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Final Charge: Take up Your Cross

Sebastien Braxton

Presenter

Sebastien Braxton is the CEO for The New Life corporation.  He is also a member of the InVerse team, a young adult bible study program on Hope Channel.  He resides in North Carolina w/ his wife Candis and their four children.   His latest project is an online course on how to study and preach the Bible.

Recorded

  • August 18, 2019
    9:30 AM

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Father in heaven the Lord we want to commit ourselves to you just now Father our desire ease to finish srong And so we pray this morning as we meditate upon this theme of take up your cross that the Spirit of Christ that moved our Lord to bear his cross that that same spirit may be upon us to day guide us instruct us inspire us motivate us and move us but most of all may you mold our lives under the pruning knife of trials we love you and we thank you for hearing and answering this prayer and we offer this prayer from our hearts in Jesus' name amen if you have your Bibles termes me to the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 16. Matthew Chapter 16 beginning in verse 24 When you there you can say Amen Matthew Chapter 16 verse 24 The Bible says then Jesus said to His disciples Jesus is talking to those who have committed their lives to Him Is anyone here committed their life to Jesus yes OK then I imagine that Jesus's words to them would also apply to you and me because the Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever then Jesus said to His disciples If anyone desires to come after me that means to follow me. To truly be a disciple of Jesus says let him deny himself and do what take app his crafts and family. Now it's interesting when Jesus gives these words this is in the very context in which he predicted his death and Peter comes and says later you're not going to be crucified. Suffering not to be saying when he says Get thee behind me Satan because Peter did not want to see Jesus go through this experience this lets you know that the costs as a Roman method of torture. To maximize pain human beings are the only mammal on planet Earth that devises ways to increase your pain we find ways to maximize suffering it's not enough just to execute you know we want you to suffer and the real humans are the greatest illustration of this because the moment you were crucified you had to exhaust energy just to breathe. So this raises the question that to bare your crass to follow Jesus means that we must be prepared for suffering. It is impossible. To follow Jesus and not suffer it is impossible to be Christ like and not suffer. But you see some of us act as Peter said when we find ourselves in trials as if some strange thing has happened to us if it happened to Jesus is going to happen to me. Because yes when Jesus was perfect you want to know how a perfect person would be treated on the earth read the story of Jesus. If you want to know how a person who loves God would have perfect love will be treated on planet Earth read the story of Jesus you have to know how a person will be treated that loves and humanity as himself just go ahead and read the story of Jesus for some reason we've done this notion into our minds as Christians that because I do what God is asked because I'm saving him. Because I sacrificed for Jesus no bad thing should happen to me. That's funny because the worst thing that could ever happen to any being in the universe happened to the only person who was the best person in the universe so what would make us think as the samples of Jesus that we can feel him in Expect a weird less thorny some actual question. Just for sake of illustration in my mind I was in the United States Marine Corps when you start basic training. After about 3 weeks you go through something called the confidence course what is it called. The confidence course the confidence clears is this basically about a mile away obstacle course and it is a minor I don't know how long it is now I'm old school now you know I have brothers in the military they got video games in boot camp and stuff I'm like these are the people defending our country. Playing X. Box or Lord have mercy on us or praise God for my guardian angel. But nevertheless back in my day it was a it was difficult it had a height and legs. So yes you add the poor yourself of autoroute in the middle of the course in order to finish and you put yourself out almost 50 feet off the ground no legs so now you're thinking about the fact that as soon as you start using your legs they tell you start over. So as we go into this course they give it to you 3 weeks into camp and as you go into this confidence course you can imagine most of us don't finish the room so therefore you don't finish the course and you're like why would you call this the confidence course when all is doing is destroying my confidence in my ability to be a Marine so after that you can imagine and then of course in great boot camp fashion they punish you for not finishing the confidence course you know you guys are we you guys are this and you think you're going to be Marines because in bukan they don't call you Marines they call you recruits they don't even call you by your name because you think. I'm not even joking it's so as we're coming back from not finishing the confidence course he's like oh you know we're going to do pushups the rest of the day not an hour not a number just the rest of the day. I'm no pushups and warm that I'm sweating through my clothes onto the floor you can see a silhouette of my body in some way and these guys are yes