Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Cross or the Crown

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36)
When God calls someone to be His servant, to do His will and to spread the good news; He does not look for a fast talking salesman with a fake smile and a patronizing manner. Instead, He looks for the broken-hearted, the hurting, the humble, the timid and the reluctant. If a person is prideful, strong, arrogant or self-righteous; God will break him of these things so that he can be a devoted servant. God will only use broken vessels for His purpose.
It is only by the breaking down of our human desires to be strong, that God can make us worthy of being His servant. He does this so that we will recognize our need for Him and that without Him, we are worthless. This process can be very painful and difficult to endure. We do not know what God will ask of us but I can assure you that it will be something that is very dear to us.
Most of us are not content with going through this process. We naturally rebel against the goad of the Holy Spirit. We say we want to serve God but we are not sure to what extent we are willing to go to be of service to Him. We would much rather have God give us our task and let us get on with it. The problem with this way of thinking is that we end up doing the task in our own way and under our own power because we have rejected the urging of the Holy Spirit, to surrender our pride and arrogance. In other words, we want to wear the crown but we do not want to carry the cross.
We cannot put on our crown unless we have first carried our cross and we cannot carry our cross unless we have firmly held onto the cross of Christ. Luke 9:23 puts it this way “And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:22 ESV) For us, that means that we must pick up our cross every day. In order for us to take up our cross, we must get a firm grasp on it, we must wrap our arms around it and we must hold tightly to it.
That is a physical image of what we must do spiritually. Our cross will bring with it trials, tribulations, suffering and so much more. We must embrace these burdens as a joy. We must give praise to God that we can have a part in the suffering; because with suffering comes hope. “3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces purpose, perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Jesus gave us these words as a promise of hope: "28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) What He is telling us, is that when we take up our cross, He will help us carry it!
Our hope is not in what we can do, but in what He can do through us! It is this hope that gives us the strength to continue doing the will of God. Jesus told His disciples: “9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:9-12)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The Crown of Christ was a crown of thorns! Are you willing to wear it? If so then take up your cross as Jesus did.
We must not deny the trials that God allows in our lives for they serve His purpose for us. I cannot tell you what burdens your cross will bring but I can tell you that by embracing those burdens and rejoicing in them and praising God for them, you will be a better servant of God and have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ!
In Christ,

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