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Take Up Your Cross

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Take Up your Cross

 

 

As He is, So are we…

April 8, 2007

Pastor Michael Mehring

Full Gospel Church

Take up Your Cross

1 John 4.17

…As He is, so are we in this world!'                series

 

As we come together on this remarkable day it is valuable to look at the idea

            Who is Jesus

                       What do we see as we look at this last week

Matt 16.24

 Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,……."

What does the phrase "take up his cross" mean to us?

                 What do the words -----

                                              -Identification                -pain

                                              -Suffering                       -loss   

                                              -self-denial                     -poverty

                                              -self abasement               -death

                                              -humility

                                              -confession

                                              -weakness

                                             

            What do they mean in relationship to this phrase – take up your cross

                             what is Christ calling us to do?

                 What does “take up your cross” really mean

     

                       Can we explore that for a few moments this morning

                      

                             Since the Cross is central to our faith

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE    -- THE CROSS OF CHRIST

The Christian life is not found on the Cross.

It is found because of the Cross.

                 What do you think of that statement?

It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer.

 Does this diminish the value of the Cross? No!

The shed blood of the spotless Lamb wiped out the power and presence of sin in our lives.

WE HAVE NOTHING WITHOUT THE CROSS!

Yet, the Cross is not the end—

it is the beginning, the entrance to the Christian Life.

Even for Jesus the cross was something to be endured in order to obtain the joy on the other side!'

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And yet ----------------------the great majority of the Christian world is still weeping at the foot of the cross.

The consciousness of mankind remains fixed on the Christ who died,

not on the Christ who lives.

People are looking back to the Redeemer who was,

not the Redeemer who is."

Suppose I had been forgiven a financial debt.

It could be said I have been brought out of the red.

Yet, after my debts are forgiven,

I still am not in the black. 

 I have nothing unless the one who forgave my debt gives me money to call my own, and that's what Christ did for you and me.

His blood wiped out my debt of sin.

But it was His resurrection that brought me into the black.

John 10:10 (NKJV)

… I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Why is this important?

Because it profoundly changes our sense of identity and purpose.

Jesus became poor so that I could become rich.

He suffered with stripes to free me from affliction,

and He became sin so I might become the righteous­ness of God

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

 Why then should I try to become as He was,

when He suffered so I could become as He is?

 

At some point, the reality of the resurrection must come into play in our lives--we must discover the power of the resurrection for all who believe.

Ephesians 1:21 (NKJV)

far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Our identity in This World

While most of the Church is still trying to become as Jesus was,

the Bible declares, `

1 John 4.17

…As He is, so are we in this world!

Jesus WAS the suffering servant,

Jesus WAS headed for the cross.

            Jesus WAS crucified in shame and apparent defeat 

(from satan’s perspective)

But

Jesus IS triumphant

Jesus IS resurrected,

Jesus IS ascended,

Jesus IS glorified.

Acts 2:32-36 (NKJV)

32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God,…    36 "… let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Ephesians 1:19-22 (ESV)

19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all

things to the church,

1 Peter 3:21-22 (ESV)

21 …the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John described Him in this way:

Rev 1.14-15

"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters,"

Look at what these Scriptures say about Christ

            Who is He?

            What position does He now hold?

            What authority and power does he hold?

The "as He is, so are we” declaration  of John -----

is far beyond what any of us could have imagined;

especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1.

Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose.

The Holy Spirit’s Ministry

The Holy Spirit came with the ultimate assignment at the perfect time.

During Jesus' ministry, it was said,

John 7.39

"The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” 

  The Holy Spirit comforts us, gives us gifts,

 reminds us of what Jesus has said, and clothes us with power.

But He does all this to make its like Jesus.

That is His primary mission.

 So why didn't the Father send Him until Jesus was glorified?

Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we mere to become!

As a sculptor looks at a model and fashions the clay into its likeness, so the Holy Spirit looks to the glorified Son and shapes us into His image.

As He is, so are we in this world.

Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain...

Eph 4.13  NCV

13 This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.

COUNTERFEIT CROSS

Matt 16.24

 Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,

and follow Me"

 

follow me WHERE?       To the resurrection life!

 

A misunderstanding of this call has led many to follow His life of self-denial, but to stop short of His life of power.

 

For them the cross-walk involves trying to crucify their sin nature by embracing joyless brokenness as an evidence of the cross.

But, we must follow Him all the way—

to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!

Romans 6:4-11 (ESV)

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Most every religion has a copy of the cross-walk.

            Self-denial, self-abasement,

and the like are all easily copied by the sects of this world.

People admire those who have religious disciplines.

They applaud fasting and respect those who embrace poverty or endure disease for the sake of personal spirituality.

But show them a life filled with joy because of the transforming power of God, and they will not only applaud but will want to be like you.

Religion is unable to mimic the life of resurrection with its victory over sin and hell.

One who embraces cross in this misunderstanding

 is constantly filled with introspection and self-induced suffering.

The cross is not self-applied—

Jesus did not nail Himself to the cross.