it's about lunch time maybe we should go he takes us to brings us back he says you know I haven't forgotten that you didn't finish the confidence course so we're going to keep pushing the rest of the afternoon like this is crazy but you know what happens is Marine Corps boot camp is 3 months the last week a blue can before you go through with something called the crucible The interesting thing is they take you back to the confidence course and you know what happens. You finish. And I'm aiming you finish it. And you cross the other side you realize this is where I was at 3 weeks and this is where I am now and what initially destroyed your confidence now you realize I have actually grown I've gotten stronger more agile but not only that the confidence course you developed a will and determination you didn't finish this time necessarily because you were stronger you might be. Not necessarily because of your physical fitness has increased but because throughout the process of bootcamp you didn't to do something that Jesus called us to do to follow him and that is I will get to the end no matter what it takes Yes My arms are prodding Yes My legs are tired yes some breathing hard but guess what I'm going to finish this course that's what has changed not necessarily physical power but mental determination that for some of us. We don't treat our trials as a confidence course we act as if the initial 3 weeks of boot camp experience is ours they were good let me go through this knowing I wouldn't make it the I would get a lot of this trial this temptation knowing I could not resist. They would allow me to be put into a situation. Where I feel as if I'm almost in for come. I don't see there's no way they're how I'm going to be able to complete this trial and distribute and you know what's funny is you didn't know you could do it until you actually would do it. Because it can add up to 30 cycles of Jesus says you gotta take up your cross and in every expectation of trial and suffering it's a confidence because God didn't lead us to the problems that we have right now because he thought we would fail. God did not lead us to these trials and problems and suffering because he expects us to stay to same as we are if we had enough power right now why do we even need to grill Why do we need to abandon Jesus why do we need to seek him I already have enough strength to know God has to show us ourselves. Taking up your cross. Is about the expectation I am going to suffer to follow Jesus when I come back to that in a minute but the 2nd thing it represents is in the Roman tradition. Not only was a person to be crucified. To add shame to the experience they wanted to to carry the instrument of your own torch they're willing to debate a really before you've been God to go got the seal I want you to feel the weight of this thing and because we know that Jesus was not scheduled to be crucified that day that means that chaos was for the rabbits we don't know if the rabbit was a bigger man we don't know if he was a stronger man because they decided for the person they're torturing. The setting Jesus is bearing a crass that was not supposed to be he. Was not designed for him. And in this very day it was to say you are submitting to the sentence that is come upon you. You are submitting to the rulership of him. Ability to punish and to discipline so when Jesus turns to his disciples and he says If any man will come after me let him take up his cross he is not only telling us to be prepare for trial use and suffering. He's also telling us we need to submit to the process of following she says. You see we've got to recognize brothers and sisters as I told someone the other day and as I oftentimes tell people you know I do not make a decision to follow God into do His will and expect the devil to pat you on the back and wish you well. Great job you decided to follow Jesus and the best. Nerve if we decided to follow Jesus the spirit of papacy tells us the devil will contest every inch of ground on your way back to the heavenly kingdom. This Valley this morning it was hard for you to pause in the business of the day just to stop and pray because the devil is going to contest every inch. You made a bad will live and work on this temptation the devil is like I'm not going let you pray in the morning. I'm not even give you interest in the Bible I'm not even allow you amendment a 2nd to listen to a sermon. I'm not even going to give you an opportunity to sing praise to God because you can be so busy so discouraged. Every inch of ground sometimes you recognize having 4 children sometimes you just glad that you made it to church people have kids know what I'm talking about you get up extra early. Dressing this one dressing down one feeding this one feeding that one trying to get everybody into a car don't jump in a puddle which a Sabbath close. And you think it to yourself of course this is going to happen and only to get there the sermon is done and you look at your side like what did I just do. May surprise the Devils will make it difficult for you just to get to church. That's why you know I know my wife is a strong woman because. My wife will go anyway you sit there you think to yourself then here I am Jew I see Canada I move slow pace you know take my time pray in the morning see Jesus. Like I will into the church before kids by herself and you see what is motivating the person to do that only determination because the devil is making it difficult for a reason but. That the devil make it difficult for you to pray if there was no value in prayer why would he make it challenging for us to want to spend hours in prayer