Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 AMP
When I think about taking up my cross, I picture Jesus in the scene from The Passion of the Christ. Aster Jesus had been brutally scourged, He was then forced to pick up His cross and drag it to the place He was to be crucified.
Paul said he had been crucified with Christ, (Galatians 2:20).
We are also told that if we are not crucified in Christ, we cannot be His disciples, (Luke 14:27).
But, what does that mean? What does it mean to take up your cross daily and follow Him?
I recently read the book Girls With Swords, by Lisa Bevere and I highly recommend it for anyone who would like to learn more about the power of prayer, including men. In her book, Lisa describes what it means to take up your sword: “There are three elements to this instruction: deny yourself, lift the cross, and follow Jesus.”
Lisa goes on to describe how she had taken a poll and asked others what the cross meant to them. She was looking for a particular word, but never got it. The Holy Spirit later told her to go back to a list she had made of all the answers. Upon looking at the answers, the Holy Spirit told her, “Behold the Cross. All of these words and more represent the Cross. Carry these with you in your everyday world.”
Some of the words contained in the list included freedom, forgiveness, mercy, healing, grace, and victory.
I have read many different explanations for how one can go about taking up their own cross and Lisa’s is by far my favorite. She says that the cross she “carries is all that He has done for me, just as the cross you carry is your gospel, or witness of what he has done for you.”
What that means for me is taking my testimony with me wherever I go and always being prepared to share it with the hurt and the lost.
When people see everything that Jesus has done for me, it brings His salvation to life. No longer is it a mere fable out of an ancient textbook. It is alive and full of awesome wonder.
We each have our own story of redemption that can touch the lives of all the people we encounter.
But, it isn’t just about telling people our testimony, it is about being a living testimony. We are to take up our cross and follow Him. How do we follow Him? By following His example.
As Lisa said, “Jesus loved people by speaking truth, feeding the hungry, casting out demons, healing the sick, confronting religion, and raising the dead.”
Maybe we cannot literally raise the dead, but there are a lot of people who are spiritually dead who are out there suffering, waiting for you to bring the message of the gospel into their lives.
I know for myself, when people see the changes I have made in my life they want to know how they can change their lives as well. I have a friend who told me I was an inspiration to him. He looked to me as a good example of how to turn his life over to God and get clean and sober.
One of my favorite hymns is Amazing Grace. I can certainly relate to this song. I once was lost, but now am found.
I went through so much in my life, but God has promised us that He will give us beauty for ashes. He also says that he never wastes a hurt.
When people see how I have overcome everything that I have been through, it gives them hope.
I have to be honest; I didn’t want to take up my cross. I didn’t want to share my testimony. The enemy had me so full of shame and guilt that I could hardly bare the thought of it. However, taking up my cross was not just about helping others, it was about helping myself.
As I take up my cross, I am not only bringing the healing properties of the cross to others, but to myself as well.
The enemy never wants us to gain the strength it takes to overcome our pasts. He wants us to stay stuck in the mindset of defeat.
And that’s really all it is, a mindset. We have already been given the victory in Christ Jesus. God has equipped us with everything we need to defeat the enemy, including our armor and weaponry.
When we take up our cross, it is a sign of strength and a signal to the enemy that he has lost the battle in our lives.
I want to challenge anyone who is reading this to take up your cross. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Even if you don’t think its exciting enough. God is looking for a remnant, an army to rise against the enemy.
It just struck me how remarkably similar a cross looks to a sword. Maybe this is why Lisa Bevere was ultimately looking for the word weapon when she conducted her poll.
Think about it though. The cross was God’s ultimate weapon against Satan. When Jesus died on the cross, He dies for all of our sins, rendering Satan completely powerless over our lives.
Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame and conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, for they did not love their life and renounce their faith even when faced with death.”
When we step out and give our testimony in the face of fear, we overcome the enemy in our own lives.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of living in the bondage of fear. I invite you now to step out in courage and join me as we take up our cross and follow Him.
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