To deny self means to put aside our own selfish desires in order to follow Christ and serve his purposes, whatever the cost.
The world we live in today is so different than it was when I was a child – so much has changed in every area. The shape of the world is a great concern of mine, but the shape of the church world is an even greater concern. When I was a child, and even a young adult the Godly people I looked up to were the same age I am now – the difference I see in them compared to the same age group now is that so many priorities have changed in those few generations. Church and Fellowshipping others seemed to be priority to so many, and being driven by pleasure seemed to be kept in moderation. I’m seeing the church world today driven and controlled by the things that satisfy the flesh. I am so thankful to have been raised in a home where God came first, and other things came second. I still honor my parents today for the heritage they gave me, and for instilling the fear of God in me. With many families the pleasures of life and fulfilling our selfish desires now take first place. This isn’t a problem in one area of America, I see it all across the country, yet we live in a time where we need God more than we ever have before.
Are we as committed to God as the generations before us, or are we conforming more and more to the world around us?
The things of God have taken such a back seat in our lives, that I say, Oh God, have mercy. We live in a world where if prayer meeting is called at your church, only a handful show up – if a fun night is called almost the entire church comes – if we do show up for prayer meeting staying an hour about kills us, but we can stay and play till midnight or later and never think twice about it. We can’t make it to Wednesday nights service because we are to tired, but have no problem saying yes on Thursday night to go out with friends even tho we are completely wore out. What are we saying to our children looking on? We tell them to forsake all and follow him, but do they see us forsaking all and following Him? Sally or Henry gets sick on a church night and the whole family stays home, yet come morning we rush off to work and staying home with Sally or Henry is not an option for us because work is a priority – we wouldn’t say our job was most important, but how do we explain it’s not when I could have gathered the rest of the family just as easy the night before and went to the house of God while my spouse kept our sick child home? What if we were as dedicated to God as we were to our jobs? Would we be fired if we treated our jobs the way we treated Him? We won’t dare let our children miss a day of school, if we do it’s rare, yet keeping them from church, the most important place they can go is an option for so many. Our favorite group is going to be in town and we do everything we can, even leave work early to make sure we get to the concert on time, yet on church nights making provision to get to church never crosses our mind, much less to get there on time.
I’ve wondered many times how we would feel if our companion treated us the way we treat God?
These things trouble my heart and burden me – why has God been put on the back burner of our lives? Most of us have got life so good that we really don’t need Him, we say we do, but our everyday life speaks otherwise. Whatever we need is at our fingertips. We are driven by pleasure and fulfilling our fleshly desires. Our desire for God’s Word has been replaced with other materials that interest our minds. Being a Pastor’s wife does not exempt me from dealing with the pull, oh how I wish it did – it doesn’t exempt my family, and we find ourselves having to balance things in our lives to order to stay in fellowship with Him. There are so many things that try and rob our time away from Him. There are things that can so easily replace our immediate need for God. Are we saying to God I have all I need? I have plenty of money, a good job, a good church, great friends, and family, I’m making it just fine – we would never voice that, but is that what God sees out of our lives? I look at the fulfillment in the lives of people who are truly sold out to God, the ones that have taken up their cross and are true followers of Christ. I always come up with the same conclusion – they are the happiest people on earth. They radiate joy and peace – no it doesn’t exempt them from trouble, but when trouble does come they are so grounded in Him they are not shaken.
We beg him to answer our prayers, yet refuse to make him Lord of our lives.
There are times I am singing a hymn at church and as I think about the words I am speaking I have to stop in fear and say, Oh God, are the words I speak in song, truth of how I live? Do I surrender all? I surrender all, all to Him I freely give, I will ever love and trust him in his presence daily live. JH. McC quoted – “I had been a christian, an officer in the church, a Sunday School superintendent but had never definitely yielded my life to God”. Part of the password into the early church was this – “Is thy soul wholly filled with the sprit divine? Does He reign in thy soul, so that all men see? Is the dear Savior’s blest image reflected in thee? Is he thy first thoughts, has he all of thy love? Is the doing his will both thy drink and thy meat? Has he freed thee from self and from all of thy greed? As a follower of Christ dost thou hardness endure.” Have I forsaken all to follow him? Who would my children say I follow? Would they say I follow Christ, or would they say there were other things in my life more important than Him? Do I follow him, or deny him? Have I taken up my cross? Peter told Christ he would lay down his life for Him, yet he denied him. Have I “sold” all to follow him? We must transfer our whole heart from other interests to the one supreme interest, that is Christ. We must be willing to put aside our own will, desires, hopes, dreams and plans for Him. Do those around me say that I am a follower of Christ? Do I deny him, or do I follow him? Unless we die to self, we will never truly become alive.