Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Morning Cup of Tea: "Take Up the Cross and Follow Me"

 Good morning! It is a beautiful, if chilly first day of the week here. I think fall is settling in quite nicely. It's time for warm apple cider, hot cocoa, and  hearty breakfasts to see you through the day.  I've come to think of bible study as breakfast for the soul. It sets the day right. In the same light, I must confess I have tried to make evening bible study a habit is well, but I haven't been so successful at keeping it. I tend to let other things get in the way. Our study today is on a man who let things get in the way of following Jesus. The scripture is Mark 10: 17-31.
  A young man came running to Jesus and kneeled before him, asking Good Master, what shall I do to have eternal life?
  Jesus said, Why do you call me good? There is none good but God. And he went on to list the commandments, do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not steal; do not bear false witness; defraud not; honor father and mother.
  The man replied that he had done those things all his life. Jesus told him one more thing: Sell what you have and give to the poor. You'll have riches in heaven if you do this. Come and take up your cross and follow me. 
  The man went away sorrowful because he had many riches. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into heaven. Notice he didn't say that NO rich person would enter heaven, just that it is harder for them.
  If you look at our lives here in America versus those in some other countries, very few of us can say that we are not rich in comparison. Most of us have at least one car, at least one television, at least one computer, much food in the house. And there are those of us who have our collections: Elvis memorabilia, rubber stamps and scrap booking supplies (guilty on that one), ornaments, gold, silver, etc. 
  Must we live austere lives in order to please God? I don't think we have to be that severe about it unless convicted to do so. Having things that give us pleasure in life is not bad unless we place a higher value on our possessions than we do people. What good is it to have a fragile tea pot if you cannot enjoy a visit from a child? What good is it to have gold stored in your safe if you have a neighbor who has no food in the house? If we hold tightly to our things so that we cannot help others, then the things are what we worship, not God. 
  Also, sometimes we may be called to leave family and friends in order to take up our cross. Missionaries do this because their love of God and their fellow man is greater. They take very seriously the command to go out into the world and teach all nations, sometimes at very great risk to their lives.
  Others who become Christians have been forced to leave their homes because their lives could be in danger if they stayed. But those who leave family and friends for Jesus' sake are not left alone in the world. In verse 29 Jesus promises: Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or bretheren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
 30. But he shallreceive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
 While things are nice, and having our family and friends around in familiar surroundings are great, if we let them go into God's hand, there is something greater for us.

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