What is your Cross?
And How do you discern God's will?
by Jacques More
For quite some time I have known that when Jesus said:
. . . he who does not take his cross and follow
after Me is not worthy of Me.
Jesus was not referring to some persecution or suffering of that kind (per
se), but to God's call and purpose on your life. Persecution comes out of going
for that purpose and call, but it is not the persecution we carry and follow
after, it is the purposes of God in our lives that we go for. Now this purpose
is two-fold: the purpose of God in witnessing to others and, the actual purpose
or call of God, His plan for the life of the individual believer. I wish to
concentrate on the one that is sometimes missed when reading this passage, the
very plan God has for each believer. We can see this with Jesus.
Jesus' own life purpose and call was to go to the cross. In other words His
cross (to bear) was to go to the cross. His cross was the cross. This is not so
John the Baptist announced Jesus like this:
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
And Jesus also said:
. . . as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up . . . For God so loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .
John 3:14 & 16
This is something Jesus understood, but His disciples did not. So much so
that they were uncomfortable with that and reacted to the idea:
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples
that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer . . . and be killed, and be raised
again the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying,
'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!' But He turned and said
to Peter, '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.'
Jesus' cross to bear was the purpose of God which was that He was to give
Himself on a cross. So that He knew that He had to oppose anything that would
stop or hinder that goal: hence His reaction to Peter. Knowing that Peter was
not speaking from His Father (as he did a few verses earlier), but from a human
standpoint: what was comfortable: what seemed right and good
The above passages show that Jesus life purpose was to go to the cross: it
was His cross to bear in His life. He didn't actually bear it on the day of His
crucifixion (Matthew 27:32). But, in His life the perceptions of those around
Him were sometimes a hindrance to going to do that work and purpose for His
life. We can see this from the context of the verse I started with, but this
time I will take it from Luke's version:
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father
and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also,
he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me
cannot be My disciple . . . So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all
that he has cannot be My disciple.
Jesus did not let anything get in the way of the purpose for His life.
Others tried to kill Him (ahead of time - Luke 4:29)
Peter opposed the very idea that Jesus was to do it (Matthew 16:22-23).
Satan tried to tempt Him (Matthew 4:1-11).
And Jesus knew in our doing His will for our particular lives, there would
be times of opposition from our own families, from our friends, from our very
partners (Luke mentions 'wife' - as quoted above). Let alone our very selves in
terms of what we prefer for comfort and 'our flesh'. This kind of commitment is
the context in which Jesus says:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I
did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man
against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against
her mother-in-law.' And 'a man's foes will be those of his own
household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who
does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds
his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
This is a passage where Jesus is sending out His disciples. If we are
disciples of Jesus, then we must face the reality of opposition to the specific
plan God has for our lives (let alone anything else we clearly do for Him e.g.
witnessing). For that is 'the cross' that we are to bear in 'the face' of such
So, in finding a life - with someone, in a career, a hobby, a home, a
teaching even . . . - to make that your goal, is not to follow Jesus' purpose
for you. But instead, to enjoy and benefit from the life He gives you (with any
of these things), whilst Jesus' purpose is your goal, then you will find real
life and fulfilment (purpose in that sense).
As Jesus said:
. . . seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
To go after your own plans, if they do not fit in the plans God has for you
is to find your own life, not to lose it (using Jesus' words). To lose your
plans and life in following after God's plans, you find the life He has for you
and you will have peace and be satisfied.
Will you take up your cross?
Will you do His purpose for your life over and above everything and everyone
Knowing what 'your cross' is
Now it is one thing to be committed to Jesus, and be willing to sacrifice
all for Him. It is another thing to actually know and understand His will and
purpose for your life. To know indeed, what is the very 'cross' you are to bear.
We are told by Paul to comfort others with the comfort with which we have
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in
all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
And to be comforted best is by being told a truth that restores our hope and
strengthens our faith. It is to be fortified. And 'fort' is central to comfort.
So I will share how I came to appreciate and understand God's purpose for my
life. And I pray that by this you may obtain help in your need to know God's
purpose for your life.
The way I have come to know my God's will for me are 3-fold in 'witnesses'
and 2-fold in 'method'. The first is about the voices that God uses to speak to
1. His voice inside of us and the dreams He imparts in one's heart,
our very aspirations.
2. The 'words' and pictures, dreams, prophecies given to others for
3. The life circumstances and things that 'fall into your lap'.
There is also some overlap. Because the Lord may speak to us in a
particular dream, a 'word' into a particular event.
The methods are to pray and to discern in line with the Word of God the
bible. For example doing God's will requires us to honour our parents (Ephesians
6:2 - no unnecessary offence) and also this is true of any rule of man which we
break or do not conform to (Romans 13:2-5). It is one thing to obey God to
witness to someone; it is another to break the law which is not directly
contradictory to that: speeding to a rally: excessive noise in a concert, etc.
But, also any prophecy given which goes against the bible is to be doubted as to
it's source (in part, if not in whole: e.g. it is from flesh, or the enemy). The
prayer ('method') is the most clear-cut route to know because in asking the Lord
direct questions, His response in any of the 3 'witnesses' mentioned will be an
effective reply to that question.
Back in the late 1980s I went to an event organised by Pioneer where the
minister John Barr preached about praying your call into being. The Elim church
to which I belonged at the time was invited to this event and I had met John on
a previous occasion. My dilemma was that I knew and believed in a 'call', a plan
for my life from God, but I didn't know what it was in any clarity.
