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Lesson # Matt. 16:24
Study Material - Matt. 16:24
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
24 Then [tote] said [epo] Jesus [Iesous] unto his [autos] disciples [mathetes] , If any [ei tis] man will [thelo] come [erchomai] after [opiso] me [mou] , let him deny [aparneomai] himself [heautou] , and [kai] take up [airo] his [autos] cross [stauros] , and [kai] follow [akoloutheo] me [moi] . KJV-Interlinear
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. NAS
God poses a question to each individual who has ever lived on planet earth. 'If anyone wishes to come after Me?' That is the question that each individual has to answer for them self. The easiest response is simply, 'I don't believe that!' This response is easy, convenient, and tends to help the person deny his responsibilities to God - head in sand. A person doesn't have to justify their attitude. They don't have to verify the basis for their attitude. And if they do look for an excuse, then their excuse generally is put on someone else and they do not look to themselves for a reason. It is far easier to use others when an excuse to 'not do' something is used. 'I don't believe in Christ because I knew a believer once and they were a jerk.' 'I don't give to the church because all they want is the money.' 'I don't read the Bible because it just doesn't work.'
Expectations are woven into ones Bible study attitude. 'I'll study if God does this or that for 'me'.'
Self centered attitudes are blown away in these verses. Man has three responsibilities in this life - to God, to self, and to others. Not believing in them or picking and choosing what you will believe in, are not going to change their existence. God doesn't play games. God doesn't need your assistance to make His plan happen. He doesn't need your money. He owns the universe and controls everything that will happen in it.
What God does give you, is the chance to qualify yourself for greater blessings than you can ever imagine. He will not be your genie. He will not be your rabbits foot. He will not use you in a manner to the fullest extent that He could use you in His plan, unless you first make the sacrifice in your life - to follow Him.
How do you do this? First you deny self. What does that mean? You separate yourself from the wisdom of this world. Faith in Christ is the first move. Only God can save, nothing else in this world can save. Deny means to disown, to totally separate ones self. To deny ones self means to separate ones self from the false religions of the world first. Then second, since your life is not immediately translated up into heaven, you have to make daily decisions to live within the fellowship sphere (separation of ones self from sin in your thoughts, and life). Third, you are given three responsibilities to follow. We have covered these several times in the last few lessons. To follow Christ means that you have to know Christ, and to know Christ means you have to learn His thoughts - Bible doctrine. That requires a daily study program.
You cannot pick and choose those things within the Bible which appeal to you or are convenient to your life. The Cross comes before the Crown. Suffering comes before the glory. Sacrifice comes before the reward. Giving comes before the gaining. Losing comes before the winning. A grain of wheat must first die in the soil before it will regain life and grow up into many grains.
This attitude applies to each persons spiritual life. To be a victor you have to follow Gods game plan. To take up ones cross means simply that you must be first, willing to pay any price for your spiritual life. To take up a cross means that you must go to your death on a death march before you will receive your eternal life reward. Death is a separation, and this is the concept. You separate yourself from the philosophy of this world by learning Gods Word and replacing the thoughts of your soul with Gods thoughts. You become oriented to Gods reality, you become oriented to life and to grace, and you learn that 'things' of this world have no real value. Vanity of vanities, as Solomon states.
Now go into your own pocket book and get to the bottom of the matter. Most people think in financial terms. You either have money or you don't. It is easy to separate yourself from money when you want something, and seem to be getting something in return. It is more difficult to separate yourself from money when you question the use of your money by others - such as in charitable giving. It is easy to simply ignore that aspect of the Christian life, because after all, who would know? But then God knows, and when we get just a couple of verses along, you'll see that God will evaluate you on your Christian life - all of it, He won't pick and choose what He will evaluate and what He won't evaluate.
To demonstrate greed or any flaw within the Christian life means that you allow rot (so to speak) to enter into your Christian life, and any rot that exists will contaminate the rest of the batch.
God provides us with everything we have. God knows all of our needs. Therefore it stands to reason that God will replace anything you choose to give up in life. Give up social life for Bible study? God will replace it with a better social life - perhaps this means a better relationship in marriage or with family, or with people that won't gossip about you behind your back, or whatever. Don't let selfishness, don't let a poor me attitude (because you think that you are giving up something), don't let a short sighted view on life, rule your life and therefore control of your life and destroy it. Don't let an 'I don't believe that,' attitude trap you in the dark and prevent you from seeing and gaining your destiny.
Living here on planet earth for 40 or 60 or 80 years is nothing when compared to a life in eternity which will last for billions of billions of trillions of years and more. Why would anyone cling to 'things' in this life, and lose their blessings and rewards of eternity when clearly eternal possessions are far greater than possessions of this world?
Back to the mirror???
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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