Friday, March 17, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 45

                          Image result for Book of Matthew
Day 45: Take Up Your Cross

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 10: 32- 42

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
When I first began reading the Bible, (thirty years ago) and came across this Scripture, I seriously couldn't handle it. And every time after that, I would skip it. I couldn't make any sense of it. I couldn't take the thought of, 'a daughter against her mother.' I loved my family more than life itself. There was nothing I wouldn't do for any member of my family. I couldn't believe that Jesus, who is compassionate, loving, and died to reconcile us to the Father, would say, "For I have come to turn a man against his father..." It wasn't possible. But now, after all that I have gone through with my own family, I understand. Back in 1991 I took a stand for what I believed, and was persecuted by my own family and almost died. When we take a stand to follow Christ, there will be many, especially our own family who will reject us and misunderstand us. They do not want us to change. They want things to stay as they always have been, but in following Jesus that is not possible. He changes us. He convicts us to abandon sin. We become a light, whether we mean to or not, we are a light to those living in darkness. And if those living in darkness, our family, don't want to change, they reject the light-in essence they are rejecting Jesus in us. 

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10: 37-39) So, when our family rejects us, gives us that final ultimatum, what do we do? Do we, out of love for our family, reject Christ? or Do we, out of our love for Jesus, reject our family? Ten years ago I thought I would have to make that decision, but my family did it for me. They cut me off, or cut me out of their lives. I was told that I no longer belonged to them and they could no longer hear what I had to say. I am dead to my parents and sisters. It wasn't easy. I cried and mourned for six months. I didn't want it to end the way it did, but it had been years of arguing, and talking and then more arguing. I had tried for fifteen years, but there really came a point where a decision had to be made, and it was over. Bottom line- I want to be worthy of following Jesus. (verse 38) I want to find my life (verse 39) and I did, once I was set free from my family's pressure to conform to their ways. 
40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42) 

All week we read the red lettered words of Jesus as He spoke to His disciples before sending them out. Jesus sends us out too. All of His words are for our hearts to hear. "Go rather to the lost sheep" (Matthew 10:6) "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy drive our demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10: 8) "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in  your belts...for the worker is worth his keep." (Matthew 10:9-10)  "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes an as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16) "On my account you will be brought before governors an kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking , but he Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:19-20) And His words for today's reading. To follow Jesus is to represent Him in every area of our lives, wherever we go, and to whoever is on our path. To be fearless, and unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It is no small order to follow Christ, "And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10: 32) Just imagine the disciples hearing that! The cross was the execution of the day. Those were very scary and hard words for it was very real and as we know Peter literally carried a cross for the sake of Christ. But even though the cross may not be around today for us, it is still a calling for us as Christians- it is no lighter to bear. Are we ready to preach the Gospel wherever we go? Are we ready to be sent out?

The Scripture, "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows," (Matthew 10:30) is very special to me. I a few years ago I wrote two articles on it: "Big Head of Hair...Yeah, that me" and "Don't be Afraid, (Big Head of Hair-Part 2)

Pray with me:
Heavenly Father, I hear Jesus' charge to go forth and preach the Good News to the lost. I answer your call. Send me and use me. Be with me. Help me to open my mouth in Walmart, Sam's Club, Kroger, Aeropostale, Old Navy, The Dollar Tree, Chic-fil-a, my doctor's office, and wherever I place my feet. Help me to be fearless in sharing the Gospel. Let me go forth in your joy to deliver the lost from their darkness. In Jesus mighty name, Amen. 

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