June 21st, 2020
Good morning church family! First I wanted to say that this is the last video I will be making of my message. The worship committee has decided that we will no longer tape the message since we will be holding next Sunday’s service back in our beautiful church! I look forward to that!
I will, however, continue to email the message each week for those who do not plan on returning at this time. I certainly understand your desire to stay home so you can stay healthy and that is my desire for you as well! I don’t want you to come back until you feel comfortable.
For those who will return next week, please remember to go over the guidelines you should have already received in the mail, before next Sunday, and then be sure to follow them.
Also, Happy Father’s Day! Father’s play such an important role in the lives of our families. I truly do not think we give them enough credit for all they do for us. They are the providers and they are the protectors. Boys learn how to be a man through their fathers and girls learn how they should be treated by a man through how her father treats her mother!
And of utmost importance, men are called to be the spiritual leader in the family! Men will be held responsible by God for their spiritual leadership. Are they leading their families to a closer walk with the Lord? Are they setting a good example for their loved ones?
So men, please don’t ever underestimate the value of what you are doing in the home. I know a lot of times we tend to make more fuss over mom’s, but you are just as important! And ladies, let’s give fathers the credit and respect they are due.
Now, last week we were in the Gospel of Matthew and talked about Jesus commissioning His disciples to go to the lost souls of Israel, to preach to them the God news of the kingdom! To share that the Kingdom of God is near. As stated then, the idea of God’s Kingdom is essential to Jesus’ teaching.
And let’s not forget, while they were preaching they were to heal those who were sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. Remember, throughout Jesus’ mission, He not only proclaimed the truth, He also took care of His people. And that’s exactly what He expected His disciples to do – then and now. Of course, He also gave them the authority and power to do so, as He always equips those He calls.
This week we are going to continue with the same chapter. We’ll be reading from the NIV version in Matthew chapter 10:34-39.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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 – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
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. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
This is the Word of God for the people of God – thanks be to God!
Let us pray…….
So what is Jesus doing here? He is preparing His disciples for what it means to follow Him, which will most assuredly include persecution. They were being sent out like sheep among wolves and of course He knew what they would be facing. As His disciples they would experience the same type of persecution He experienced. Yet, He tells them 3 times in the passage immediately preceding this one not to be afraid.
What do this mean for us as followers of Jesus? What does it mean to take up our cross? What does it mean to lose our life?
Making the commitment to follow Christ may actually separate us from our families and friends. When He speaks of our parents, He is not encouraging disobedience to them. Rather, what He is saying is that His presence in our lives, demands a decision! He knew then and He still knows now who will choose to follow Him and who will say no thank you. Because some[CK1] times members in a family may choose not to follow Jesus, conflict can certainly occur.
As we follow Him, our values, morals, goals and purposes, which should be different, will set us apart from others. Christ calls us to a higher mission than to find comfort and tranquility in this life. Love of family is a law of God, absolutely, but even this love can be self-serving and used as an excuse not to serve God or do His work.
Of course, the Lord does not want you to neglect your family, but remember commitment to God is more important than to your spouse, your children and your parents. And that, church family can be really difficult to assimilate into our lives! Yet, God should always be our first priority!
To take up our cross and follow Him means to be willing to publicly identify with Him. So, if we are willing to identify with Him, we will almost certainly experience opposition. I will go so far to say if you are not experiencing any opposition, ask Him why you aren’t? What do you need to do differently? How can you follow Him more closely?
Taking up our cross means being committed to face suffering and even death for His sake.
Taking up the cross should not be trivialized to refer to some little burden or inconvenience. Rather, it denotes the shame, pain, social rejection, violence, humiliation, and marginalization of crucifixion.
Taking up our cross is not about us carrying a personal burden, such as being deaf, or having a low IQ, or being too logical or emotional. No, taking up our cross is all about Him – about living for Him, suffering for Him, and even dying for Him, if need be.
Now let’s look at Jesus’ statement, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Clinging to this life may cause us to forfeit the best from Christ in this world and more importantly, in the next. The more we love this life’s rewards (leisure, power, popularity, financial security, etc.), the more we will discover how empty they truly are.
The best way to enjoy life, is to loosen our greedy grasp on earthly rewards so that we can be free to follow Christ. In so doing, we will inherit eternal life, and begin at once to experience the benefits of following Him.
So again, we must not allow loyalty to our family deflect us from our life of discipleship. We must embrace the life of self-denial and suffering entailed in following Jesus, being prepared to sacrifice everything – even life itself – for His sake.
In this very same passage in Luke, Luke records Jesus as also telling us to count the cost, before making the decision, because following Christ is a difficult walk. But keep in mind that which we offer up for Him here and now, we will find eternally. It will be well worth the sacrifice here for the reward we will experience in heaven.
Our absolute duty to God is to love Him above all else and with all our being, to follow Him and no one else, to offer Him everything we have, even our life itself, up in service to God.Let us pray…..Father we thank you for our Father’s both the good ones and the not so good ones, because we can learn valuable lessons through both. Watch over and protect them. Lead them, guide them, and give them Your wisdom and discernment. Help them grow closer to you.
We lift up the Porter family, the Call family and the Cassell family as they continue to mourn the loss of their loved one. Help them to feel Your presence, Your peace and most of all Your love during this difficult time.
Father, it’s not easy to take up our cross and follow You. It requires self-denial, sacrifice, and and a strong commitment to You as we often go through a difficult journey. Fill us with Your strength and grant us the grace to live our lives for You, rather than for ourselves! Our Father, Who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. And all of God’s children said, Amen.
Jesus loves you and so do I! Have a wonderful Father’s Day and a wonderful week!