Week 3 – Day 15
Reading for week 3 is the second half of the Gospel of Mark.
This week we want to dig deeper to make these readings more and more personal. It is easy to just do Bible Study and to not see how the Scripture we are studying needs to impact us personally. So, as we read through the passages for each day, we will continue to put ourselves into the passage and we will also ask ourselves a number of personal questions. I will add the questions below but you can add other ones as they come to your heart through your time in the Word.
Here are a few to consider:
Is there a sin to confess?
Is there a promise to claim?
Is there an attitude to change?
Is there a command to obey?
Is there an example to follow?
Is there a prayer to pray?
Is there an error to avoid?
Is there a truth to believe?
Is there something to praise God for?
Mark 8:34-38 NKJV
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them,“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
The call of discipleship is not an easy one. It can be simple to say a prayer and believe that you are a Christian, but to become a follower of Christ requires a life of surrender and obedience. I have for most of my Christian journey wrestled with this passage. My flesh would want to look at nominal christianity and tell myself that I am trying too hard, to relax a bit, God really is not expecting me to give it all. Yet, when I look at the requirements Jesus himself laid out, I must stop and decide which path I am going to choose.
For me, three things jump out here. Deny, lose, ashamed. Then I have to ask myself questions based upon these three words. Do I deny myself to follow him? Have I been willing to lose my life for His sake? Have I been ashamed of Him and His Words?
There is no question in my mind that there is a command to be obeyed here. This command is not to be ignored, but to be applied to everyone who wants to be a follower of Christ. I, Freda, want to follow him. So, for me, this Scripture requires that I be willing to deny myself. As I deny, I have a cross to pick up. That does not sound exciting to this flesh, but I know that it is the only way to truly know life. It is also the only way to avoid error in my life.
If I want safety it will only come through giving my life away. It is part of the cost of following. This means my life isn’t mine, I gave it away. This is truth and it needs to be believed in my life. However, the only way I can show that I believe something is by living it.
So, what could this look like for me? Denying myself would be putting others first. It could be not letting my flesh decide when to pray or read. It could be skipping a meal to seek God. It might be keeping my mouth silent and not speaking in my own defence. Denying myself could look like many things, but the most important is that it is doing what He would do.
Then for losing my life. I have to come to a place where I don’t hold on to things that are passing, that I don’t give my will and my agenda priority over what is right and over what He wants. I am willing to let go and trust him.
For being ashamed, I believe when I do not deny and lose myself, I will be ashamed, but when I appropriate the first two realities in my life, I will not be ashamed of who He is in my life.
He is my example to follow.
Looking forward to your feedback and to see what God spoke to you through this passage.
Pat McRae says:January 19, 2014 at 10:55 pm
Wow I have been wrestling with this passage all afternoon and still can’t say I have nailed it. This is the first time I have read your comments before writing mine here on this blog. As I wrote in my book and thought about Jesus’ words I was impressed that my cross is lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence. Isn’t God good!! My cross is showing up as I couldn’t give my thoughts without checking out Pastor Freda’s incase I am out to lunch once again. I just love how God shows me me even in this blogging. So for me to pick up my cross means I have to deny fear a place in me. I have to push forward when I want to shrink back. I have to deny the feelings fear produces and put my eyes on the One Who can lead me.
My life has been saved for all eternity because I have chosen to believe and trust Jesus. His finished work at Calvary is my salvation. So how do I lose my life to save it? I give my plans, hopes and desires to Jesus. I stop trying to push doors open and wait for His door of opportunity to open. I give up my desires to come under submission ( come under His mission) to His plans for me. I no longer allow pride to rule but I humble myself to His Ways and His Will. I soul will not be lost no matter what I do or don’t do but my peace, joy and blessings will surely fly away when I allow me to rule where only Jesus should.
I would like to say I have never been ashamed of Jesus but to add the sin of lying doesn’t seem wise. Oh I love the Lord so much but I know there are times when He says speak and I become deaf and mute. There are times He says be my arms, legs, hands and feet and I become lame and crippled. Why? Because to speak or do takes me out of my comfort zone and allows others the chance to see I am a follower of Christ. I should be excited but there are times when it has embarrassed me because they think I am weird.
Lord help me to not be ashamed to be different from this world, help to remember I am a peculiar child of the King. Give me strength to walk boldly as I carry my cross and declare the Good News of the Gospel to a lost and dying world. Lord help me to deny myself so I can see others as you see them. Teach me how to build a good self-esteem that allows me to walk in confidence because I know in Whom I have believed and that You are able to do great and might things through those who will follow You.
Jim Holmes says:January 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Jesus wanted to talk to both His disciples and the people at the same time. This meant that the disciples were not exempt from what He had to tell them all. Jesus first brings up the matter of coming after Him…which I think as following Him…which in fact what the disciples were suppose to being doing. This speech was for everyone that followed Jesus to rethink this calling. You could say it was a roadmap to Death and to Life. It was a wake-up call to a new reality. Jesus said: (1) to deny oneself, (not to save oneself) and (2) to take up my own cross.(to lose one’s life for Jesus sake), and then (3) to follow Jesus. There is a cost to following Jesus and also great reward.
Jesus lays the whole thing out this way…Choose 1 of 2 ways:
(by the way….which way did Jesus choose?)
1st Way: Deny oneself → Take up your cross → Lose your life (for Jesus, and the gospel) → follow Jesus → your life will be saved → you profit greatly → not ashamed of the word or Jesus → you will gain your soul → Jesus is not ashamed of you at His Coming Return.