with God unless he knew there were some power on the other side. They would take to make the Bible seem unappealing to young adults and youth why would he design schemes in entertainment and recreation in order to weaken the desire for heavenly things unless he knew something on the other side. Because guess what the devil is playing to win the question is are we playing to win. Jesus says Take up your cross. To be prepared for trials and submit to whatever it takes to follow Jesus so you take up your cross is no different than loving Jesus more than your mother or father because guess what that's a hard cross to bear and all my troubles and all my training of young people. If there is one thing that is creating issues it is parents it's always ironic that everybody is OK with someone else's child being a missionary but not you. Soon as you get a mom and dad you know you raised me to have new ship every day you raised me to see God and you took me to church every Sabbath you made sure that Jesus was 1st the Bible is for us make sure that you love brothers and serve God and all you see in queue to see our kids in adventurers and pathfinders and saving God into a lot of things but as soon as a child is 19 he says Mom Dad I know I'm in school prepared to go to medical school but God's calling me to be a missionary now other son your parents are on and on and I've got him calling you to be a missionary. Maybe your roommate but not you you have to go to medical school. I'm not even exaggerating I wish I was young people call me on the phone crying because they thought their parents would support the decision to serve Christ but apparently Mary and Joseph still live today looking for you when you are there doing your father's business and let's not even talk about culture here expectations. Because if you Caribbean African you're expected to take care of your parents but if you listen here you'll have done all that discretionary income. To saving you are now abandoning your cancer to follow Jesus and now all the sudden you're a little bit of a fanatic. Because you're doing God's will guess what you know what you need to do take up your chaos and follow Jesus. If there is no cost of doing to women. Jesus let is near from the beginning I did not come to bring peace. I came to bring the seared this is the same God who said Blessed are the peacemakers. As much as lies within you live peaceably with all men this is the same God that says I did not come to bring peace but a what sword to put a man. Variance with his father. Was a mother a little of and all of a sudden Jesus says if you want to be my disciple notice Luke gives it a different spin he says if you love father mother brother or sister made in me you can not be my disciple Did you understand the word cannot but know Matthew takes the step further Matthew Chapter 10 he says you are on worthy of me we talked about why last night because if I come in I give everything on the spec to you to bring everything that includes mother and father brother and sister son and daughter houses or lands but you see we don't want to take up our cross and follow Jesus I'm not a fool. Many of us in this room we are slaves to culture we think we are following Jesus until culture pops up. I talk to many Asians Koreans Indonesians Chinese peasant Sebastian you know I feel God calling me but you know in our culture let me stop you right there where in the Bible does it say family culture. Where. I put a special understand how my family's going to look at me I understand. Are you concerned how God's going to look at you. Are you concerned about your family looking at you when I was in England this young girl came to me and she said. Oh there I am. I have a relationship and I was convicted by your sermon that I need to break off this relationship I said oh great praise the lord it's not you know the situation has not been edifying it's not been leading me closer to Christ all kinds of issues I said great great great so awesome what she's I will what should I do us a call him tonight she's I what I said take out your phone right now dial his number right now right now call him right in front of me and let him know it's over. She looked at me shy world Whoa whoa whoa whoa. She's I we were in a relation for 7 years I feel like I should wait until I get back you know and we talk face to face I feel like I lease on him that I looked at his sister I said Listen let me tell you 2 things. Number one of. I'm a I'm a guy. And I'm a tell you right now you get in my presence and I know that you love me. I know that you like me and you can sit down and say oh yeah you know this hasn't been leading me and I was at you know can't meeting and I've been inspired this relation is not what do you know men tell you all might be better I'm a try you know I know I told you this I said listen what have you crying and uterus she's like oh you know he's trying to make a change. We put in everything you know praise God Maybe this time around. You've got a wicked nice when you are emotionally bonded to someone you get into a physical presence I can guarantee you you just made it 10 times more difficult. And I'm right now she's I but I feel like I would tell him I said Listen to me 7 years ago when you started this relationship and you gave up Jesus to to be with this young men. Did you get to tell Jesus face to face. Did you came to your room. And Babilon your knees before your maker and say hey guess what I want you to know for the next 7 years I'm going to lead Joshua I'm going to give my factions to Joshua I'm a give me my time to Joshua I'm not going to have time for you I'll