RECAP–CARRY YOUR CROSS based on Matthew 16:24-27
The disciples had a plan. They fully believed Jesus was the Messiah. They understood it in the terms that many Jews had–one who would set up the reign of God in the earth, overthrowing all foreign governments and restoring Israel to its rightful place as head of all the nations. They believed Jesus was this Messiah. And by following him now, when he went to Jerusalem to take out Rome, they would be rewarded. Except, Jesus announced that at the end of the journey to Jerusalem was death!
Sometimes, God’s plan doe not align with ours. We have hopes and dreams, ideas of what makes a successful or fulfilling life. My plan in high school was to become a meteorologist! But does our plan align with God’s plan? What does God believe makes a successful life? How do we know we are living the life God wants us to live, and in the center of his plan?
1) Deny yourself. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself…” (Matt 16:24). To deny oneself is to completely surrender to a greater goal or aim. Jesus embodied this: even though he was fully God, he emptied himself, took on human flesh, lived among us, and was faithful to God’s plan even to his death on the cross. He could have called down angels or played his God card; but he remained faithful to the will of the Father because the goal was our salvation and reconciliation.
We as humans struggle with self-control. We live in a me-first, instant gratification society. The world constantly pitches us with messages of what they think we need. But the way of Jesus, the way of discipleship, the way to a fulfilled life starts with self-denial. Can we give up our ambitions? Can we surrender our hopes and dreams into God’s care? Can we deny our control and our desires? At the end of the day, God will give us what we desire most. If we trust in him with everything (Prov 3:5-6), we have the promise that he will direct our path. Can we let it go?
2) Carry your cross. The cross is an emblem of shame. Crosses lined the roads just on the outskirts of the city to send the dual message of public humiliation and forced compliance. But to carry your own cross is to carry your own instrument of shame, facing ridicule and standing alone. Jesus carried his cross, facing the shame, so we can be set free from our humiliation and shame.
When Jesus asks us to carry our cross, it is to be willing to sacrifice and follow, even in the face of public ridicule. Jesus said those who acknowledge him before humanity will be acknowledged by God, and those who deny him before humanity will be denied by God (Matt 10:36). The true test of faith is doing the right thing, no matter the personal cost. It is going against the grain of the world, standing for what is right, living for Jesus–even when everyone else abandons him!
3) Lose to save. “What does it profit to gain the whole world, yet lose your soul?” (Matt 16:26). The ways of Christ are opposed to the ways of the world. The world teaches us things such as: do what it takes to get ahead, survival of the fittest, dog eat dog, live for today, power, prestige, make a name for yourself. You are successful if you have lots of friends, influence, money or possessions, intellect, beauty, or education. Yet when we die, we take none of these things with us. What good is it to gain, but lose our soul?
The more we have, the harder it is to follow, because we have too much to give up. What would our attitude be like if we didn’t have anymore? The things the world values get in the way and clouds our priorities. At the end of the day, do we have Jesus or not?
4) Live for the eternal. God will reward each one according to what they have done. Hell is no laughing matter, and is very much a real place according to Jesus. No one knows the time appointed for them to die. Likewise, no one knows the day or hour for Christ’s return. If our time came due now, would we be ready to meet our Lord? Would we be able to say we lived a life of no regrets? What we do now matters for eternity. Are we living with our eyes heavenward?
Our plans are not God’s plans. But if we deny ourselves, carry our cross and follow, breaking free from the attachments of this world and living for eternity, we will find the true meaning of life. It might not be glamorous in the eyes of the world, but it will be a life we can be proud of and stand behind! And we will have the assurance, knowing we are standing in the center of God’s plan for our lives!
Questions for reflection
1) What area of your life is the hardest to surrender?
2) What things might keep you from carrying your cross?
3) What are you most afraid to lose? Why?
4) If your time was up at this next moment, what would Jesus say about your life?
We celebrate Palm Sunday and continue the season of Lent with the sermon titled, “Deny Yourselves”, based upon Matthew 26:36-54. How did Jesus demonstrate self-denial? And how can we follow in his steps? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for March 23 – 29
March 23: Exodus 3 What was the cross Moses was asked to bear?
March 24: Numbers 21:4-9 What cross did Israel bear?
March 25: Nehemiah 1 What cross did Nehemiah bear?
March 26: Esther 4 What cross did Esther bear?
March 27: Isaiah 6:8-13 What cross did Isaiah bear?
March 28: Matthew 21:12-22 What did Jesus challenge?
March 29: Matthew 21:23-46 What did Jesus challenge?
This Week’s Events:
Sunday, March 28–Bread & Cup Communion
Saturday, April 3–Easter Egg Hunt
Sunday, April 4–Sunrise Service & Easter
Saturday, April 10 – Sunday, April 11–Remote Area Medical Clinic @ Fairgrounds
Saturday, April 24–Virtual Spring Festival for Brethren Woods
Friday, May 21 & Saturday, May 22–Virtual Disaster Auction
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
6) Restoration of the national church
Easter Egg Hunt
Again, due to COVID, we are unable to have an in-person Easter Egg Hunt. However, last year’s around town hunt was so successful, we are going to do it again! If you would like your children or youth to participate, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact the office. For those who participate, we will deliver a bag of easter candy!
If you would like to make an easter egg to find, please also let Pastor Ryan know (email@example.com) or contact the office by Wednesday, March 31 so a final list can be compiled. SO FAR I have only received calls of participation from two families. You can place your egg anywhere on your property–just make sure it can be seen! Please have the egg visible in your yard, door, or window facing road by 9 am!
Thank you to all who have submitted hymns. The top 11 (one bonus hymn!) have been set, and we will begin to reveal them one at a time starting with number 11 beginning on April 11, the week after Easter.
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Outreach for the Remote Area Medical Clinic
There will be at the Fairgrounds on April 10th and 11th a clinic offering both medical and dental services for those in our area without medical insurance or cannot afford to pay for the services. It is a great way to bless our greater community. We can help by donating hot chocolate (either a box of packets or canister), full size wrapped candy bars (not the minis), or individually wrapped snacks (potato chips, crackers, fruit snacks). There will be a box in the narhex where you can place the items. UPDATE: The item most needed left are candy bars! The deadline to drop off items is Easter Sunday (April 4).
Four Ways to Give! With the extended closure, this is greatly necessary.
1) Mail your tithe into the church office **PLEASE NOTE: We have had several days of no mail, and also some reports of mail being stolen on our street.
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate at the main entrance as you enter for church
Continue to Keep in Prayer:
Mary Batterman (health)
John Bennington (health)
Sam Carr (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Shannon Hollen (health)
Shirley Holland (health)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Reba & Garry Kline (health)
Lent family (work)
Ella Makely (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Mary Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Shirley Miller (health)
Mark Milstead (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Evy Kaye Sandin (health)
Shank family (fire)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Stanley Suter (health)
Carolyn Wine (health)
Charles Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB