It it always interesting to me when a Scripture verse keeps crossing my path in the same week.  Is God trying to tell me something?  Yep, I think so.  This past week I have had this verse come my way a couple times:

Matthew 16:24-25

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

So what does it mean?  For our 21st century minds, it is hard for us to comprehend dying on the cross. (Thanks to my Sunday School teacher – Ken for that thot!).  And the setting in which Jesus said this to his disciples, there were crucifixions but Jesus had not died yet so to even think of their Lord being on the cross was just not even possible.  That is what Peter said to Jesus in verse 22…’this shall never happen to you, Lord!” Then Jesus rebuked him as Satan and went on to talk about picking up our crosses and denying ourselves.  So for us today, this scripture can have a different meaning than seeing ourselves hanging on a cross (although we do deserve it!).  I think this verse is more about us denying ourselves and making our lives about Christ.  Each day, we need to give up those things that are taking us away from the righteous kind of life that God desires for us.  Whether it is money, striving for that job at the top of the ladder, wanting your kid to be the BEST on the team/choir/band (you get the point), a size x (you pick the #) dress that you can wear, a hot car, or the coolest house on the block….all these things if they are not put in the proper perspective can take our focus off of Christ.  The part that is the hardest about this…is the daily dying to self.  Sometimes we really LIKE or LOVE some of those things in our lives!  And other things we hold onto — anger, pride, playing the victim, worry, gambling, sex, alcohol, being in control and doing your own will,  etc., would be too hard to let them go and follow the path of giving them up.  The part that we often forget and need to realize is that when we choose to give these things up, we find a freedom and peace that is far worth keeping than any of these other things.  In sports you often hear – no pain, no gain.  It is very similar to this here.  In order to get to that end goal, whether it is exercise, losing weight or giving up an area in our lives, our crosses, it will take some hard work and pain to get there.  But  you will find…that it will be worth it.  You will find your life (vs 25)!

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