Moses: Choosing Hardship: Waiting on God Blog #2

Post Introduction

All quotes in this blog post come from Larry Crabb’s Waiting for Heaven Chapter 6: “Foolish Choices”

In the previous post, I present three things that Moses turned away from in his journey of faith. In this writing, I want to consider three things Moses turned toward. Considering all the many mighty movements/miracles and signs God demonstrates in Exodus, have you ever considered the miracle of Moses’ faith? For an Almighty God who created the entirety of the universe and world in six days, the multiple signs of Exodus would have been easy! Yet, the real work and miracle of God comes about in creating faith in people! I want you to carefully meditate on how God enabled Moses to make the choice to turn toward to Him. Each morning when God graciously provides us with a new day, we too must choose to turn to God or follow our own way or the world’s. May these quotes and reflections encourage you! I would recommend reading them multiple times and making notes on how they apply to your particular life/situation.

Moses Turned to Suffering and Mistreatment

“First Moses chose suffering, misfortune, and abuse or as Hebrews put it, he chose mistreatment. (pg. 42)” Moses suffered from the Egyptians and even his own people when he first struck down the Egyptian abusing Hebrews. After God delivered the people from Egypt, the Hebrews frequently complained against Moses and accused him of leading them to their deaths in the desert. Moses endured much during his forty years as shepherd to the people!

Larry asks an important question: “I wonder: had Moses known what was coming, would he have chosen a path that would lead to suffering, such mistreatment and abuse, with so little apparent help from God (pg. 44)?” Perhaps it’s a great mercy that God doesn’t reveal what we will have to suffer lest we walk away in fear and doubt!

“Every Christian who demonstrates his or her faith in God by persevering, every Christian who waits for tomorrow committed to living faithfully today will in some measure be blessed by the “privilege of suffering” for Christ (Philippians 1:29). Is any privilege less desired? Less welcomed? Will we endure? Will we wait in hope of the glory to come? Waiting is not easy” pg 44.

This is a universal truth that scripture presents from Genesis to Revelation: there is a cost for having faith and following God! History and scripture presents multiple saints who faced all types of hardships, abuse, neglect, and murderous hatred from the world for the sake of Christ. Do we recognize our modern tendency to seek comfort, certainty, and prosperity? Perhaps God has something much better for us! I am certain that God when we submit to His way of suffering instead of self-fulfillment.

Larry reminds us of two great truths that will help you when suffering (page 45)

“Two truths will help us gain perspective that a long difficult season can be viewed as both welcomed and short.” Paraphrase: first the time between the Cross and the Coming, not just time between our birth and death, our years spent living in a broken world is short compared to all of eternity. “It is then that life as fully healed people in a fully healed world begins, when Jesus returns. And two, we can trust that God’s Spirit is always doing eternally significant work in our souls, even during the worst of our “little while.”

In other words, we can find peace in knowing that our lives and suffering moments are “short” compared to the eternal glory and happiness we will enjoy with Christ. Also, we can have hope knowing that God is working in our souls even during the most difficult moments.

Second, Moses chose the company of a despised and broken people.

“Moses chose a difficult life.” Even after forty years away from the Hebrew people, Moses endured forty years of complaining, false accusations, and rebellion against him. “Moses kept ministering to people who everyday annoyed him, simply because God wanted him to do so. Moses waited for tomorrow while remaining faithful today pg 46″. Larry reminds us that from a worldly perspective Moses would have been better to remain in Egypt and use his position as prince to lightened the load on the slaves. Yet he waited on God as God had a greater deliverance in plan! The patience and long suffering of Moses is evidence of God’s miraculous work as Moses never truly gave up. This is something that’s easy to miss when reading Exodus and Deuteronomy.

What might God have you to endure in order to serve Him faithfully? We too will face disrespect, rebellion, and complaining when trying to lead and serve others. Personal experience serving (teacher and minister) reminds me that the people who need love and ministry often resist the most.