get around to you when I can I will return your calls when I'm able. But my fav kiss is Joshua is that what you did. She says Well what about his feelings I said what about Jesus his feelings I said this man didn't even die for you at least Jesus died for you Jesus were great drops of live for you. Jesus was crushed under the weight of a cross for you. Suffocating collapsed separated from his Heavenly Father for you and you will give your affections that this man. This brother Billy takes you out to eat. You cannot give your supreme affections to any man who has not died past sins not promising girl I will die for you but you have it that's what you need to tell. That's right you better say amen. But guys we know different because guys this is where we make mistakes admin is young men we're afraid to deal with the rest. We don't want to call her and be like yeah this is my fault you know this relation is not really working now and unfortunately because somehow we've developed into cowards we want to let a girl down gently which is called language for I'm not going to really break up with you I'm just going to goes. I'm a stab responding I'm a star messenger I'm going to act super shady in church not sorry she was I was going on. Because you know I had sat in the park you hold my hand you all up in my face now we're in church now you want to be holy you know we need boundaries hold on Brother I'm uneasy to set some clear lines here where are we. Because a bit of a mess I'm going to come clean and end your stuff because you don't want to take up your Christian family Jesus. In order to follow Christ it comes with a chaos. But we're going to take it. So we find nice little convenient ways to save the suffering when in reality we're just making it worse so we talk about not only bearing your cross. Which relationships and culture also says husband or wife you know many of us we let our spirituality die because of our spouses you know I have to speak to watch for a 2nd it's unfortunate that in the Bible never tells wives to love their husbands because that's not their struggle you have to tell the wife to love your husband when they're going to do that issue's going to be will she love her husband to the point where it becomes idolatrous. That's natural for a woman to love a man that is accepted her and all her ugliness when he seemed a nice person he still hanging around when he see you look up what stuff on the side of your mouth in the morning he still wants to kiss you and say good morning. When even though you like my hair looks jacked up but he's I You look beautiful. I. See all these women laugh because you know it's true. You can pass gas around this man he's still around. Jesus knows. I'm a keep it real with you. When we do hear that we say oh man this man still hang around he still loves you but here's the problem sometimes following Jesus as a relief isn't going to whip Western which of us mean. By feeling like going to church today you get up and get your kids dressed and go to church well if you want to stay home stay home by yourself listen no man who is worth his weight in gold you also buy if that's going buckle to every single women that's why I chose my wife my wife is not afraid of me I can't bully my wife. You know I'm a loud mouth preacher I'm in the Bible but that doesn't work with my wife. Because she's not caving in and the 7 Sebastian you know what did you I said listen you got to realize that I know is as men right now we got this generation where we're afraid of strong women but the truth of the matter is when you're dying the last ideal you want in your brain is that man I'm dying this one is going to raise my kids Lord have mercy on us all. So you want to make sure you marry someone when you're dying you may my family will be well I will see them in the kingdom and guess what Dad takes a strong woman. Who's not going to look at you and be like oh you know whatever you do whatever you want whatever it is know she's going to get to say what I was not what the Bible says. You're my husband and I love you and I respect you but guess what. You know baby you can teach the Bible you can you know explain it in worship but you're not above it. And sometimes following Jesus as a wife you've got to take up your cross and follow Jesus but the same goes for a husband. You know we live in a generation. Where we say love is unconditional but respect is earned. And the Bible respect is on condition is that we set men up. The wife comes in a marriage and says You got to earn my respect as a wife but she doesn't have to earn my love that creates tension. Because men understand love to respect. It's funny when I was growing up my dad he's a very hard person. Now he's a little bit softer you know what happens when you have grandkids you look at your parents like is this the same person. Super patient loving Oh it's all right I'm thinking and used to beat the brakes off of me for this the. But my dad was hard and I appreciate it now I didn't appreciate it then but I distinctly remember 2 conversations with my dad my dad I was about 1617 when having a conversation I was like you know daddy I feel like you don't like me. But as I don't have to like you. I'm like what is not the response I was looking for you're expecting some sort of like Son I love you you are my son you know you are my 1st on. The scent of my right hand you can remember Broxton name you will expend all Kingdom. You know. My dad said I don't have to like you. He looked at me and said Sebastian you so worried about whether people like you need to worry about whether people are doing right by you he says I can