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Words Of The Latter Rain

Volume 1, Issue 7, November 2008

11/25/2008

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A Cross Or A Burden?

Ken Nix

Tuesday, 11/25/2008

Kenneth Nix
 
I have heard people describe a particular illness, handicap, or even another person as their cross to bear.  What is the difference between a cross to bear and a burden?  Is there a difference?

Lets first look at the concept of a burden. Many would look at our walk with God as a burden, when considering the requirements of fasting, reading scripture on a daily basis, praying a minimum of three times a day, along with continual awareness of our thoughts, words and actions, etc….In some ways they would be correct if they consider one of the meanings of burden. But most would use it to mean a weight, but it is actually a totally different kind of burden.

When we look at the daily sacrifice, it has become a pattern or a habit for us. What many in this world would consider a weight is actually a freedom that we have come to love. I can better understand the words of Christ as given in Matthew 10: 28-30, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Greek word for burden used in this verse is "phortion" which means  a task or service. So the tasks or service that Jesus has placed upon us are such things as the daily sacrifice, all of which leads to great freedom and joy.

The word "burden" is found in other places in scripture with a totally different meaning. The word is used in two ways in Galatians, including the way as listed above. In  Galatians 6: 1-5, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden."

There is no contradiction in the above verses. The first burdens listed are ones we should help one another with. The usage of the Greek word, "baros" which in this instance would mean a weight or load would go hand in hand with the instructions we have received from Jesus to take on each other's pain. The second time the word is used in the above verses is at the end of the quote where the instruction is to bear your own burden. In this case, "burden" is once again the Greek word of "phortion" meaning task or service. Each of us is responsible for the task or service that God may demand of us. I cannot do the daily sacrifice for one of my sons. I cannot fast in place of one of my sons. Each has our own responsibility or burden. But we do help each other with burdens of life that can weigh us down.

The greatest burden that man bears is the one of sin. It weighs us down along with guilt and regret. The Lord Jesus takes all of this from us. By bearing the cross he removed our greatest burden. We were prisoners to the burdens we were bearing. Once again we are reminded of verse seven in Isaiah 42. Lets read verses 6-8, "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images."  Praise God!! We are free of the burden of sin. What about our other burdens such as  sickness, a bad marriage or disobedient child? These are burdens, not your cross to bear.  I will explain in more detail, but first let us address these other burdens. God has been clear that we have our lives to live. We will go through various seasons in this life. We will endure hardships and trials, some of our own making.

Many people don't ever seem to want to do something about  burdens except complain. My grandmother used to complain about  burdens she had regarding family or sickness. In either case, she had no desire to hear a solution. She just wanted commiseration. I'm sure you've known many people like that.

With our burdens or responsibilities in life we have choices. We have the choice of how we will respond when faced with sickness. In one of the messages given to us by the Almighty God, we are told, " So much of life is vanity. I see beyond the here and now. I see into eternity. I am merciful to those who seek me, but my mercy is not the same as man's wishes. Would man ever suffer, would man ever die if he had the power? You are made strong through suffering and weakness….There is evil in this world and evil is allowed to roam and devour. My Lamb was slain. My Son is the King of Glory, and all will be restored. All pain and tears will be removed. My ways are not your ways. My mercy is often seen in death, for death is but a moment and twinkling light. My resurrections will restore all things. Be as Job, praise me even when evil comes upon you and I will lift you when the time comes.”

We have to yield and surrender and trust in the mercy, love, and goodness of God. We have also been told to seek him in sunshine or in sorrow. We received a beautiful message on this.

In Storm or Sunshine

The fog rolls across the water. The mist of the sea fills the night.

Upon the water the tiny ship is lost and tossed upon the waves.

Tiny ship of men, where is thy faith? Where is thy belief?

The storm rages and the tempest of storm rolls, and waters rock.

Help us, oh God, for we perish. Help us, oh God, for we are lost. Help us!

Men cry in desperation. They turn to me in times of peril and loss.

The tiny ship is buffeted. The men’s hearts turn to dross.

Help us, oh Jesus, thou Son of the Light. Calm the storms of life.

‘Be still,’ he says. ‘Be calm.’ Both men and storm hear his words.

For sea and man must be still, be calm, and be free of worry.

Calm the seas of tempest. Calm the seas of strife. Peace, be still.

Surrender your care, surrender your heart, surrender all unto me.

The ship moves across the waters to the lights of harbor safe.

Life spared, confidence restored, sins given sought anew.

Why must you be lost in stormy night to seek me and call my name?

I am found in sunshine, calm waters, and starry nights, my people.”

 

We all have trials, testing, hardships, and burdens in life. Some burdens are carried with little to no choice and others are carried willingly and sometimes even with vanity. Some may be due to poor decisions, but after the decision is made and the consequence is upon you, then you have little to no control in regards to the fact that the burden, etc...is there.  Your choice is in how you handle the burden. Do you turn to yourself? Do you attempt to handle them based on your own knowledge, abilities, or feelings? Do you attempt to handle them at all? Some people simply accept the status quo and decide burdens are crosses to bear. Yet we do have other choices. We can turn to God, we can yield, and surrender, and trust. We can determine not to complain or doubt. We can turn to one another to help with burdens that we bear.  If the burden we are talking about is a task or service or responsibility, the answer is still the same. We surrender all to God.