Third, Moses chose reproach and rebuke; he chose personally humiliating suffering.

Larry reminds us: “Loving others as Christ loves us too often takes a back seat to protecting ourselves from relational pain. It is a rare person so centered in God’s love that reproach is perhaps difficult to handle but not devastating at some deep internal level. Jesus suffered far more that Moses ever experienced: three years of apparently failed ministry. pgs47-48″

Have you ever been emotionally distant or uninvolved with others because you knew that getting close might be painful, undesirable, or involve rejection? This is one of our worst fears: to be ignored, rejected, publicly ridiculed, despised by others! It can keep us from being truly free to love and minister to others. If we are honest, we will admit that often this is the case and why that we fail to love others like Christ.

I would be dishonest if I claimed that I haven’t fought this battle myself. Yet, we can overcome this by reflecting on Moses’ and Jesus’ examples. We can daily trust His Holy Spirit to guide us through our fears, doubts, and uncertainty! Larry gives some encouraging insights into Jesus and Moses (pages 48-49).

First, “Jesus never lost confidence that a story of fathomless love, matchless goodness, and stunning mercy was unfolding. He believed the climax would be worth the cost. Jesus waited.” Jesus had confidence in His Heavenly Father’s plans for Him. So can we! Even when others reject and despise us we can remain faithful and true to the One Who Paid for All our Sins!

Second, Larry refers to a process of “the emptiness of self, the loss of pride, releases us to receive fullness of soul as we undertake His business.” Moses’ time in the desert and doubts at the burning bush were part of his journey. God calls the unworthy and doubting! It is better to know that we’re unworthy, powerless, and to doubt our own abilities than to be prideful and self-assured!

Third, even our broken dreams can’t stop God’s plans. Even though Moses was faithful and patient many times, God denied him the privilege of going into the Promised Land because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it. From a human perspective, this seems unfair, but from God’s perspective this punishment was necessary. The following Got Questions blog provides a good explanation for God’s punishment:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Moses-promised-land.html

Larry rightfully states: “Shattered dreams can make faithful perseverance especially difficult. But Moses still waited. . . No doubt Moses was waiting both in sorrow over disappointment and in hope of a greater reward yet to come: a wonderful picture of what it means to wait. pg 49″ The message here is that even when we fail horribly, God’s not done! In talking with various people over the years, I have encountered some who run from God because of their sins/failures. The greatest miracles of God are worked in our hearts! When we choose to trust Him and abandon ourselves to His Great Grace and Mercy we find Abundant and Eternal Life!

God showed Moses the Promised Land from Mt. Nebo. God brought Moses and Elijah to meet Jesus at the Transfiguration of Christ. Moses meets the Promised One/Messiah in person! This is very important to remember as Moses and Elijah were the Prophets of God! They were foreshadowing the Great Prophet Jesus!

Closing Quote and Remarks

Larry identifies God’s call to each of us as:

To resist quitting on obedience and on arranging for our own relief and pleasure when life gets rough. With resolve fueled by faith, we are to wait for the Lord’s return, with even greater fervency when our dreams for this life shatter. Waiting for the Second Coming can go a long way in helping us quit looking for pleasurable relief as an entitled pursuit. Relief is coming. And Joy forever.” pg 49

We each face a choice in life. We can walk by faith knowing that there will be difficulties and persecution or we can make “peace” with our world and live for ourselves. Moses and Jesus’ lives give us insight into what’s possible when God lives through us! I hope and pray that we will be found living in faith and joyful anticipation of Christ’s return when He appears in the sky!

In the coming months, I plan to write on the topic of broken dreams. It would be easy for you to assume that since I study and write that I have overcome broken dreams and fears in my own life. I share with you valuable insights that God has both blessed and convicted me. I am on a journey of faith. At times the journey isn’t easy, but it is worth it! God is Good and He has never forsaken or abandoned me even in my failures and dark moments. I write these words with the purpose of glorifying God through encouraging His people! May you personally experience His love and grace!

