“Mindful of the Things of God”
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, And take up his cross, and follow Me” Matthew 16:24b
I can still hear the echoes of my parents or a teacher, “are you listening to me”? My response would usually be, “I hear you”, but hearing and listening are two different things. There have been too many times I sat through a sermon or even read a passage of scripture and even though I heard it I didn’t hear it, “In one ear and out the next”.
Throughout scripture there are many times it will exhort the reader to pay close attention, in the Bible important things were said two or three times to get the attention of the reader,
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8), or” Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 KJV).
In Matthews account in chapter 16 we see Jesus giving His disciples a very important lesson on ministry or how to be “mindful of the things of God”.
Like any good teacher the unveiling of a person’s desires and motives are important, Jesus first asks “if anyone desires to come after Me”. Have you ever sought out what your true desires are? The first step to being mindful of the things of God is to examine what’s most important to you. When I receive a call from a man in addiction who has chosen to get high again it’s usually followed by the question, “I don’t know why I did it”, followed by my response, “because you wanted to or desired to”.
Unless we are satisfied with what the world has to offer we need to be willing to change our desires and want the things of God. From the sons of Korah in psalm 42 we read. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God”, much easier said than done.
Then we read “let him deny himself”, put away our fleshly desires, to be unmindful of myself and recognize the things of God. It’s not until we get these two things right that it becomes fitting to “take up our cross”, whatever that means, I’m still working on changing my desires and denying myself. I would imagine when I’m ready to take up my cross it would look a lot like the ministry of Jesus and although I can sometime resemble the Master and be a witness of Him I have a long way to go to be conformed to His image.
I’ve seen the dangers of those who take up their cross before their desires have changed or have denied themselves. That’s the difference between a ministry and an agenda, an agenda is a cause of our own that we disguise as the things of God. This is what Peter does in verse 23 when Jesus tells him “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter was doing just fine when he confessed “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
So today if you’re not sure if your desires are first to follow God, and not mindful of the things of God, ask Him to show you the idols that are in the way, then we can begin to deny ourselves and seek out that cross that we are to bear, but until then we can continue to confess Him as “The Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Amen – Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick. You can email Rob @firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason. Dag Hammarskjold
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah Psalm 32:7