Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Deny Self and Follow Jesus

Philippians 4:11

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgChristians who live in the USA live in a society of plenty – for the most part – even a society of excess. We have a hard time doing without. We have a hard time denying self. Obesity is rampant in our culture partly because we have so much food and very little constraint. We live in homes large enough for several families. We have multiple vehicles – often more than the number of drivers in our family – one for every occasion. We throw away what some cultures would treasure. We have so much – denying self is foreign to us.

Here is today’s passage in partial context – there are final instructions given by God through Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi. Philippians 4:4–13 – 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I’ve often heard that Christianity grows faster in countries where there is a daily reliance on God for substance. What does it mean to Christians in countries of plenty – to pray for daily bread when we have refrigerators – freezers – and pantries filled with food?

Do Christians in the USA and other countries of plenty even have a concept of what it means to deny self? Denying self is required to follow after Christ. Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Paul knew what is was to have plenty and he knew what it was to have little. He learned the secret – and that was to be content in all circumstances. Maybe we should practice denying ourselves more often. Maybe we should delay satisfaction at times – learning what it is like to yearn for something – and even fasting from some things – in order that we can better understand denying self? Deny self and follow after Christ! What does that really mean to you?

Are there areas in our lives where we can practice denying ourselves?  Can we learn to delay satisfaction?  Can we rely on God more – even a little more – each day?  What is our prayer life like?  Are we seeking His face while we desire His grace?  Deny self and follow after Christ.  A foreign concept for many of us – but one we need to wrestle with for sure!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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July 17, 2014 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , ,

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