In Christ Alone I stand,

Lee Stanfill

Christ: Our Focal Point

Quotes and Thoughts Source: Oswald Chambers Devotional Faith or Experience Nov. 13

Central Scripture: Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

What can we base our understanding and daily devotion to Christ on? Chambers rightly reminds us that our experience(s) and understanding isn’t a firm foundation. We must focus ourselves on Christ’s example and power!

He encourages us to “battle through our moods, feelings, and emotions into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus. We must break out of our own little world of experience into abandoned devotion to Him.” Our experiences are insufficient because God is so vastly great and powerful! If we base our focus on what we have experienced, then we are only perceiving a small portion of our Great God. We need to consider what faith in Christ means:

“Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims and provides— He can present us faultless before the throne of God, inexpressibly pure, absolutely righteous, and profoundly justified.”

Chambers reminds us to:

“continually focus and firmly place our faith in Jesus Christ— not a “prayer meeting” Jesus Christ, or a “book” Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, and who ought to strike us dead at His feet. Our faith must be in the One from whom our salvation springs. Jesus Christ wants our absolute, unrestrained devotion to Himself. We can never experience Jesus Christ, or selfishly bind Him in the confines of our own hearts.”

Ultimately, “Our faith must be built on strong determined confidence in Him.” God’s Word gives us confidence that Jesus saves us completely and perfectly in His Abounding Grace. Since Jesus gave up His life for us, we can walk (which means to live) by faith and not by sight alone [2 Corinthians 5:6-7].

Oswald reminds us that “All of our fears are sinful, and we create our own fears by refusing to nourish ourselves in our faith. How can anyone who is identified with Jesus Christ suffer from doubt or fear! Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief.”

We can have triumphant faith by turning our eyes and hearts toward the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)! When the journey seems impossible and our hearts become weary, we need to consider Christ (Hebrews 12:3).

Because Christ lives and intercedes for us at God’s Right Hand, we can endure and persevere in living triumphantly! Let us set ourselves on the firm foundation of God’s Revealed Truth in His Living Word. May God remind you of His Great Mercies and Perfect Goodness as you walk on your pilgrimage of faith!

L. Stanfill

Moses: Choosing to wait Part 1

Introduction: Quick Overview of Moses

In studying any great person of faith, we need the proper focus in which to glean Biblical truths. The following truths are applicable in focusing on individuals

  1. the real hero and star of every account is God–God reveals Himself as He works through various individuals to accomplish His redemptive plan in Scriptures
  2. even the “heroes” of faith as listed in Hebrews 11 were sinful, flawed human beings totally dependent on God’s mercy and grace (like us!).

Moses was a “miracle” baby. God’s special plan for him began when Pharaoh’s daughter found him in the Nile River. He received an Egyptian education, was considered a “Prince of Egypt” prior to his attempt to rescue his own people at age 40. As previously mentioned in my earlier blog post, he spends forty years in the desert tending sheep prior to God’s call and the events of the Exodus.

Moses is considered a prophet of God as he is crucial in the history and religious development of the Hebrew people. Moses is the author of the Pentateuch (five books–Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy). Moses later appears with Elijah to meet with Jesus during the Transfiguration of Christ. Moses was obviously a noted leader and shepherd to the Hebrew people. When God threatened to destroy the rebellious people, Moses interceded and God relented.

However, I want to point out that Moses himself wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land because he hit the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded. God revealed to Moses that the Hebrews would ultimately be sent into exile for idol worship/breaking God’s covenant. In a sense, Moses failed as he was unable to get the people to trust God and move into the Promised Land. It was the second generation under Joshua’s leadership that began the conquest. The Hebrew people would ultimately prove to be unfaithful to God.

