Take up Your Cross

by Jack C Corcoran

Luke 9:23… “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior of the world; His entire ministry was leading Him to the cross. He was totally committed to that end in obedience to God the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3;16

And Jesus says we must “pick up our cross and follow Him.” What did He mean when He said to take up our cross? Are we all supposed to be crucified? I think it is a figure of speech; a metaphor. I believe Jesus is telling us to follow Him even unto death. In other words; to die to self (deny yourself); give up your sinful life and live a godly life.

2 Tim 3.12 says… “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” and 1 Pet 2.21 says… “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Mt 10.22 says… “You will be hated by everyone because of me,  and Philippians. 1.29 tells us “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”

God’s word in Philippians 4:7 promises us peace “the peace that transcends all understanding” but how can we find peace in suffering? How can we rejoice in our pain? Can we really do that?

Allow me to tell you a short story that is actually the reason for me writing this today.

Today is Monday, March 21, 2016. This past Saturday, March 19, 2016 marked about three days of loneliness and despair. By the time I awoke on Saturday morning I was miserable; I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I thought that if I moved at all, my heart was going to break. I was really down in the dumps. All day long I did nothing but stomp around this little apartment I call home. I had broken my toe on Tuesday and couldn’t get my shoe on so I couldn’t just up and leave.

And then at exactly 7 pm I received a text message from a dear brother in the Lord. I live in Indiana  and he and his wife now live in Florida. I was so glad he had texted instead of calling like he usually does. I did not wish for him to see me in this mood. I suppose God knew that also.

For several minutes we talked about weather, and I caught him up on another mutual friend of ours. As we continued to talk, I continued to feel miserable and was thankful that he couldn’t see me. When suddenly a Scripture popped into my mind. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” (Mt. 18:20)

And suddenly, I blurted out, “Please pray for me, Bob. I really need it.” And , without hesitation, he said; “I sure will, what’s the matter?”

And I dumped on him. “I don’t know why God is letting all this happen. In the past two years I’ve had a stroke, I’ve had cancer, and now I’m getting a divorce from my unfaithful wife. I signed the papers a week ago.”

And, without a beat, my friend, Bob, reminded me of something I had told him a few years ago when we worked together here in Greensburg. He said; “You’ve always told me that God has a purpose for us and He will make it happen on His time. Keep the faith brother and I will be praying for you.”

By now I was tearing up and feeling really stupid for the way I was behaving and then he added; “I will put you down on our prayer list tomorrow at our bible study group.”

I just barely typed my response; ty. And I hung up and bawled like a baby.

And when I knelt beside my bed that evening, I could barely pray. I was so mentally exhausted, I couldn’t think so I just thanked God for such a good friend and climbed into bed.

I got up Sunday and went through the day with a little more enthusiasm. I even practiced on my guitar and managed a few gospel songs. But today, O praise the Lord for today. I believe my brother in Florida kept his promise yesterday and I believe Jesus fulfilled His promise. I woke up today praising God so I’m sure they must have been praying for me yesterday and Jesus showed up.

I usually have a 15-20 minute bible reading as soon as I get up in the morning, no matter what. Yes, even through those days of misery and despair. But today, I started reading at about 8 am and I finally stopped around 4 pm to write this. I am full of joy and praise because I know that my suffering will eventually bring joy and peace. I suppose that deep down in my heart I knew it all along but I let the enemy in somewhere along the line and he was playing havoc with my emotions.

Yes, my friends, we can find peace and joy in our suffering but we can’t do it alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Jesus says we must join with others if we want His attention. I haven’t contacted my friend in Florida yet but as soon as I finish here, I will send it to him so he can be blessed.

Yes, the answer is yes; we can find joy and peace in our suffering. And I will leave you with these words from Paul in Galatians 2:20…  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Hallelujah Lord God, thank you Jesus, the Prince of peace. God bless you all and peace to you all through Christ Jesus.

Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

House of Bread

by Jack C. Corcoran

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, came into this world as a baby in the small town of Bethlehem.  The prophet, Micah, said in Micah 5:2… “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…”

And that prophecy was fulfilled several hundred years later in a little stable in the small town of Bethlehem.

The Hebrew word for Bethlehem is Beyth Lechem which means house of bread. I discovered this while I was reading from “The Gospel of Matthew (1)” by Paul C. Jong’s “Spiritual Growth Series 1. And it struck me how often the bible refers to Jesus as the “bread of Life.” And here I’m learning that He was born in a town called the House of Bread.

In fact, Jesus mentions, himself, no less than five times in John 6:33-51 that He is the “bread of Life that came down from heaven.”

Jesus is also referred to as the Word. John says in his first chapter “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God………….and the Word became flesh…” So the Word (Jesus) is the Bread of Life.

Could there then be a double meaning when Jesus says in the passage where He is teaching them to pray;  in Matthew 6: 11 He says “Give us today our daily bread.” I mean, I’ve always just assumed He was talking about food for our stomachs but now, I’m thinking He may have also been talking about food for our souls; give us a daily dose of Your Word.

