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 used to execute criminals. We can only imagine what must have gone through the disciple’s minds when Jesus told them they would have to carry a cross to follow Him. Our first step in the journey to discover the plan of God is to present our bodies a living sacrifice. This is not something that we do once. We present our bodies on a daily basis. The plan of God is often not clear because we have allowed our flesh nature to have reign in our lives. If we are going to discover and walk in the plan of God, we must make it a daily practice to nail our self-nature to the cross. This is how we present our bodies to God as living sacrifices. Our goal is for our selfish desires to be consumed by His holy presence. We will live a life focused totally on our desires if we are not making it a daily practice to crucify our flesh and present ourselves as living sacrifices. We will never experience victory. Our lives will be empty. Satan’s greatest desire is for us to live in the realm of self because this is the place where he will have greatest access to our lives. We must crucify our flesh if we want to move beyond our self-nature and have lasting fruit.
There are people who live for their church. They are usually the ones who always show up to ‘serve’. Everything they are doing for the church is motivated by a desire to be seen by leadership. Our flesh wants to be seen. It cannot stand it when someone else is promoted or when we are passed over for a leadership position. The Bible calls a person whose service is motivated by a desire to be seen a hypocrite (Matthew 6:5). These people pray to be heard. The volunteer to be noticed and memorized Scriptures to win a prize. We cannot afford to be counted with them if we are going to succeed in discovering the plan of God. Crucifying our flesh will mean that our lives will be focused outwardly. Other people’s needs will become much more important to us than our own needs.
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
Jesus said that the intercessor’s ministry should be done in secret. Our self-nature hates this. It wants to be seen. I find it interesting that we seem to have more people carrying the title of intercessor today and seem to be impacting the world much less than previous generations. Historically the greatest intercessors were unknown. Father Nash would arrive weeks or months before Charles Finney. The people attending Finney’s meetings did not know who Father Nash is but even Finney credited the results of his evangelistic campaigns to Father Nash’s intercessory pray ministry. Today we have made intercession a public ministry. I have even seen recently that churches have begun to put cameras in the ‘prayer room’ so people can watch the intercessors at work!
People often talk about the eternal rewards that are being stored up for them. Do we expect to have a huge trophy case fill with all kinds of shiny trophies waiting for us in heaven? Are we expecting that people will stop to admire our rewards and talk about what a great man or woman of God we were during our time on earth? Jesus said that the Father would reward us openly for the work that we do in secret behind closed doors. He did not say these rewards would be doled out to elevate our status before men. Could it be that our reward may be a revival or influx of souls into the Kingdom of God that we never receive credit for? To succeed in our journey, we must get over ourselves! There is no place for self in the anointing. The miracles of the great revivals throughout church history will only be seen in trickles if we do not learn to crucify our flesh.
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 tells us that some people’s works will be piled up like wood, hay, and stubble to be consumed by fire. This is the legacy of a life that never moves beyond self. There will be a lot of people who will stand before God one day with nothing more to show for their lives than 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 [a]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 ([b]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 [c]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 will always be much more important than our actual works. There are people who live an upright life. Friends and family will describe them as being a good person. They may never have committed an awful sin. It is not enough to live a good life. If we do not crucify our flesh we will not be motivated by love. People who live a good life with uncrucified flesh often become self-righteous.
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