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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exalting Jesus


Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

—Luke 9:23-24



Jesus instills in each Christian the desire to follow Him, but without denying yourself, you cannot follow Him. Jesus humbled Himself on our account and was obedient to the point of death. He instructs us to surrender our lives to Him. If we are going to experience the new life He has provided for us, we must die to ourselves.


The first step to dying to yourself is acknowledging that you can't save yourself by your own effort and that you cannot manage and direct your own life. You must rely on God and not on yourself. Making decisions without relying on God’s wisdom and direction is trusting your wisdom and ability. It is not putting faith in God. You must step out in faith daily, denying your reasoning and wisdom, and seeking God’s wisdom and direction for your life.


Self-denial is only good when it promotes Jesus and His will in your life. Some people make a religion out of self-denial. With false humility, they sacrifice themselves, but their self-denial leads to legalism and bondage and has no power over the flesh’s indulgence (Colossians 2:23). They find fulfillment in their self-denial rather than in Jesus being the Lord of their lives. In Luke 9:23, we are told not only to deny ourselves but to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.”


Jesus faced the cross. It was the largest “issue” of His life, and He willingly accepted it. There are issues in our lives that, like the cross of Jesus, allow us to die to ourselves each day. This is not an issue, such as sickness, for which Jesus Christ poured out His precious blood for our restoration (Isaiah 53:4-5, 2 Peter 1:24), but rather things like persecution for our faith and the constant war between our flesh and our new nature in our born-again spirit. The cross we must bear is to take God's Word (His will) and exalt it above our own will in each situation daily. 


In Luke 9:24, we are told to give up our lives for His sake. This is not referring to martyrdom as a requirement of our faith. This verse refers back to us denying ourselves and following Jesus. Many people have desired to follow Jesus but have been unwilling to let go of things standing between them and God. We are not fools to give up the things we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.


Jesus was persecuted and suffered unjustly because of His love for His Father and us. We are to follow the example of Jesus. We should do what is right out of love for God and others (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus obeyed, even to the point of death, and God has exalted Him (Philippians 2:9-11). In the same way, those who are persecuted for honoring God in word and deed will receive a reward (Matthew 5:10-12).


My brother and sister in Christ, Jesus exalted you by humbling Himself to die for you. He gave everything for you. How can you not exalt Him by denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him?



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