What does it mean to carry my cross?

 

 

 

 

His Thorns for My Eternal Crown8x10“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?     Mark 8:34-37

 

Whenever I have read this verse in the past, I had the vision of following Jesus with a huge cross strapped to my back. I took it as taking the burdens that He carried and keeping my focus on those in order to think like Jesus. And, yes, I do pray that God gives me a heart to love those who Jesus loved and to break my heart for what breaks His. But today, God gave me a whole new revelation of carrying my cross.

I have been reading “Dangerous Surrender” by Kay Warren and in this book she writes, “Surrender always leads to peace.” That phrase stuck with me and I started thinking about what surrender means to me. You see, Jesus carried his cross to death. Anyone who carried their cross in those days, was carrying it to their death. And for me to carry a cross tells me that I must carry it to my death. Not my physical death, but death to self.

I am a physical, mental and spiritual being all joined into one body called “Me”. And there are parts of “Me” that always want what is supposedly best for “Me”. Like when Jim and I are riding in the truck and he has the heater on defrost and the hot air is hitting me in the face. Instead of adjusting how I sit so that I am more comfortable I usually say something like, “Do we have to have that heat always turned up full blast?” Or when I am asked to go somewhere on the weekend when I had planned to stay home and _____ (you fill in the blank, write, clean, read). I put on my martyr, self-righteous face and say, “OK, let’s go.” Big sigh.

There’s a lot of “Me” in my life. And I am realizing that because I protect the “Me” so much, I am not allowing God to use me to the fullest. And I want that. I want it with all my being, but I have to die to self first. I will be the first to admit, I don’t know how to do that.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” I love that old hymn, and I believe it! I know that God has something so much better than this life waiting for me. I have his Son, Jesus Christ in my heart and his Holy Spirit guiding me. Then why do I continue to hold on to “Me”? You’re going to think I have lost my mind, but I am a huge Frank Sinatra fan and while I am writing this, the words to one of his songs comes to my mind.

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

I am singing this as a prayer to God. “Take all of me, Lord; I am no good without You. Take my lips and speak through them, I want to lose the words I want to say and only say the words You give me. Take my arms, Father God, and show me how to hold them out to those that You love. Take me, Lord Jesus, I am nothing without You.”

Today I vow to carry my cross to the death of “Me”.

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A Sparrow in Need

Life doesn’t always (if ever) give us what we want. As a matter of fact, if we are feeling that we have all that we need, enjoy all that we want, and are loved by all who know us, then someone needs to check our pulse to see if we are still alive.

Life isn’t about being comfortable, it’s about living. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 that it is about living in the moment. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” ESV

These verses say a lot about how to live in Christ’s care. First of all, Paul is stating that he is not asking for help. In the verses before these, Paul acknowledges that he had needs that his followers were not able to fulfill, but that he understood. Paul stated that he knew what it was like to go through the valleys of despair and climb the mountaintops of joy. He knew what it was like to have nothing and to have plenty. Paul knew that God would strengthen him for whatever the day brought his way.

Throughout our marriage my hubby and I have been through it all.  There were times when we lived on pinto beans and potatoes cooked in a crock pot, because we didn’t have a stove to cook on. We’ve had our electric turned off and been chased by collectors for doctor’s bills. We had no person to turn to, but we always had God. And we had no doubt that He would supply what we needed. Were we always content? Of course not. We worried and budgeted what meager earnings we had. I’m sure we even had disagreements at times about the best way to manage that budget. And I remember times when I have prayed for a specific amount of money to meet one of those needs or specific healing for a loved one.

Yesterday I sat in the hospital room with my daughter-in-law as she waited to go into surgery and I was praying, Lord, direct the doctors to whatever needs to be corrected and give her the healing and strength needed at this time. It wasn’t until later when my son and I were sitting in the Waiting room that I was brought back to what my prayer should have been. I was reminded that when I pray, I should first get out of “me” mode and immediately start in “He” mode. God knows what is needed and before I get to the “God, please….” part, I must first address His sovereignty. “God, thank you for my daughter-in-law who has given my son a beautiful Christian wife and two beautiful children. Thank You for her spirit of loving You and her desire to serve You. Thank you for the hospital and doctors that care. God, You alone know the needs and I place her in Your capable Hands.” Then and only then, after I have addressed God’s greatness and grace, should I begin to let the Holy Spirit guide me in praying for specifics.

No, life doesn’t always give us what we want, what we specifically pray for, but if we pray for only what we want, are we going to be satisfied when God gives us what He knows is best? There is an old hymn that my Mamaw used to sing, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and one verse runs through my mind when I start to get down.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Yes, God’s Eye is always on this little sparrow and I know he watches and cares for me.

Be blessed today!

Sheila

 

From Self-esteem to God-esteem

From_Self-esteem_to__Cover_for_KindleSpecial Christmas pricing!

Go to the site and enter discount code 28QZESR5 and receive $3.00 off the list price of $12.95. This offer is only good until January 16.

 

Looking for a Christmas gift for a special Christian friend? “From Self-esteem to God-esteem” is a reminder to mature Christians everywhere of the journey from salvation to righteousness.
Do you know someone who recently accepted Christ as their Savior? This book will help them over some of the bumps in the road as they start their Christian walk.

https://www.createspace.com/4851082

 

From Self-esteem to God-esteem

I’m saved, now what?

How do I pray?
What if I sin?
Which church should I join?
What is the role of the Holy Spirit?

These questions and many more are visited by the author as she takes you along on her journey from salvation to righteousness.

Righteousness is a living process and every Christian has questions about how they are to live in order to put God’s desires, needs and esteem over our own.

Whether you have been saved for many years or a few seconds, this book will give you the map for God to lead you on your own journey From Self-esteem to God-esteem.

My new book, “From Self-esteem to God-esteem” will be published by Christmas. If you would like to pre-order this book, please go towww.prayersforprodigals.com. The book will be $15.95 on Amazon, but pre-sales price is 13.95 (including US shipping where needed)

God Looks at the Heart

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“…People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”                 I Samuel 16:7b

Have you ever noticed how family and friends are the hardest to right a wrong with? No matter how many years it has been since you drove the car through Grandpa’s pumpkin patch, someone is going to bring it up at the next family gathering. And no matter that you now have a doctorate degree, someone is going to remember that you failed first grade. Am I the only one with family and friends like that? Oh, it doesn’t bother me, I know who I was and who I am now, and so does God.

My heart goes out to those who have made even bigger mistakes, though. The world gets us down and wants to keep us there. We are constantly reminded of who we once were and if we don’t let God change us, really change us, we can fall right back where we were. The world wants us to believe that there is no hope, and there IS no hope in the world. But God is bigger than the world, and He is the Hope.

God does His work invisibly. He can change the hardest heart. He can heal the deepest addict. And He will. But the change happens on the inside and when we look at the outside, we still see the same person. And we doubt. How can we know our loved one is changed? Is there something we look for? Yes, we look for Jesus in their lives.

We look for compassion and humility. We look for selflessness and true repentance. And we look at where their strength comes from. We look at the same things that God looks at.

When I picked the rose in the picture above, I felt like I had the perfect rose. Each petal was perfectly shaped, a slight, gentle curve where new growth was taking place. And I thought, only God could make something so beautiful. And that was when it came to me; God was in the rose. If I only looked at the outside, I would miss the true beauty. I don’t want to do that with my prodigal child.

No matter what the outside is saying or doing, I want to see the beauty inside. I want to see the true healing that only Jesus can bring. And I want to believe.

Look closely at your loved one; look closely at the rose.