like you and I could be on the street smoking crack cocaine but I like you and I could have left your mom. Never sent shall Sapir disappear but I like you how you going to feel about me then he says the 1st responsibility. Of me is your father is to take care and provide. So guess what your number one concern is is my father doing right by me so my dad looked and said listen you don't have to respect me but you're not going to disrespect me less interesting state I'm looking at my dad like that's confusing. I don't have to respect you but I'm not going to disrespect you sounds like I have to respect you it's. What my dad was really saying is respect is unconditional you don't have to respect the man but you have to respect the position that's hard for a wife in the home that was hard when Saul was King David was not everyone said look how we could this man is he hunting people down to murder them you know he tried to murder David 27 different times and 1st if you count them. The King tried to murder someone who was innocent and use his power to save yours and everything and you know what David said to the man that killed so he claimed to kill so he said how could you have touched the Lord's anointed he didn't say good riddance that member trying to kill me for like 10 years David said Do you clearly in the fact that she had the audacity to take a bleed to demand that God is annoying to King. Because even if you don't respect say you have to respect the position. It is named different 3 men in his home so I have to remind a lot of wives and a lot of men they're saying only the respect and the laugh and the affirmation of their life they're not willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Because a woman will respect you when she realizes she can't change you can't manipulate you it's to true there's no woman alive that respects a man that she can manipulate so there are can play with this guy he'll pay for my lunch whenever you know call him up give him a sob story he'll come around and support and do this and the 3rd she's not going to be with him she's going to be with Amanda command so respect and a lot of times as husbands on one level as my dad said. We got to realize. That when it's time to follow God Oh that's OK if I have to take on my cross and my wife says Well honey I'm not which you are now and that's OK just because my wife is not into doing devotions or evangelism doesn't mean I'm not going to evangelism. Amen. Just because she's concerned with earthly things like Justin talked about what. Man's wife went to because she got tired of the poverty unquote You still got to be a good steward. You take up your cross and you follow Jesus the 2nd story my dad told me said Sebastian you know the difference between a boy and a man I was 17 I said one year. Because when I turn 18 I'm a man. But I was I know. He said the difference between a boy and a man is you don't have to tell a man to take out the trash he does it because it needs to be done so as long as your mom your sister and your wife and your grandmother have to tell you what needs to be done you're still a boy so we've got a lot of 50 year old boys walking around. Truth. Men with Ph D.'s but they're buoys making 6 figures but there are billions because taking a view of course and following Jesus is a way of saying you do what you have to do because it needs to be done as a man or sometimes you cannot be for agreement on your spouse we must do what is right because it is right and lead to consequences with God. And the same income so you say guess what I am a man and as a man I have to do what needs to be done because it needs to be done that's just the way it is. And we've got to take up our cross and follow Jesus. See a lot of us. Even with our children. We find ourselves doing everything for our kids people lose their identity and their children but guess what Jesus said You can love them more than me I want you to think about how much people love their children and it's got to be less than Jesus you waking up early in the night to make sure this child is OK you go and you were in the same breakdown suits because you want to buy your kids a new clothes you make sure they are comfortable they have this they had that all he wants to play despoiled he got to go to school and we got to pay for the good administration sacrifice after sacrifice have to sacrifice and I'm looking to saying so what about when it's time to sacrifice for Jesus. But when it's time to be ugly for Jesus. Then we don't want to do it we don't want to take up our cross and follow him but guess what parents we have to come to a place where we make sure our children understand you are not the center of the universe Jesus says you're not the center of the home Jesus is you're not. Jesus is he is fierce last and best. Of the rice we will eventually stop following Jesus because we have to take up our cross. And follow Jesus we've got to be prepared for trials for Christ sake and sometimes those trials come from your children. You know when I think about. These things it reminds me. When I 1st became a Christian came from hip hop music I don't know one Christian him ever like nun and I couldn't even sing melody let alone harmony or whatever else is out there. Somewhere get in charge of these people you know hip hop there's no melody it's just be. So now mom like tone deaf people are coming to me they're like where marching No no no this is the No they're like singing in my ear I cannot repeat the No You know I member Randy skeet used to joke with me says Sebastian you can carry a tune as to how to handle. And I was you know back then I was I