24″ Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NIV)
Yesterday as I sat and prayed before I led prayer time at church, the Lord put something very short and very loud into my heart that I had to tell the congregation. It was simply this: NO MORE EXCUSES.
When Jesus gave this passage to His disciples, He was giving them the warning that being a disciple of His was not going to be easy and that ultimately, it would cost each one of them their life. He told them first that they would need to deny themselves. This means that as John said in John 3:30, 30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” We must totally surrender our will, our desires, our life to Christ so that denial of our will opens us up to acceptance of God’s will for our life.
Jesus next told us that we must take up their cross. The cross can be heavy and hard for us to carry. Jesus, in His humanity, fell several times under the weight of His cross that He bore for our sin. But the good news here is that our cross can be a joy to carry too. Even through all the scorn, persecution and torture Christians go through, especially in countries where Christianity is not accepted, the presence of Jesus is always with us as we carry our cross. There is much we go through in life, storms and situations that can make our cross heavy, but Jesus will turn our sorrow to joy, our mourning into dancing.
The last part of this text is follow me. We do this with no excuses. Excuses will not work when we stand in front of God someday. We will not be able to tell Him “well I had a ball game to get my kids to, then I had to clean house and cook supper. Plus Fido needed to take a potty break.” We are to seek Him first and place Him first in our life. When we do not, we are missing out on so many incredible blessings that God has for us. Psalm 81 tells us of how Israel turned away from God but that if they would just put Him first and seek Him, He had the very best to give them. If we put God first in all areas of our life and stop with the excuses, God has amazing things waiting for us!
I end with this Scripture that sums this whole devotional up: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)