I used to think being a Christian was the easiest of all the world 'religions.' I mean, think about it - you donít have to pray on a rug a certain amount of times per day. You donít have to make a voyage to Mecca or somewhere every year to become holy. You donít have to sit and chant in a lotus position for hours at a time to receive inner peace. You donít have to pray to hundreds of gods and try to keep up with which god is for this or that. You donít have to work and work and work to become righteous because Jesus paid it all, right? I was saved by His grace so I thought all I had to do in this Christian life was to love and worship God. Easy, right? I can do this!
But the more I got to know my Lord Jesus, the more I became engrossed in His Holy Word, I realized something: itís not easy at all - itís hard. Very hard. You know why? If you are truly redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and desire Godís blessings in your life - YOU HAVE TO DIE! I am not talking about a physical death, but you do have to die to your self, to your flesh and earthly desires. You cannot live a life well pleasing to God, unless you die - to you. Because what is well pleasing to God is NO SIN in your life and that is just plain hard or - actually impossible.
When I sin, I hate myself and my weak flesh. God always lets me know when He is not pleased with me. His Holy Spirit will send just the right bible verse or message or even a song to convict me and break my heart. And thatís really hard. When you know you have displeased your Father and broken fellowship with Him, it hurts. It hurts badly until you repent. I sometimes wonder if God tires of me repenting for the same things over and over. But I donít really think so because He always brings me back into His warm embrace. He lets me know again, He is pleased.
Luke 9:23 says ďAnd he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.Ē
We have many excuses why we canít do this daily, donít we? Just like people in the bible; there was the young man who said he had kept all the commandments since his youth. But he loved his wealth more than Jesus. There were the people that wanted to go back to bury their dead before they could follow Him and on and on. Thereís always something that tries to keep us from total fellowship with Him.
The hardest part is denying ourselves. Truth be known, we love ourselves more than anybody. We love having control over our own lives. We love being comfortable. But to follow Jesus, we have to love Him more than self. We have to be uncomfortable many times and we have to give Him total control of our lives. It doesnít work when we give Him only partial control. He demands everything - our all. We must deny ourselves to truly follow after Him. That teaches us humility.
Mark 8:35 says this ďFor whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.Ē
Thatís the reward for it all - if I lose my own life for His sake, I am saved.
You know, the time may come very soon for American Christians to be persecuted just for being a Christian. The days are becoming very dark. I hear our Canadian friends are already seeing a backlash of hostility from preaching the true gospel. I heard of at least one preacher being thrown into jail for preaching Romans 1. There was another instance of an anti-cult ministry being shut down by the Canadian government because they told the truth about JehovahĎs Witnesses and Latter Day Saints. Our time is comingÖ..But this should not surprise us. Jesus told us it would happen. In Mark 13:13 He said ďAnd ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.Ē
As He said in Mark 8:23 if we lose our life for His sake, only then will we truly find life - here and now and in eternity. You know, I guess this Christian life is not so hard after all. If we carry on in His strength, not our own. Plus the rewards are so awesome! But even if they werenít, Jesus Christ saved my soulÖ..thatís enough for me. So, Iím just gonna keep on keeping on, by GodĎs good grace. Iím carrying my cross every day - Iím gonna follow close and follow hard right behind Him becauseÖ...He saved me. Dirty, rotten me. It's almost unbelievable, but it's really true. He is my Saviour and He is so worthy.
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You cannot live a life well pleasing to God, unless you die - to you....Amen! Our biggest hinderance is self. Sometimes we think it's satan that is hindering us when actually it is self. I enjoyed this word Julia. Keep preaching and teaching...Hugs.