"And 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." Luke 9:23
What is involved in being a follower of Jesus Christ? Through His innocent sufferings and death in our stead -- for the sake of His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world -- believers have forgiveness for all their sins and a place in His eternal kingdom. And, because Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day, we as believers can be assured that we also will be raised up on the Last Day to everlasting life with Jesus in the mansions of His Father's house (cf. John 14:1-3).
But what will it be like for us here in this world as followers of Jesus? Will all be easy and smooth sailing for us in life? Will all our troubles, hardships and heartaches be taken away from us as we live on in this world?
Many modern-day preachers would have us believe Jesus will take away all our troubles in this life and make us prosperous in this world, but we listen to what Jesus, our Savior, said in Luke 9:23-26 after He had spoken of His own sufferings, death and resurrection: "And 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. For whoever will save his life, shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in that of his Father, and of the holy angels."
So what does Jesus say? Each day, we need to deny ourselves, our goals, our ambitions, those things we desire to do, and take up our crosses and follow Him. Yes, He leads and guides us through life with His Word -- something we really need to read and study every day. As believers, we hear His Word and we follow Him wherever He leads.
But following Jesus isn't a "joy-bells" kind of Christianity. Rather, it's a road that involves a cross and suffering, for we follow one who was rejected by this world -- including the outward church -- and crucified (cf. John 15:18-21). Following Jesus means giving up and maybe even losing our lives for His sake. And, of what benefit would it be if we gained the whole world and then lost our own souls and all the blessings God has in store for us in His kingdom?
We follow Jesus. We listen to His Word -- the Bible -- and treasure its teaching in our hearts. We openly proclaim His Word in a dark and dying world where many would rather not hear it. We do not shrink back from Jesus and His words and are not ashamed of them, for we have life through His Word and we await the day of His glorious return and the fulfillment of all that He has won for us and promised to us.
Grant that we hear Your Word, Lord Jesus, and trust in You and Your shed blood for our salvation; and grant that we deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow You, wherever You lead us, and not shrink back. Amen.
Editor's note: Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture is quoted from Webster's revision of the King James Version of the Bible. More of Moll's devotional writings may be read at https://goodshepherdonline.org.]