So what is the difference between  a burden and a cross? Many times  burdens you bear in life are not ones  you cheerfully choose to bear. But a cross is exactly that, it is to be cheerfully accepted and borne.  A cross deals with following Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He willingly chose to bear the cross that led to his death for our sins. It lead to him becoming a man who walked this earth facing trials and winning battles daily for you and I so he could be a sacrifice without blemish.

If we are to be his disciples then we are to also take our own cross upon us. Look at some of the references below taken from the King James Bible.

Matthew 10:37-39, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."

Here we are shown that in the obedience of love you are to take up your cross. You can help bear one another's burdens, but your cross is yours and yours alone to bear. Just as when we are told in Philippians 2:12, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

We also see in Matthew that once you take up your cross you are to follow Jesus. Then our Savior speaks of giving your life to him.

 

The word used in the scripture is "loseth.” This means to die. Yet it isn't talking of dying physically, but it is talking of dying spiritually. It is talking of the death of the old man. Death to our will, our rebellion, our desires and way of life.  It has to be put to death so that we can live in Christ and in him alone. Though some of us may be called upon to die for Christ, this isn't what this particular scripture is speaking about. It pertains to what we read in Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."

The cross was the means of the death of Jesus Christ as a man.  The cross is an implement of death. Thus when we are taking up the cross it is the taking up of an implement of death of the old man and walking in a new life and way before God as we follow our Lord and King. It is intentional and willful and goes hand in hand with the symbolism of baptism of the old man being buried.

Let us look at a couple more references to the cross in scripture. In Matthew 16:24, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."

The word "deny" in this verse means to totally disown. You willingly surrender and yield to the Mighty Ones in heaven and follow the path of Jesus.

In Mark  10: 21, "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me."

In this scripture a rich young ruler had approached Jesus and asked what was needed for him to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to go his way, to get rid of all useless riches and follow a new way, the way of salvation by following Jesus above all else. The rich young ruler left grieved for he had great possessions. Here we find that there is another category of a burden. The burden for him was riches. That burden was keeping him from Jesus. He could have turned the burden into a blessing for many if he had put Jesus first. How many times have we been told to get rid of our storehouse? It can be a burden that gets in the way of our surrendering to and trusting in Jesus.

Luke 9:23, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

The important point here is that it is a daily choice, a daily decision. Jesus Christ as our King, daily fought battles for us while a man. In a message received at the Feast of Booths in 2007 entitled, "The Good King" in point 6 we were told,  The good King goes forth into battle before the enemy attacks. He knows the ways of the enemy, and his royal army destroys the enemy before they can come against his servants. The victory has been won. Your King fought for you before you were born. He had no armor, no shield, no mighty sword. He wore robes, and walked in the dust of the earth. He had his flesh torn from his body, and he fought magnificently. The angels cheered the day he went to battle for you, my people.

When was this day of battle, you may say? It was every day he walked in the love of obedience. He died to the flesh everyday so that you could have life. His victory was won at Calvary, but the battles he fought were more numerous than the sands along the shore. Bow and cry, and worship thy Savior and King."

This is what we are to do as we follow our Savior. We make daily choices. We choose to do battle daily against the darkness for the victory of light. We do this by taking up the cross daily. As you can see there is a big difference between a burden and a cross.

In the final scripture for taking up the cross let’s look at Luke 14:27, "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."

For us to be true disciples, true followers of Jesus, we must take up our cross and follow him. Jesus has to be the ultimate for us, more important than any burden. Burdens can be loads we have little to no choice in, or they can be burdens we simply choose to accept and live with. They can also be obstacles to our walk with Jesus.

When I first mentioned the cross I mentioned that we should "cheerfully" take up the cross. Why cheerfully?  After all, I show that the cross is an implement of death. The death of the old man, which frees us from many burdens. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29-30, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

His burden is light and when the old man is truly dead and gone, we should be able to do our daily walk practically floating on air. Christians are the most blessed people on the face of the earth.  Jesus daily carried his cross and after three days and three nights came out of the tomb to greater honor and power than before. The Almighty God exalted his Son, our Savior. His name is above all names. Peter asked Jesus what was in it for them (the disciples) because they were following him. In Matthew 19:27-29, we read, "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold , and shall inherit everlasting life."

We cannot out give God in anything we do. What ever is asked of us in the race we are called to run cannot equal the treasures saved up for us.  As Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1, let’s put aside the burdens or weights and the sin that so easily beset us and run the race that is set before us. Let’s do it with joy and love, praising the mighty ones in heaven. So cheerfully take up your cross daily, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not a burden but is rather a path to joy and everlasting life.

 

 

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