Christians who are trapped by this counterfeit are con­stantly talking about their weaknesses.

If the devil finds us uninterested in evil, then he'll try to get us to focus on our unworthiness and inability.

This is espe­cially noticeable in prayer meetings where people try to project great broken­ness before God, hoping to earn revival.

They will often re-confess old sins searching for real humility.

 

It is so easy to become preoccupied with ME!

It is easy to think that being constantly aware of my faults and weakness is humil­ity.

It's not!

If I'm the main subject, talking incessantly about my weaknesses,

I have entered into the most subtle form of pride.

Repeated phrases such as, "I'm so unworthy,"

become a nauseating replacement

for the declarations of the worthiness of God.

By being sold on my own unrighteousness,

 the enemy has disengaged me from effective service.

It's a perversion of true holiness when introspection causes my spiritual self-esteem to increase, but my effectiveness in demonstrating the power of the gospel to decrease.

True brokenness causes complete dependency on God,

moving us to radi­cal obedience

 that releases the power of the gospel to the world around us.

IMPURE MOTIVES

I struggled for many years with self-evaluation. The main problem was that I never found anything good in me. It always led to discouragement, which led to doubt, and eventually took me to unbelief.

Somehow I had developed the notion that this was how I could become holy—by showing tremendous con­cern for my own motives.

It may sound strange, but I don't examine my motives anymore. That's not my job. I work hard to obey God in everything that I am and do. If I am out to lunch on a matter, it is His job to point that out to me.

I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot convict and deliver myself of sin.

Does that mean that I never deal with impure motives?

No.    

He has shown Himself to be very eager to point out my constant need for repentance and change.

But He's the one with the spotlight, and He alone can give the grace to change.

There is a major difference between the believer who is being dealt with by God, and the one who has become introspective.

 When God searches the heart, He finds things in us that He wants co change.

He brings conviction because of His commitment to deliver us.

 Such a revelation brought me to pray in the following manner:

Father, you know that I don't do so well when I look inward, so I'm going to stop. I am relying on You to point out to me the things that I need to see. I prom­ise to stay in Your Word. Thu said that your Word was a sword-so please use it to cut me deeply. Expose those things in me that are not pleasing to You. But in doing so, please give me the grace to, forsake them. I also promise to come before You daily. Your presence is like a fire. Please burn from me those things that are unpleasing to You. Melt my heart until it becomes like the heart of Jesus. Be mer­ciful to me in these things. I also promise to stay in fellowship with Your people. You said that iron sharpens iron. I expect You to anoint the" wounds of a friend" to bring me to my senses when I'm being resistant toward Thu. Please use these tools to shape my life until Jesus alone is seen in me. I believe that Thu have given me Your heart and mind. By Your grace I am a new creation. I want that reality to be seen that the name of Jesus would be Held in highest honor.

COUNTERING THE COUNTERFEIT

I believe that for the most part this counterfeit cross—

walk is embraced because it requires no faith.

It's easy to see my weakness,

my propensity toward sin,

and my inability to be like Jesus.

Confessing this truth requires no faith at all.

On the contrary, to do as Paul commanded in Romans 6:13, to consider myself dead to sin, I must believe God!

Therefore, in your weakest state declare, "I AM STRONG!"

Agree with God regardless of how you feel and discover the power of resurrection.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

The first place that faith must be exercised is in our own standing with God.

When God gave Moses a noble task, he responded "Who am I?"

            God changed the subject saying, "Certainly I will be with you."

 When we are focused on our lack, the Father tries to change the subject to something that will lead us to the source and foundation of faith: Himself The noble call always reveals the nobility of the Caller.

Apart from Christ, we are unworthy. And it's true that without Him we are nothing.

But I'm not without Him, and I never will be again! At what point do we start thinking of our worth through His eyes?

If its true that the value of something is measured by what someone else will pay, then we need to rethink our worth.

Do we ever acknowledge who we are before Him?

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not encouraging arrogance or cockiness. But would­n't it honor Him more if we believed that He actually did a good enough job in saving us, and that we really are saved?

Jesus paid the ultimate price to make it possible for us to have a change in our identity.

Isn't it time we believe it and receive the benefits?

If we don't, we'll break down in our confidence as we stand before the world in these final days.

The boldness we need is not self-confidence,

but the confidence that the Father has in the work of His Son in us.

 It's no longer a question of heaven or hell.

It's only a question of how much of hell's thinking I will allow into this heavenly mind of mine.

Doesn't it honor Him more when His children no longer see themselves only as sinners saved by trace, but now as heirs of God?

Isn't it a greater form of humility to believe Him when He says we are precious in His sight when we don't feel very precious?

Doesn't it honor Him more when we think of our-selves as free from sin because He said we are?

At some point we must rise up to the high call of God and stop saving things about ourselves that are no longer true.

If were going to fully come in to what God has for us in this last days' revival, we will have to come to grips with the issue of being more than sinners saved by grace

Maturity comes from faith in the sufficiency of God's redemptive work that establishes us as sons and daughters of the Most High.

