In this world, we live with the constant reminder that “self” is the greatest thing to build. Self-respect. Self-esteem. Self-empowerment and the list goes on.
And yet Jesus says to us in His word, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Deny self? What? Doesn’t God know that self has to be strengthened to do anything in this world? Doesn’t He know that if I don’t have self-esteem and self-love and self-empowerment, then I can’t achieve MY goals and MY dreams and MY purpose?
I’ve learned in these years that what keeps us from truly living out what God’s kingdom is all about is the apprehension to completely deny self. Denying my dreams/ Denying my purpose. Denying my agenda. Denying my happiness (yikes).
And the enemy knows that as long as we keep the “self” agenda, God’s kingdom wont’ be pushed. Even as believers who have been walking with Him for quite some time, the struggle of “self” surfaces every day and it’s a constant battle that has to be won so that we can, as Jesus did, say “Not my will, but Yours be done God.”
Following Christ isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s for the one that has recognized the greater gain that comes when self and all of its selfishness is out of the way and when we realize that there is a beautiful exchange that takes place when we give up our selves completely and whole-heartedly. The only way to do it is to continue to take up our cross. It’s His work on the cross that gives us this strength.
Ladies, I pray daily that we would be so consumed by Him that self begins to disappear and we make it ALL about Him.
As the great theologian A.W. Tozer wrote,
“To repudiate it [self] and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal.”
By Boyd Bailey
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
Somewhere around age 10, I remember the sounds and smells of autumn: a family of squirrels scurrying over crunchy leaves on an unseen mission, suddenly leaping vertical, twirling their way up an oak tree in a game of follow the leader—only the brave of heart leaping from one flimsy limb to another. I loved the outdoors, especially the woods. Inhaling fresh air fueled my imagination with fresh ideas and allowed me to play out my childhood dreams of becoming a forest ranger. Since I still love God’s creation, I spend time outside reflecting on what could be.
Where we set our affections is where our heart and mind gravitate and webecome what we love. A newborn with a loving mom and dad coos, smiles and locks eyes with the ones they feel secure with, cared for and loved by. Parental and grandparental love are magnets that draw in the moldable heart of a little one who wants to be like the ones who provide a safe environment to be themselves, to fail and learn how to love and follow Jesus. Acceptance and affirmation from anyone (even unstable adults) begin to craft our character into what we later become.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).
Why do some sorrowful souls become what they didn’t love—even worse off than those they determined not to become? As an adolescent they witnessed the devastating effects of alcoholism or angry tirades from a parent or family member and they quietly promised themselves to never follow in the footsteps of the self inflicted pain of addictions that relationally ravished their home. But, to their shame—they became what they claimed they would never become. Even if a soul has been temporally tamed—it must still be occupied by their loving Savior Jesus—His love keeps out Christ-less culprits and allows true Love to affectionately grow them in God’s graces.
When we love the humility of Christ’s descension from heaven to earth—“humbling Himself”—we learn to love humbling ourselves for another’s sake. When we love the humility of Christ’s teaching, showing compassion to sinners—we learn to love and not judge those ensnared by sin. When we love the humility of Christ’s prayerful struggle in the garden and His obedience to die on the cross for the human race—we learn to love submission to God’s will over our will. When we love the humility of Christ’s ascension back to heaven to intercede on our behave—we learn to love the privilege of lifting up prayers for hurting people. When we make Christ the object of our affections—we become like who we love and who loves us most: Jesus our loving Lord!
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my love for You so I become more like You.
There are many things in this world I question, not because I’m doubtful but because I’m intrigued.
For example, when I drive, there are times when I am so fascinated with roads and their construction. It amazes me that there are roads that lead to so many places. At the same time, on that same road, I question traffic. Lol. Yes, traffic. Why is there a standstill and when you drive bumper to bumper you find that the accident was on the other side of the road. So how is our side stuck in traffic? You ever wonder?