am on a shame I never said I could sing. But I fell in love with certain songs not so much because of the music but because of the message. One of my early favorite songs was I have decided to follow Jesus. That song resonated with me a lot. Then I heard the story of its origins I don't know how true it is or accurate suppose it was written by a missionary who was in the East he took his family to his village. Never heard the name of Jesus took his family to this village he had a son and a daughter as wife and while he was there they couldn't get anybody to come out anything no insurance for years they were there from 45 years not one soul not one convert nothing so this means like you know what. Guys I think we're going to pack it up so they started planning their exit back to the states. During that time his son had one of his Bible tracks in his hand he went to the market as they normally do to buy food and as he went to the market he had a friend and he told his friend he said he my family and I were going to be leaving soon I just wanted to give you this try. So he gave it to the boy the boy said thank you. And he went back home and he shared it with his parents said oh you know such and such my friend from the market he gave me this track so they read it and it led them to Jesus so as they stayed away shipping Jesus. It became known in the tribe and it reached the chief So they called the tribal meeting hey listen up. You got to give up this white man's religion that's what they call it. These people came They're not they're not our boss you can trust their religion. They said no we're not going to give it up and they continue to teach and all of the sudden their home was filled with people interested in learning about the gospel. The family still had no idea this was happening they were just packing up getting ready to go home we feel it. 2 weeks later the chief had had enough because it started saying that they were planning a baptism. So the chief said we've got to stop this right now so he calls an entire tribe meeting it's like a town hall meeting brings the family and he calls out his soldiers with spears and he brought the men his wife his son and his daughter and he said. Make them kneel in the middle. So they all know and he said you need to give up this religion otherwise I'm kill your family the man looked at me said I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back the man took the spear and killed his daughter her body fell to the ground and by this time the shock had attracted this missionary family to figure out what was going on so they came to the circle to see what was happening and as they watched this instance the chief said I ask you again. Give up this religion of Christ ever has I'm a kill your son. And the man said I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back. Killed his son. He said I'm ask you again. Otherwise I'm a kill your wife. He said. The world behind me the cross before me I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back the spirit is why when a body fell to the ground everybody in the village was like there's no way this man is going to continue to be faithful to this religion and the chief said I'm give you one last chance. Surrender this religion I'm going to take your life in front of all these people your family would have died for nothing you looked at the man and he said don't no one join me still I will follow. Took the spear. Killed a man and he hit the ground with his body hit the ground this why family they were in shock they said men one family we brought to Jesus died on the very day to gave their life to Christ they didn't know what to think and all the village was standing there until they noticed the chief put his spear down. Take off his helmet and he no down right in front of the whole tribe and he said of dismay and was willing to lose his family his wife his children and even his own life to follow this Jesus he gave his life to Christ the entire village became converted when I think of this song brothers and sisters it reminds us of our confidence course. That's not just going to take physical exertion. Knowledge it's going to take a strong will. To be able to say it's of in the face of a cross when we are bearing and. We submit to the sentence the chaos the shame the betrayal the misunderstanding I think the looming Jesus and undone moment when it seems like everything is falling apart around us and we've decided to follow Jesus we need to sing to us. And remind yourself I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back. I came in one joins me. This is the article mindset that Changes Churches that changes communities that changes families when you decide is a son or daughter I don't care if my parents are not interested in deep Bible study I have decided to follow Jesus I don't care if my balance doesn't want to seek to hear and understand the sanctuary I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back namely me joining me that's A.K.A. because I am here. Myself. My husband may not want to go. But I have decided to follow Jesus and I may be misunderstood your rebellious wife your unappreciative husband your in the good luck full child. Disrespectful ungrateful misunderstood you know what you do you take up your cross and you follow Jesus. It is going to feel heavy but you know the beautiful thing about Jesus a story. Is that when Jesus couldn't bear it they found a man called Simon. And they compelled him to help Jesus carried across when Jesus was falling under the weight and a 70. The Bible says that Jesus. God sent angels to strengthen him what am I saying to you when you leave this place you need to expect trials for Christ sake we got expect to be misunderstood betrayed falsely accused beaten go to the mockery of a trial the abuse of systems and family processes to be skewed against you you got a Expect it. But you already know because you were already bearing your cross on the take it up and guess where brother says we can never lay it down we can never take away the expectation. Cannot end with an encouraging story. And all my time is up I'm sure the story many times but it encourages me to share it. When I was in the Marines I remember. The very end of the Marine Corps boot camp training is a crucible. And it is literally a crucible. You know you spend. 