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If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:23


If the goal of our life is to know and love our Creator in a greater way, we must make the decision to be a disciple/student and follow Jesus. Jesus plainly stated in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to find the Father. Now this sounds like a purely intellectual pursuit, but that is not the “way” to find out about our Lord. The matters of spirituality and our relationship with the Living God are matters of the heart. It is by the surrender of our heart and devotion from the heart whereby we grow and learn. Yes, we must study and apply our minds to the scriptures to understand His ways, but it is from the heart that we grow closer to Him and obey Him. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up is what 1 Corinthians 8:1 teaches. Love is a function of our heart. In the above verse, Jesus told His disciples that to truly follow Him and live for Him we must deny ourselves, which is to surrender our agenda and goals for His purposes. To take up our cross is to accept whatever hardships God allows into our lives for us to bring Him glory; we cannot do this if we are all about our comfort and success rather than God’s glory and pleasure. To follow Christ means we cannot just go wherever we want and do whatever we choose, but rather we let Him be the Lord/Master/Boss of our life. All of this is only possible if we have the very Holy Spirit of God living in us and we are cooperating with the grace of God richly provided for us. We must be “in tune” with God and in “agreement” with the leading of God’s Spirit and what the Word of God clearly teaches in the Bible. How are we doing in this? A good test would be to ask yourself what in your life are you denying yourself for God’s glory, what hardship are you enduring for Him, and how well are you obeying His leading in your daily decisions?!  Is our faith in Christ having any practical application in how we live or are we just religious in beliefs and not in action? Do we love God and people in action, or do we just think about it? If it is truly in our heart, it will come into our life and be a reality as Jesus taught in Luke 6:45. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just ask the Lord to reveal how you are doing with this great challenge to follow Him. Blessings!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Gary Houdek