To find our way somewhere, we first need to know where we want to go. Any directions we get, otherwise, are pretty much useless.

In these next quiet moments, think first about where you want to go as a believer. The Spirit awaits to take you there.

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He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38

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“If you are horrible at math and you hate bugs, God is calling you to be a missionary teacher in Africa!” As a kid, that’s what I thought “deny yourself and take up your cross” meant. But Jesus didn’t say “I have come to make your life miserable.” To follow Jesus brings joy and fulfillment. He said, “I have come that you might have life…in all its fullness!” (John 10:10, Good News) But we are convinced sometimes that our way is better, so we struggle and wonder if God really knows best for our lives.

We forget the reason we can see clearly what the disciples could not see: we’ve had 2000 years to look at the whole picture. Of course God knows best! Jesus denied his instincts for self-preservation and headed toward the cross trusting that God would use Jesus’ selfless act of obedience to change history. Refusing to wear the crown everyone else thinks will save them, Jesus insists that the world will only be transformed by sacrificial love. And he’s right.

Jesus said to them, and he says it again to us, “Do you want to follow? Don’t rely on your instincts. Just follow my example and trust God.”

Steve Cothran

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God, deliver me today from self-preservation so that I might follow you without reservation. Amen.

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Go now with great confidence that the Spirit who has led you so far will continue to lead you into your future. Stay alert to any new direction the Spirit might take you, and then go willingly, with delight in new discovery!

Steve Cothran

Steve Cothran serves as associate pastor for youth/families alongside an amazing staff at First Baptist Church, Greensboro, North Carolina. His wife, Nancy, is also a minister and they are blessed with three unique children, Raleigh, Robyn, and Marina.

The Old Rugged Cross

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