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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Scapegoat

scapegoat

The Scapegoat
By J. C. Corcoran
Back in Old Testament times they celebrated what was called the Day of Atonement. Atonement had to be made for all the people once a year. On that day, the priest would take the animals the people brought to him; usually a lamb or a goat, and he would slaughter all but one goat.
The blood from the slaughtered animals would then be poured out over the altar. Then he took the live goat, placed both hands on its head and confessed all the wickedness and sins of the people. Finally he sent the goat into the desert. The “scapegoat” carried their sins away.

Leviticus 16:20-22 tells us:  “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.
All of this was a picture of Jesus Christ, who was called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John the Baptist made that declaration in John 1:29. Then we are told that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. All four Gospels tell us different parts of the story. But, when you put them all together, it looks like this:
I see John rest his hands on Jesus as He goes down into the water; just as the priest placed his hands on the head of the animal on the Day of Atonement. When Jesus came up from the water, Luke 1:12 tells us He headed out into the desert; just like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement.
I believe at this point, Jesus took on the sins of the world; just like the scapegoat. But there is one big important difference. The priest slaughtered those animals and poured their blood out on the altar. The religious leaders of the New Testament had Jesus slaughtered. His flesh was torn apart by that terrible flogging.
The cross they hung Him on became the altar of sacrifice. His arms were outstretched; His hands were nailed to the cross; the blood from his arms and hands reached the corners of the cross. The thorns on His head caused His head to bleed, so the blood touched the top of the cross. His feet were nailed together so His blood covered the foot of the cross.
His entire body was a mass of blood so the entire cross (the altar) was covered; saturated; with the blood of the Lamb. The sacrificial Lamb had taken on all the sins of the world and carried them, Himself as the High Priest, to the altar.
Just before Jesus released His last breath of life, we are told in John 19:30 that Jesus said… “It is finished.”
The writer of the Book of Hebrews says in 9:22… “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
And he says in verse 25 that Jesus did not enter heaven again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
And one final note:
The tabernacle in the Old Testament was furnished with a lampstand, table, and the altar (Exodus 25-40). There was no chair for the priest to sit down and rest. He didn’t have time to sit; he was always busy.
But Jesus, our High Priest, said, “It is finished.” Then God raised Him from the dead and He ascended into heaven where He “sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12)
Jesus said “It is finished.” And all you have to do is “confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). And when Peter was asked, “What must we do?” He answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Salvation is a free gift of God and the bible says “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

I did, many years ago; and I have never regretted it. Neither will you if you haven’t already.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen

If you have a question or a comment on this or any of my posts, you can email me at: Yazzi6234@gmail.com

I promise to answer every one a.s.a.p. – if not sooner.