Friday, July 20, 2012

Self Denial - Discipleship is Costly

Discipleship is Costly

Found this in my portfolio - don't remember when I painted it.
It looks like how I feel - lately. 

I put big numbers by the three versions of our verse today. It was important enough to get repeated in 3 separate bible accounts.  I've also interspersed some quotes I found about self denial and of course I've thrown in my two cents on the matter. 

Don't forget to leave a comment in Blog Birthday Guest Book. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this blog. You can leave me your ideas of topics you like me to tackle too.

# 1   
Matthew 16:24
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, 
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, 
he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
"In the books Christians buy today you will find little mention of brokenness. We are not interested in a life that might require suffering, patience, purging or the discipline of the Lord. We want our blessings … and we want them now! So we look for the Christian brand of spiritualized self-help that is quick and painless."
Lee Grady

#2  Mark 8:34
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

"We love the old saints, missionaries, martyrs, and reformers. Our Luthers, Bunyans, Wesleys and Asburys, etc... We will write their biographies, reverence their memories, frame their epitaphs, and build their monuments. We will do anything except imitate them. We cherish the last drop of their blood, but watch carefully over the first drop of our own."
A. W. Tozer
# 3 Luke 9:23 23 And 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.

Carrying the cross does mean following in Jesus' footsteps. And in His footsteps are rejection, broken-heartedness, persecution and death. There are not two Christ's - an easy going one for easy going Christians, and a suffering one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are we willing to follow His lead?
Hudson Taylor

Interesting the Luke version adds the word daily. It says in Isaiah 53:3  "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." I'm not sure why we expect it to be an easy ride. The trials we face are often God's blessings in disguise.

I don't expect this will be my most popular post. I have wanted to go through the attitudes that we as believers are encouraged to adopt. I gotta say my experience with most people is the minute things get difficult they bail. Very few will really take the time and effort to work through things until it is resolved and can be put away clean. People get offended, or too stressed to keep their commitments. Things look like they are going to fail or not make it and rather than press on and trust God for a miracle they leave claiming everyone else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  I'm probably a bit jaded and would likely be a cynical if I had not seen a few over comers who did not give up in spite of terribly difficult circumstances. 

My friend Terri and I were talking one day about some of the many things she has had to overcome. I asked her how she got though those difficult times. She answered "I did not do anything Margot. I only kept breathing, the rest God did" 

I'm not sure we set out thinking we will become over comers were are just trying to get though the day. I think it happens as we day by day deny ourselves and follow Jesus. When we don't give in to the luxury of quitting and going home to sulk.  I think its more about just not giving up. You just keep taking the next step and the next, when you can go any farther you trust that Jesus will carry you through. One of the verses that Terri stood on was "I will restore unto you the years the locusts have eaten" She went on to tell me. "Locusts got fat on my life really..... but you know what I see Margot... the verse is truth and all truth is fulfilled."  I do love facebook chat because it saves those wonderful conversations and I can get back to those profound things people have said when I need to quote them.  

I have recently really struggled - I can describe it best as if I was a ship that was moored in a harbor. In my ship I had multiple mooring lines and adequate ballast weights to help keep it stable. Storms could come and I have been stable when others have faltered.  Recently I had to let go of much of the ballast, and some of the mooring lines moved and shifted and a few that I counted on had to be released or they snapped. In any case I have felt very un stable as I have tired to get used to a new normal. It has made it hard for me to focus. I wrestle with God over why did we have to do all of this at the same time. At times fear gets the best of me and I worry about the future. My boat is much lighter and it is not tied as securely and it seems to bounce all over the place with the in coming waves of just normal daily life. I was managing sort of ok - till I got hit with a bit of a storm. My aunt had a heart attack. I did not get much sleep for a few days. I was over stressed and did not function very well. Thankfully she is fine at this point. I gotta say, I've been feeling a bit green and sea sick and I need Jesus to come and speak to the wind and the waves and bring peace to my spirit.  Its not that its been bad things but any change is difficult and when you get a bunch all at the same time, it can be discombobulating. Self denial is not succumbing to the pity party. It is refusing to give up just because things have changed. I am trying to be careful to not do too much, and trying to not take on things I don't have to do. I'm trying to take things a little slower and allow time to process and reflect. Self Denial is deciding to forgive when people let me down, or say stupid things or when I get tossed under the bus and take the blame for others poor planning. I'd like to tell you that I will have mastered this new normal by tomorrow but it seems to be taking a bit to get use to these changes on multiple levels.

 I did go into the healing rooms for prayer this week and that has helped. Just because things are hard at times does not mean that God has forsaken you, or is punishing you. Little birds have to be nudged out of the nest so they can learn to fly. With my boat example I suppose I am going to have to learn to sail. Oh Jesus if that's what this is please come be the captain - I'm going to really need your help. Yikes - un charted waters into the unknown... breathe Margot ... its an adventure. Often when Jesus sets us free we quickly want to tie our selves back up - the new freedom is uncomfortable, unfamiliar and frightening. I know it will get better and what is hard to manage today will become easier as the days go by.

 Those who have attained things worth having in this world have worked while others idled, have persevered while others gave up in despair, have practiced ...the valuable habits of self-denial, industry, and singleness of purpose.
--Grenville Kleiser

The first lesson in Christ's school is self-denial.
    Author: Matthew Henry

Do you have a hunger for God? If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.
    Author: John Piper

"A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing."
Martin Luther
"We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do--flee it or die upon it."
A. W. Tozer

"The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!"
A.W. Tozer
"People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:
1. they are facing only one direction,
2. they can never turn back, and
3. they no longer have plans of their own."
A.W. Tozer
"One can't help but think that much of our weakness as Christians is owing to our un-Christian aversion to suffering, avoiding it at all cost and christening cowardice as wisdom."
Thabiti Anyabwile

Galatians 2:20 ESV 
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
 Today's Birthday Month favor is one of my favorite songs called Blessings by Laura Story. 

Dear Lord, 
Help your beloved ones realize your great love even when you must prune things from our lives. Help us in the changes we face, when we want to just sit down and cry because it feels too hard. Come quickly and hold us in your loving arms and remind us that you are big enough and more than able to help us with anything we are facing. Help us take that next step to pick up our crosses and follow you.

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