Taking up a Cross and following

“Take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at crossmaking; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with tomorrow’s sun, you may go forth to the day’s cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.

A HOME FOR YOUR HEART

LORD, I love the Temple where you live, where your glory is. PSALM 26:8

When it comes to resting your soul, there is no place like the Great House of God. “I ask only one thing from the LORD,” [David] wrote, “This is what I want: Let me live in the LORD’s house all my life. Let me see the LORD’s beauty and look with my own eyes at his Temple” (Psalm 27:4).

If you could ask God for one thing, what would you request? David tells us what he would ask. He longs to live in the house of God. I emphasize the word live, because it deserves to be emphasized. David doesn’t want to chat. He doesn’t desire a cup of coffee on the back porch. He doesn’t ask for a meal or to spend an evening in God’s house. He wants to move in with him … forever. He’s asking for his own room … permanently. He doesn’t want to be stationed in God’s house, he longs to retire there. He doesn’t seek a temporary assignment, but rather lifelong residence.

from THE GREAT HOUSE OF GOD

God’s Help Is Near

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. HEBREWS 11:1

Faith is the belief that God is real and that God is good.… It is a choice to believe that the one who made it all hasn’t left it all and that he still sends light into the shadows and responds to gestures of faith.…

Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.

God says that the more hopeless your circumstances, the more likely, your salvation. The greater your cares, the more genuine your prayers. The darker the room, the greater the need for light.

God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it.

He Still Moves Stones

The Cure for Spiritual Weariness

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3)

Faith in Christ does not make one immune to spiritual weariness and faintness of mind. This condition may arise from frustration at our own natures, our inability to love God as we ought, to pray effectively, to understand the Scriptures, or to bear fruit for Him. We may feel that our best efforts to represent God in our community have been of no avail, and very few show by their lives that our witness and ministry have been effective.

Sometimes we may question why God does not choose to favor all those who follow Him with material blessings and pleasant circumstances; but instead, at times, the wicked prosper. Looking at the tide of evil sweeping our world can leave us faint and weary.

But the answer to our dilemma is Christ! Reflection on Him will re-energize even the most discouraged saint, for He “endured such contradiction |or opposition| of sinners” (today’s verse), was victorious, and now promises to lead us to similar victory (see Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16, for example). It will help us to persevere if we notice how He endured, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Peter 2:23), and that He endured it all, not just for Himself or just for His followers, but also for us, who, “when we were enemies |of Christ|, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).

The so-called “Hall of Fame of Faith” (Hebrews 11) immediately precedes today’s verse. Reflection on the testimonies of those faithful and victorious warriors, coupled with our example of Christ, will make our greatest burden seem light and should spur us on to even more effective and sacrificial labor. JDM

Eternal Things

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

One of the most difficult handicaps for a Christian to overcome is spiritual nearsightedness. It is easy to see temporal things, but hard to think on eternal things.

Paul, however, in the midst of an extremely busy and difficult temporal life, somehow did manage to keep his sights on that eternal life to which he was called. The wonderful redemption which Christ purchased for us with His blood is nothing less than “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12); and therefore “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Consequently, as joint-heirs with Him, “they which are called . . . receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). He is,
surely, the “God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10) and has there provided for us “everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9).

All of these eternal things–eternal redemption, eternal salvation, eternal inheritance, eternal habitations, and eternal glory–are of infinitely greater value than the temporal things which crowd our minds and limit our goals. They are all a part of the wonderful eternal life we have already received through faith in Christ. It is significant that the phrase “eternal life” (or “everlasting life,” which is the same Greek phrase) occurs no less than 44 times in the New Testament. God speaks of it often, and so should we!

The very first eternal thing mentioned in the Bible is the “everlasting covenant” God has made with all men (Genesis 9:16). The last is the “everlasting gospel” to be preached to all men (Revelation 14:6). HMM

There came a lion

“And there came a lion.” (1 Sam. 17:34.)

IT is a source of inspiration and strength to come in touch with the youthful David, trusting God. Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel. “And there came a lion.”

One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from God; one would think that only an occasion of alarm. The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity. Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.

When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior. The very tabernacle of God was covered with badgers’ skins and goats’ hair; one would not think there would be any glory there. The Shekinah of God was manifest under that kind of covering. May God open our eyes to see Him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers, or misfortunes.—C. H. P.