Lucia's Blog: TO SAVE OUR LIFE WE MUST LOSE IT
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

TO SAVE OUR LIFE WE MUST LOSE IT



"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.'"
Matthew 16:24-27


Jesus was not a salesman or businessman selling a product. He was and is a Prince recruiting soldiers and a Doctor healing diseased souls. A salesman minimizes the cost of his product while praising the benefits. Jesus as our Prince demands that we follow orders without question or as Doctor that we take His medicine for our healing exactly as prescribed. He calls it a yoke, such as the burden that a plowing ox must bear. The end result is our salvation.

Lately, I've been reflecting on Matthew 16:24-27 and the many people who want to know how to get to heaven.  People from differing faiths walk contrasting paths to reach that goal.  It is so confusing to hear the many conflicting religious doctrines and to see the big religious divisions. There is no shortage of misconceptions, sophistry, and prejudices (as found in different creeds, religious practices, and different churches) about going to heaven.  What they don't accept is that they must lose their life to save it.  That they need to make preparation here on earth to go there, heaven.   Jesus, our Lord, has offered mankind an easy yoke, (Matthew 11:30).  Part of Jesus' invitation involves accepting His yoke.  Jesus has promised, "I will give you rest."  And though He was promising rest (twice in verses 28-29), He was also imposing obligations on those who choose to follow Him. Jesus was not just talking about the inner peace that results from having one's sins forgiven. When Jesus said, "and you will find rest for your souls,"  He referred to the eternal rest that the faithful will enjoy in heaven, rest for their souls.  Before one can enjoy this rest, he must come to Jesus, take His yoke upon him and bear the burden that accompanies it.  Then he must learn Christ to find true rest. Therefore, the only truth at stake is:  Do you want to know how to save your life and go to heaven? The only answer to this hard question is found in the Bible.  And that is precisely where I am going to focus this study.  The steps needed to get to heaven.  They are not small steps. They are giant steps!  Steps that are essential and vital.


I.   ONE MUST TAKE THE YOKE OF CHRIST TO SAVE HIS LIFE:
  • One Must Come to Jesus:  
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30).
When Jesus stated, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," He was freely offering all mankind an invitation to come to Him and rest from their heavy laden (difficulties, trials, and problems).  Jesus wants to help!  Though Jesus is calling everyone to Him, very few respond to His call.  This is why He said later in Matthew 22:14, "For many are called, but few are chosen.” Indeed, very few are chosen.  Why?  Because most people refuse to come to Jesus on His terms.  Many are uninterested, apathetic and lukewarm.  Take for instance the prodigal son of Luke 15 who was reunited with his father after he had left to a far country.  He said, "How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you."'  (Luke 15:17-18).  You see, like this prodigal son, one must come to Christ since He is the only giver of rest (spiritually) and restorer who gives us peace both here on earth and after this life.

So, how can one come to Christ to save his life and not lose it?  A critical question, indeed! First, one must listen to the gospel and believe it.  This is the first step in answering Jesus' call.  However, it is not enough to just believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  Believing (faith) alone will not save anyone! In John 12:37-43 we can clearly see an example of this.  Jesus performed many miracles before the eyes of many witnesses, giving them plenty of evidence to identify Him as the Son of God. Despite the mountains of evidence, their hearts were stubborn, refusing to believe.  Their hardness and stubbornness of heart blinded them to the Truth.  No amount of evidence would have convinced them.  And though some did believe, their faith was still shallow and without depth whatsoever. They preferred the praise of men to God's favor.  They believed but refused to confess the Son of God openly, (Romans 10:9-10).  Thus they pretended to come to Christ, but they refused to steadfastly take up His yoke and follow Him.

Today is not so different.  Why?  Because many are afraid to sacrificially take up their cross and follow the Lord.  They fail to see the bigger picture.  They are blinded by the world and its many lusts and pleasures.  They simply run away and hide.  They refuse to take up their cross and follow Jesus; the One who surrendered everything for them.  They prefer to continue in their sins instead of submitting to His Lordship in complete obedience.  They reject His rebuke of their lawlessness and perhaps laziness.  They reject taking up their cross (they call it ugly) and instead choose to live a life of leisure and pleasure.  They refuse to deny themselves this world's many pleasures and desires. They don't want to take up their cross because they refuse to follow Him, (Matt. 16:24).  They are not willing to suffer and sacrifice for Jesus.  They are ashamed of His cross!  They destroy their only hope of salvation, (Rom. 1:16-17).

