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Taking Up Our Cross - Abundant Life Through Death to Self

"If any man  will come after me, let him deny hismelf,
and take up his cross, and follow me."
(Matthew 16:24)

Self denial and the taking up of the cross are the first conditions to becoming followers of the Lord Jesus. It is the cost that all who desire to be a disciple must pay. As we begin to walk with Him we come to learn that the Lord does not call us to lay a heavy burden upon our shoulders and then to watch us struggle under its weight. Rather, He calls us to follow Him with singleness of heart. We are given the incredible privilege of His companionship. He walks with us every step of the way, revigorating our souls, mercifully sustaining us in our weaknesses, encouraging us when the road gets steep, guiding us when the lights grows dim, giving us measured strength and exceeding joy for the journey. Once we submit beneath that cross we realize that "His yoke is easy" and "His burden is light". It is not His intent to spare us from the adversities and suffering that pertain to ordinary human existence. It is not His plan to fool us into denying the weight of the burden. When He walks with us, the cross becomes a sweet burden intended to open the gate to real communion with our great God and King. We enter into the inner chambers of fellowship where we get to know Him better and experience His love and all-sufficient grace for every circumstance of life. The joy of His presence and the comfort of His word are sufficient to sustain us as persevere on course.

The cross is not an end in itself. Rather, it is that "narrow gate" that leads us to His heart. Jesus calls us to be His disciples, His friends, and to be adopted into His family. His yoke is easy and the burden is light because of the strength He provides us to endure and not grow weary. There is nowhere else we, His true disciples, would rather go, no other burden we need carry, and there is no joy that any, anywhere, can experience which compares to the joy of knowing Him and being in His presence. Let us not hold back, but willingly and wholeheartedly step forward by faith, taking up our cross, the instrument of death to self will, and follow Him wherever He leads. And yeah, for those who walk with Him here on earth, we shall soon delight in the sweetness of His presence in glory.

Hallelujah! What an awesome God we serve!