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Giving the day to Jesus (2)

As with tons of other subjects, the Scripture doesn’t directly address this (there’s no book in the Bible called Carpe Diem or Daily Disciple). Nonetheless, the subject is indirectly touched upon several times. Here are some of the things we find:

1. Jesus couched our discipleship in daily terms.

In Luke 9:23 (and about a dozen other places in similar forms), He said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  

In our times, a cross is a religious symbol on a building or a piece of jewelry. In the Jesus' day it meant one thing --- death. A person carrying a cross was on the way to their execution. In a most graphic manner, Christ is telling us that following Him requires death to ourselves. Paul said he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). This message is no more popular now than it was in the first century, but there can be no life from Christ without death to self.

2. The Scripture speaks of rejoicing.

The context of Psalm 118 is both messianic and deliverance. It begins with the writer giving thanks to God for His goodness and encouraging all others to do the same (v. 1-4). From there he proceeds to recount God’s deliverance in his life (v. 5ff). In verse 22-24 he says:

The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;

the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Here’s a marvelous paradox. The builders rejected a fit stone as unfit. But rather than it ending up in the discard pile, it becomes the capstone. These verses are applied to Jesus on numerous occasions by the writers of the New Testament. He is the stone the Jewish leaders declared unfit and crucified, but God overturned their wickedness, raising Jesus from the dead, and making Him Lord over all. No one could do such a thing but God. Therefore, it is the day He has made and the psalmist says to rejoice and be glad in it.

We can apply the principle of this passage to any of our days as well. No matter what happens, no matter how ominous a day may look, our Father is in control. He has delivered us through Jesus, and nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ. In this sense, every day is a day He has made and we can rejoice in it.

It wouldn't be a bad thing to stop here and recognize the connection between taking up our cross each day and rejoicing. For while it's true that there are too many who wear the name of Christ but shun the cross, it is also true that there are many who take up their cross and never see the joy. If Psalm 118 establishes the we have joy because God has delivered us through Jesus, than the texts about taking up our cross, denying self, losing our life, etc., should also be seen with joy because it is the means by which we deliver ourselves to God! It is in losing our life that we find it. Perhaps this is no better illustrated than in another psalm (51), where David is confessing his sin to God. In the middle of pouring out his heart he writes, "Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice," (51:8).

No one knew what it meant to carry the cross more than Jesus and He was a man of joy! He was invited to wedding parties, loved children, and was the opposite of the unjoyful Pharisees. How ironic it is that Christians avoid taking up their cross because they think it will mean missing out on life when it is exactly the means by which we experience life!

3.  The Scriptures speak of searching the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).

4.  They also speak of asking God for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Taken together, these passages remind us of our need to daily listen and speak with our Father.

Giving the day to Jesus (3)

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