Indeed, everyone who desires to follow Jesus must take up His yoke and bear the burden that follows it, (Matt. 11:29-30).  When one submits to Him, he takes His yoke upon himself.  That is, we give ourselves to Him, our owner.  Animals must do what their masters command them.  God wants and demands the same from us.  Of course, not as animals or pets but as devoted and grateful followers who desire to serve and please Him in everything.

Taking Jesus' yoke upon us demands repentance, confessing one's faith and baptism, (Acts 2:38). The same way in which the yoke allows the ox to carry a heavy burden fairly quickly, so it is with us when carrying Christ's yoke.  We start taking Christ's yoke and accepting all the "burdens" of life when we obey the gospel.  Which burdens?  

  1. The burden of denying self:  Without self-denial, it is impossible to serve the Lord steadfastly.  Paul spoke of this in Romans 8:17:  "and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." If we suffer for the Lord, He will be glorified!  Taking His yoke upon us means to no longer live for one's own pleasures but rather for His pleasure only.  We can never forget that we have been bought with a price and we are not our own any longer.  Hence, we must glorify our Father in heaven in our bodies and spirits which are God's, (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
  2. The burden of growing in understanding and sound doctrine:  This is another burden to bear. The Word of God is our only weapon of defense against all doctrinal error or false teaching. We are commanded to do our best to present ourselves to God as one who is approved and has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth, (2 Tim. 2:15).  It is our responsibility to protect the Truth against all false teachings.
  3. The burden of living a life of full service to Jesus, taking up His yoke:  "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  (Eph. 2:10).  Also, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."  (Gal. 6:2).  Therefore, our lives must be overflowing with good works for the Lord.
  4. The burden of faithful obedience to Jesus:  Christ's yoke demands obedience in the same way that Jesus learned obedience while He was here on earth. "Though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation.  (Heb. 5:8-10).
It is crucial that we understand that Jesus' yoke is the burden that makes all other burdens bearable. Indeed, this is what makes His yoke beautiful and bearable.  All earthly burdens can be endured. All earthly trials are a light traveled road when one takes up the yoke of Christ.  No man can bear all these burdens without the yoke of Christ.  The world's weight is too heavy to carry without the Lord's help.  His help is readily available to all who desire to partake of His yoke.  Christ's yoke is to be shared with others, (Gal. 6:2).


II.   ONE MUST DENY SELF TO SAVE HIS LIFE:

One of the most crucial giant steps to heaven is to step out of self.  It requires dying to self and giving up everything that would hinder doing the will of God.  It means placing Jesus above our wants and desires.  Jesus is the governing power in our lives.  For Jesus to rule and be the Master of our lives, we must be willing to deny self and take up His cross.  (Rom. 12:1-2; Matt. 6:33; Lk. 14:25-33; 2 Cor. 5:14-15).  Jesus, our Lord, gave all for us.  Therefore, we must offer all of our time, effort, resources and abilities to Him and His work.  Jesus is our chief example of dying to self and self-denial, (Luke 9:23).  Those who are crucified with Christ must not dwell upon their desires and rights but only upon fulfilling the will of the Father, (Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 15:31).  For to wear the crown of righteousness in the heavenly abode, one must be willing to bear his cross daily.

Stepping out of self (that is denying self) is indeed one of the giant steps to heaven.  It is one of the most difficult things to do in this life.  Why?  Because so many are wrapped up in their wants and desires, thinking that the world revolves around them and their desires.  Those who are in Christ must learn to crucify their flesh with its passions and desires, (Gal. 5:24).  Those who belong to Christ have determined to crucify the world to serve the Lord faithfully.  There is no place for an inflated ego in the life of a servant of Jesus.  Denying self demands putting off the old man!  It means dying to the old life of sin.  Notice what Paul commands the brethren to do in Colossians 3:9-10:  "Lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, 10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him."  The old way of life, our sins and bad habits must die to make room for the new man. That old man has to die for the new man to live!  Like Paul, we must put off our old, sinful way of life to let Christ live in us, (Gal. 2:20).

To give ourselves in service to Christ completely, we must surrender to Him and His Lordship. Denying one's self and putting off the old man is not enough.  You see, the Macedonian brethren gave themselves to the Lord, to His will, (2 Cor. 8:5).  We must be living sacrifices. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind to be acceptable and pleasing to God without any reservations.


III.   ONE MUST PUT ON CHRIST TO SAVE HIS LIFE:
"For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ."  (Gal. 3:26-27).

Putting on Christ is essential to be saved.  Faith is what motivates sinners to be baptized into Christ, thereby becoming a child of God, (John 8:24; Luke 13:3).  Baptism puts one into Christ and lets one put Christ on.  To put Christ on means to seek those things that are above; those things that are spiritual rather than physical and sinful, (Col. 3:1-2).  When one has been raised with Christ in the waters of baptism, he must seek those things that are above where Christ is.  Moreover, one must not set his mind and heart on earthly things.  And since we were baptized into His death through baptism (buried with Him), we must walk in newness of life, (Rom. 6:3-4).  Thus, becoming a new creation (born again as a new creature spiritually) as a result of our obedience"Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new."  (2 Cor. 5:17).  When we obey the gospel, God cleanses and washes our sins away: the filth and darkness that stains and pollutes our souls.  He removes the filth of sin, making us His new, beautiful, white and pure children.  Isn't that wonderful!  It is beyond words!!

Indeed to save one's life, he must put on Jesus through baptism. Salvation is one of the greatest spiritual blessings, (Eph. 1:3).  Where are all spiritual blessings found?  In Christ!  "Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."  (2 Tim. 2:10).  There are many other blessings besides salvation found in Jesus: peace, contentment, hope, joy, forgiveness, a purpose to live for and many others.  Those who refuse to put on Christ cannot partake of all these spiritual blessings.  One must put on Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism to become a new creation and receive spiritual blessings.


IV.   ONE MUST TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW HIM TO SAVE HIS LIFE:

So what does it mean to take up one's cross and follow Him to save one's life?  Taking up one's cross and following Jesus is not just to bear one's burdens, hardships, and sufferings for the Lord.  Indeed, all those who want to live godly will at one point in their life suffer hardship, but there is more to it considering our context, (Matthew 16:24-27).  So what is a cross for?  It is much more than a burden to be carried. It is an instrument of total death and sacrifice.  When Jesus declared that we take up our cross and follow Him, He implied that we must bear our cross and follow Him just as He bore it. Jesus bore the cross when He died.  And just as Jesus gave His life for all of us, so must we give our lives to Him completely.  Our lives will profit us nothing if we gain the whole world and are unacceptable before God.  Taking up our cross implies that we give our whole life to God in devotion to Him, as Jesus gave His life for us.  It involves carrying burdens and dedicating our lives to full service and dedication to God alone.  Our entire lives must be given fully to serving Him, surrendering to His will only and denying self altogether.  Following Jesus demands that we live as He lived, walking in His footsteps; loving Him more than our loved ones for His sake; being imitators of Him,  (1 Peter 2:21; Matt. 10:34; 1 Cor. 11:1).

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  (Luke 9:23).  Taking one's cross daily requires devoting one's life entirely to Jesus every day.  It demands a total sacrifice of self to do His will.  It requires me to do all that He commands me to do for Him.  It means that what I want no longer matters because I give myself to Him just as He gave Himself up for me.  It demands that I be transformed by the renewing of my mind daily to be acceptable to God; that I crucify self; that I cease sinning; that I walk in the light as He is in the light; that I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; that I walk in righteousness leading to sanctification; that I die to self to live for Him; that I let my light shine in the midst of so much darkness; finally, that I keep all of His commandments, (Romans 12:1-2; Gal 2:20; 1 John 3:4-18; Matt. 6:19-33; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 6:6-23; 2 Tim. 2:11; 2 Cor. 4:5-12; Eccl. 12:13).