2nd Way: Get great gain for oneself → Live it up → Keep your life (enjoy and be good to self) → follow your own desires → you will lose your life → You will not profit although you gain the world → you will lose your own soul → you will be ashamed of the word and Jesus at His Coming → Jesus will be ashamed of you.
To be blunt…Jesus is asking us to “Give it up….all of it!” I think it is both one of the hardest and easiest thing to do. How willing am I? I have a choice. It’s about submission. On the other hand…The flesh has its needs…there is so much that our senses want to experience…my will is me…I don’t want to lose me…I love life…I have a home…I have kids….I have a barn, a cow, and chickens to look after…I worked hard to get ahead and am I being asked to give it up?… What thoughts are going through our heads now? What is it…that keeps us on the track we are on? This is hard. You cannot go it alone.
The easy way: The Bible says that it is God who is working in us to will to do His good pleasure. Now listen…the Liviing Word will transform your life and conform us into the image of God’s dear Son who Chose the 1st.Way. Now, it is the Spirit of God that makes real God’s word in our hearts, gives us discernment, as to the Way , the Truth, and the Life. That is, the Holy Spirit points us to Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Number one question…do you desire Truth rather than live a Lie? Some people do NOT want to know the Truth. They live in a fantasy world. Do you want to know the Way? It is in the Cross…crucified with Christ. Jesus is the Way. Many want their own way…a way that is paved with what’s called the good life, having a kind of beauty…with fun…and riches…a way you can reach by winning the loto?…yet, without Christ, leads to hell…eternal separation from God, death. The Way is easy…yoked with Christ…choose Truth….choose the Way, choose Life….choose Jesus. Seek Him with all your heart, mind, and soul. You have victory “in” Christ. The challenge that comes with this choice….stay in the Transforming Word of Life. The Bible is a supernatural book…spiritually discerned…and is a roadmap that will take you to the Cross and Beyond. Never can you find a greater adventure, than that found in Christ. It is an out of this world experience…born from above, you are not of this world, and yet you are in the world. It is an adventure lived…a story (a testimony) to tell. This book called the Bible is to be experienced, the God of the Living to be known, and a Teacher and Comforter abiding with you, so you are not alone, and places you into a family that loves and cares for you.
Listen…Jesus did the hard part…He died for you. He placed you in Himself on the cross (made from a tree) , nailing your sinful life to the tree. Reckon yourself dead to sin…and if we sin, we have a great High Priest seated in the Heavens. The best scripture I know describing our life in Christ is this: Gal. 2: 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. So, abide in the Vine…let the word of God abide in you…and may your eyes and ears be open to see and hear and do what your Heavenly Father is doing.
S – we are called to lose our Sinful life
P – Jesus promises to come again
A – Let our Atitude be one that chooses Christ
C – He commands us to follow Him
E – Jesus is our Example…who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
P – Pray to “die daily” : THAT is following Jesus. ☺
E – Avoid error of selfish living
T – Live the Truth, not a lie
S- Something to praise God for: Jesus took my place on the cross.
Susan Craig says:January 20, 2014 at 2:45 am
Counting the cost is the main theme that keeps shouting at me through these verses. Following Jesus was going to cost his disciples in ways they did not understand at this point in their journey. Part of me understands where the disciples are at this point. They have seen Jesus perform healings and miracles that have astounded them and I am sure they had been attracted to the novelty,fame and amazement of it all. But now they are confronted with reality of what it is going to cost them if they continue to follow Jesus. They will have to deny themselves,carry their cross,lose their lives and be openly seen as a follower of Jesus. That is quite the price to pay-give up desires in this life that most people strive for. Be part of the minority and be ridiculed,persecuted and put to death for being a true follower of Jesus. This was not what they had signed on for when they came to Christ. You know,when we first become Christians, we are so happy and relieved that God forgives us and saves our souls that we bask in this knowledge for quite awhile. But when the honeymoon is over and times get hard, it begins to be made plain to us that to be a follower of Jesus was going to cost us more than we initially realized. Maybe you will lose some friends you had before when you have very little in common anymore,maybe it will mean being laughed at and ridiculed by non-christians,maybe it will mean not being promoted in a job because you refuse to lie or cheat your way to the top,maybe it will mean conflict in our families and our homes because we have differences of opinions, maybe it will mean being put in prison in countries where being a christian is forbidden by law,maybe it will even cost you your life. Jesus wants us to see the whole picture not just the miracles and popularity but the hard things we will have to endure and that will cost us in this life. He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy-but does that not include us? Whom of us have not had moments when the cost of discipleship has been too high and the weight of our cross is so heavy to bear that we have trouble standing let alone moving forward?? If we are honest, we all will say that has been true of us at one time or another. Jesus did not say it would be easy-but keeping our eyes on Him and on the goal,relying on His word and His strength is the way to do it and the finish line will be oh soo worth it. Christianity is not for quitters and not for wimps-we must be strong and brave. How do we do it-how can we keep going when everything seems to be against us?? Recognize our weakness and tap into His strength,denying ourselves and putting Him first in our lives are good places to start-praying for forgiveness when we fail him and getting back on the right track are more ways to keep going. Remembering that we are not travelling this road alone-encouraging each other along the way-helping bear each other’s burdens-are more ways to continue to follow Him. I look forward to the day when I see His face,and it is my greatest desire to hear Him say well done my faithful servant. It is important to start the Christian journey but we also want to not just finish but finish well!!