Denying Yourself

 

As I sat down to write why it is important to deny ourselves I became distracted by taking a selfie and I suppose that underscores the importance of why we need to deny ourselves. We are naturally self-focused. We desire what will make us look good or be beneficial for our immediate need or personal pleasure. Because of that, it is necessary to deny ourselves as there is only room on the throne for one and it is either Jesus or us. He will not take it by force so we must give up control to Him. Jeremiah 17:9 points out that our natural hearts are deceitful and incurable. The natural hearts only desire is for self. But as Romans 12:1-2 point out we are to be a living sacrifice. We are supposed to continually deny the natural heart and that is spiritual worship. If it were a one-time sacrifice, I think it would be easier because the decision could be made in a moment of emotional connection to the Word or at an event. However, when there is no one else around to see it or applaud your choice to not fulfill your flesh you find that it is a struggle. That is when I think the real growth begins. When you don’t feel like denying yourself but hear the call of the Spirit to deny anyway. Denying yourself or dying to yourself however you prefer is hard, painful, and never-ending, but it is also necessary if you want to live the life of a disciple of Christ. In the long run, you will be glad you did it because there is great joy in hearing your Father say “well done.”

 

Just a thought,

Mike

 

We don’t even know what we don’t know

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Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

I sometimes fancy myself pretty smart. I can tell you the overarching story from Genesis to Revelation making sure I hit all the high points along the way. I know the individual stories from Moses, Samson, David, Peter, Paul, and of course Jesus. I know about about how the Law is a representation of God’s love to a people. I can give a bunch of facts and so on that will make me think I am pretty smart. But when I sit down to pray and read the Bible I am left in total awe in the truest sense of the word.

I read the Bible and find myself thinking I am nothing but dust. I am just a speck of dust on a larger piece of dust floating around other dust particles. I am like the a person in the town from Horton Hears a Who. Who am I God that you are mindful of me? I cannot shake this idea that I am wholly unworthy to approach this Holy God. That the God of all the universe hears my prayers and that is the first thing to take notice of in this verse. God wants us to talk to Him. Although we are but dust God wants us to talk to and seek Him. He desires very much for you to pray. This should go without saying but that usually means it must be said. You would think that after reading the Bible we would understand that God desires a relationship with us. Verses like John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10 spell it out in great detail that He wants us and has done everything He can to make a relationship. Yet somehow we still forget that. Somewhere between salvation and now we forget He desires relationship with us and that a relationship requires conversation.

He says in the next part of this verse “and I will answer you.” He not only hears but is attentive to our prayers, and there is a big difference between the two. I work from home and my daughter is homeschooled so I hear her a lot but I am not attentive to what she is saying it is just background noise. When it comes to God you are not background noise. They are not bothersome to Him and when you pray He does not need to stop what He is doing and give you His attention. His attention is already on you waiting for you to pray to Him.

That should make a big impact on us when we pray. When we pray we should have great confidence that God will answer but we don’t always have that confidence. I believe one of the reasons we lose heart is that we have incorrectly linked answering us with giving us what we want but these are two different things. We should not assume that every answer is a yes or even a no for that matter. Sometime the answer is later, sometimes the answer is ask again, and sometimes the answer is ask again but let me tell you something.

God says that He has great and mighty (or inaccessible) things to show us. He says that He knows things we don’t and more importantly that He knows things we don’t even know we don’t know. We have to remember that His ways are far beyond our ways. That’s tricky so let’s break that down a little.

There was a little girl who went to her dad one day and said “dad I realized I am a genius. Yeah he says how’s that? Well I can’t think of anything I don’t know.” Is that not you and I? Do we not falsely assume that because we can’t think of things we don’t know we must know it all? We even have that attitude when we admit that there are things we don’t know about. We assume some vast knowledge because we at least know we don’t know, but God is saying I know things you don’t even know you don’t know. He is saying there is so much you don’t even have access to not know about. That blows me away. I love to study so when I find out there are things I don’t know to know I want to know.

