(By: Norm Rasmussen)

And He said unto them all, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'  (Luke 9:23)

Being a devout follower of Jesus Christ in this life is not easy for most. Much pain will most likely follow. That is why Jesus told his disciples they would have a cross to carry just like He had a cross to carry. 

Maybe you've never thought about discouragement being a burdensome cross to carry daily, but it most certainly can be. As a matter of fact, it can be one of the heaviest, most painful crosses some people will ever have to carry in this life, as they follow after Jesus Christ.

Let's be real honest with ourselves. Discouragement can be a lethal type of emotional cancer, and if we don't recognize just how deadly it can be, we may find ourselves overcome by this spiritual disease to the degree that we simply let it destroy our faith and hope in God, rather than aggressively fighting against its onslaught.

Discouragement can go so subtly undetected in its early stages. It can begin to work its poison into our thinking all the while we don't even realize it is poisoning us.  Don't let this happen! If allowed to be injected into your body for very long without taking God's antidotes, you can find yourselves overcome by it much faster than what you may realize.  

The end result of discouragement?  It can put a wedge between you and God unlike very few other spiritual poisons can. It can destroy your hope in God, your faith in God and especially His holy scriptures, your desire to obey God, your desire to even pray anymore.   

Discouragement is one of Satan's most effective weapons in trying to shipwreck your faith in God, and your faith in God's Word (wisely applied). You MUST recognized discouragement for it's lethalness that it is and ask God to help you get it out of your life TODAY, not waiting until tomorrow. It's that serious of a matter.

Discouragement is usually the by-product of either having something taken away from us that we hold dear, and/or not obtaining something we desperately would like to have.

Recognizing discouragement as our cross to carry daily is not so difficult to accept. What God tells us BEFORE picking our cross up daily is 'to deny ourselves'. This can be very difficult to accept, because when we don't get something we are trusting God for in a time-frame we would like, discouragement is right there trying to persuade us that God really can't be trusted, God doesn't care about us, God doesn't love us.   

Let's look at God's antidotes for keeping discouragement at bay. First, we need to pick discouraging thoughts UP, on a DAILY BASIS. We don't ignore it by leaving it lying on the ground and pretending or wishing it can't harm us.  Until we pick discouragement up like the deadly demonic snake that it is and securely squeeze it's head so that it can't sink it's ugly fangs in us and inject its poison, odds are great that it can strike us when we are weak and off guard.

Secondly, we MUST NOT just stand still with the snake of discouragement draped about us, but rather, KEEP WALKING closely behind God. God is not a camper, nor is He a vacationer. God is not a retiree, nor is He a pacifist. Christ is a soldier, and His intention is to conquer, not BE conquered. The very strongest defense is a dead serious offense, if you want to maintain ongoing victory over your enemy, and if we don't stay closely in touch with our heavenly Coach and Commander Jesus Christ, we will not have the wisdom and favor of God to maintain victory over our opponent.  

Denying ourselves wisely is the most EFFECTIVE 'antidote' in keeping discouragement from getting its poison into our system. 'Not my will, but YOUR will be done, Lord' should be the marching song we sing daily in this battle as we purpose to stay close behind our Commander In Chief; Jesus.

God wants us trusting Him for things, but He also wants us trusting Him that He knows what is best for us at all times. We often fail to realize that passing tests God gives us is far more important to God than constantly granting us our heart's desires. The most fruitful tests God administers to us are often those that oppose OUR WILL the greatest.  

Let's examine this a bit more thoroughly. We can begin trusting Him for something specific, ONLY to discover that in time, we're most likely not going to be given what we are trusting Him for. Of all the tests God administers to us, this is probably the most difficult to pass, but again, the most fruitful, if we surrender our will to God in the matter and accept whatever end result we end up with.  

Trusting God that He KNOWS what is best for us at any given time in His birthing Christ-like character in us (that has eternal rewards connected to it) will knock the foundations of discouragement out from underneath discouragement like little else CAN. 

'Lord, I'm trusting You for such-and-such, but I accept whatever you ultimately give me, in your time frame, in your ways, because I trust that you know what is best for me at all times.'  

Denying ourselves is the process of laying down our early personal desires rather than let them become a hindrance in our relationship with God. It doesn't imply that we should not trust God for the earthly desires of our heart. Instead, it is our willingness to keep being faithful to God and our willingness to keep trusting Him regarding ETERNAL MATTERS if God does not allow us to have the earthly desires of our heart. 

It is our human nature to want all the blessings and joys of heaven NOW. God understands that. Being willing to wait to receive them if God wills until we get to heaven is the painful cross of denying ourselves, daily.

