Over the last few weeks, the Lord has been putting on my heart the urge to be bold in my obedience to His call on my life and to be joyful in the sacrifices that such bold obedience may bring me.
At best, I know that these are not happening right now in me. But the Lord has been preparing me to do both at the same time. I have not been joyful in the sacrifices that have come my way, and my obedience has been mediocre at best.
BUT God has used His Word and study to impress upon my heart the need to do both of these—obedience and sacrifice—with joy and boldness. He has reminded me that He made me because He loved me. (1 John 4:7) My purpose in life is to bring Him glory and obey with all my heart. (Isaiah 43:7, Romans 11:36, 1Corinthians 10:31, Romans 13:10)
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus asks me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him if I am to be a true disciple of His. Here is where the Lord has been showing me that it is self-denial to my own will that must die in me, that I must put to death all that is selfish in me. I must say "No" to my own will and "YES" to God’s plans for me. Jeremiah 29:11 assures me that God’s plans are perfect and for my good. His plans are never to harm me. I have learned that self-denial is never without purpose. God asks me, in love, to see the Cross, see the love of the Father as He gave up His only son for me, and see my true value in the Cross. For what else but love would Jesus have died to save me? (John 3:16)
Jesus gave up His will to fulfill God’s plan for His life. He did this with joy as He went to the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) As I contemplated the idea of joyful sacrifice, I am reminded that Jesus has already modeled this for me on the Cross of Calvary. In 2 Corinthians 5:15 I am told that Jesus died for all and may those who believe in Him live in Him and no longer for ourselves.
When we live in Him, we will lose our worldly life and find eternal life in Him. (Matthew 10:39)
So as I move forward in my life today, I know that I must be bold in my obedience to my Lord and that I must sacrifice with joy what He asks me to give up. For as I do this, I am seeking His kingdom in my life, bringing glory to His name, and showing His beauty to others as I put Him first in all things in my life.