While Jesus was living here on earth, He asked many to follow Him.  Some followed Him faithfully while others made excuses and were reluctant.  Others did not follow Him because they refused to accept the cost of discipleship.  (Matt. 4:18-20; Matt. 9:9; Matt. 10:37-39; Matt. 19:21).  The truth is that Jesus is inviting us to come out of the world and follow Him.  It means that Jesus will not enter if we are not willing to welcome Him and follow Him.  Opening the door to Him is not enough as some claim.  Indeed, it is a start, but it is not enough.  To accept His invitation involves leaving the things of this world to follow Him.  It demands complete surrender, an obedient faith, and works throughout all of life's struggles and challenges, (Matt. 16:24-27).

  • The True Cost of Following Jesus:
Great crowds continued following Jesus.  He then spoke to them saying,
"If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? 29 Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. 33 So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."  (Luke 14:26-33).

Jesus speaks as a great leader who demands that we set our priorities in order. If God is not number one, you cannot claim to be His follower. To drive this demand home, he declares that he who does not hate every member of his family and even his own life, he cannot be a genuine disciple of Christ. Notice that in this passage, Jesus says three times that one cannot be His disciple unless he fulfills certain conditions, (cf. 14:27,33).  Jesus used the word "hate" (cf. Matt. 10:37; Gen. 29:31) to teach that to hate one's loved ones is to love them less than God.  One must love God with all of his heart, might and strength above anyone or everything else, (Deut. 13:6-11).  Moreover, one must love Him more than life itself, (Phil. 1:21; Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).  Jesus carefully defined the difference between a genuine disciple and the one who loves himself and his loved ones more than their Lord and Savior.  One must be willing to suffer for Jesus to be a His follower. He must be willing to suffer and be persecuted for Jesus' sake, just like his Lord. (Matt. 10:38; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21; 2 Tim. 3:12).  It is indeed the core cost of discipleship.

In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus explains the cost of discipleship.  If someone wants to build a tower, he must first be sure that he will be able to complete what he begins.  It would be foolish to start a project of this magnitude and not be able to finish it.  It would be a waste of time!  Jesus said, "count the cost" before you start.  He did not intend to discourage anyone, but He warned us not to think it will be easy to be His disciple. It is a huge endeavor that requires effort, understanding, and commitment to be successful.

"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. 21 For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire."  (2 Peter 2:20-22).

Therefore, each Christian must accept and understand the price that he will pay to truly follow Jesus. He must put Him above everything, not be afraid and continue building, (1 Cor. 10:13). Though it is essential to lay a spiritual and physical foundation, one is not finished until the job is completed.  He who stops building after the foundation has been completed will indeed be mocked by others (whether he is building a tower or his own life as a disciple of Christ).  Surely such a one did not make any provisions and a proper evaluation of his goals and purposes before he began laying the foundation, (Matt. 13:20-22).  Sadly, he started but did not finish well, and it will do him no good.  It shows folly and lack of commitment.  He did not endure faithfully (continue building) as a true disciple or follower of Christ.

In Luke 14:31-33, Jesus added another example to help us see the importance of counting the cost of following Him.  A wise king will prepare before he enters the battlefield. He will make the cold and hard calculations to decide whether or not he can win the battle.  If he sees that he will likely lose, then the wise thing for him to do is to send a delegation asking for conditions of peace before the battle begins.  Again it will be foolish to enter the battlefield without planning to win and believing that he is able.  "So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."  (Luke 14:33).  Jesus opens our eyes to the reality of what the real cost will be. We must renounce all that we have. A true disciple of Jesus will "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," (Matt. 6:33)  Likewise, he must be willing to suffer the loss of everything that's temporal to gain eternal life, (Phil. 3:7-11).  He must understand that all physical things are rubbish.

