Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
~ Matthew 16:24-26, ESV ~
For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this life has significant meaning and purpose. As we engage in our journey through the Come Follow Me – Old Testament Study there is a call upon each of us to seek after Christ, to be all the more converted, and to be equipped and grow spiritually. This life is much more significant when we realize that each one of us is on our own journey. A journey toward a defined destination because of the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. A journey that sees fulfilment of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.
As you study through the Old Testament this year – be sure to follow the admonish of our Savior. Take up thy cross and deny thyself so that we may find our own path, our own meaning, and our own purpose. This will help us discover the answer to life’s challenges we shall face in the coming year. It also helps us understand the reason for our own existence and what purpose our Heavenly Father has called us to. With this perspective one may find a reduction in anxiety, worry, stress, and bring thoughtful and meaningful decision making. One may also experience an increase in satisfaction in knowing who they are and where they are headed as we strive to endure and overcome as Christ has endured and overcame (Revelation 3:21).
Scriptural Significance of 40-days
Setting aside, and consecrating our, time for the next 40-days has spiritual significance within the scriptures. For instance, Moses spent 40-days on an exceedingly high mountain with the Lord. Christ spent 40-days fasting and praying in the wilderness. The disciples spent 40-days with the resurrected Savior. When we ponder the symbolism of a wilderness – it signifies a separation from those things that presently influence our present lives.
Go Forward with Purpose
Observe that the Lord instructed us to do two things. First is to deny ourselves. Second is to take up our cross. The call to take up our cross is the call to separate ourselves from anything that may distract or influence our hearts and minds away from the will and purpose of God.
To deny means to put aside present beliefs, expectations, or anything that may hinder our spiritual growth. It is followed up by symbolism of putting to death our old patterns, habits, and worldviews. A process of transformation through the power of the Holy Spirt so that we may experience a mighty change of heart (Alma 5:12–14).
President Russell M. Nelson shares this truth:
Conversion means “to turn with”. Conversion is a turning from the ways of the world to, and staying with, the ways of the Lord. Conversion includes repentance and obedience. Conversion rings a mighty change of heart.Jesus Christ – The Master Healer: General Conference October 2005
And that is what we desire. To be converted, transformed, and empowered to move with purpose in living out our lives unto God. To accomplish this, we want to read, study, and apply the scriptures. Pray and meditate and seek after personal revelation.
3 – Practical Steps to Go Forward with Purpose
As we approach scripture, take our journey through the study of the Old Testament, we want to keep in mind these three practical steps that will help us go forward with purpose:
- Principle Truth to Ponder: Find those nuggets of truth in the passage of scripture you are reading to meditate on. Prayerfully seek personal revelation on how such truth is important and what purpose it brings into your life.
- Commit to Memory: Part of our scripture study is not to solely understand and apply the passages message to our lives. It is also to commit to memory those key verses so that we are able to recall them in times of need. By memorizing these key passages, we are growing and improving our lives.
- Ask, Seek, and Receive: Personal revelation comes when we thoughtfully, and prayerfully, consider the passages. Ask questions and think about the implications those scriptures have for your life. Write down the answers you receive – or those answers that may come to mind. It also helps us clarify our own thoughts we may have.
Here, we turn back to the Savior where he said that those who find their lives shall lose it, however, those who lose their lives for His sake, they shall find it. If you will commit to this 40-day challenge, you will discover God’s will and purpose for you. One may also find blessings and answers to some difficult questions or life situations. The benefits of this challenge are for you to discover. For it is a personal journey that we are embarking on.