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Take Up Your Cross!


Good Morning Beloved,

I'm so thankful for all of you joining us today.

Heavenly Father,

We sense your power in the natural things
thunderous crash, lightning flash and the roaring of the ocean waves, we give You praise 

We also see Your hand in our present circumstances
causing even more to realize their dependence on You 
Lord, we acknowledge You are in control

We pray that Your Holy Spirit would prompt a right response,
from each of us. I pray that You would work in the hearts of those who hear this message to make a right judgments, toward others

Call us to a greater mission than ourselves, to take up our cross and follow You. 

In Your name we pray
Amen  

"And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:23-27

Today's Message: Take Up Your Cross!

Let's start with the cross itself, the cross is a universal symbol of suffering and hardship.
Instated by the Romans it was the cruelest form of capital punishment known to man.
The Romans were cruel and unrelenting, In Nebuchadnezzars’ vision the Roman government was represented by Legs of Iron.
Have you ever used the phrase an “Iron Will”.
There are those who are called upon to take up and bear a cross that is unique to them.

Verse 23, it is at the very heart of the teaching of Jesus. It is at the very heart of the gospel.
I want to also address verse 26, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels,"

I want to speak for a moment on the term “ashamed.” When we speak of the worst kind of human character, or the worst kind of human conduct, we often say that someone is shameless, that they behave as one who knows no shame. And in our culture today, there certainly are many people who have no shame when it comes to their own conduct or their own behavior. Especially in the vocabulary toward others. Nowadays, people whatever comes to mind, feeling they have a "right" with no regard to the feelings of others, and I must say, it's a shame! There are shameless people who are very evil, very immoral, living the most wicked kind of lives, apparently having no conscience, feeling absolutely no guilt and no remorse, no matter how many of God’s laws they break or how frequently they break them or how many they hurt in the process. These are truly shameless people.

We are all sinners, whether we are religious or irreligious, whether we are moral or immoral, we all have plenty to be ashamed of, and I do mean plenty. Whether it’s the hypocritical sin of self righteousness, or whether it’s the sin of open immorality, ignoring the needs of someone we could have helped, or anything in between!

I can recall my parents telling me as a young boy, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself," when I had done something they didn't approve of. And quite frankly, I’m glad I was raised by parents who said to me quite often, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself."  

It served me much better than having parents say to me, "It's not your fault," "You should be proud of yourself, or feel good about yourself," for having done something that was inappropriate. We see a lot of that today... people have little or no shame. I personally believe, that we as parents,  should be teaching our children to be ashamed of themselves for doing wrong, not just before people, but more importantly, before God. It will serve them well in asking others for forgiveness when they've hurt them and lead them to repentance before God.

Because the crosses we all must bear, we take on many forms.
For some their cross is cruel memories from their childhood.
Or it is a divorce or a parent's divorce.
Maybe it is being forced to be a single parent, because a spouse has left or passed away.
For others, maybe it's spousal or child abuse causing feelings of being unwanted or unloved.
Maybe it is a physical or mental disability.
Maybe it caring for elderly parents or sibling.
For others, it's the difficulty of providing food and basic needs for our families.

Regardless of the description of our cross we are commanded by Jesus to take it up daily and follow Him. We all have our cross to bear. And I'm sure, we can all name those who possibly have carried a cross that appears to be heavier than our own.
 
"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"
Luke 14:27-28

Beloved, there are many who have struggles. You have to want to overcome them!
I know I have spoken of her before, but one of my personal inspirations is Joni Eareckson Tada.
Allow me to give you some background on her story..

An athletic teenager, Joni broke her neck in a diving accident when she was 17. Her spinal chord was severed, and she became paralyzed from the shoulders down. During the next two years, through rehabilitation, she spent long months learning how to paint with a brush between her teeth. Her high detail fine art paintings and prints are sought after and collected. Her first name, Joni, is well known throughout the world, due to her best-selling books, beginning with her autobiography, entitled Joni.

World Wide Pictures' full-length feature film, JONI, in which Joni recreated her own life story, it has been translated into 15 languages and has been shown in many countries throughout the world. Her 
role as a disability advocate led to a presidential appointment to the National Council on Disability for three and a half years, during the time which the Americans with Disabilities Act became law.

In 1979, she founded Joni and Friends which has grown into four flagship programs that affect the lives of thousands of disabled people and their families. Serving special needs families through Family Retreats across the nation.

