"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
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Living for our own gain adds stress, pressure, and chaos to life, successfully robbing us of all the transcendent peace available through sacrificial living. We were never created to be our own provider or sustainer. We were never meant to develop our own source of joy and purpose. The only place we will find lasting peace is in complete surrender to God's intention for us: a life of total sacrifice.
Jesus was our perfect model. He did everything according to the perfect and pleasing will of the Father. And Jesus said in Luke 9:23-25, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" Jesus makes it clear that sacrifice is the gateway to finding the life God intends for us. It's the pathway that leads to the perfect will of our heavenly Father.
If you're like me, living life sacrificially initially sounds terrible and unattainable. It feels impossible based on past experiences and present selfish desires. But, we need to take time to know the God to whom we are sacrificing our lives. We need to renew our mind to the perfect love of Jesus who would lay down his own life for us before ever asking us to follow in his footsteps. The life God intends for you is better than anything you could discover on your own. If he's asking you to live sacrificially it must be wholly and perfectly for your benefit.
We are not sacrificing our own wills, plans, and dreams to a God who has less satisfying plans for our lives. We are not surrendering a happier, better life for something less, boring, or meaningless. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." God has plans greater than we could ever ask or imagine in store for us if we will lay down our dreams to make space for his. He has inexpressible joy for us if we will exchange what has made us temporarily happy for his dreams and visions that are full of purpose, meaning, and adventure.
Jesus willingly laid down his life and received everything he had dreamed of: restored relationship with you. What's waiting for you on the other side of sacrifice today? Find out as you engage in the act of surrender during guided prayer.
1. Meditate on Jesus' command for you to live your life sacrificially. Reflect on God's desire to lead you to abundant life through surrender and sacrifice.
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" Luke 9:23-25
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10
2. What do you need to surrender to the Father? What dream, idea, person, or possession is robbing you of the abundant life God intends for you. Where do you need to live sacrificially to experience more of Jesus? Surrender whatever stands in the way of you and the abundant life God has for you.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15
3. Choose to live sacrificially today. Ask the Holy Spirit to make the will of the Father known to you as he did for Jesus, and commit to following whatever he is asking you to do.
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8
Taking up your cross isn't a weight designed to burden and constrain you, but an opportunity to live in the presence, peace, and purpose of God. There is freedom in store for you through sacrifice. There is purpose and joy in laying down your life for God and others. If you will receive the perspective and courage to pursue God's will for your life, you will discover more peace, consistency, passion, and direction than you ever thought possible.
Extended Reading: Philippians 2
or watch The Bible Project’s video on Philippians.
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