Why and How Should We Deny Ourselves

Deny Yourself
SUMMARY:
TO FOLLOW JESUS, WE MUST FIRST DENY/DISAVOW OURSELVES, FROM OURSELVES AND BECOME OBEDIENT DISCIPLES ASSIMILATING CHRIST’S VALUES TO GOVERN OUR LIVES AND EMBRACE THE WILL OF GOD.

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Taking up the cross requires full submission to the will of God. Full submission requires denying or disavowing our natural man for our spiritual man. Jesus is commanding us to reject our natural feelings about ourselves. Mark 8:24 is not about possessions as we so often think. Possessions are a byproduct of our natural selves. Our possessions govern who we think we are in the natural. Jesus wants us to deny, disavow, that we are our own, that we own ourselves. Ray Stedman, Authentic Christianity, writes:

“Jesus is saying something very fundamental. It strikes right at the heart of our very existence, because the one thing that we, as human beings, value and covet and protect above anything else is the right to make ultimate decisions for ourselves. We refuse to be under anything or anyone but reserve the right to make the final decisions of our lives; this is what Jesus is telling us. He is not talking about giving up this or that, but about giving up ourselves.”

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 explains the transference very clearly, if we are going to follow Jesus, we no longer own ourself. He has ultimate rights; He has Lordship of our life. So, we no longer belong to ourself; Jesus will make final decisions when the issues of our lives hang in the balance. This is what Jesus means by “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself,” we must deny our self-trust, deny our self-sufficiency, deny our feeling so we can handle life by ourselves and run everything to suit ourselves.

Jesus is saying that discipleship requires disavowing ourselves from ourselves and putting him in charge of our lives. It is our pride that keeps us from being dependent upon God. God is calling for us to disavow our human traits and pick up his traits Paul described Galatians 5:16-26 NIV, Freedom in Christ.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

There is only one way to becoming a disciple of Christ, and that is to obey his commands and be completely dependent upon Him for direction. We have to choose to do what Jesus says and not what we think independent of Him. If he instructs us to turn right when we planned to turn left, do so, we never know what lesson lies ahead or what harm you are avoiding. Only Jesus knows the plans for our lives. We are not our own.

“Following Jesus is not a decision for the moment, but a program for a lifetime, to be repeated again and again, whenever we fall into circumstances which make these choices necessary.”

References -BibleHub.com; Biblestudytools.com; Blueletterbible.org.

Note: Much of the context is either quoted or paraphrased from Ray Stedman, The Way of the Cross. Raystedman.org.

Images: Google Images; Discipleship image – Heritage Christian School

 

Thank you for visiting my Young Christian Warriors site and dailyinspiration-lisasthoughts.com.

Seek, Knock, and Find

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If you look for the Father through Jesus Christ you will find Him. Seeking God is His commandment to let us know He is all around us. He hears our prayers and is waiting for us and challenging us to interact with Him in conversation. He is calling us to enter into a relationship with Him. His grace and mercy are in abundance for the giving.

I view knocking at the door as a metaphor requesting entrance into His home. Knocking also takes the form of praying. We seek Him through our Heart. The Holy Spirit invites us into His dwelling.

Under the Holy Spirits guidance and influence, we are taken out of captivity and are no longer wanderers. In our wandering, the evil one led us astray and away from our Father. The greatness of our Lord invites us home just as we are. All He asks is that we establish genuine intimacy with Him through integrity, honesty, sincerity, and faith.

The idea of seeking God is expressed throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve may be the only people who did not have to seek Him. He was present in the Garden of Eden. God loves us, so He does not leave us alone seeking Him. In Jeremiah 24:7 He said, “ I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole hearts”, much like the Prodigal Son returned home after his wanderings.

Throughout the Bible we are urged to seek Him, to let Him know we are searching for Him and want an ongoing relationship with Him. We have been invited to seek God through Jesus who left the Holy Spirit to live in us during His absence. As believers, we are vessels of the Holy Spirit, and our access is through our heart and love for God.

The scriptures below are taken from the NASB Bible.

Jeremiah 29:12-14
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back from  exile.’”

Psalm 24:1-5
“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains The world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

Psalm 27:8
“When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.””

Psalm 63:1
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.”

Isaiah 45:15
“Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior!”
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Matthew 11:25
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

Seek, knock, and you will find our Lord.

