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Devotional: August 29, 2020

Devotional         August 29, 2020          Saturday

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

         Matthew 16: 24

A woman recently observed, “The call to deny oneself is not just a call for married or single people, it is a call  for every single one of us: to lay down our lives, by denying ourselves.”

She was referring to how she was seeing this scripture in a new light, as she was now in a caregiver role with her mother, who is suffering with Alzheimer's Disease. This woman was single, and before her mother was struck with this dreaded disease, she had led quite an independent life.  She would travel, go out with friends, and keep her own schedule. Now in her role as a full-time caregiver, she is learning anew what this scripture means: to deny oneself… She said that it is not easy, and that the challenge is constant.

Many of us are, or know people who are, in caregiving roles. Some within our congregation fulfill that role. I myself have taken on this role numerous times when Jeana has had all of her surgeries. Those of us who have done so, know what it means to deny themselves, in order to care for a loved one. We put that person’s needs before our own. Jesus tells us that we must do the same with Him. Put His needs above ours.

These days, we live in a consumer-driven life. You need this. You need that. Don’t forget to add this to your cart, or life. It does not take much for us to be so busy and overloaded with all the “shoulds” of the world, that there is no room for Christ in our lives. The call to deny oneself stands in stark contrast to the message of our culture. For some, putting Christ first, is at the bottom of their “to do” list. It is definitely not at the top. 

The blessing of Jesus’ call for us to deny ourselves is that when we do so, we actually end up blessing the Lord, and others, and ourselves. This is what Jesus meant when he said, in the very next verse, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Jesus isn’t asking us to live a life of denying ourselves any pleasures, and being completely cut off from any enjoyment in life. No. Jesus is telling us that the things that can consume, overtake, and distract us from Him can often leave little if any room in our life for Him. Jesus  wants us to fill our lives first with Him. Then, everything else will be a perfect fit. 

Christ is not vague about His statement. We can find true life, real life, a joy-filled life, by denying ourselves, and taking up our cross, whatever  burden we have in our life, and walking with the Lord. When we carry that burden with Christ, we are not carrying it alone. The weight is truly on His shoulders. May each and every one of us rise up to meet this challenge from our Lord. For Christians, the cross we bear is the cross we choose…

Prayer

Loving God,

You are the Lord of all our burdens and all our joys. Help us to realize that without You, every weight we carry, we end up carrying alone. Help us to accept the difficult challenges that life brings us, and to understand that You want to lighten those burdens. When we fall down or stumble, help us to reach out to You, knowing You will lift us up. We thank You for this promise. May we find peace in You. We pray this prayer in Your holy name. Amen


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