So what does all this mean for you and me? I hope that you are asking this question every time that you consider Moses and how God reveals Himself! First, following God even when visible miracles happen (Exodus is full of God’s power on display for all to see), doesn’t mean an easy road! Second, even as followers of Christ, we like Moses will face doubts, fears, trouble(s), and our own faithlessness (remember the rock!). Third, the story isn’t really all about us! The story is about God–His mercy, grace, long suffering patience with us, and how that God remains faithful, good, and loving! The testimony of all Scripture reveals that humans are sinful, self-centered, fearful, and often faithless. God obviously works through broken, sinful people to accomplish His great purposes.

Insights on Moses in Relation to Waiting on God

The following quotes are from Larry Crabb’s Freedom from the Incurable Addiction to Self: Waiting for Heaven. Chapter Five: Moses Waited

Larry gives us three things that Moses turned away from in order to follow God in his life:

“Second, we’re told in Hebrews that Moses “refused the fleeting pleasures of sin. . . Moses came to see, as must we, that the joy he was designed to experience was found entirely in God’s plan. And that joy must be God’s doing. Moses waited! As must we if we are to live as true disciples of Jesus.” pages 38-39

“Third, Moses turned his back on material wealth. He turned away from living high on the treasures of Egypt. . .As a prince of Egypt, Moses no doubt enjoyed his wealth. Yet he exchanged riches for poverty. Why? God’s call on his life required it. And Moses was “looking forward to the reward” of finding meaning and joy and friendship with God by telling His story, following God’s script for his life. ”

Key Quote

“The path to happiness, to the joy and hope-filled well-being of a Christian’s soul, leads both through some level of affliction, weariness, and angst, sometimes to nearly unbearable levels, and to the awareness of a deep thirst that will be fully satisfied only in the next life, a thirst that stirs joyful, persevering hope.” Larry Crabb, page 39

Part 1 Conclusion

In order to obey God, we must choose to turn away from position(s), pleasure, and material prosperity as led by Holy Spirit. Our careers, desires for comfort, pleasure, and material gain can become false idols that keep us from true happiness in Christ! If you are truly seeking to follow and honor Christ in your life, expect that God will convict and center you on Him!

Sometimes, I ask myself if it’s worth it to follow God. I address this question:

Is it Worth It All?

Ultimately, your decision will depend on your faith! Every day let’s choose to follow Christ and turn away from all that hinders us! Part 2 of this blog will cover what Moses turned toward! May God graciously remind you of the joys He has in store for you as you faithfully follow, obey, and serve Him!

I, Lee Stanfill, type these words as a pilgrim on a journey of faith hoping for a glorious eternity with the Only Source of True Happiness and Joy!

Hoping in God While We Wait!

Introduction

For the scope of this post, I will briefly summarize the narrative of Joseph.

God began His work on Joseph while he was a teen. Joseph’s story begins in Genesis Chapter 37 verse 2. As a young man, Joseph tends to his father’s sheep and reports his brothers’ bad actions. Jacob show favoritism by giving him a “multi-colored” tunic. Jacob’s favoritism and Joseph’s telling of his dreams to his brothers led them to plot against him.

As we learn later in Genesis, God gave Joseph the gift of dream interpretation. It was the dreams that ultimately led to his ordeal of suffering. His brothers [with the exception of Reuben] planned to kill him. Reuben devised a plan to save him. However, Judah was able to convince the brothers to sell Joseph to traveling merchants. When Reuben returned to remove him from the pit, Joseph had already been sold. The brothers then made a plan to convince Jacob that Joseph had been killed by wild animals.

Joseph is sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned. When he interprets the dreams of the chief cup bearer and baker, he is then forgotten until 2 years later when the cup bearer mentions Joseph’s gift to Pharaoh. Joseph properly interprets and explains Pharaoh’s dream of coming 7 years of plenty and drought. Pharaoh promotes him to vizier and Joseph stores grain up for the coming famine years.

Later as the famine worsens, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. The brothers don’t recognize Joseph. Joseph tests his brothers then in due season reveals himself to them. Later Jacob and his entire family move to Egypt. God uses Joseph to provide for His people who would later increase into a sizable nation within Egypt.

