Taking Up Your Cross

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been promised that the Spirit of Christ dwells within each one of us. By our day-to-day choices, we can either squelch the Spirit of God, or allow Him to grow in us even more. This is a basic truth, especially when we’re confronted with a decision on whether or not to share our faith.

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

What does it mean to take up your cross? Several years ago, I felt the Lord explain it to me this way: Every time my will crosses what God has told me to do, and I choose God’s way instead of mine, that is Jesus at work in me. That is taking up my cross.

The instant you choose, day-by-day, God’s revealed will over your own egotistical will, something dies and then something comes alive. What dies are your selfish, wrong ways. What comes alive is Christ’s Spirit in you. And He produces fabulous results in you and through you. You are cooperating with God Almighty! Is that living or what!?!?

Do you really want to please the Lord and be fruitful? Then taking up your cross is the way to do it. So the next time you’re wondering whether or not to share your faith and you hear God’s voice telling you to go for it, remember that choosing God’s will, over your own, is always the best way to live!

Mud Walls, Dirt Floors, and Jesus

Bert and Colleen Elliot have had a wonderful life. They went to Peru when they were young and newly married. They lived in the jungle and life there was very, very simple. At first they lived in part of the living room of the senior missionaries. It was just a dirt floor and big, thick mud walls in a thatched roof house. No running water, no electricity, nothing really in the town. But it was good.

Then they bought their first house-for $40-and it was just basically a thatched roof. But they were excited because it was their very first home. They built rammed earth walls underneath the thatched roof and had just a dirt floor. Bert and Colleen learned that you can be very happy with next to nothing. They said, “We didn’t need a lot to make us happy.”

It’s an incredible testimony when we are content with what God has given us. The apostle Paul gives us an example in Philippians chapter 4. He says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Living like that is a great way to testify that life with Jesus is what makes us truly rich!

A Valuable Lesson

Bert and his wife, Colleen, have been missionaries in Peru for 56 years! They have had their own method of planting churches. They would go to a village in the mountains or on the coast, maybe along the river. They preached the Good News there for three or four nights and then went on to the next village.

Bert told me, “I think we learned one very valuable lesson: that our absence from those churches was as important as our presence.” They would come back in three months and the village would be up in arms about some theological issue. So they would find out what the problem was and give them the teaching they needed for that.

They didn’t stop anywhere for more than a month. They sowed the seeds and it worked. They might not have done things “by the book,” but God has worked tremendously through their efforts in Peru.

Sometimes our absence can make people realize God’s presence in us, and their need for Him. Jesus says in John chapter 12, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” Keep on shining the light of Christ even today. He will change people through you, in your presence and in your absence!

Passing On the Blessing

The Elliots are friends of mine who are missionaries in Peru. For the last 16 years they’ve been down on the coast in the city of Trujillo, about a half a million people. Bert and Colleen planted a church there. They’re trying to reach the upper-middle class people in Peru. They told me, “It’s an exciting thing to see God work through the simple teaching of the Word of God. It’s blessed us.”

You can tell when you meet this great, godly couple that they are full of the Spirit of God. It’s running over to other people through them–the grace of God, the truth of God–through lives that are consecrated.

John chapter 1 says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” We’ve got to pass on those blessings!

Bert says it like this: “Every one of us can drink of God’s fullness. Think of the universe. It’s full of stars. Think of the ocean. It’s full of life. Think of the land. It’s full of life. Think of the church. It needs to be full of Jesus. Think of your life as I think of mine. Let’s drink deeply of the Lord Jesus Christ until it spills over and blesses the people all around us.” Thanks Bert, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Simply Powerful

Bert and Colleen Elliot have spent over 50 years sharing the Good News in Peru. Half of their time was in the jungle and the other half they spent in the mountains. They lived their life traveling. Many times they wondered why the Lord didn’t give them children. They wanted a family. But God knew that they needed to be mobile.

So they spent their time traveling from the jungle to the mountains and then down to the coast-three different zones in Peru. Each one a separate way of life. Everywhere they went the same thing happened, though. They followed contacts and preached the simple Word of God with all the boldness they had.

Bert told me, “I never had a complicated mind. I always muck up on sermons. I just ramble on.” But the Word of God is powerful. The book of Hebrews says, “For the Word of God is living and active.” It gets down to men’s thoughts and the intentions of their heart and it changes us from the inside out. Bert and Colleen preached the Word of God in these different places. And the Spirit of God used it.

You don’t have to have all the right words to win people to Christ. But you do need willingness to follow God’s lead. Be obedient and watch the Spirit of God do mighty things!