Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
Sipping her tea, Nancy gazed out her friend’s window and sighed. Spring rains and sunshine had coaxed a riotous expanse of color from a well-groomed flowerbed of lilies, phlox, irises, and evening primrose.
“I want that look,” she said wistfully, “without all the work.”
Some shortcuts are fine—even practical. Others short-circuit our spirit and deaden our lives. We want romance without the difficulties and messiness of committing to someone so different from ourselves. We want “greatness” without the risks and failures necessary in the adventure of real life. We desire to please God, but not when it inconveniences us.
Jesus made clear to His followers that there is no shortcut that avoids the hard choice of surrendering our lives to Him. He warned a prospective disciple, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). To follow Christ requires a radical altering of our loyalties.
When we turn in faith to Jesus, the work just begins. But it is oh-so-worth-it, for He also told us that no one who sacrifices “for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . . and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). The work of following Christ is difficult, but He’s given us His Spirit and the reward is a full, joyful life now and forever.
Father, I will find the strength to do the work You have for me to do, only as I rely on Your Holy Spirit. Help me, please, to be sensitive to that today.
Most things worth doing are difficult.
Although the Holy Spirit is spoken of throughout the Bible, two particular portions of Scripture offer us a wealth of insight about this wonderful Person—John 14–16 and Romans 8. In His Upper Room Discourse with His disciples (John 14–16), Jesus says the Spirit is a gift from the Father who has come to be our Comforter/Advocate (14:16–17). This Helper is also described as the “Spirit of truth” who takes up residence within each of God’s children so that we are never abandoned (vv. 17–18). In John 16, our Lord adds that the Spirit will convict the world and point us to the Savior, while guiding us into truth (vv. 7–14). In Romans 8, Paul reinforces these ideas by saying that the Spirit is the source of our life (vv. 2, 11), the evidence of our new relationship with our Father (vv. 9, 14–16), and One who intercedes for us when we pray so that our prayers line up with the Father’s purposes (vv. 26–27).
In what area of your life do you need the Spirit’s presence and guidance? Bill Crowder