Related Post: Ask. Seek. Find. Receive. https://wp.me/p98Coa-rd.
September 19, 2018

Opening Our Hearts, Ending Lipservice

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Hearts, not lips. How many of us are Christians but feel forced to hold daily communication with our Lord. You know what I mean, praying becomes mechanical and routine. You don’t open up to Him, you hold back in shame, and choose to put on your professional Christian attitude when praying, much like we do among people. We have a public face and a private face. We have a heartfelt spirit we share with our Lord, and we have a mechanical spirit when we simply recite prayers in a mono fashion. We do not operate from our heart. We do not allow our inner spirit to live in victory. Our communication with the Lord suffers, as does our outward man who operates in fear of being judged.

Our Lord cries, why do my people say they honor me with their lips, but their practices are not heart driven? Why do they treat me with anguish? Why is our relationship so impersonal? The fact is, we are God’s children (wayward or not), or we are not God’s children. We either have a strong relationship with Him, or we do not. The way we treat God, the way we treat others, the way that we exhibit His love determines who we are in Christ. If we fail to show our love in practice and live a heartfelt life, then we are giving lip service to all that we do, including communion with our Lord and Savior.

Our life begins with our relationship with our Lord. It encompasses all that we are and all that we do. Is this an easy process, not necessarily. Often, we, I, stay in communication only to become comfortable and then complacent. My daily time becomes a coffee break, rushed through and checked off.  Does this sound familiar?

God never fails. He sees our tears, our anguish, our anxiety. He also sees our compassion, love, empathy, kindness, trustworthiness,  patience, and self-control whether we display it to Him or the outside world. He is our witness to all that we do. He is the recipient of all that we hold in or share with Him. He is our Father. He created us and delivered a divine plan nestled deep in our heart. He is our promise keeper.

It is time to free ourselves, from our banality, our public selves, and go deeper. It is time to risk opening our hearts. It is time to strip off the façade and welcome our God-self into the world, and most importantly in our cherished moments with our Lord and Savior in prayer. Our God-self is the Holy Spirit who projects light through our being into the world. Our relationship rests in part on our prayers being aligned with our lips. Our heart and our lips must project the same things, they cannot work effectively (if at all)  if they are not in sync with the Word, and our relationship with the Lord.

No parent should cry, why do my children’s hearts and lips seem disjointed, disconnected, and artificial? Why do they fail to honor our relationship, why are they so far from me?

Jesus wants us to come home. He wants our hearts to be full. He wants us to commit or re-commit our relationship to Him with honest heartfelt prayer, praise, and worship.

December is the month that focuses on Christ’s birth. Our gift to Him is our heart and our love. Speak to God through our hearts, express it with our lips. It is time to open our hearts and not just our lips.

Other Related Posts:

psalm51-12

Images – Google Images

Thank you for visiting my Young Christian Warriors site and dailyinspiration-lisasthoughts.com.

 

Do Everything In Love

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When we do everything in love, we are reflecting God‘s love for us. Our motivation in life should be doing for others before doing for self. God’s sacrifice should be our sole motivation to live a Christian life.

We are seeing stories of kindness and goodness in the world despite the darkness surrounding us. We are the light that causes change. Love outshines everything else.

Love others today through acts of love and kindness. God‘s mercy and grace give us the air we breathe. Share love-purpose-kindness without thinking how it will affect you first.

Loving ensures we are becoming Christian Warriors ready to deflect darkness.

Do everything in love!

The Equation: Love+Faith, Moves Mountains

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We are commanded to love. I believe this is true of all faiths. If we fail to love, all else fails. Love is powerful. But, as Christians, we are commanded to love our neighbors, love our enemies, love the sick, the poor, and downtrodden. We are to love others as we love ourselves. We are commanded to love because God first loved us.  All things are possible when we love. We can move mountains through faith if first, we love.

As Christians, our very existence is linked to ‘love’. Romans 12:9-10, NLT reads, Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 

The Bible is replete with scriptures about God’s love for us and how we are commanded to love others in the same way He loved us first.

Romans 5:8, NIV reads, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 5:1-5, NLT reports, Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Matthew 5:43-46 NLT, You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ ]and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?

Romans 12:9-21, NLT,  goes on to  read,

11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 

Friends, the maxim is  – love conquers all. Love fires up our faith to move mountains, but as 1 Corinthians 2:13 reads, if we fail to love, moving mountains is nothing, because our  lives are not based on God’s love for us, and moving mountains becomes a phrase and not an action, God gifted to us, His children.

Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh and Overcoming our Carnal Nature

Christopher-Robin-Live-Action-Animation-ComparisonRecently I watched the movie, Christopher Robin set in the mid-1940s. The story is about the adult Christopher Robin suffering through the stresses of war and then as a procurement officer for a suitcase company, a husband, and a father. While his name was Christopher Robin, he was no longer the whimsical child whose friends were wise stuffed animals. As an adult, he lost himself and became overwhelmed by life allowing his carnal (sin) nature to take hold of him.

How many of us become overwhelmed by life? How many of us lost our way when we became adults? How many of us have or had careers, families, and life only to find that we have been misplaced by the facade of what we thought an adult was? In effect, we have allowed our sin nature to become our master. Our sin nature is our carnal self. When we are not alert, the essence of who God created us to be is overtaken by the world. Fortunately, possessing the Holy Spirit alerts us of the takeover and awakens us to live a life like Christ. 2 Kings 2:3 tells us God will remove the master of our carnal being and free us to be who he created us to be.

“Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him. “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

As the story proceeds, Pooh looked for Christopher Robin for years because he missed the relationship they had years ago. Do you miss the relationship you had with God when you were a newly saved Christian? One day Pooh decided to venture out and find him. Are you seeking the Lord and your relationship with Him?

Jumping ahead, Pooh found Christopher Robin in London and hoped he would still be his friend and return to the 100-Acre Wood. When he saw a man approaching him in the park, Pooh did not recognize him. His adult (carnal) personality was nothing close to who he was as a youth, his essence was missing, and he was a mere shell of who he was earlier in life.

Pooh then said, it is always a sunny day when Christopher Robin comes to play. Christopher heard Pooh but knew the old Christopher was dormant and lost. He could not find himself and therefore could not play with them. This was his wake-up moment. Up until that moment, he did not realize he was lost. Luke 5:26 says,

“They were all stuck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

To shift the story a bit, this morning at church Pastor Paul Sheppard (Destiny Christian Fellowship, USA), shared a God showed him a paradigm shift about of what he had been in prayer about for some time. Pastor Paul shared that paradigm shifts change the perspective of how you see something. In essence, what you thought a thing was, was, in fact, something completely different when the shift takes place. I share this because Christopher Robin experienced a paradigm shift when he found his daughter (who went back to the city to give him his papers he left behind) and she gave him one of the pages of his report. The diagram was a pyramid showing percentages of who purchased suitcases, reflecting a loss in sales (that could result in the company closing down). However, when the diagram was inverted, it showed a potential increase in sales if you looked at the economics of what part of the population would purchase suitcases when they received vacation time to travel. Before the paradigm shift, the target market was the rich, the inverted diagram reflected that as the market changed to include the average working man, suitcase sales would increase exponentially.

In the end, everything worked out. Christopher Robin saved the day, the company remained open, he reclaimed his essence, found himself and began to focus on his family. The final minutes of the movie focused on Pooh and Christopher Robin sitting

on a tree trunk. Pooh asked Christopher Robin what day is it? Christopher Robin quickly responded ‘it is today’. Pooh smiled and said, good, it is today, that’s great because when it was yesterday, it was too much of a day for me. This was a key point when Christopher replied, it is today, we are witnessing his turning point, indicating that he found his essence, his carnal self would have given the day and month. Hebrews 3:13 says,

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Earlier when Pooh said, it always a sunny day when Christopher Robin comes to play is the moment when he established who he was, just as we do when we repent and ask God to be part of our life. Pooh recognized that Christopher Robin was no longer lost. He had found himself, he reclaimed his essence while searching for an answer to his dilemmas and searching for his daughter who was much like him. Sometimes it is to do nothing when we have been tasked with finding the answer.

Doing nothing for Christians is stepping back and going into prayer asking God for direction. We are instructed to be still and wait on the Holy Spirit to direct us, in so doing we step away from our carnal, sinful self and rely on the Lord. Why is forging ahead without Gods direction carnal? Our carnal self is self-serving, conceited, and stubborn, seeking to draw attention to self and not the intended outcome.

Generally, as we search for purpose, we grow as Christians and eventually receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. In so doing, we reclaim our person in Christ and relinquish our carnal self. However, like Christopher Robin, we can slip into the chaos of the world and lose ourselves. As long as we live in this world we will be challenged, sometimes we need to step back, be still, and let God lead us.

Images – Google Images

Scriptures – BibleGateway.com