3 and a half days a week almost You only get one meal supposedly you're supposed to get enough meals for the one day but someone stole all my food the 1st day you only sleep 4 hours a day you walk around with about 36 kilograms on your back you hike anywhere from 16 to 30 kilometers a day at the end of it and you're probably somewhere near $100.00 in 10120 kilometers the last one is 16 kilometers on that day you're. You're dying. Every joining your body is hurting. And everything you say is questioning. Why did I even do this and as we're marching you get up at 4 in the morning you supposed to arrive by sunset. And you arrive on a parade Dick. When you get to that parade deck you're supposed to meet the general because this is the 1st day they're actually going to call you a Marine so as we're standing there this is a huge multitude of people soldiers now as we stand there the general drives up. Gets out of the vehicle you can see the sun shining on his rank on his collar. He walks in front any yells out to the whole multitude the whole battalion. Yes right everybody snaps to parade rest so as you're there you're you stand in and he's given this rousing speech you know the Marines the food the proud right it's like it's all propaganda. You're the best. Thing to fight. You never lose and he gives you the speech this is why you got here because you were determined. Because you never yielded. Because you had courage. And commitment. So as he gives a speech you're sitting there and you're like. Waiting and waiting and waiting you haven't eaten. And I sergeant says you know you better not lock your legs because if you pass out you've got to do the whole thing all over again. So we're standing there a guy next to me passes out. They start dragging this man out on the he's screaming NO. He does not want to do this thing again but they're taking him out. And I'm like oh lord help I mean I don't know God put. If I knew him I would have called and. We would I mean not to pass out. After the general was done you have your drill instructors you will sergeant Staff Sergeant whatever they come and my friend is looking at me by the generals talking he says are you going to cry I'm like No I'm not going to cry minimum Marine been to the Crucible 3 months of this this is like hell on earth for like 4 months I'm not going to cry I'm like are you going to cry you get emotional it's like Naaman going to cry so much Sergeant comes in front of my friend and as he stands in front of him he says attention I snapped to attention he starts saying something to my friend I can hear what he was saying. And then he says steps back salute him says good morning Marine My friend just breaks down starts crying. I mean like sobbing. He's at attention but his whole body is shaking steers some oh. So he comes in front of me. Psycho Ari Lance Corporal Braxton boom attention my snap to attention salutes me says practice you going to be a good Marine going to be a good leader talk about our aces all these things steps back he says good morning Marines I broke down started crying. I mean I was subbing. So afterwards right the whole thing is all over and your kind of treated like a normal human being for a week it's called Transition week. You get breakfast when you want go to sleep rest talk to your mom. So finally after about 2 days we get together to eat breakfast and of course nobody wants to bring it up. Hey man I saw you crying What happened then. He's like you tell me why were you crying I said Nah I asked you 1st. But finally he succumbed he said are I'll tell you and what he said still resonates with me to this day he said when he stepped back and he saluted me he said The moment I raised my hand to salute him back and he said good morning Marine he said I remembered all the times I wanted to quit. I remembered all the times by the good a bed at night thinking I'm not going to make it all those days they made us do pushups 67 hours. To you have no more strength. And you're thinking man there's no way I'm a wake up and do the same here again tomorrow no hope no outlet may help of. And as he was saying those words I knew I felt the exact same way in brothers and sisters when I had that experience at 19 years old 18 years old. I never forget that when I decided to give my life to Christ. A minute with their friend again and I realized that experience was an illustration for me. Because soon very soon we're going to go to our own Crucible soon very soon we're going to have to survive meant to pull days with no food. And when we get done the Bible says eventually when Jesus comes. We're going to March up to the sea of glass and we're going to meet the General and when Jesus comes in front of us he's going to give a speech. The Redeemed I have seen the travail of myself and I'm satisfied. And then after that when Jesus is done talking he's going to come from person to person he's going to stand in front of you and you're