It had previously been suggested to me that I go into lecturing and this had
some appeal to me. This is a witness from outside, tying up with a possible
aspiration: an internal witness. So I prayed and asked the Lord to speak in a
'gift of the Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) and mention the word 'teach', if He
wanted me involved in 'any form of teaching'. This then occurred that evening in
the home-group I belonged to when the worship leader had a 'prophecy' in which
every other word 'felt' as if it was 'teach' : (there were not a few: 'I shall
teach and you shall teach, etc...'). So I then had a 2nd sign of the witness by
an outside source. The life circumstance in this case was that I applied for a
lecturing post which had been advertised and even had a pre-advert interview and
all seemed great. But, when the ad came out the very qualifications for the post
changed and it was clear this was a 'shut door'.
After a little time and another such attempt at an advertised post, but this
time my internal witness was that it was my 'trying' to make this happen, I then
asked the Lord afresh. "If you want me involved in some form of teaching,
then what is it you want me to teach?". Now, this time the reply was clear
and in His still small but direct voice. He said, "You know about deception".
This then set me thinking on that line of things and made sense in view of my
experiences of the previous decade. But, the timing was important too. I will
now go back to this meeting with John Barr mentioned and return.
At the meeting John preached about people praying their call into being. I
went forward for prayer afterwards and a very tall guy called Steve prayed with
me. He didn't ask more than necessary: my name and why I came forward: My name
is Jacques and I have a call on my life, but don't know what it is. He prayed in
tongues for a bit (a good sign since he was not trying to work it out with his
own mind), he then said he received a few words 'that I would be part of an
administrative team'. This was different from anything previously 'given' to me.
But, I kept it in my heart. And this is something that is important to do. Just
as Mary did in regards to the things she heard about Jesus (Luke 2:51). I later
heard more from the Lord in regards to this.
But one thing I committed myself to doing after this meeting was to fast on
a regular basis until I saw some movement in these things. I aimed at fasting
one day or one meal a week. I can't recall exactly. But, I do remember that a
fortnight after I began this process my wife announces suddenly (not having
discussed it) that she had handed in her resignation of the Elim church we were
a part of. Now, I had mixed thoughts about this, but here for me was an outward
(a 3rd) witness. It was in direct line with my fasting time: to me a direct
reply to that enquiry.
And, later as I sought the lecturing post and asked my new question to the
Lord, it was also a week prior to our going away on a holiday time. We were
going to a Christian camp with Good News Crusade and John Barr was also there.
His teaching role that week was on a seminar on "truth versus error".
I certainly wanted to attend these. But, even before we did, during the 1st
evening celebration I met someone from John's church whom I had not seen for
many years, but knew well. We had previously been in a fellowship together (for
about 9 years) which had gone off the rails. We were real glad to meet up and
she said "You must meet John". As she introduced us, John recognised
me from having visited him with my wife for a counselling session. He did not
know until that point that I had been a part of the old fellowship. And this
being fully in line with what he was speaking on that week he asked if I was
willing to share something at the same time as expressing his thought this was
the Lord bringing us together. So, here I had another pointer to this 'teaching'
call and what it consisted of.
Now, this fitted in with a word of prophecy given me in a public event a few
years before in which the Lord said I was to 'search the Word of God and learn
from it'. This encouraged me to go to Christian Life College (a Bible and life
training establishment) a few short years later, but now as I began to write of
my experiences in regards to deception and counterfeits the Lord impressed on me
that I was to teach 'the real thing' before 'the counterfeit'. This clarified
things further. A step by step attempt at fulfilling what one perceives
is what God wants, leads us to clarify further what He actually wants.
This is what was happening. I then began to write about salvation and in
particular what happens to those who never hear the gospel: for this is
something which unwittingly (without my recognition of why this was) I had been
learning this from reading my bible. It had been the Spirit of God teaching me
all along and preparing me. I had not attached the importance of these things to
what He wanted me to do: His goal for my life. Now I did. During this time I was
a self-employed car mechanic and now during the times of waiting for a car to
arrive or a delivery of parts I would begin to write and put my thoughts down on
So, here are examples in real life to help in getting to know what God's
will and purpose is for you. Prayer and asking God in general for His will is
good. Added to that a particular recognition that you do not really know and
thereby need to see His hand and to hear clearly, fasting can dramatically
improve that event. Natural events and others' suggestions discerned can speak.
Asking direct questions are important. And for me access to the 'words' (the
'gifts of the spirit') with others involved when they don't know in the natural
what you are asking is very telling. All words are to be tested the bible makes
abundantly clear (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21) and anything received contrary to
scripture is to be rejected. See also my article entitled
The Characteristics of
Knowing what you know to be what God wants, it is then possible and
imperative in order for it to occur, that you not only pray for it, but that you
are steadfast in it being your priority in your life. That you realise it is
'your cross'. And let us not forget that it was for the joy set before Him that
Jesus endured His (Hebrews 12:2). And it is in playing our part in ours that we
are fulfilled and find peace and rest in God. We are restless without it: for He
has made us for this very purpose. As Jesus said, to do otherwise is to be unfit
for the kingdom. He also said:
. . . For many are called, but few are fit for it.
Matthew 20:16 JM
See my article
The meaning of Eklektos
for the accuracy of that translation.
But, along the way there will be opportunity for many things as there was
with Jesus. He did do a carpenter's job and did not 'hit the road' (Jack?) until
He was 30. But, to be fair for Him that may have been because that is also the
age a priest is recognised as beginning his ministry (Numbers 4:3).
Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version
© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.
© copyright Jacques More 2002. All Rights Reserved.
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