — An Untroubled Heart — for yourself or a friend who needs a reminder of God’s goodness in the darkness.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
The only person to live without mistakes is Jesus. This is why He joined His life with ours. In what ways have you been trying to live a godly life in your own ability? How will depending on the power of Christ in you make a difference? Share your thoughts in the comments today.

© 2018 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Rise to the Call of God

What is God calling you into and out of? Rise up, and walk in that calling.

Thought:

In the book of Acts there is a Jewish leader, Saul, who is arresting and killing all of Jesus’ disciples. He is focused on destroying the church. God does something radical: He appears to Saul in a miraculous vision. God calls him to something new, something great. God invites Saul to step into his future and follow His leading!

Acts 26:16 is the command of God to Saul. Saul is being charged to be a “servant and witness” for God and to no longer destroy the church, but serve Him. Isn’t that crazy? The same man that was hurting the church, God used to serve the church! Can you imagine how the disciples felt when suddenly Saul shows up?

God gave Saul a new purpose in life and also gave him a new name, Paul. Paul went on to write many books of the Bible, and plant many churches! No matter who we are, or where we come from, God is calling us to do great things! We must open ourselves up to seek God for the call on our lives. Then we must take action and rise, and walk in the calling God has for us!

Challenge:

LISTEN FOR GOD’S VOICE! Take a moment to pray and ask God if there is something He wants to say to you.

DON’T WAIT! If we wait to begin when we have it all together, we will never start! Do something today! Tell someone what God is saying to you, or write it down.

RISE! Sometimes we don’t have all the answers when we begin the journey. God calls us to rise before we know all the steps ahead. Start the journey! Keep Reading! Rise Up!