  • The Rich Young Ruler:
While Jesus walked on earth, some would follow Him for a while but then would turn back when they heard some "hard sayings," (John 6:60-66).  Then Jesus proceeded by telling His apostles, "Do you want to go away as well?' 68 Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."'  (John 6:67-69).  Peter acknowledged the fundamental truth that salvation cannot be obtained unless one obeys the Savior's words even though they might seem too hard.

Indeed, one thing is to desire to follow Jesus, and it is entirely another thing to willfully submit to the will of God.  Take for instance the rich, young ruler who declined to follow Jesus because he loved his wealth more than Jesus.  Indeed, this was a young ruler and very rich, (Luke 18:18,23). Matthew 19:20, 22 records him as a young man.  And though some others in the first century acknowledged Jesus' words of life, they were still not willing to follow Jesus' demands.  There are many lessons to learn from the rich young ruler who wanted eternal life and yet was not willing to submit his life to the will of God.  He was not willing to give up everything he owned to be Jesus' disciple.  Today is no different at all since many want eternal life but are unwilling to submit to Jesus and His Lordship.  After the young ruler had gone away, Jesus warned His disciples about the perils of riches and covetousness, (Luke 12:15).  You see the problem is not in riches, but rather it is in trusting on them for it will keep one from entering heaven, (Mark 10:24; 1 Tim. 6:17).  Surely, rich people can go to heaven as long as they don't trust in their riches or possessions but rather in God and His kingdom of righteousness, (1 Tim. 6:18-19).  Hence we must not allow our riches or temporal possessions to control or dominate us, (1 John 2:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:10).

Since Jesus was willing to give everything up for us to make salvation possible for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8-9), we must be willing to do the same to have the hope of heaven, (Mark 10:28-31).  Jesus ends chapter 14 by saying, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 14:34-35; cf. Matt 5:13; Mark 9:50).  Jesus uses salt in this context to highlight the importance of counting the cost and the danger of allowing other things (things of this world, our attention, and strength) to come between God and us, His followers.  One will lose flavor and become useless and worthless as a genuine disciple of Christ.  No man can serve two masters for he will fail to persevere and continue to build as a faithful doer and follower, (Matt. 6:24).


CONCLUSION:

How much is your life worth to you?  The answer will depend upon whom you ask.  Some might say that life is priceless, while others might disagree. The mother who has had an abortion will respond to the question with her actions.  The doctor who has performed such a lawless act will indeed demonstrate that the life of an unwanted baby is not worth more than a few hundred dollars for such a wicked procedure.  A drunk who kills someone on the road because he was under the influence of alcohol might say no life is worth more than his love for alcohol.  A medical insurance company might indicate that no one's life is worth less than the lifetime capital of coverage.  But, honestly, what does the Bible say concerning the value of life for mankind?  In Matthew 16:25-26 Jesus declared,  "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"  Surely, the worth of one's soul is beyond measure.  In God's eyes, one soul is worth more than all the riches and possessions this world has to offer.

Our Father in heaven sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show how much He loved the souls of mankind. He suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.  He laid down his life for us because of His love for us.  He canceled the record of debt by nailing it to the cross.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  He gave His life as a ransom for many.  All those who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  (1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18; John 3:16; Col. 2:14; Luke 19:10; Matt. 10:28).  Truly God showed the depth of His love for each soul.  If that does not show the value of each soul, then what would?  Our Father regarded the value of human life so precious that He sacrificed His innocent Son for us, (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).

Therefore knowing all this, let us dedicate our lives to God first and foremost, (Matt. 6:33).  The selfish heart forfeits life, but the humble heart seeks to serve God and man above self.  He will be blessed now and in the realm beyond!  So, since God values your life immensely, are you reflecting  that great value by the way you're living your life each day?  

It is vital that we resolve to give our lives to serving God, but that requires repentance.  When one repents, he is determined to turn away from his own will and is determined to live a life that pleases and glorifies God.  No one can be saved without doing this!  Repentance is essential to man's salvation. Sadly, many are not willing to make such a thorough sacrifice.  We must lose our life for Jesus. That is, we cannot please self, our own will, and our own purposes, but rather we must deny self and be devoted to God alone.  In doing this, we can rest assured that we will save our lives eternally. Therefore, it is necessary to lose one's life for Jesus' sake.  This is the genuine mark of being a faithful disciple (follower) of Christ.  Those who are true followers of Christ live in complete and total submission to the will of God.  Are you truly following Jesus our Lord by your obedient faith?  Or have you deceived yourself into thinking that opening the door to Jesus is enough?

