Today’s Scrip-Bit   18 February 2023 Matthew 16:24.

Matthew 16:24.        If any man will come after (follow) me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Oh boy, this lazy day Saturday has opened with bright sunshine! It’s cold, but who cares, it’s winter, and that means it’s supposed to be cold. Once the sun’s shining, I’m contented. Sadly though, I’ve already used up my share of laziness for today, so now I have to concentrate on the reality of the situation, that’s doing Christ’s work. 

Now, on Saturday’s, we usually look at the quotes that our friend Anselm sent us during the past week to see how they match up with Christ’s word, as he aspires to inspire us for a better tomorrow, but unfortunately, I did not receive any quotes from him this week, so I’m left hanging high and dry, out on a limb. (smile) I now have to find my own stuff to talk about today. Life sure is strange yes. Usually, I’m a tad anxious about how to use the quotes, figuring I’d have to bust my brain to present them properly, and sometimes wish I didn’t have them at all. 

Today though, I find myself missing them, and having to bust my brain to find something of my own to talk about. That ought to teach us to appreciate whatever we have, although it might sometimes cause us some anxious moments. (smile) Yes, wishing the difficult things away, is never usually the answer, because then we realize how much we’ve become accustomed to them, and miss them when they are taken away. It’s like living for Christ. We need to undergo difficult times and tasks in His employ, and we don’t like them, but if we remove them, then we don’t grow and we don’t get to enjoy the supernatural occasions that Christ brings into our lives, when we walk faithfully with Him. 

Oh friends, yuh like that smooth segue, from not knowing what to write then flowing smoothly into living for Christ. (smile) That’s how the Holy Spirit works sometimes. You can’t beat it! Moving on though, let’s remember that being a disciple of Christ is not easy, although it’s very worthwhile. Jesus stated it very clearly. ‘If any man will come after (follow) me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ (Matt. 16:24) Now therein lies the challenge, which basically means sacrificing or giving up our will for Jesus’. And it’s not always easy to do. 

Meanwhile, the scholars explain it thus: ‘Deny himself , that is, refuse his own claims upon himself. Take up: The meaning is “lift up.” It is a stronger word than that used in 10:38, and implies a lifting of the cross on high, so that all may see it. This is the strongest statement in the New Testament about the disciple’s need to crucify himself, by yielding to the claims of Christ’s lordship over him.’  

Wow! Being a true disciple of Jesus does carry a lot of expectations, as He explains in Chapter 10. ‘He that LOVETH father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that LOVETH son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.’ (Matt. 10: 37-38) 

Yes,  that’s certainly asking a lot, but that’s what Jesus does; He asks plenty of us, to be the salt and light of the earth, to spread the good news of His gospel all over the world and to walk faithfully in His footsteps. But the beautiful thing about our Lord and Saviour is that He never asks us to do something without giving us the wherewithal, the tools, the grace to do it. And that’s where He rises way above all the other supposed gods, who just ask you to do difficult and dangerous stuff without giving you the necessary help. 

Now let’s check out Jesus’ statements after laying down the ground rules for discipleship. He reasons: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ (Matt. 16:25-26) And those are very pertinent and timely questions my people. Questions that we should all take time to sit down and ponder on, because they are very important to our eventual destination, be it heaven or hell. 

However, some of us still believe in running down the material wealth of the world which enables you to live high on the hog, but doesn’t do much else. It doesn’t make you live longer, or necessarily happier and ofttimes you die from simple stuff despite your great wealth. In fact, while you are busy making money, you don’t usually have the time to enjoy it. And if you do live long enough to retire, then you don’t have the youth nor energy to truly enjoy the wealth you have amassed. 

Please note Jesus’ parable on the rich fool, where He spoke not against riches in itself, but basically against greed, which is an inherent danger when we are hell bent to accumulate material wealth. The rich man saw all his goods and crowed to himself about storing up his possessions so he could live in ease; eat, drink and be merry. ‘But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that is layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.’ (Luke 12:20-21) 

Ah mih bredrin, the scriptures make it so clear that fighting to amass material wealth is foolish, but even as true and faithful believers, we continue to do it. Remember when Jesus talked about how material wealth is destroyed by moth and rust, and thieves break in and steal, so the best place to lay up your treasure is in heaven, where there is no moth nor rust nor thieves. ‘For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matt. 6:19-21) And after talking about how nature works perfectly through God’s grace and mercy, He warned: ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.’ (Matt.6:33) 

Yes friends, if we seek God rather than material wealth first, God will give us all the material things we need, like He does for all the other aspects of His creation. Remember, all things belong to God, and it’s God who gives us the power to get wealth. (Deut. 8:18)  So there’s no need to run it down. That’s why Bruh Paul also warned in his first letter to Timothy. ‘For the LOVE of money is the root of all (kinds of) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith (for which some in their greediness have strayed from the faith), and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (brought ruin upon themselves). (1 Tim. 6:10) 

Therefore my fellow saints, please, please, let’s wake up and smell the roses nuh, before it gets too late, and stop striving after money and material wealth because it doesn’t get us anywhere. Instead, let’s begin seriously striving after, seeking after the wonderful things of God which gets us somewhere, somewhere beautiful: eternal life with Him in heavenly places! Much LOVE!

…wisdom dictates that you follow the One who gives you wisdom…and that One is Jehovah God…so following Him is wisdom indeed… 

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