I warmly welcome you to this edition of the program, Building on the ROCK with Pastor Murphy. This program is designed to empower you achieve your dreams in God through His Word. It is an honour to share the all powerful Word of God with you today. My name is Murphy Okpala. Today I will be discussing the topic Don’t be Scared, Take up Your Cross as part of the Series on Following GOD! but before we go on with the discussion let’s listen to this lovely song.
Artist: Casting Crown
Song Title: Courageous
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
First I will like to welcome you to this beautiful month of September. Yeah we are in the “Ember months”. People say that bad things happen in ember months but I want you to know that if you are following Jesus you will be safe from every evil. If you make Jesus the shepherd of your life and trust in Him, even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you should not be afraid because God is with you. Sometimes things can get scary, because of all the evil things you may hear, such as Ebola, armed robbery, etc, but be rest assured that because Jesus is with you, leading and guiding your steps, you will be preserved from evil. So do not Fear!
Ground Rules: No Cross, No Glory.
One of the key requirements for following Jesus is taking up your Cross.
Jesus told the rich young ruler that if he wants to inherit eternal life and experience the kingdom of God, he had to take up his cross and follow Him. Jesus didn’t just say follow me; He said take up your Cross and follow me.
But what does it really mean to take up your cross? This is one of the things that scare people from following Jesus. They believe taking up your cross automatically means suffering for the rest of your life. But that is not really what it means. As I study this topic in the Bible, more and more I realize that the best thing anybody can experience in this life that will guarantee a better life here on earth and afterwards is to take up your cross.
Jesus left us an example of how to take up your cross so that we can have a model to follow.
The Cross signifies PURPOSE
First, the cross signifies purpose. Jesus came to into this world to be the sacrifice that will bring salvation to all men that receive Him, through His death on the Cross. Just before He died, Jesus said it is finished. In order words, Jesus was saying that He has accomplished all that He came to earth to do. Every step He took throughout His life was leading to that destiny. This is what informed the way He lived His life on a daily basis.
To Jesus, His cross was not all about the physical activity of carrying the wooden cross. After all Jesus barely carried that wooden cross, it was Simon of Serene that mostly carried the Cross for Jesus. To Jesus, carrying the Cross was simply giving up Himself and His will on a daily basis for the purpose and plan of God. In the same way carrying your cross is simply fulfilling your God given purpose by following God’s plan for your life.
If you study Jesus’ life on earth you will realize that He was not always suffering! They even accused Him of eating and drinking with sinners. But one thing you will notice is that He always gave up His personal ambition for God’s will. That was the only way He could fulfill His purpose of bringing salvation to mankind.
To Jesus taking up His Cross simply meant following God’s plan for His life.
Getting Started: Give Up Your Will for God’s Will
Taking up your cross is simply surrendering your life to God in order to fulfill His plan for your life, and His plans for you are good not evil. There are points where you will have to suffer (yes, you’ll suffer giving up your will!)But in all it is much more better to follow God’s plan or take up your own cross on a daily basis.
So let me share some simple tips that will help you carry your cross effectively and enjoy the kind of glory Jesus enjoyed when He was on earth and is enjoying now that He is sitting on the throne in Heaven.
Always remember this: the cross comes before the glory.
5 simple steps to carry your Cross
- First, Jesus made a conscious decision to give up His personal ambition. This is the first step to taking up your cross. You have to come to a point in your life when you say Lord not my will but your will be done. Practically it means that on a daily basis, you will decide to please God in all you do. You have to determine to believe and put into practice every instruction you get from the God’s word on a daily basis, from the simple things like rejoicing in every situation to big things like walking in integrity. Once this is your mind set in life you have officially started taking up your Cross.
- Secondly, taking up your cross involves you walking in love even to people who hate and despitefully use you. Love here is actually giving up selfishness and having compassion to help people whether they know it or not, whether they deserve it or not. It is relating with people from the mindset of God, who is Love; giving up yourself and your desire for the sake of other people’s wellbeing according to the will of God. This was a constant daily experience for Jesus and it should be constant for you too.
- Thirdly, focus on the glory not the suffering. This is something Jesus did that helped Him endure the suffering. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross and despised the shame. In order words His mind was focused on the exaltation He was going to receive and the multitudes of men that will be saved because of His experience. The pain and shame meant nothing to Him. In carrying your Cross and following Jesus, you must and I repeat, must have some really painful experiences. People may backstab you, despise you, condemn you and even try to kill you. But you have to love and forgive them. However the suffering is always for a short period of time and it always ends with a far greater glory. Jesus said He was exceedingly sorrowful near unto death just before the time of His crucifixion. He said that only once in His lifetime, but the suffering was intense. In the same way you will experience some deep sufferings carrying your cross but it is only supposed to be for a little while. When you face this, rather than focusing on the pain and shame, focus on the glory that will be revealed after. In that way you will endure the suffering.
- Fourthly you need to pray for strength. That’s what Jesus did in the Garden before HE carried the physical Cross and I believed He did it every day. You also need to learn how to pray effectively if you really want to carry your cross all the way and fulfill destiny. Without the strength of God you can never fulfill your destiny because there are forces that want to stop that from happening. So you need to learn how to pray effectively to access God’s power.
- Finally, you need helpers to carry your cross. Jesus had the apostles to help Him on a daily basis. He even had Simon of serene to help Him carry the cross. But you don’t go seeking favors from men you think will help you. Like Jesus, trust that God will send you destiny-helpers. However your work is to treat everyone that God sends your way with love and respect. Also endeavor to nurture the relationships that God brings your way.
These are 5 simple things you can put in place if you really want to carry your cross and follow Jesus. Taking up your cross gives you access to live a fulfilling and satisfying life here on earth and also guarantees you a place in eternity. It is about the process, and barely about suffering.
Remember Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That means even a small child can do it.
BEFORE WE END OUR PROGRAM TODAY, I want to give you an opportunity to make Jesus Lord of your life. He wants to make Himself real to you if you will let Him. Say this simple prayer with me:
Jesus I know you are the son of God and you died for my sins. Today I give you my life, take me and change me. Be the Lord of my life. Thank you Lord, for I am now yours!
If you sincerely made that prayer from your heart, you are now a child of God and have started the journey of a fruitful life. Join a Bible believing Church that will help you grow in God. If you reside in Enugu city feel free to visit us at The Cornerstone Church, Trans-Ekulu, we will be glad to have you.
***LET ME PRAY WITH YOU***
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There is a mighty revival of the Spirit going on in Enugu, and it will spread to the entire Eastern Region. It is a Pentecostal revival of the Spirit. Many of us have been praying for this for some time now and it is here finally! Do not be wary in your in your prayers & fasting. It is already here! The work of God shall be established.
Thank you for tuning in today. For Testimonies and enquiries please call 0703 0099 275.
Join me at The Cornerstone Church every Sunday, 9am for inspiring worship and a transforming word from God. We meet at The Cornerstone Church Tent, Akachukwu Springs, Plot Cp2, Enugu-Onitsha Express Road by Trans-Ekulu flyover, Trans-Ekulu. The Church is at the foot of the Trans-Ekulu bridge close to the petrol station. Tune in next week for a more exciting edition of our program, Building on the ROCK with Pastor Murphy!
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