not going to snap to attention you're going to kneel in the presence of your king and she's going to turn to Gabriel and say please hand me this crown and he's going to take that crown he's going to put it on your head he's going to say stand up and he's going to say good morning. Your Majesty your king every single person and in that moment. You talk about Marine Corps basic training try life I already know I'm going to cry because you think you want to quit boot camp you know many times you want to quit life you know many times we spiritually thought we were not going to make it laid out don't see a way to destroy I don't see how my get through. This temptation maybe you're in a place right now. But I'm telling you you take up your chaos when you get burned you stand before the General and he looks. In this to falling ice. Like the sun searching your very being. And he says you have been faithful. Then you know you haven't. Then you know you haven't. Jesus says you have been faithful I'm going to make you. Over many things I have a throne for you and when it's all said and done. When they take those crowns we're going to lay damage Jesus' feet and you know why because I want to say Lord. We're not here because we have been faithful We're here because you have been faithful crown him with many crowns That's the glory that awaits us if we take up a cross and we follow Jesus. Jesus says I'm going to take you there. You stick with me I'm a take you there Jesus we're going to make it you stick with me. You can to make it. Even when you think you won't you stay with Jesus he's going to catch. And when you get to heaven it will be you in his secret he'll look at you he will say you know and you look at him. Now what it took. Brothers and Sisters. I wish I could tell you good news that when you leave this conference everything is going to be great but I'd be lying to you the truth is. You got to take up your cross you've got to expect trials for Christ sake you've got to submit to the sentence of following Jesus. Every Heart is about every head is about every eyes closed. Only have 2 appeals the 1st one. Someone who is ready to give up. You see I am tired. I and wiry. Help me to stay which. Had me to have confidence that if I stick with Jesus. He's going to take me there. If that's you want you to come right here to this altar. Same world I've been tempted to give up I've been tempted to yield. I've been tempted to let go. But today Lord help me to stay with you and believe if I stick with you Jesus is going to get me there. He's going to get me through. To that eternal weight of glory. Come. So near help me to get through. Come. Lord help me to get through. Take up my cross. Follow Jesus. Jesus knows. Your trouble. Jesus knows. Your struggle. Jesus can get you through. A. Second invitation. Someone else says Lord. There's something in my life. That has been holding me back. Relationship. A family member spouse a parent a child that I've been sacrificing my relationship with Jesus to serve and I'm ready to put you back in your rightful place. As 1st last and best I want you to come. There is a relationship a person. A mother a father a child a husband. Learned that has been holding me back. But I'm willing to bear my cross today. Put you back in your rightful place as 1st last and best I'm deciding that I'm going to follow Jesus. And I'm not turning back for no one or no thing. Anyone else before I pray Jesus knows. Father in Heaven Lord we're at this altar because we know what it's like to collapse in the garden of get 70 we know what it's like Lord to be sometimes so close to the end. And to start feeling like we can't do it that we're not going to make it the Lord it seems like we have so many weaknesses to overcome so many limitations around us so many beliefs that are holding us back we just don't know how we're going to make it and we've been tempted to just give up to yield to let it be what it is but Lord we are here because we believe that if we abide in Jesus he's going to take us there to the sea of glass we're praying that you would give us the courage to stay with the Lord until the very end to trust that Christ will not fail us nor forsake us that we would stick with Jesus and Jesus will get us there he's going to get us home and even though we may feel shaky even though we may feel weak Lord we are reminded that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning and even murder where we have failed. And brought shame and guilt to our lives the Bible says that God's anger is for a moment but his anger is for life so Lord we are here because we know no other power except yours that can get a story so we're asking the savior to help us to keep us strong. To keep us marching on until the very end until we are at the feet of Jesus with our crown but others of us have come because there's a relationship there is a person spouse a child a parent a friend a leader whatever it is Lord that spin holding us back and today we're willing to take up our cross and to follow Jesus so Lord help us to let it go at this altar and to put Jesus back in his rightful place as 1st last and best in our lives Lord we love you and we thank you for hearing and answering this prayer and we trust that as we have decided in our minds to follow Jesus we're never turning back Lord we are never going to let you go father we are with you to the bitter end and the only reason why we will not serve you is because we are no longer breathing. Thank you Father for hearing and answering this prayer. And we offer it from our hearts in Jesus's name. Amen. 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