BECOMING LIKE HIM

1 John 4.17

…As He is, so are we in this world!

The revelation of Jesus in His glorified state has at least four overwhelming characteristics that directly affect the transformation of the Church;

These must be embraced as a part of God's plan in these final hours.

Glory

This is the manifested presence of Jesus. Revival history is tilled with stories of His manifest presence resting upon His people.

He lives in all believers, but the glory of His presence comes to rest on only a few. It is sometimes seen and frequently felt.

He is returning for a glorious Church. It is not an option.

Tongues of fire were seen on the heads of the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

At the Azuza Street revival fire was seen blazing from the top of church buildings when the people of God are gathered together in His name.

The fire department was called to extinguish a blaze, only to discover that the people inside were worshiping Jesus.

Water couldn't put it out as it was not a natural fire.

All the powers of hell cannot put it out.

The only ones capable of such a thing are those to whom that fire has been entrusted.

Well meaning believers will often use control as a means to bring this fire into order, thinking they are serving God.

On the other hand, some will turn to hype to fan an emotional flame when the fire is no longer there. Both are expressions of the carnal man—and when the carnal man is in charge, the glory of God must lift.

If the Father filled the Old Testament houses with His glory, though they were built by human hands, how much more will He fill the place that He builds with His own hands!

He is building us into His eternal dwelling place.

Power

To be as He is involves

being a continuous expression of power.

Luke 24:49 (NASB)

"And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:8 (NASB)

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

The baptism in the Holy Spirit clothes us with this heavenly power as clothing is on the outside of the body,

so that His power is to be the most visible part of the believing Church.

It is the power of salvation--for the body, soul, and spirit.

Many in the world around us seek for help from the psychic and cultist before coming to the Church.

They also reach for medical help, legitimate and otherwise, before they ask for our prayers.

Why?

For the most part we are not clothed with heaven's power.

If we had it, they would see it.

 If they saw it, they would come.

The power vacuum in the Church allows cults and false prophetic gifts to flourish.

But there will be no contest when such counterfeits go up against those who are clothed in the power of the Holy Spirit and allow this power to be displayed through them.

Triumph

Jesus conquered all things: the power of hell, the grave, sin, and the devil.

He was raised from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and was glorified above all.

Every name and power has been placed under His feet.

He calls us His body—and this body has feet.

Figuratively speaking,

He is saying the lowest part of His body has authority over the highest part of everything else.

This victory doesn't mean we live without bat­tles;

 it simply means our victory is secured.

The attitude of those who live from the triumph of Christ is different than those who live under the influence of their past.

The only part of the past that we have legal access to is the testimony of the Lord.    

Psalm 119.111

I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.

      The rest is dead, buried, forgotten, and covered under the blood.

The past should have no negative effect on the way we live,    as the blood of Jesus is more than sufficient.     

Living from the victory of Christ is the privilege for every believer.

This realization is at the foundation of a Church that will triumph even as He has triumphed.

Holiness

    Jesus is perfectly holy—

separate from all that is evil,

separate unto all that is good.

 Holiness is the language through which

the nature of God is revealed.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all      

your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

The psalmist penned the phrase, "in the beauty of holiness" holiness in the Church reveals the beauty of God.

Our understanding of holiness, even in certain seasons of revival,

has often peen centered around our behavior—

what we can and cannot do.

                       A list of do’s and don’ts

But instead we need to see holiness as descriptive of the very nature of God.

                                                          …for I am holy…

      This purity of being  -- this freedom from all evil

                 Is beautiful                     It is glorious to behold

Exodus 15:11 (NKJV)

"Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Whereas power demonstrates the heart of God,

holiness reveals the beauty of His nature.

This is the hour of the great unveiling of the beauty of holiness.

CONCLUSION

Zacharias

was given a promise from God that was beyond his comprehen­sion:

he was to have a son in his old age.

It was hard to believe, so he asked God to give him confirmation.

Apparently an angel speaking to him wasn't a big enough sign!

God silenced him for nine months.

When God silences the voic­es of unbelief, it is usually because their words could affect the outcome of a promise.

 When Zacharais saw God's promise fulfilled and he chose to name his son according to the command, against the wishes of his relatives, God loosed his tongue.

Obedience against popular opinion will often reintroduce someone to personal faith. And that's a faith that goes against understanding.

Mary

was also given a promise beyond comprehension:

she was to give birth to the Son of God.

When she couldn't understand,

she asked how it was possible since she was a virgin.

Understanding a promise from God has never been the prerequisite to its fulfillment.  

Ignorance asks for understanding;

unbelief asks for proof.

She stands apart from Zacharias because while being ignorant she surrendered to the promise.

Her cry remains one of the most important expressions the Church can learn in this day   

Be it unto me accord­ing to your word."

As He is so are we in this world. And so we have the choice:

to stand in the shoes of Zacharias and lose our voice,

or walk in the ways of Mary and invite God to restore to us the promises we cannot control.

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