Through Wheels for the World, a countless number of wheelchairs have been collected nationwide, refurbished by inmates in correctional facilities, and shipped to developing nations where physical therapists fit each chair to a needy disabled child or adult. Joni and Friends, has a daily five minute radio program, is heard over numerous broadcast outlets and has received the "Radio Program of the Year" award from National Religious Broadcasters.

Through ten Area Ministries offices, Joni and Friends teams provide church training and education to promote inclusion of people with disabilities. Joni is a highly sought-after conference speaker both in the U.S. as well as internationally and has also served as a columnist for Moody Magazine, the United Kingdom's Christian Herald, and several European Christian magazines.

She has on several boards, including the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization as Senior Associate on Disability Concerns and the Board of Reference for the Christian Medical and Dental Society. She also serves in an advisory capacity to the American Leprosy Mission, the National Institute on Learning Disabilities, Love and Action, and Christian Blind Mission International.

Joni has also received The American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award; The Courage Award from the Courage Rehabilitation Center; The Award of Excellence from the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center; The Victory Award from the National Rehabilitation Hospital; The Golden Word Award from the International Bible Society. And in 1993, was named "Churchwoman of the Year" by the Religious Heritage Foundation and was the first woman to be honored by the National Association of Evangelicals as their "Layperson of the Year." And the Honorary Co-Chair of the Presidential Prayer Team.

She has also received many honorary degrees. Joni and her husband Ken have been married since 1982. Ken retired from 32 years of teaching and came on board with Joni and Friends to serve as Director of Ministry Development. He is also a member of the Board of Directors and recently received Family Life Ministries Robert McQuilken Award honoring "The Courageous Love of a Marriage Covenant Keeper."

Joni is a remarkable woman! And serves as an inspiration to not only myself, but to countless thousands of others! In spite of her disabilities, she accomplished many more amazing and remarkable things, many of us will likely never achieve. And all without the use of her arms or legs! In 2010, this popular evangelical author and speaker was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yet she continues to inspire others, through her strength, courage and perseverance and various programs, serving the needs of others.

I have often found myself saying, "If Joni, with everything she has been through, if she can do it, then I can certainly do what I need to do to get through this!" She has been such a inspiration and powerful influence in my life.

Sometimes the only way out of something, is to go right through the middle of it! There are days when, if we are not very careful, we begin to look for an easier way out of what we're going through.
But bear in mind, ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

"So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between."
John 19:16-18 

Nevertheless, not my will but... His.
 
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."


There are a host of programs available for those whose cross is heavy, there are numerous Alcohol, Drug, Divorce recovery work shops.


There are times we need our brother and sister to help carry our cross. I am grateful that God has allowed me to be able to help my parents and sibling and family. I could not do it, without God blessing me in ways I never imagined, through people I've either just met, or in many cases, ones I have never met personally. I am also thankful and grateful for each one of them.

"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
Galatians 6:1-3 

As Christians, we are called to bear the burdens of others, helping when we are able. Not just when it's convenient for us to do so.

Jesus Christ, Himself is our example. 

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3

Beloved, sometimes we can get so wrapped up in throwing ourselves a pity party that we lose our grip on the cross we are supposed to be carrying..
We all need to be asking ourselves, "How will I choose to play the hand I've been dealt."

In Closing.....

Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the rest of the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone, there’s a cross for you and for me!


I can tell you, there are days when splinters from the rough wood of the cross I bear begins to dig deeply into my flesh and causes tears to come to my eyes. But guess what?
There is soon a day coming when Jesus is going to wipe all tears from all of our eyes!!!
So, I keep pressing onward and upward. I'm certainly not sitting around feeling sorry for myself, and you shouldn't either. 

Are you reaching out to others in the current health crisis? Helping a parent or sibling? A neighbor? A brother or sister in Christ? Protecting the elderly from having to go out to the store? The chronically ill? Those with a suppressed immune system? 

We all must do all that we can to get through this and "Take up our cross!"
We are all called to be Christ-like. 
There are those who after carrying their cross for years must succumb and lay down their physical life on that very cross.
What Satan meant for evil. God meant for Good.

The Cross we have been asked to carry is not meant to punish us but rather to allow us to conform to the glorious image of our Savior Jesus Christ.
We are change from glory to glory into His precious image.

Jesus made a clear choice to carry your Cross... to bear your burdens.
Won't you take up your cross and follow Him?

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.


Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Amen

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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries

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