Tag Archives: take up your cross

Complete Surrender

There was a Rich Mullins song that said, “Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than take what you give that I need.” That lyric has always stuck in my head because of how true it is. We like to say we surrender everything to God until He asks us to give up something. It’s almost like we’re the rich, young ruler. We don’t mind following the commandments He gives, but when we are asked to surrender things of earthly value, we get sad. The truth is that being a Christian is truly about surrender because it’s an action of the heart. It’s an inward thing versus the outward showing of following a bunch of rules.

Since the beginning of creation, God has been concerned with what’s going on inside of us. That’s the truth of who we are, and only He looks past our outward displays to see our intention. If we truly want to be a follower of Christ, it starts with surrendering authority over our life to Him. We give up our rights to what He wants. That’s the cost of being a disciple. If God asked you today to sell everything and give the money to the poor, what would you struggle selling? That’s the barrier between you and a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Surrender doesn’t come natural to us, but I believe it’s something we can all get a little better at.

Here are some Bible verses on surrender.

1. For all who belong to me now belong to you. And all who belong to you now belong to me as well, and my glory is revealed through their surrendered lives.

John 17:10 TPT

2. When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection. And complete satisfaction!

Proverbs 19:23 TPT

3. All who seek to live apart from me will lose it all. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!

Matthew 10:39 TPT

4. Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples.

Luke 14:33 TPT

5. (I use everyday language because of the weakness of your natural selves.) At one time you surrendered yourselves entirely as slaves to impurity and wickedness for wicked purposes. In the same way you must now surrender yourselves entirely as slaves of righteousness for holy purposes.

Romans 6:19 GNT

Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

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Lessons From Simon

Have you ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time? That’s what happened to a man named Simon. He was traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As he was heading into the city, a large crowd was coming out. They were shouting and yelling at a man who was badly beaten. He was struggling to walk under the heavy load of the cross He was carrying. As he watched, the man must have fallen right in front of him, and it was clear He couldn’t go any further.

Matthew 27:32 says, “Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross” (NLT). The word “forced” catches my attention here. Jesus asked us to voluntarily take up our cross daily, but Simon was forced to do it. I believe that he stuck around to watch the crucifixion and later learned to take up his dross daily on his own.

If you think about it, He was also turned around. He was headed into the city, and because he carried the cross, he had to make an about face to head the other direction. When we accept Jesus as our savior, we are to repent of our sins. That word “repent” means to turn away and go the other direction. As Simon watched Jesus forgive those who crucified Him, he too repented of the sins he had committed and began to live different.

You and I have to learn to take up our cross daily, crucify our fleshly desires to it and turn away from those desires daily. When God’s spirit resides in us, there is a constant battle between His spirit and our flesh. If we’re willing to crucify our sinful nature and obey God’s voice, our lives will be forever changed. It’s up to each one of us to learn the lessons from Simon’s brief mention in the Bible. He is a picture of what God wants to do in each of our lives.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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No Ice Please


When my son was three, he started noticing that my wife orders her Coke at the restaurant with no ice. He asked her why she didn’t want ice and she said, “When you get ice, over time, it dilutes the drink. Plus, with ice, you get less of a drink because of displacement.” He then asked me, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ‘Yes ice’?” I told him, “‘Yes ice’ because I would rather my drink be cold than to have a lot of it.” That seemed to satisfy him, though I’m sure he didn’t understand.

If we imagine our lives as those cups, ourself as the ice, and Jesus as the drink, we can learn a spiritual concept. The more we have of ourselves inside of us, the less we can have of Jesus. If we want more of Him, we have to empty ourselves of selfish desires. The problem is that we prefer the cold, watered down version of Jesus because it’s comfortable to us. All the while, Jesus is asking us to get rid of the ice of self so we can be more like Him.

John the Baptist is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of a ‘No ice’ person. In John 3, his disciples came to Him and said, “Hey, that guy you baptized the other day, and testified that He was the Messiah, is baptizing people down the river and our people are going to Him!” In verse 30, John replied, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (AMP). He understood that his comfort wasn’t the most important thing. Letting Jesus increase was.

The question to each of us is, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ”Yes ice’?” Do you want to be full of Jesus or of yourself? If you want to be full of Jesus, then you must decrease so He can increase in your life. You’ve got to put His desires above your own. You must daily deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) in order to truly be a ‘No ice’ person. That’s struggle each of us face daily. We could all use a little less ice and a lot more Jesus. 

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Surrender


White flag. Tap out. Give up. Submit. Yield. Say, “Uncle.” Throw in the towel. Surrender. I don’t know anyone who likes to do it. Surrendering is admitting defeat. It’s embarrassing really. I, like you, don’t like to give up. I don’t like to face defeat. It goes against everything in me. Maybe you’re the same. When all the odds are against you, your theme song starts playing. Maybe it’s “The Eye of the Tiger” or “This is my Fight Song” or whatever, but it plays and pumps you up to keep you from surrendering and giving in.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem was under siege and there was very little hope. God was pronouncing His judgement against the people who had turned their back on Him. They refused to repent so God was sending them into captivity. The king secretly went to Jeremiah to ask what he should do. Jeremiah told him if he wanted to live, he needed to surrender. In Jeremiah 38:19, the king responded, “But I am afraid to surrender” (NLT). He was too afraid of how he would appear if he surrendered, so he disobeyed and it cost him his freedom.

