And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
Jesus told His disciples that those who would choose to follow Him must “take up” their “cross daily”. The cross was something used to execute criminals and we can only just imagine what the disciples must have thought about Jesus saying His followers would have to take one up every day. The plan of God is often not clear to us because many people think that crucifying the flesh is a one-time experience. Jesus said it was a daily experience! If we are going to discover and walk in the plan of God, then we must present ourselves as a living sacrifice every single day of our lives. Our self-nature provides the greatest challenge to our being able to successfully discover and fulfill the plan of God. If we are not making it a daily practice to crucify our flesh and present ourselves living sacrifices, we will live our lives focused entirely on self. This is a defeated life with no fulfillment to be found and it is exactly where Satan wants us to be because it is the point where our lives have no lasting fruit for the Kingdom of God. There are people who life for their church. They always show up to ‘serve’ but everything they are doing is for the purpose of being seen by the church leadership. The Bible calls these people hypocrites! They pray to be heard, they serve to be seen, and they memorize Scriptures solely to win awards. Everything about their lives is centered around self. It is interesting to think that we seem to have more people carrying the title of ‘intercessor’ today but seem to be impacting the world much less than previous generations. This historically was a hidden ministry, and few would know who the intercessors were. Today we have made it a public ministry with some churches even putting cameras in the ‘prayer room’ so people can watch the intercessors at work.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:6)
I have overheard people talk about the eternal rewards they will have waiting for them. It is almost like we expect to have a huge trophy case filled with all kinds of shiny trophies for everyone to admire for all eternity! Jesus said that the Father would reward us openly for the word we do in secret behind closed doors. He did not say these rewards would be given to elevate our status before men and I wonder if it could be possible that our reward may be a revival or souls won for the Kingdom of God that we receive no credit for. Regardless of what the actual reward will be, we must get over ourselves if we are going to discover and fulfill the plan of God. There is no place for self among those anointed by the Spirit of God. The miracles we read about in the great revivals of the past may be seen here or there in small trickles but they will not be seen in mass if we do not die to our self-nature.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (Corinthians 3:11-15)
Paul told the Corinthians that some people will have their works piled up like wood, hay, and stubble because they were done for selfish reasons. A lot of people are going to stand before God one day with nothing to show from their time on earth but a pile of ashes!
If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (AMPC))
The motive behind our works is much more important that our actual works. There are people that live upright lives. They attend church and have never committed an awful sin but still have no reward because their entire “Christian life” is based on self. They are not motivated by love and have become self-righteous.
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