What?! Deny myself? What on Earth could that mean?
Then He (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Our Pastor just preached two fantasticly (is that a word?) convicting sermons about this passage in Mark 8. If you are interested in hearing these, click the link above and listen to September 4 and September 11's sermons. Wow!
It got me to thinking. What am I denying myself?
If I can listen to a sermon like this and justify my life here in America, the land where dreams come true and every house has a car in the garage and a chicken in the pot, then I am self-deceived, denying myself the Truth of the Gospel and avoiding the road that my Lord would have me walk.
Jesus did not die to make my life better. He died so that I would lose my life and live for Him.
So what am I denying myself? When I look at how I spend my time and money, is it for my own pleasure? or for God's glory?
Here is an example that the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience about earlier this week. I had an idea for a book to write. It would have been a lovely, heart-warming book. I am sure it would have made its readers laugh and cry. I was getting excited about starting to interview the ladies that I wanted as my main characters. I would not only get to know them better, but I would pen their words for the world to read. Everyone would have fallen in love with these ladies!
I would have written a book. I could be a published author.
The problem with this book is...
It glorified man and not God.
The book in no way shape or form would further God's kingdom or cause anyone to think about Him.
Putting it bluntly, it would be a waste of time.
My time on Earth is short. God says it is a vapor (Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14).
Because Jesus died for me, I want to make every moment count for Him.
So, as I meditate on these scriptures in Mark and reflect on my own life, I see that there are going to be some difficult changes. Gulp. It is not that I think I am wasting tons of time or that I do not deny myself for the cause of Christ - but I can always do more! When my days are done, I want to be able to say that my life has been poured out like a drink offering to our Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 4:6)
I am not sure what these changes will include. I have a few ideas. I will be praying for direction from God. I know He will answer because in James I read:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
How about you? Are you denying yourself for the cause of Christ? What would be hard for you to give up if Christ requested it? For the rich man in the Bible, it was his money. Is it money for you (me)? Food? Sports? Self-Respect? Family? Daily shower? Eating out? Your hobby?