Red Letter Living

Scott Stevenson

"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 9:23

This is the theme verse for this year's Men’s Retreat.  It tests the resolve of your belief in God.  “Red Letter Living” is just that, living for God as a disciple of Christ.  This very short verse lays out three conditions to be a disciple of Christ. I would like to explore those conditions so that we all understand how we are operating for Christ daily.

Condition #1 - Deny Yourself
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to this type of denial.  It’s more radical than just saying, "Since I follow Christ, I’ll stop drinking, cursing, and hanging out with those who do".  The mandate here calls for rejection of life based on your own fulfillment and self-interest.  To better understand what I’m saying, let's look at Luke 14:26.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26)  

Is the Lord asking you to hate your family?  Of course not!  In comparison to your love and dedication to Jesus versus your family, it looks like hate to others. Example, people who don’t know or share your love of Christ would see it as hate if you chose the mission field over a lucrative family business.  When God is first in your life, non-believers have a difficult time understanding Him as a priority.

Condition #2 - Taking up Your Cross
What happened on the cross?  Jesus died on the cross.  Are you willing to die both physically and spiritually for Christ? This was as real then as it is now.  I for one don’t even think you can consider physically dying for Christ until you get the spiritual side of the equation together.  Let's start with denying ourselves daily.  Are you willing to obey God or yourself with the everyday decisions of life? Are you willing to put self to death daily?  Are you practicing this now? Are you failing or succeeding? If we can’t do this with the small decisions, we won’t be able to do it when eternity is on the line…just a thought.

Condition #3 - Following Jesus
What does it mean to follow Jesus?  It means you have to follow Jesus continually.  A number of people like to hear about Jesus on Sunday and then go back to their lives on Monday.  Jesus died the worse type of death a human being could ever die, and He did this all for us.  We think we can confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, but not make Him Lord and think it all works out at Judgment Day.  Put it this way, that type of thinking does not line up with scripture.  I find it astounding that God considered us worthy to die for in order to give us eternal life, and not eternal damnation.  Jesus gave it all for us while we were His enemy.  Thank God for His wonderful grace and understanding our limitations due to sin.  God being an understanding Father gave us the power over sin through the Holy Spirit.  Start accessing the very power of God and let us spend our very brief days here on earth giving Him everything that we have.  Remember, you have to give up your life in order to receive the life that will last. Let's get busy dying to Christ!

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