Applicable Lessons from the account of Joseph

  1. God communicates with Joseph via dreams which started the process. When God gives us a dream or vision, there is a process that begins. Oswald Chambers refers to this process in numerous devotions. I agree with Chambers that God often has to “mold” “break” us in this process. Joseph suffers separation from his father and family.
  2. Joseph had to wait for years not knowing what God was doing! We too will face seasons of uncertainty. The journey of faith that pleases God requires that we walk by faith not by sight!
  3. Love for God and righteousness demonstrates character. He faces false accusation(s) when he righteously repels the numerous improper advances of Potiphar’s wicked wife. Her lust turns to hate. Scripture indicates that she came at Joseph numerous times! Yet, Joseph’s love for God and respect for his master guided his behavior.
  4. Scripture doesn’t indicate that God revealed His plan for Joseph during his years of separation and imprisonment. Later in Genesis 45:4-7, Joseph recognizes God’s involvement in his life. God may be involved in our lives in ways that we can’t comprehend until later. But we can trust that He is working when we don’t comprehend the whys! Whom do you trust when things don’t make sense?
  5. Our sufferings and difficulties like Joseph aren’t purposeless. Genesis 45:5 & 7 reveals that God was saving Jacob’s family through the wicked devices of his jealous brothers.
  6. God uses even the wicked plans of others to accomplish His works. Simply, evil doesn’t defeat God’s plans! Through the pages of scripture, we can see how that God works through fallen humans to accomplish His purposes!

Genesis presents Joseph as a gracious, wise, and blessed man who trusts in God, demonstrates righteousness, forgives his brothers, and rises to the second highest position in Egypt! Perhaps the years of uncertainty, loneliness, and difficult led Joseph to deepen his trust and dependence on God! Joseph diligently worked for his masters and remained faithful to God even when in a foreign land! May God grant you the courage, discernment, and hope to persevere during your journey as aliens living in a hostile world!

When There is No Word from God

Waiting on God Part 1: When God doesn’t speak: lessons from Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David.

Purpose and Introduction

The primary focus of this blog will be on Abraham with brief insights from Joseph, Moses, and David. This blog is intended for fellow believers who are enduring the silence of God during a trying time in life. Anyone who dares to walk on the journey of faith will face seasons of life when God seems to be absent/silent. Prayers appear to be unanswered, the fiery trials of life threaten to overwhelm, and God seems to be silent and afar.

You’re not alone in facing these difficult moments. Nor is it a lack of your faith or trust in God. These moments aren’t about your sin or falling away from God. At times we blame ourselves for God’s silence and doubt our faith. We may question God’s love and faithfulness to us. Yet, there’s more to the picture than our fail and limited human minds can comprehend.

If you’re reading this blog, I assume that you want to have a vibrant, growing relationship with God. You, like me, probably want answers for the seemingly absence of God in your life. There are reasons why God seems distant, or silent and each person/situation is similar yet radically different at the same time. My prayer is that you will carefully and prayerfully consider the following Biblical insights and truths! May you find strength, courage, and hope to press ahead in your journey of faith!

Abraham’s years of silence and trials

Abraham’s story begins in Genesis 12 when God calls him to leave his country and family (father’s house). God promises Abraham (v2-3) that He will (1). make him a great nation (2.) bless (3). make his name great (4). make him a blessing (5). bless those who bless him (6). curse those who curse him, and finally (7). make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham known as Abram at this junction in Genesis is seventy-five years old.

Abraham obeys and sets out. His first trial is a severe famine in the land of Canaan. Abraham is a stranger in Canaan with a large gathering of servants and flocks. He is surrounded by the Canaanites. He moves into the Negev desert region before going to Egypt. Abraham fears for his life and lies to Pharaoh. When God afflicts Pharaoh’s household and Egypt with plagues, Pharaoh sends Abraham away. Abraham will tell the same lie again later to King Abimelech in Chapter 20 when afraid for his safety.

