Blessed… Take Up Your Cross

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.   All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.   Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done.  I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28, Common English Bible).

“Now that I’m a Christian my life will be so much easier.” Another said, “Preacher, now that I am a Christian, why isn’t my life easier? Doesn’t God love me?”

I have heard all that many times over the years. In light of our lesson today, how could we ever think that life as a Christian would be easy? Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Anyone who would see the cross as easy really needs to give some thought to what easy really looks like.

To carry this a step further, Jesus also says, “All who want to save their lives will lose it. But all those who lose their lives because of me will gain it.” Again, I can’t speak for you, but nothing about that sounds easy to me.

As people of faith we can become targets for people outside the faith. Further, even if we are not targets, we are not going to become exempt from the problems of life. Christians lose loved ones. Christians get audited by the IRS. Christians are involved in car accidents. The list can go on and on. Being a Christian does not exempt us from the difficulties of life.

What being a Christian does do is give us fulfillment in life. For some at least, before being a Christian, life may have been easier but satisfaction in life was elusive. When we quit chasing the things of the world and start chasing after the things of God, how we look at life and approach life make a real change within us. It doesn’t mean things will always be easy. It just means we will have satisfaction. And then, maybe, just maybe in that satisfaction we may find real joy.

Where do you look for your satisfaction and joy?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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