Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill my spirit, and the spirit of all the people of your universal church, with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned, and the way to life stands open in our Savior Jesus Christ.
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Your great goodness: according to the multitude of Your mercies do away my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin, for I acknowledge my faults, and my sin is ever before me. By the merits of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray,
My Savior, do you invite me to share in the glory of the resurrection? Stay with me as I struggle to see how accepting the crosses of my life will free me from the power of the one who wants only to destroy my love and trust in you. Help me to be humble and accepting like your son, Jesus. I want to turn to you with the same trust he had in your love. Save me, Lord. Only you can save me.
O God, lover of Your people, help me this day to live entirely to Your glory. Let me be deaf to unmerited criticism and the praise of men. Nothing can hurt my new-born inner self, it cannot be smitten or die; nothing can mar the dominion of Your Spirit within me; it is enough to have Your approval and that of my conscience.
Keep me humble, dependent, supremely joyful, as calm and quiet as a dependent child, yet earnest and active. I wish not so much to do as to be, and I long to be like Jesus; if You make me right, I shall be right; Lord, I belong to You, make me worthy of Yourself.
And now let me go forth praising you, O Lord, with all my heart, telling of all your wonders, with my words and in my actions. I will be glad and rejoice in you this day. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
nd he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
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And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?”
We have talked in the past about parts of the Bible that people don't want to hear. We sometimes simply do not absorb what we read or hear; or we develop a carefully-constructed reason why a passage means something other than its clear, unambiguous meaning. People read the Bible with a black magic marker in hand, mentally marking out the parts they don't like.
Different people have different parts they want to ignore or eliminate: Gay people want to change the parts about the sinfulness of homosexuality; people invested in some political party or cause want to ignore the admonitions against politics and worldliness; young single men and women, the warnings against fornication; Christian leaders, the blandishments against pride. The list is long.
But today, we have a teaching that almost everybody ignores. It bounces off our minds like rain off rubber. With apologies for sounding cynical, if there is one thing that unifies Christianity, it is the universal determination to not absorb the full meaning of “let him deny himself and take up his cross.”
When Christ tells us to take up our cross, He means that we be willing to die. He means that we be willing to give up our home, our family, our opinions, and the resources of the physical world beyond the minimum necessary to sustain life. “To be perfect,” He tells the rich young man, “sell what you have and give to the poor, . . . and come, follow Me.”
Everyone agrees that the Christian aims to emulate Christ. What, then, is our target lifestyle? We get solid direction in His instructions to the disciples. Note that this does not include only the twelve apostles; His instructions to the 72 (or 70) disciples are practically identical. (Luke 10:1-12)
Jesus himself was homeless: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) He denied his mother and brothers, and claimed as his family those who believe in him. He took no part in politics. He allowed himself to be arrested on false charges without resistance, to be subjected to an illegal trial, torture, and execution.
Is owning a house or renting an apartment a sin? Having a spouse? Owning two sets of clothes? Apparently not, at least not per se. As we read through the entirety of the New Testament, there appears a wide area of lifestyle between sharply prohibited conduct and perfect obedience to Christ. Most churches and Christian teachers seem to seize upon some “minimum possible standard” for salvation. But we cannot just ignore Christ's crystal-clear teachings of what He wants from us, just because we think we can be saved without adhering to them.
Growth in Christ means understanding what He wants for us, admitting it, and then moving towards it. What we must seek is sufficient faith to actually pick up our cross. We might not achieve it; but by no means may we ignore it.