Abraham and Lot then separate with Lot choosing the more fertile Jordan valley. Later in Chapter 14 Abraham gets involved in a war with Lot being captured. Finally in Chapter 15, God promises Abram a son, that God will be a shield, and reward him greatly. God again appears to Abram in Chapter 17 when he is 99 and makes a covenant. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Sarah is 90 years and Abraham 100 years old when God finally gives them Isaac.

For a concise read, I left out several notable events that Genesis describes Abraham’s faith journey. While God does appear to Abraham several times over this period of time–the presence/appearance of God is mentioned only a few times. Abraham faced the crises of old age with no son/heir, hostile neighbors, famine, wars, and familial strife. Are you surprised that he and Sarah gave in and tried to help God with Ishmael via Hagar?

Abraham didn’t have a Bible, Youtube, or theology books to help him! All he had was God’s promises and faith that God would be faithful! Take a moment to read Romans chapter four.

https://biblehub.com/nasb/romans/4.htm

Applications from Abraham’s experience

  1. Obeying God doesn’t protect or exempt us from facing difficulties in life–Genesis doesn’t record Abram asking God for guidance or God appearing to Abram to warn him to not lie or help God’s promise come about.
  2. Abraham faced trials in light of God’s promise(s) to him. The old age/sterile Sarah, famine, and hostile neighbors would seem to contradict God’s gracious promises.
  3. Note that God sought out and chose Abraham! God is gracious. He also desires that we have faith. Abraham grows in faith by facing and growing through these trials. God doesn’t cast away Abraham even after Ishmael and the deceptive, self-preserving lies told.
  4. Abraham learns that God is faithful to His promises!

What Joseph, Moses, and King David have in common!

Joseph, Moses, and David all endured God’s silence, and trials in their walks of faith. Future posts of this blog series will address each of these giants of faith individually and in depth. However, I desire that you see the common element present in men of faith: long periods of waiting, silence, and God’s promises seemingly broken!

Joseph

Joseph was seventeen years old when God sent him the dreams that would lead to his brothers plotting his death. He was thrown into a pit in wilderness, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten for years in dungeon. There is no record of God appearing to Joseph during any of these time. However, Genesis 39:3, and 39:21 proclaims that “the Lord was with Joseph and made all things prosper in his hand,” and “the Lord extended kindness to him.” It’s likely that Jacob had shared his testimony of God and the accounts of Abraham and Isaac. Joseph probably knew about God’s promises and covenant with his family.

In any case, Joseph’s difficulties began as teen and lasted until his adult life! He was separated from his parents and not so loving brothers for years. He had to survive as a slave and alien in a foreign land. Yet when the story ends we find Joseph a man of grace and wisdom!

Moses

Moses at age forty realizes that something was terribly wrong in Egypt. Moses tried to stop oppression only to be chased into a forty-year desert exile! Moses was eighty years old at the time of the burning bush. Moses too would have learned about God’s promises to his forefathers. How could he reconcile these promises of God with the cruel captivity and enslavement of his people? Also what could an old man tending sheep in the desert do against the might of Egypt? Moses clearly has lost all confidence in himself as we see in his response to God’s call in Exodus Chapter 3 and 4. Moses didn’t hear from God for eighty years! And when God appears, He gives Moses an impossible task that Moses clearly doesn’t want! Egypt is the most powerful nation/empire in the world. Moses personally knew Pharaoh-probably grew up with him! Do you really want to hear from God? Is it possible that He might ask you to do something difficult, painful, seemingly crazy to others?

David

David’s life changed dramatically when the Prophet Samuel anoints him 1 Samuel 16 king. This account doesn’t give us David’s exact age, but he wasn’t yet considered a man. The passage uses the term “all the children” so consider between the ages of 10-15. David would later face Goliath (older teen), serve in Saul’s army, and face Saul’s unrighteous, jealous wrath. Link to quick read on the possible ages of David during key events. I want you to note how that David faced numerous challenges when only a teen/young man! note 1

https://www.gotquestions.org/how-old-was-David.html

Like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, God graciously selected David for a special role/purpose. As others before him, David faced a difficult journey in walking with God. He too was falsely pursued, treated with contempt, and chased into lonely, dark places. He waited for years before being “recognized” as King over Judah at age 30.

