Monday, July 20, 2015

Self-denial - are you kidding me?

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  Matthew 16:24

Jesus asks us to carry our cross. It's not a cross made of splintered wood, such as the one He carried to Calvary; it's a cross of self-denial and submission.  It's a symbol of dying to SELF. It's not heavy, but it sure is awkward!

It doesn't feel right to say "no" to our natural, human cravings and impulses. We are creatures who love pleasure and avoid pain at all cost. We want to feel good and do all the things that bring us pleasure. You know the old motto: If it feels good-do it!

Yet, God tells us to control our desires. He doesn't ask us to abstain from all pleasure, rather to enjoy the pleasures of this world within the boundaries of His guidelines.  Therein lies the problem; we do not want boundaries. We want to be free to indulge in anything, anytime, in any amount that seems right to us. And He will let us do that, but the natural consequences of those choices could be costly and destructive.

Jesus carried His cross. I'm not talking about the wooden cross upon which he was crucified, but the cross of obedience to the Father's will.

He did not wait to pick up the cross on the day of His crucifixion, nor did He cease to carry it after his resurrection. He carried the cross of obedience all the days He walked on this earth. He remained obedient through life, death and life after death and He is our perfect example.

Let's carry our cross, disciplining ourselves to surrender our will to the Father. This not only applies to our eating habits, but to every realm of our life. The flesh cries out for pleasure and satisfaction, but we do not have to give into the fleshly desires, because the Spirit of God lives in us and gives us power to say no to sin.

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" Titus 2:11-12

Prayer:
Father, we ask your help as we pick up our cross, surrendering our will to yours. Help us, in the face of temptation, to choose what will please and honor you. Help us to care for these bodies you've given us. Help our spirits to be submissive to you, knowing that you love us beyond our understanding and that you have only our best in mind. Self-denial is hard. You understand that, because you understand us completely. You know our weaknesses and you have promised to strengthen us when we are weak. We ask, now, that you strengthen us at the very moment we are tempted, so that we might make good choices. Amen

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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jan!

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  2. You're welcome. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. Always a thought provoking message that just helps me along in my journey following our Savior, thank you Jan, Jan :)

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