First Things @ First
A lot has happened since our spring revival in our world. Seems like it was months ago.
For those who experienced a renewal of first love passion for Christ, no doubt you've been faced with the patterns of old that desire to be embraced again. From the launch pad of spiritual renewal believers are soon targeted with a 'surface' missile from Satan concerning the old practices that are designed to first distract our focus and then discourage our faith in the ongoing pursuit of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
When one's spiritual edge is sharpened for more effective use in kingdom work, Satan will quickly cause a circumstance to blunt the edge of God's divine work.
In my continuing journey with God I have recently been reminded that on my best day there is still far too much of 'me' in me and not enough of God's Spirit in control.
Henry Blackaby contrasts the difference in a self-centered life and a Christ-centered life in his study on Experiencing God. I'll give you a little of how the Spirit is directing me through these days of what could easily be considered a distraction and for some, even a period of discouragement.
A self-centered life responds with a sense of panic when confronted with difficult circumstances.
A Christ-centered life responds with fervent prayer when confronted with difficult situations.
A self-centered life places confidence in 'me', 'mine' and 'ours' to manipulate 'my' situation.
A Christ-centered life places confidence in God alone to manage the outcome.
A self-centered life is proud of personal accomplishment/achievement.
A Christ-centered life is thankful for what God accomplishes/achieves in me or thru me.
A self-centered life depends on the strength that I produce.
A Christ-centered life depends on the strength of God which is far greater.
A self-centered life promotes what's best for me.
A Christ-centered life produces what's best for others.
A self-centered life looks at circumstances through a human lens of conditional love.
A Christ-centered life looks at circumstances through a divine lens of unconditional love.
A self-centered life resists change because of fear.
A Christ-centered life embraces the challenge through faith.
A self-centered life settles for the ordinary ways of the world.
A Christ-centered life is only satisfied with the extra-ordinary way revealed in the word of God.
When God's purposes don't fit our plans, there is sure to be a 'rub' of some kind that follows. In those times we must not permit the circumstances to 'rub' us the wrong way and thwart a much higher goal that God has in mind for our life.
Blackaby states--"to know and do God's will means that you and I must deny self and return to a God-centered life."
That is the only way that we can effectively be used of God to accomplish anything that will endure long past our time on this earth. I realize that is hard for many to conceive of in a get all you can out of life while you can with the hope of sitting on your 'can' for what's left of the rest of your life world view. The problem with that type of thinking is there's not much left of any real worth as life is lived or when life is over on this earth.
John 12:23 reminds us of Jesus' teaching on self-denial. "Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But IF it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
Self-denial means that I allow the power of God to crucify the nature of the flesh that is all too real and present in my life on this earth. Others can't do it for you, even if permitted. And God won't provide for that kind of victory unless we are fully surrendered to trust Him through it.
So, ask yourself often--"Am I living for this life alone? Am I trying to squeeze out as much of it as possible, even if it means taking on the risk of being 'squeezed' into its mold?"
"Am I living for what comes after, choosing rather to not be conformed (poured into the mold of) to the world around me in pursuing the prize of the upward call of righteousness in Christ?"
Romans 12:1-2 has some important insight on which is to be pursued and practiced by believers daily.
The truth is there is much more after than now. God knows that and sees that clearly.
It is my prayer for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to see that more clearly too. And may it compel we who believe to walk in confidence of the higher calling on our life with the compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Be encouraged in the struggle against the flesh today!
There's victory in Jesus!