From the permissiveness and immorality of denominations—and from some churches that used to belong to the Lord, it appears that they now work from Augustine’s idea to love God and do what you please. Whatever Augustine may have meant by it, they take it to mean that God allows you have it your way.
No wonder then that one of the favorite verses of religious folk is Psa 37.4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (KJV). Many take it to mean that God will write you a blank check, will do whatever you want. Continue reading
If we don’t get past telling our kids “no” and on to telling ourselves “no” then we’re heading for as much trouble as they should be when they don’t listen…especially when it comes to following Jesus.
Denying-self is simply a different way of having to tell ourselves “no”. And denying self is simply something that we must say “yes” to.
Inconvenient? We better believe it! Still necessary? We better believe that too!
So just to make sure we all understand what’s getting said (because the word “no” has so many meanings, right?) – if we’re someone that does not like hearing the word “no” then we’re not going to like what we’re about to hear:
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:23-25)
The cross of Christ was in the center of the three crosses the day Jesus was crucified (John 19:17-19), but it’s not because Jesus was self-centered (Mark 15:27-28).
From his birth to his death, Jesus led a life of self-denial (Philippians 2:5-8). This self-denial wasn’t denial for the purpose of denial in-and-of-itself. Nor was Jesus’ self-denial for purpose of making himself the center of attention (John 14:10). Jesus’ self-denial was for the purpose of helping others and glorifying his father in Heaven (Acts 10:36-38; Matthew 5:16).
Self-centeredness must be cast aside to follow Jesus. Look at the context of Paul’s, “Let this mind be in you…” statement in Philippians 2:5. The context is getting rid of self-centeredness (Philippians 2:1-4). It’s then that Paul proves his point by using Jesus as an example as to why the church at Philippi (and us today) should look beyond their own circle of self when it comes to dealing with others.
But in case you have some unreasonable reason that causes “Paul’s words” to carry no weight with you – keep Luke 9:23 in mind and get over yourself.
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:1-7 – NKJV)
This is part of a chapter out of a book I’m writing, “Total Transformation.” You might find it to be of use.
When we want to be transformed, Jesus shows the way. That way is not easy, but it is simple. It is the way of discipleship.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” Mt 16.24.
It might seem strange to us that Jesus makes this affirmation to his followers so late in his ministry. His declaration, however, comes at a critical point, after the confession of his identity and the Lord’s subsequent revelation of his death. Now his group can begin to understand the nature of discipleship. Continue reading
Jesus said, “If any man come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” What that means is that if you are a disciple indeed then you will follow Jesus on his terms. Crosses are for dying on and what dies on our cross is our will. However, a lot of people treat the Bible like a religious smorgasbord. They believe they can pick and choose and take as much as they like and refuse the rest. But, if we follow Jesus, we must do things his way. Remember the day before movie-ratings, when you could go to any picture show with no fear of being embarrassed? John Wayne Westerns were my favorite–no one got kissed but the horse, and invariably the posse would surround the bad guys’ hideout and shout–“Come out with your hands up.” Well, Jesus tells us the same thing–“Come out with your hands up.” To get up, you’ve got to give up, and to be exalted, you must be humbled. A song puts it this way “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.” This is Just-a-Minute
“And after going without food for forty days and forty nights, he was in need of it. And the Evil One came and said to him, If you are the Son of God, give the word for these stones to become bread. But he made answer and said, It is in the Writings, Bread is not man’s only need, but every word which comes out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:2-4 BBE)
Look to yourself! This was the Devil’s cry, challenge and critique. He wasn’t looking for a fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – he was looking for an abandonment of Matthew 6:33. And what failed against Jesus often overcomes us.
Self-denial is huge! How huge? This huge – Luke 9:23-25.
Self-denial looks to God. A task that’s not always so enjoyable for those of us who aren’t prepared. It can be downright scary because we’re not as ready to change as we thought we were. That is, until we look at Jesus, and keep looking at him. With Jesus the veil is removed and the load is lightened. With Jesus negative emotions are replaced with faith-filled emotions. With Jesus we see our self better – and we see how better off we are when we deny our self and confess him.
So the next time we’re challenged to “prove” something about our faith, we may want to stop and ask if our “proof” causes us to look to a reliance upon our self or to someone else beyond our self.
“So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)