This goes right back into God telling us to ask again but He adds in some new information. All the sudden we don’t even want to ask for the thing we were asking for. In the light of this new information our old prayer seems childish and silly. Even at that we are still looking at a portion of the big picture maybe even a shadow of a portion.

It’s just like when we read the Bible. We read once and get one thing, then we re-read and all the sudden there is more, then more and so on. That is because the Word of God is living and alive. It is active and God hides things so you can grasp something else. It is not Gnosticism where there are hidden truths oohhh aaaahhh smoke and mirrors. No it is a loving and gentle Father who does not want to overwhelm His children. I don’t tell kids everything it would break them. I am working on a project for church that is going to donate needed items to BeLoved Atlanta which is a house for women who have left prostitution and sex trafficking. My daughter asked me what they did and why they needed stuff (she’s 11) so I told her these women were homeless and need things we take for granted. It’s the truth but there is more she is not ready to receive. So as a good dad I only give her what she can handle. Shouldn’t we assume God is a better dad than I and He protects us from so much more?  

Sometimes I find myself reading something in the Scriptures or praying and can’t believe I missed it all these years. Had I known this years ago I would have not been ready to walk in that truth. I would have had a hard time faithfully doing it. I was too immature to receive so God in His goodness and mercy let me gloss over it. Not that I was sinning but He wasn’t pressing it because there were more important things He was dealing with me on at the time.

So let us wrap this up nice and neat. God wants us to read His word and pray to Him, He wants to answer, and He has things to teach us. As we mature in our faith we should not take silence from God as punishment or even as a no. We should not be looking for yeses and no’s. Instead we should be looking to communicate and fellowship with Him. Prayer should not always be a gimmie list. Nothing wrong with asking but should we ask all the time? Should all our prayers be about asking for material things? Should we also pray that we can better know Him, understand His Word, understand ourselves better, help others, give more of ourselves to Him, and more? When we come to pray should we take some time to listen and not just talk? If we truly want to hear from Him maybe we need to speak less and listen?

Just a thought,

Mike

Submit I say. …. Bow down before me

I want to talk about 1 Peter 3:1-4 for a minute.  Now I am sure there are going to be a few Christian men who decided to read the whole article this time and a few Christian women who have decided they may no longer like me.  But in normal Farley fashion (that’s my last name) I am going to put a little different spin on it.  My thoughts on 1 Peter 3:1-4 actually stem Jeremiah 29:7 which I have been spending a good deal of time thinking about.

Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT)
And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.

1 Peter 3:1-4 (NLT)
1 In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over
2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.
3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.
4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

When the nation of Israel was in Babylonian captivity God spoke to them through Jeremiah and told them to work for and pray for the peace and welfare of the city.  In 1 Peter 3, Peter tells the women to work for the peace and welfare of their husbands.  I love that.  Too many people try and use the words of 1 Peter to mean something without understand the point of the verses.  It is not about some abstract submission for the sake of submission.  It is about serving and giving.  It is about loving and wanting the best for the other person.  What Peter says to women here the Bible speaks to all people.  Serve one another, win them to Christ by love and compassion.  Give the best to them.  Don’t worry so much about how you look or what you wear.  Take care of yourself but they are not going to come to Christ because you look like a model, or drive a Bentley.  Pray for them and work for their welfare.

The goal of it all is that Christ is honored and glorified.  That men (and women) come to faith and repentance in Him.  All that we do should be to bring Jesus to them.  We are a body and as a body we should mobile.  Don’t just invite people to Church on Sunday bring it to them on Monday.  Bring the good news with you when you go to work, bring it home when you get there.  Show your husbands why Jesus is better, show your wives why Jesus is greater, show your children why His love is more.  Seek the peace and welfare of those around you.  Pray for your family, for your neighbors, for your nation.  Don’t nag your spouse, your government to death.  Instead nurture and foster love and faith in Christ.

I’m not going to say any more on that, but I do want to drop a sentence of two about 1 Peter 3:7.  Men do you feel like God is not listening to you?  Do you feel like no matter what you do you cannot seem to get ahead spiritually?  Make sure you read verse 7, and then make sure you live it.  Keep it in the forefront of your mind and make sure you remember it.

Just a thought,
Mike