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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Carrying Our Cross

  Last evening I saw the love and dedication of examples of Christ's servant-hood.Dear friends were invited as guinea pigs for a beat-version of a vision that God has challenged me with to teach and share the meaning of the "Passover" to followers of Jesus.
 My desire was to honor God and Jesus, and I was willing to do it all with my family in order to complete that task. What we experienced was the sacrifice of time, rest and strength (and so much more) at the end of the Seder (the meal depicting the Passover events). My brothers and sisters in Christ stayed and helped clean and do so much that I never expected or even desired for them to do. To say it simply, my family "felt the love". In my time to explore and study I came across this poignant excerpt from on of my favorite resources which goes beyond the sacrificing of the daily events, tasks and choices into the sacrificing a way of life. Needless to say, the following is a humbling dose of medicine from God's pharmacy.
These days, "rights" are on everyone's lips. Society urges us to demand our rights in any given situation. Certainly, there is a time and place to claim a right, but more often we should be willing to "deny ourselves" and let someone else indulge in his "rights." This takes a willingness to "carry our cross," to sacrifice, to relinquish, to forgo our rights.
If we want to become a more effective sacrifice, we would greatly benefit by studying and meditating on this topic. It is so extensive that a whole series of articles could be written on "sacrificing the self." We can give up our lives inch by inch perhaps even more effectively than all at once. For example, some claim to be willing to die for Christ, but are not prepared to sacrifice a parking spot so the more elderly can park closer to the door. Are we willing to be a cheerful giver in all kinds of situations, even when no one notices? Nobody but God, that is!
We often think about sacrificing in the big ways and omit our day-by-day opportunities. Who sacrifices or serves the most in the home? Who is most willing to be inconvenienced—and serves cheerfully? Great is his or her reward. Do we practice this idea moment by moment in the privacy of our homes, as an example to our children?
The best opportunities to sacrifice our time and money come when it is a burden to do so! Think about that! These opportunities are never convenient, nor do they set appointments. They just pop up, and we may have to sacrifice something important to fulfill them. As one writer said, too often the problem with living sacrifices is that they have a habit of crawling off the altar at the last second, just when they are needed!
Many of us have already sacrificed a close family because of our "strange" beliefs. Some have given up choice jobs over the Sabbath and Feast of Tabernacles. We have all "sacrificed" money that could have gone for vacations or retirement investments in order to obey God's tithing laws. At least that is what a financial planner would say!
Sacrificing entails giving up something we want or need for the common good. It is a sacrifice to keep our mouths shut when we feel like giving someone a piece of our mind. Are we willing to make these kinds of sacrifices—or do we indulge our human nature?
It is a sacrifice to defeat temptations of all kinds, when our nature cries out for instant gratification, be it for alcohol, illicit sex, materialism, too much food, "saving face," gossip, etc. The apostle Peter reminds us that, when we really understand what godly suffering is all about, we will lose interest in sin—and will cease from it, no longer pursuing our former lusts (I Peter 4:1-3).
Paul perhaps says it most eloquently in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Are we willing to give up the "self" and all its rights, if need be? Can we dare say with Paul, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me"? Incredible! But that is our goal.
Later in the same book he adds: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). Are we really willing to give up what the world has to offer us? Are we willing to give up the world's values, entertainment, approbation and esteem? To many, it is a sacrifice, but we cannot simultaneously befriend this world's values and God (I John 2:15James 4:4).
Suffice it to say, that "bearing our cross" deals with willingly sacrificing ourselves, our wants, desires and needs, for others and the things of God. It is being willing to lose our lives for His sake (Luke 9:24).

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