You’re probably asking where I am going with this:-) You see, Paul in Colossians 4 writes to the Colossians on how to be effective witnesses for God. He’s in prison at this time and what’s fascinating is that he isn’t complaining. In fact, in Colossians 4:2, he is writing for the Colossians to devote themselves to pray that the doors would be open for the Word of God to made known—not for the door of the prison cell to be opened. (that’s a whole other devotional lol)
Can you imagine how the prison guards watched him and his response to the situation he found himself in? I bet they marveled at how peaceful and joyful he was. And when they knew that it was because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I can imagine that made them want to ask who is this man that can have such impact on how you act and your life that you would be willing to suffer like this?
In Colossians 4:6, here is what Paul writes: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (scripture of the week)
Well, we don’t have an answer unless a question has been asked. Perhaps that question is why do you act the way that you do? How can you have hope in such a grim situation? How are you able to forgive when they hurt you so deeply? How are you able to step out on faith when you don’t know what’s coming? Why don’t you gossip with us?
The point is, our lives should be lived in such a way that causes people to ask how? Why? When? Who?
We are called to be light. We are called to be salt. We are called to be unashamed.
I pray this week that you ask God to give you opportunity for the WORD to be brought forth where you are. Conduct your lives wisely. Let people marvel at the grace on you. And when they ask you can respond full of grace, seasoned with salt that Jesus is your Lord and Your Savior.
Peace, love & Blessings,
How beautiful is Your Name.
The Name above any other name.
It brings comfort to a hurting heart.
It brings peace to confusion.
It brings hope to defeat.
It brings life to death.
It brings grace to condemnation.
It brings provision to a need.
It brings love to emptiness.
It brings light to darkness.
Your Name is Wonderful.
Your Name is:
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals You)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord is My Banner)
El Qanna (Jealous God)
Jehova Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is Peace)
Jehovah Raah (The Lord is My Shepherd)
JehovahTsidkenu (The Lord is Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There)
How beautiful is Your Name.
By Mary Southerland
‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered. ‘Bring them here to me,’ He (Jesus) said. And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children (Matthew 14:17-21).
The feeding of the 5,000 is one of my favorite Bible stories. Aside from the resurrection, it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels ... and what a miracle it was!
Jesus borrowed a little boy’s lunch. Feeding 5,000 people with just five loaves and two fish was extraordinary in itself, but the Greek word used inMatthew 14:21 refers to males. The women and children present were not included in that number. Many Bible scholars believe the actual number fed that day could have been between 15,000 and 20,000 people. Absolutely amazing!
The setting for this miracle is important. Jesus and the disciples had been ministering to the crowds all day. It was getting late, and they were in a remote place. Knowing the people needed food and places to stay for the night, the disciples wanted to send them home.
But Jesus had a different plan – a plan that was based on what most people would consider absurd – five loaves of bread and two fish. Can’t you just see the faces of the disciples when Jesus explained His plan to them? Oh, they had seen Jesus perform miracles and work wonders, but feeding thousands of people with five measly loaves of bread and two fish was just ... well, unbelievable in human terms. But Jesus was not operating in human terms.
Jesus asked the disciples to bring Him the bread and fish. He then gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples to hand out to the people. The entire crowd was fed with the lunch of a young boy ... and there were leftovers!
When will we learn the truth that God will shatter our meager expectations when we place ourselves ... everything we are and everything we have ... in His hands?
And even our mistakes and our pain
God can and will take it all and transform it into a trophy of His grace and power. As the old gospel song says, “Little is much when God is in it.”
A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
A tennis racket is useless in my hands. A tennis racket in the hands of Venus Williams is a championship win. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
A rod in my hands might keep away a wild animal. A rod in the hands of Moses will part the mighty sea. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
A slingshot in my hands is a kid’s toy. A slingshot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
God loves to use the ordinary to create the extraordinary. He loves to use the seemingly insignificant and humble person to fashion a life of beauty and strength that can only be explained by Him. God wants to do just that in your life today. Ready? Place yourself in His hands.
Father, I surrender my life to You today – everything I am and everything I have. I know it’s not much, Lord, but I also know it is all You need to make my life a trophy of Your grace. I place myself in Your hands. Please transform me into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
In His Name I pray,