Romans 8 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at a constant war with each other. The flesh wants to do things its own way, and the spirit wants us to follow God’s way. For so many Christians, it’s a daily struggle and a guess as to which side will win. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” More times than not, our flesh wins because we fail to surrender to God’s plan for our lives. Surrender is so foreign to our flesh that we fight against what the spirit is trying to accomplish in our lives.

In Luke 14:33, Jesus put it this way, “So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple” (AMPC). If we truly want to be God’s disciples, we have to be willing to surrender all we have for all He offers. According to Romans 8:13, when we surrender to what the spirit wants, we will live. You and I are given the same choice that the king of Israel had. Don’t make the same mistake he did. Surrender and live.

What is God asking you to surrender today in order to be His disciple?

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True Satisfaction

Business guru Brian Tracy says that a person only feels good about themselves to the extent that they are in control of their life. When outside forces are disrupting their life, they aren’t in control and stress comes in. When they can afford to do the things they always wanted to, they feel good about themselves. While I believe it’s true for the most part with our physical lives, I think it’s opposite for our spiritual ones.

You will only feel satisfied with your spiritual life to the extent that you surrender to God. When you put aside your wants for God’s needs, you find a fulfillment like you’ve never known. You find satisfaction in your spiritual life. Conversely, when you know what God needs you to do, but you struggle with the decision, you find turmoil. When you ultimately pass on His request to satisfy your desires, it results in conviction and regret. 

There is a constant struggle in each one of us who are believers. Just because we have accepted Christ, it doesn’t mean that our sinful nature leaves. Instead, we have to battle it daily and crucify it. We will never be fully satisfied as believers until we surrender to the Spirit who lives in us.  Romans 8:7 says, “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. (NLT)” It wants to do things that satisfy the flesh, so it fights against what God wants to do which is to deny the flesh. It creates a constant battle as long as we let it live.

Jesus told us to deny ourselves if we wanted to follow Him. In Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself. (MSG)” The only way to find out who we were truly created to be is through self sacrifice. We have to put our wants, our desires, our dreams and nail them to the cross. When we do that, we surrender to God’s will for our life, our spirit finds true satisfaction, our purpose is fulfilled and our lives come into harmony. Surrendering our mind and life to the Spirit is how it’s done.

Romans 8:6 says, “Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (NLT)” If you find that you’re not living in peaceful satisfaction, look to see who is in the driver’s seat of your life. Are you in control? If you, you’ll find that you’re constantly struggling between doing what God wants and what you want. Or is God in control? If you have let Him have free reign with your life, you will find an inner peace and satisfaction like you’ve never known. The key to being controlled by the Spirit is surrendering to His will. 

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Fully Submitted

I once had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a man who counsels kings, queens, presidents and corporate CEO’s. He said, “I want to start off our conversation with a question. ‘If you woke up tomorrow morning with $10 Million in your bank account, how would that change your life?'” That amount of money would certainly change most of our lives. You can’t come into that much money and not live differently than before. It’s the same when we give our lives to Jesus. You can’t invite him into your life and not be changed.

The message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul was “Repent.” It wasn’t, “Say a prayer and you’re a Christian.” The word repent in its original form means “A change of mind.” God asks us to change our mind from how we were living to a new way of thinking that in turns changes how we live. You can’t change your behavior unless you change your mind. The call to repentance was and is about changing how you live.

Jesus put it another way. He said, “If any man wants to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” I love how the Amplified version takes Luke 9:23 and really explains what Jesus said there. It puts it, “If any person wills to come after me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow me [cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” When Jesus said repent and follow Him, He wasn’t asking you to say a prayer. He was asking you to give up yourself and how you want to live.

There’s a missionary in Haiti I’ve met several times. He moved there over twenty years ago and never went back to his home country. He is involved in pastor get a church, orphan care, running a school, feeding the helpless, running a bakery and water purification shop, helping deaf girls learn sign language and so many other things. When asked why he does so much and how could he never go back home, he responded with, “My life is not my own. When I said, ‘Yes’ to Jesus, I gave up my life.” Those words should challenge us in how we live.

He understands what it means to follow Jesus by taking up his cross and denying himself. You may not be called to leave your home country and live in a third world country the rest of your life, but you have been called to change how and why you live. The call to repentance is a call to change your reason for living. It’s a call to give up what you want for what God wants. Philippians 2:5-6 says we need to have the mind of Christ who gave up what He wanted for what the Father wanted. He was and is our example of daily taking up our cross. He showed us how to submit to what God wants.

If you think back to the $10 Million question earlier, just like you can’t come into that kind of money and not be changed, you can’t have a real encounter with Jesus and not be changed. When you say, “Yes” to Jesus, your whole life and way of thinking should change. I liked that question he asked, but I think the question you and I should think about today is, “If you woke up tomorrow morning and had fully surrendered your life to Jesus, how would your life change?” Think about it and then surrender your will to His. You’ll find there’s no better life to live than one that is fully submitted to Him. 

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