Learning to deny ourselves and learning how to deny ourselves quickly and often is NOT an option if we truly are purposing to follow after Jesus Christ and purpose to walk in spiritual victory. 

I believe God's definition of walking in spiritual victory is to be at peace with God through every trial He allows us to go through and show a genuine willingness to keep on thanking Him and praising Him and obeying Him no matter how intense the pain might be. 

Denying ourselves of what our heart desires can be a very heavy cross to carry, and Christ will help us carry it, if we stay closely next to Him and keep inquiring of Him as to what decisions we need to make to remain effective, victorious cross-carrying soldiers in His army.

Yet an important reminder, discouragement will load you down and hinder you greatly from staying close behind Jesus Christ and maintain victory, if you become spiritually tired.  Give your discouragement to Christ and let HIM carry it. He's strong enough and willing enough to take it, so you can be freed from it. Ask and patiently trust Him for wisdom when your cross of discouragement seems too burdensome to bear.

'Casting all your care (anxiety) [discouragement] upon Him, for He care's for you.'  (1 Peter 5:7)

Learn to recognize discouragement QUICKLY, and use the spiritual weapons God has for us to cut off it's very head every time it tries to take you captive.

Two of the most potent spiritual weapons are the weapons of thanksgiving and praise to God. Using these two weapons when we least feel like using them is demonstration to God that we are willing to do the wise thing over what our heart desires.  

(Speaking of apathy, this TOO is a lethal spiritual poison that can greatly contribute to shipwrecking (hindering) your faith every bit as much as discouragement can. Discouragement invariably leads to apathy; both of them work in conjunction with each other. We'll deal with the poison of apathy in another writing). 

No longer let discouragement be a part of your existence for more than about 30 seconds. Let the weapon of faith in God and in His Word wisely applied destroy discouragement.  Stay on the offensive DAILY in battling the temptations of discouragement. From this moment forward, never let your guard down again against discouragement. You can't afford to do anything less, soldier of the Most High and powerful God, not if you want to start walking in spiritual victory, and remain walking in spiritual victory. Doing so can be a daily battle, a very painful daily battle.

This needs to be emphasized. Our purposing to walk in anything less than daily spiritual victory over discouragement is God's highest will for us. If I didn't believe that, I probably would have given up on God a long time again (at least tried very hard). God wants us at peace with Him, all the time, though I know how difficult that peace can sometimes be so hard to find and keep. Christians who have come to understand the wisdom of applying thanksgiving to God and praise to Him no matter what situation they find themselves in understand it is impossible to walk in spiritual victory any other way.

I realize I've repeated myself a lot in this writing, but in our microwave, serve it to me now world and let's move ONNNNNNNNNN to something else, I've felt some things needed to be repeated so they won't be forgotten so easily.

And now a word for someone:  STOP LISTENING TO SATAN'S LIES THAT JESUS AND THE FATHER CAN NO LONGER BE TRUSTED!   (Someone needed to be told that).

Your cross to carry daily may be much heavier than many others. Jesus grew so weary even He was unable to carry His cross to the top of Calvary's hill. The Father had to provide help by supplying someone else to carry the cross. (See: Mark 15:21). When your cross seems too heavy to carry and it seems like you can't keep going on, go to the Father in prayer and ask Him for help. He knows your and my limitations and burdens, and will come to our rescue in our time of great desperation. Father will make a way. Any caring father would.  

On one end of the spiritual spectrum, God is refining, purging and purifying His people as he assured us He would in Daniel 12:10. The fire appears to many to be getting hotter and hotter. That tells me that we need to stay in better spiritual shape so we can endure whatever He determines we need to endure.  

On the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum is Satanic spiritual warfare being waged against disciples of Jesus Christ. Learning everything we can about how to wage effective spiritual warfare against demonic attacks is not optional to the wise disciple; it too is necessary to walk in greater spiritual victory. 

Our minds find it difficult to grasp why God allows Satan to afflict us at times, or others, yet the mystery of all mysteries is that God uses Satan's attacks against us to accomplish matters that are going to manifest God's glory in us in eternity.

God is a God of love, but He's also a God of Fatherly discipline. Discipline always results in some degree of pain. God disciplines us for our own good, and He uses adversity in our life to grow spiritual character inside us. God is far more concerned about spiritual character birthed in us that He is putting money in our wallet or answering our every prayer when pain is reining down on us.

The cross God gives you and I on a daily basis to carry is ultimately designed for our good. All of our afflictions are working for us an eternal weight of glory.  We have every right to trust God that our pain as Christians is working for our spiritual gain. Some earthly spiritual gain, ALL eternal spiritual gain:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.



Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)