Remember that we must take up our cross and follow Him.  Jesus wants us to deny self.  Therefore we must leave behind everything that would hinder us from serving Him faithfully.  It will require a change of heart and a change in our way of living to do God's will.  Indeed, no one wants to lose all that has value to him, but we must learn to lose our lives to gain eternal life.  The decision that each person makes concerning gaining or losing his life has eternal consequences.  Jesus wants us to take His yoke upon us.

Many want Him to save them, but they reject Him and His lordship.  They want the crown, but they don't want to carry the cross and yoke.  The yoke cannot be separated from the blessing of eternal life with Him.  Jesus, our Lord, is gentle and lowly in heart and wants all men to repent that they might save their souls from the wrath of God.  Why not take His yoke upon you by believing, choosing to turn away from living a sinful life?  And though the yoke of Christ might seem to be heavy at times, it is the only way to make life's burdens much lighter to bear.  Indeed, it is not easy being a faithful Christian, but the burden becomes lighter when we share it with Christ and our brethren.  So have you put on the yoke of Christ?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Are we willing to follow and keep His commandments with perseverance and let no one take our crown away? My prayer is that you haven't tried to loosen up the harness that holds Christ's blessed yoke in place to meet your desires and choices. It must not be adjusted to suit your desires and preferences. We must learn to love His yoke as it is.  If we change or modify it, we will ruin our souls for eternity.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-27 propose the following questions:
  1. Are you making any preparation to be with Him in His glory for eternity? 
  2. Are you willing to deny the wants and desires of your flesh, take up your cross and follow Him? In others words, will you deny all earthly treasures and exchange them for heavenly treasures? Matthew 6:19-21.  
  3. Are you willing to put aside ambitions, riches, career, possessions, even your own loved ones for His sake and the sake of the gospel? 
  4. Are you willing to lay down your life for the sake of the gospel and our LORD?  There is no profit at all in trying to gain the whole world with its earthly treasures because we will certainly lose our souls in the process!  Our souls are worth more than anything in this earthly world. 
  5. Will you be ready to meet Him in the glory of His Father or will He be ashamed of you? 
  6. Are you willing to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life? I Timothy 6:11-12
  7. Are you willing to press on toward heaven as your primary goal?  We must always remember that our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly wait for the day when we can go there.   
  8. Are you willing to lose all things and gain Christ?  
  9. Are you willing to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to us, the saints?  Jude 3.
  10. Are you willing to keep yourself in the love of God looking to the mercy of our Lord Jesus unto eternal life?  Jude 21.   
  11. Are you willing to have compassion for all the lost souls in this world and teach them the Straight Way, the Truth, the gospel without reservations? 
  12. Are you willing to be patient and labor for His sake and not become weary? Rev. 2:2-3
  13. Are you willing to go through persecution, poverty, and sufferings for His sake? 
  14. Are you willing to serve and become a slave to others as Jesus did?  
  15. Are you willing to confess our Lord Jesus with your life, with your righteous works, and a life that pleases Him and glorifies Him forever?
"Behold, I am coming as a thief, blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
 Rev. 16:15  

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."  
Rev. 22:12-14

I don't know about you, but I want to go to that great city, the holy Jerusalem, the one that descends out of heaven from God, surrounded by all His glory.

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.  And he carried me away ]in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,  having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.... I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;  and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;  and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."  
Revelation 21:9-27


I want my name to be written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  My hope is that we all may make heaven our primary goal in life. There is so much more beyond this earthly life.  There is heaven!


May we all have the mind of Paul as he expressed it in these words:  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ."   (Philippians 3:7-8).  May Jesus become the needle of our spiritual compass and may we never lose His sense of direction as we always follow Him.  May we allow Jesus to rule our lives with His blessed compass.  May we follow the only compass that will point us to God and heaven.

Luci

WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS