“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Luke 9:23).
We want you to think with us. How often in a day’s time do we say aloud or think in our minds, “I need to decide…”? We suppose it’s a lot. These decisions may be due to factors such as the weather, the day of the week, the time of day or the workload before us. ”What shall I wear, a coat or light jacket?” What should I prepare for dinner?” ”Shall I call or send an email?” And on and on our list goes.
But today we want to focus on a daily decision each of us has in common, regardless of where we live on this planet. Every morning when we awaken to a new day we are confronted with this same choice.
We memorized the daily verse many years ago. It’s a clear call to discipleship from the words of our Lord. Jesus was speaking to the disciples very plainly about how He would be rejected by the priests and chief elders. He then spoke of His suffering, His death and resurrection that would follow. It was a very intense setting as these disciples were trying to understand and also rejecting such disturbing information about their Master.
Then Jesus surely added to the intensity of the moment when he then issued this call to His disciples; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Both Matthew and Mark record the same statement (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34), but only Luke records a detail that includes a vital element to this call. Notice the word “daily”.
By providing this detail Luke emphasized a concept that is often seen in Scripture. The day is a unit of time that the Word seems to stress as important in making a steadfast commitment to our Lord. Here are several phrases from the Scriptures in this regard: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). “I call to you, O LORD, every day” (Psalm 88:8). “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
In the New Testament Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to request, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). The apostle Paul emphasized this daily walk in urging the Thessalonian believers to “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (Thessalonians 4:11,12). And in the Pastoral Epistle to Titus he taught, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (Titus 3:14).
Our daily encouragement series is prompted by a command found in Hebrews 3:13 which states: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are just two ordinary people making a decision this day to follow Christ. And we want to encourage all of you to do the same! Today and every day.
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Encouragement ends each devotional blog post with a prayer. This one is such an integral part of what they wrote, I included it also:
Daily Prayer: Father, there are many choices I will make today based upon the variables that I cannot foresee. But one choice for me that is not optional because I not only believe the truth of the Gospel, but am fully committed to following Christ. To do so I must deny my own selfish desires, take up my cross daily, and follow Him. In denying myself I will be careful never to deny Christ or the work He wants to do in me. On particular days it can be intense and require great sacrifice on my part. I don’t know what the cross will look like today, whether it be in the form of physical pain, ridicule of my faith, rejection from one that I love, a major letdown, or another difficulty that may come my way. The wonderful blessing is that I don’t carry my cross in my own strength but You carry it for me as I lean upon You for strength, guidance, and the assurance that today’s cross will soon be exchanged for tomorrow’s crown.