Abundant life, Cross, Death to self, father, Fathers heart, Flesh
Let’s review what we covered last time concerning our foundational scripture found in Matthew 16:
Matt 16:24-27 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward each one according to his works.
We discussed how taking up our own cross and following Jesus was a walk to our own “death.” Not necessarily a physical death, but a death just the same. This is the death to self. We talked about how dying to our self will enable us to live the life that God intended. It’s a life filled with power because it is not longer we who live, but Christ within us.
We talked about things that are blocking us from truly dying to our self and those included:
- Not recognizing or fully appreciating what was done for us on the cross.
- The unwillingness to forgive.
I won’t go over all of that again, I just wanted to pull you back into the discussion by way of remembrance. If you didn’t read the previous posts, then go read that those first.
Now we will continue our discussion about things that are blocking us from truly dying to self. I am not covering every possibility in this post, only the major ones.
The next one is really two. The two are really so intertwined that they are difficult to distinguish from each other. They are Fear and the Lack of Trust. We are afraid because we do not yet fully trust Him and we do not fully trust Him, because we are afraid of what he might do to us or places he might send us, or…. well, you get the idea. There are many possible reasons for this, but chief among them is the lack of a proper father image. A father is supposed to model the love of THE FATHER to their children. A good father will have protected his children from harm. As a healthy response to the love of a good father, the children will love and trust their father. However, we live in a broken world and if that sacred trust between father and child was violated through abuse (either physical or verbal), absenteeism, abandonment, etc., then what has been modeled as a “father” will be difficult to overcome. When people with that background think of God as a “Father”, they see something completely different than others. Instead of a loving and kind father, they may see God as a father that will strike them down for no reason. They may see a father that could care less about them. God has time for others, but not for them. They always felt outside of their fathers’ heart and are therefore outside of THE FATHERS’ heart as well. As wrong as it is, that is the image that was put inside them.
If you are one who has difficulty trusting the Father, then I want to speak to you for a moment. I want you to know a few things:
Please open your Bible to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I consecrated you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.
Think about what that verse is saying. Before you were formed, He knew you.
Now flip over to the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; v4 according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…
Look at that for a moment. he chose us… Before the foundation of the world. When you look at both of those scriptures, you can see not only did God know you before you were even formed in the womb, he knew you even before the foundation of the world! Let that soak in to the very core of your being. God didn’t just decide one day that he was going to make a planet and then randomly put people on it.
Psalm 139:15-16 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV Bible)
My friend, you are not here by accident. God is a creative being. Before he created anything, he dreamed about you. He thought about what you would look like. He thought about who you would be. He has big dreams for you, for you have always been on his heart. He deeply loves you. Far more than you can imagine.
Psalm 139:17-18 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them, Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I am awake, I am still with you. (NIV Bible)
Guess what! Not only did he dream about you back then, He’s STILL thinking about you. You are always near and dear to his heart.
1 John 3:1 1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (NIV Bible)
He loves you with a great and ever enduring love. It will NEVER run out. It is never ending. He cares about you and he cares about those things that concern you, because of his great love for you. You are precious to Him.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV Bible)
He has GREAT plans for you. You were never created to be spat upon or to be someone else’s punching bag. He never intended you to suffer or to be something to be stepped upon as others climbed up the ladder of success. NEVER! His plans are to prosper you and NOT to harm you. His plans are to give you hope and a future. This has ALWAYS been his plan for you because YOU are important to him and he cares about the things that matter to you.
Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and measured out the heavens with a span? And who has shut up the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
Isaiah 40:21-23 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits on the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings the rulers to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth as vanity.
Think for a moment of just how big God really is. He has weighed everything, He has measured the waters and the dust upon the earth. He set the universe in order. He did all of that while dreaming about you. God is a creative being. Think of a great chef who imagines a new dish that he/she wants to prepare for some guests. The chef thinks about the ingredients, the spices, the presentation and the method of preparation. No detail is missed in the creation of this dish and every ingredient, spice and even the method of preparation contributes to the flavor of the dish. This great chef won’t forget the salt and won’t over cook the meal. It will be perfect and it will be delicious. My friend, so it was with the Father when he created the heavens and the earth. He imagined its beauty and the magnificence of his creation. But, like that great chef, who spared no detail in the creation of his/her fantastic new dish, the Father also spared no detail in the creation of his earth and his family of man. You were created because He could NOT imagine His creation without you in it. You are that perfect spice in his creation. You were created to add your special flavor in this time and in the lives of the people that you know and have yet to meet. Without you, his creation would be lacking and incomplete. Think about that for a while. Is it any wonder that David said in Psalms 8:4, “what is man, that you are mindful of him?”
Take some time and read these scriptures over and over. Let them become a part of you. As you do, ask yourself if you are able to fully trust Him. What is hindering your ability to trust Him? This is a huge issue for many people and we’re going to look at another aspect of this next time.