Self Denial 11-1-14
He was saying to them all, " If anyone wishes to
come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow
Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever
loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
I am,at my job, what is called a 4 star route. That is a designation for
routes that are loaded and leave at a later time. This is due to being situated
more locally than some routes that must leave at earlier times due to time
sensitivity. There are about four or five of us that come in at midnight and
don't leave until 3 A.M. or even later at times. So we sit around every night
and watch football or find a cubby and read or scroll the web on our phones
until loaded and ready. Last night I was reading my Kindle App on my phone when
out of nowhere the title of my message floated into my mind. Now, I am
absolutely sure the Lord whispered it to me. How Ronnie, do you know that? Well,
a cursory glance at my waistline and you will realize that I don't dwell too
much on self denial. And everybody said "Bon Appetit!"
A dictionary rendering of the term self denial puts it this way: " the
surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered
as having a higher or more pressing claim"` A HIGHER CLAIM. When I saw that, I
realized that indeed God was speaking to me concerning some issues in my life.
Let me interject some 'sho nuff ' truth here before proceeding. When we go
boldly before God in a "mountain top" moment and ask Him to search our
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try
me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And
see if there be any hurtful way in me,
Psalms 139:23-24 (NASB)
Don't be surprised if God does just that. And don't be surprised if it turns
out to be somewhat painful.
Be careful what you pray for. Those Amens may turn into Oh Me's.(smile)
Jesus words to His disciples followed His stern rebuke of Peter(see Matthew 16 and Mark 8) He
got in Peter's face because Peter was concerned with the interests of man, in
this case Peter's interests and not God's. Now, because I haven't done too much
study on the subject, I checked out some references and discovered that the meat
of self denial is in the phrase "take up his cross." The subject of that phrase
is us, me and you. And it is first and forever more, voluntary. We are to
voluntarily take up, and shoulder our own cross, to surrender our will to
God's. It is different from "bearing a cross." Bearing a cross implies bearing a
load that is involuntarily put upon you. It is dealing with life and the burdens
it lays on you. This verse however is talking about voluntarily sacrificing your
will and desire for the sole purpose of serving God or your fellow man.It can be
painful, it's a cross. Jesus said if anyone "wishes" to be a follower of Him,
then, this is what it looks like. Now, this does not mean that we go searching
for ways to take up a cross. No, no. That is nothing more than soul
annihilation, which left unchecked, turns into religious asceticism and
legalism. A work of man. That is not what Jesus is saying here. When God desires
a change, IF we are listening, He will speak to our hearts. If He isn't speaking
to you, don't go searching for something. Remember Jesus' words.
Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you
will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I
speak these things as the Father taught Me.
".....I do nothing on my own initiative...."
God speaks, we yield and we do. Sometimes better than others. The spirit is
willing but the flesh is weak. Amen?
Our culture today is obsessed with instant gratification and self
satisfaction. It is a "me first" mentality. Personal victory and power are
considered absolute rights.That doesn't really preach in West Africa or Iraq
right now though, does it? I digress. It's everywhere in Western culture and we
are all influenced by it to some degree. Oh yes, I will serve my fellow man, but
only after I satisfy my own wants and desires. Maybe you don't battle that, but,
I assure you this writer does. The old cliche holds true." Salvation is free,
discipleship is costly." Listen, I can't tell you what "following after" Jesus
means to you. That is a personal relationship between God and the rest of us.
It's a" me and God" thing. I can make this assertion however. It's an unpopular
subject in the secular and church world; it's almost always painful and if I had
my way, I would just skip over that page.(smile)
It's painful, it's sobering(read vs. 24 at the top again) but it will yield
the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be
acceptable in Your sight, O
Lord, my rock and my