Applications

  1. God has a purpose for our lives. What we are going through and facing are part of His work in maturing/preparing us for His service. Our sufferings and difficult circumstances having meaning and purpose even when we don’t understand.
  2. We can depend on God’s promises and remind ourselves that He is faithful even when we don’t hear from Him during our trials.
  3. God’s silence isn’t proof of His absence (Joseph, David). God was blessing and providing for Joseph/David even though they may not have immediately recognized or felt it. note 2
  4. We need to place our hope, confidence and faith in God not on our limited understanding and interpretation of events in our lives! Humans can’t fully understand note 3 what God is planning, doing, or will do in our lives.
  5. Walking with God will require patience, courage, and hope as we wait upon God to fulfill His plans for us!

Notes:

1. We must recognize God’s call on young men and women. We are to actively love, serve, and invest in our younger brothers and sisters in faith! Set an example, encourage, listen to, and pray for youth around you. There are numerous young men and women who are seeking God and living for Him! They can benefit from hearing your faith journey and what God has done/doing in your life!

2. Present circumstances and difficulties tend to distort our perception of God and His presence in our lives. We must rely upon God’s Word and His Revealed Nature to accurately view God. Just because we can’t feel, or sense Him doesn’t me He is absent! During hard times, I recommend reading through the Gospels and focusing on how Jesus reveals Himself. The “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John are helpful!

The Seven "I AM" Statements of JESUS "I am the true vine" John 15:1-5 "I am  the… | I am statements, Bible lessons for kids, Bible facts

3. God graciously redeems and guides us through His Living Word and Holy Spirit as believers. However, “full” understanding isn’t promised nor likely. God reveals what He needs/desires for us to know. Faith isn’t about having all the answers. Faith is about a relationship!

Waiting on God Series Introduction

Do you enjoy waiting? Probably not if your honest! My least favorite places to go–the doctor’s office, and DMV usually involve a long wait. Might there be a purpose in God having us wait? Do you think that it is possible that God has a purpose and plan in our times of waiting on Him? Join me as I consider how God worked in the lives of numerous faithful servants found in the book of Genesis.

This particular article is written to introduce you to the central truths and central Bible passage to this series of blog(s). In order to facilitate a concise reading, I will break this series down for you into sections (upcoming posts) each with a video overview/discussion.

Video below:

Central Bible Passage and Application Points

Hebrews 11:13-16

Setting: the author is discussing the men and women of faith who pleased God

He gives us insight into why Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob endured and proved faithful to God.

13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country which they left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Applications
  1. They lived and trusted God having “seen and welcomed” God’s (seemingly distant) promises even though they hadn’t received them fully. God’s purposes are bigger than our lives.
  2. The Journey of Faith requires that we seek a “better country” with God. For us, this is Christ’s Kingdom and the fulfillment of all of history. We are strangers on this Earth–this life/existence is only a temporary home! God has something exceedingly better for those who walk in faith!
  3. God desires that we want something better than this material/earthly world around us! Namely, we are to desire Him more than all else! I discuss this in detail in previous blog post

4 Truths from Larry Crabb’s Waiting for Heaven

The following quotes are found in Freedom from The Incurable Addiction to Self: Waiting for Heaven pages 5 and 9.

Quote 1

“But Christianity offers a Jesus-like peace that supports us in living and loving well even when life is disappointing and heartbreaking. Jesus-like peace doesn’t suffocate the pain, it releases purpose through pain.”

There is a purpose in our struggles and difficulties. We can find peace in Christ as we wait on Him to fulfill the purpose(s). Thankfully, we have a Perfect High Priest in Christ who understands human life and temptations.

