Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh my selfish ways!

Three weeks ago I wrote this entry and for three weeks it sat.  Why? At first I wasn’t sure, but I know why. It hits too close to home.  I have written on many subjects, the things God has shared with me through His word and counsel. When I wrote this one, I tried to write it with immunity from its implications, as if it was no longer an issue for me.  The truth is, I am not as strong as I think I am.  I am still weak.  I still fail.  I still sin, I struggle. I need Jesus more than ever.

If you ever had the notion through my entries that I have risen above the rest, been enlightened, or “have arrived”...that would be ridiculous. I’m still nothing. I am a mess as a matter of fact and Know also that I am still a selfish man, fighting against myself daily.  It looks like this, what Brian wants vs. what God wants.  It’s one thing to be shown the truth, it’s another to live it out fully isn’t it?  I just pray for the strength, fortitude and faith to willingly choose God’s way over my own.  Sometimes it is much harder to do in reality than on paper.    I sin with my thoughts, I sin with my choices.  My flesh betrays me.  Being bluntly honest, some days I don’t even have much desire to put up a fight.  Heaven help me on those days!
The opposite of Love- Love of Self
Last entry we visited the subject of love, the unconditional love of God being shown to others.  In this way we love and worship God, we give Him our lives.  So what is the opposite of living in this fashion... the love of self.  What does that look like?  Well, we’d like to believe that it is something that only OTHER people do, but if we search deeper and take an honest look at our lives and our hearts…we may not like what we see. (If you haven’t read the last entry, read it first please)

There is a big difference between struggling with temptation; fighting against the desire of our flesh and just giving in to the temptation and doing whatever it is we desire. When we do life our way, meeting our own selfish desires…we show that we love this world and what Satan has to offer us, not God.

“Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God; for all these worldly things, these evil desires--the lust for physical pleasure, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance--these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself.”
 (1 John 2:15-16)

The Warning
Are we in danger of becoming one of those people who act religious, but in reality we reject the Spirit in our lives? We reject Jesus. If we don’t evaluate our lives it might be easy to simply think that we are just fine, when in reality we are acting like the very person described in 2nd Timothy 3:2-7.  “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”

The action we should take
So I urge you, as outcasts in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among those who are not Christians that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when He returns. We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. If you don’t believe that, then you are already deceived and defeated.
1Peter 2:11-12
Eph. 6:12-13

We are told in the Bible that our old life is dead, it is a former life. We have a new life in Christ, we should act like it. “And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.”  Colossians 3:5-8 (The Message)

When we are weak, He is strong. We must remember that Jesus went before us, showing us the way to live.  “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” Hebrews 12:2-3 (The Message)
The result of our poor choice
We have free will and with it comes the responsibility to CHOOSE His way because the troubling part is if we deliberately continue to sin...we trample on the cross.  We make light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” Hebrews 10:26-29 (New Living Translation)

The Way
“Then He said to all, Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to Me!” (Luke 9:23 TLB) He made it pretty clear what NOT to do.  It is also pretty clear what we should do. The final verdict: Put away self and live for Him.  In this way we are truly free.  In this way we find the abundant life!

Easier said than done, I know.  I’ve witnessed some amazing things over the past few months...oh the stories I could tell. Even then, after seeing His greatness and glory, reading the Bible accounts from the eyes of witnesses...I still struggle with self.  I think of Peter, who got out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus.  Where were the other the boat.  Did they not see his miraculous ways too?  Watching Jesus heal the blind, feed thousands with a few loaves of bread, raise the dead!  Yet they too struggled to have faith; to follow Him.  But let us not be complacent to give in to ourselves and to Satan.  May we fight with all that is in us to live for Him! To get out of the boat and walk on the water.

Today's song- We are not as strong as we think we are - Rich Mullins
(I posted a youtube video of the song below for you.)

Well, it took the hand of God Almighty
To part the waters of the sea
But it only took one little lie
To separate you and me
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

And they say that one day Joshua
Made the sun stand still in the sky
But I can't even keep these thoughts
Of you from passing by
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

We are frail
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are

And the Master said their faith was
Gonna make them mountains move
But me, I tremble like a hill on a fault line
Just at the thought of how I lost you
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

And if you make me laugh well I know
I could make you like me
Cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun
But we can't do that I know that it is frightening
What I don't know is why we can't hold on
We can't hold on

When you love you walk on the water
Just don't stumble on the waves
We all want to go there somethin' awful
But to stand there it takes some grace
'Cause oh, we are not as strong
As we think we are