Holy Week Friday Evening Devotional

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Holy Week Friday Evening Devotional

April 15, 2022

“Victory at Work in Us”

Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds.

This morning we spoke of death being defeated by death when Jesus dies on the cross. However, victory through death is not a one and done deal. Our focus text this evening shows us Jesus speaking of life through death to His disciples. We, too, have crosses to bear, crosses that will kill our flesh nature and leave only that which is of God. If we want to follow after Christ, we have to deny ourselves, Jesus says. If we want to follow after Christ, a cross is inevitable.

Our crosses are not always made of wood.  They are not always public executions. Our crosses more often have to do with our dying to our self, putting to death our ways and our wants that we might rather have Jesus. In some ways, this is a harder path that Jesus calls us to because we fight the battle of self for as long as we have breath in our lungs. But we are not alone in the battle. The Holy Spirit of Jesus fights with us and for us on our behalf. What we want is always lesser than what Jesus wants for us, but that knowledge alone is not always enough to keep us from sin and selfishness. We need to learn to prefer Him above ourselves.  This is difficult because we don’t naturally love anyone better than we love ourselves. This is the cross that many of us are called to bear on a daily basis.

We don’t naturally prefer Jesus above ourselves. That is Spirit work. Responding to the Spirit, following His leadership in our lives, that is for us to do and it is not always easy. Taking up a cross never is. Where is Jesus calling you to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow after Him? In this messy and noisy world, it may be hard to find your footing in Jesus. Maybe this evening we need to pray as pastor and author A.W. Tozer prays in his book, “The Pursuit of God:”

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”   ― Aiden Wilson Tozer

To long to be filled with longing, to thirst to be more thirsty… that is the prayer of one who seeks to follow Jesus.

Here is a text from a song written by a songwriter from Tennessee.  It was written after reading Tozer’s book.  You will not know a tune to sing along with but let the text help you in praying to the Lord of your desire to see, know, and trust only Him.

 

Close to me, nearer than a thought,

Lord, most holy

Changing me, within me and without,

God Almighty

Be the gaze of my soul

Only You can make me whole

Shine beyond the treasures of my heart

Be the gaze of my soul

I’m trusting you and you alone

Fill me to the very deepest part

O gaze of my soul

Speak to me, Your voice my delight

Spirit calling

Drawing me from darkness into light

Jesus, King of Kings

Be the gaze of my soul

Only You can make me whole

Shine beyond the treasures of my heart

Be the gaze of my soul

I’m trusting you and you alone

Fill me to the very deepest part

O gaze of my soul

And in this day of noise and sorrow

You’re calling me to life

So, sing above the dissonance

Shine through the lesser lights

And be the gaze of my soul

Only You can make me whole

Shine beyond the treasures of my heart

Be the gaze of my soul

I’m trusting you and you alone

Fill me to the very deepest part

O gaze of my soul