We all know that we need to read God’s word daily. Don’t we? I have cited many times in these posts from Acts 17:11, where it says, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

We. too, should examine the Scriptures every day for our daily helping of Spiritual bread. I remember writing another article back in October of 2015, where I said,

“Can you ever get enough bread? No, I don’t think you can. David said “I hide your word in my heart so I will not sin against You.” We need God’s word, we need the bread of life. Jesus said in John 15:5, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” If you don’t stay in the word, you’re as good as dead. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a dead christian.”

Jesus is the bread of life and Jesus is the Word. Spiritual Bread, therefore, is food for the soul. Jesus, the bread of life came into the world by way of the House of Bread. In Exodus, chapter 16, we read in verses 15 and 31 that God sent bread from heaven to the people of Israel.

. When they asked “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”

God sent bread to them from heaven way back thousands of years ago, and He sent Jesus to us as bread from Heaven. We still continue to feed on manna. In John 6:58, Jesus says, “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread (meaning himself), will live forever.”   the words in parentheses are mine.

How do we feed on Jesus? Jesus is the Word of God. The bible is the word of God. When we read the bible, we are being fed bread from heaven. We cannot exist without eating food every day; likewise we cannot grow as christians without feeding on spiritual food every day.

Prayer; Dear God, please instill in us the importance of studying Your Word on a daily basis so that we can grow closer to you and be good ambassadors for Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20).

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIVAL!

revival 1

revival now

by Jack C. Corcoran

Back in the year of 1990, I was a student at the seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. On this one particular day, we were seated in the classroom for “History of Christianity”; there were about 30 of us – men and women.

Our study on this day was in the Book of Nehemiah. The professor was going on and on about the statistics, i.e. when it was written; who wrote it; that sort of stuff. He was boring me so I went ahead and started reading.

I was especially intrigued with chapters 8 and 9. As I read the words in these two chapters, the Spirit of God came over me and I began to weep and grow very warm. I was especially captured by certain verses; 8:5,6,15; and 9:2, 3.

You should find time to read them yourselves but in verse 8:5 it starts out with…

“Ezra opened the book…and as he opened it, the people all stood. In verse 8:15, they are told that “they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns…”

And by the time we get to chapter 9:2 – 3, we see what is happening. “They stood in their places and confessed their sins….they stood where they were and read from the book of the Law of the Lord their God.”

And I’m squirming in my seat and thinking, this is revival! This is what a revival is!

I’m not sure how much time had passed; probably not more than a few minutes. But I was suddenly brought back to the present when I heard the professor shouting; “Mr. Corcoran, are you ok?”

As I began explaining what I was reading, I began to weep again and suddenly, some guy from behind stood up and began to confess sin. You could hear a pin drop and then sobbing, and then another stood up and confessed and then another. And then, suddenly, the dismissal bell sounded and the professor broke in and dismissed us. The spell, or whatever you wish to call it, had been broken and everyone quietly filed out and went on their way.

I believe to this day that if I had been more alert to the Spirit’s leading, we would have seen revival right there in the seminary. But like everyone else, I went casually on my way and it was soon forgotten. But not totally forgotten because I have been reminded of it several times since.

Last night for instance, as I was praying, I was reminded again. Twenty-six years have passed since that day in the classroom and I am being reminded again. I don’t think this is accidental or coincidental; I’m sure you all might agree that we are sorely in need of revival, not only in the USA but around the globe.

So, here is what the Lord laid on my heart last night as I was drifting off to sleep. I am urging each and every one who reads this to join me in prayer for revival. I don’t mean just one time; I mean it this way;

Each night before you crawl into bed, I would urge yo to do as I am doing (actually, I started last night). If you recall, God made a promise to His people in 2 Chronicles 7:14. He said:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Many people have been posting this quote from Scripture for several years but, it doesn’t end there. The promise is enforced in 12:7 when the word of the Lord comes to Shemaiah. The Lord says… “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance.”

We humble ourselves whenever we fall to our knees before the Lord. So, this must be the posture we take as we pray for deliverance and revival. And remember; “The Lord is slow to anger; abounding in love and forgiveness.” these very words are repeated over and over throughout Scripture. Read some of them as you find time.

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We can have revival, and we must or we will nor survive. The enemy is at the door and only God can stop him. You can see, if you’re nor blind, that our politicians aren’t doing their job. In fact, they are going against God. I’m a retired police officer and it sickens me to see what’s going on in our country with all these officers being murdered.

The only thing that can stop it is revival and the only way to bring revival is us.

The way to revival starts with ME! Say that to yourself each night as you fall to your knees; start tonight and every night from now on until the Lord answers. I do not believe that it would be improper to ask the Lord to keep His promise from 2 Chronicles. this is the way I intend to close out each and every day from now on until the Lord answers.

Will you please join me?