Quote 2

“For a Christian, existence is a journey through a God-delighting life, a meaningful and joyful if imperfect and difficult journey that is moving on a straight path to the ending joy everyone longs to fully experience.”

Take heart weary pilgrim! While the road may seem long, the end and the joy will make it all worth the striving and waiting!

Quote 3

“Waiting on God’s timetable, frustrating though it may be, will free us to live a good life now marked by increasingly consistent self-denying other-centeredness and always deepening appreciation of forgiveness, no longer so caught up in providing for our own good feelings, for ecstatic but shallow temporary pleasure.”

Waiting on God teaches us discipline. Waiting reminds us to look up to God and around others to encourage instead of only seeking our own temporary pleasure/comfort.

Quote 4

“Waiting Christians will more quickly recognize temptation for what it is, an opportunity to arrange for oneself an experience that God promises to provide later. And waiting Christians will discover new strength to resist the allure of such opportunities. Christians who learn to wait will live a better life now and will die a better death when heaven’s gates swing open.”

Larry Crabb practically defines temptation for us here: as when we want something that God has for us but on our own time and means accomplished through arrangements.

Future blog and video posts will focus on biblical examples of men who waiting on God primarily in Genesis. Thankfully, God’s Word gives us insight into the journey of waiting!

For God’s Glory and the encouragement of fellow believers in Christ,

Lee Stanfill

Journey of Forgiveness

How do we live with grace, mercy, compassion, and kindness in our lives when others hurt and despise us? We walk with Christ! Part of the Christian journey involves forgiving others and ourselves so that we can be free to love and serve others. This blog post will combine 5-6 min video presentations with written responses from Lysa Terkeurst’s Forgiving What you can’t Forget: Discover how to move on, make peace with painful memories, and create a life that’s beautiful again.

Part 1 Forgiveness is a Gift!

All quotes are from Lysa’s book unless otherwise noted

Quote 1

Those who cooperate most fully with forgiveness are those who dance most freely in the beauty of redemption. Pg. 10

Forgiveness is a process and requires daily work! As fallen people, we can choose to forgive others or remain trapped in a cycle of anger/cynicism.

Quote 2

I believe with all my heart forgiveness received and given is the very thing that splits this world open with the most stunning revelation of the reality of Jesus, more than anything else. pg 9

Quote 3

Forgiveness is a complicated grace that uncomplicates my blinding pain and helps me see beautiful again. pg 11

Hurt, cynicism, distrust, anger, and bitterness poison how we perceive our world and those around us. God’s grace sets us free the cycle of revenge and hatred that is prevalent in our dark world.

Part 2

Quote 4

If healing hasn’t been worked out and forgiveness hasn’t been walked out, chaos is what will continue to play out. pg. 30

Quote 5

Being bitter shouldn’t be equated to being a bad person. It’s most often a sign that a person with great potential for good filled the emptiness of their losses with feelings that are natural but not helpful in times of grief. pg 178

That why processing grief is so important! We can grow into people who are more understanding, kind, and compassionate with others through our past painful experiences. By processing our pain and hurts, we can be more aware of those hurting around us and love them in Christ! Joseph is such a great example of this in Genesis when he forgave his brothers and realized that God was involved in his sufferings!

Paraphrase from quotes page 179

The more distance from the original source of our grief, the harder our hearts becomes. Lysa describes how you treat “difficult soil.” First you add small amount of water, wait for the water to move through out the soil. After a couple of days, you then dig up the harden soil and expose it before watering again.

God can “till” up our hardened hearts with His abounding grace and mercy. We need to strength to forgive others and ourselves! Hiding from the pain and disappointment makes the hurt worse and allow bitterness to grow!

Part 3

Quote 6

All bitterness is corrosive. It eats away at our peace. And most of us aren’t making the connection that the heaviness and unsettledness that ebbs and flows in our lives is evidence of unforgiveness. pg 191

Praise God that He doesn’t leave us alone when we experience bitterness! God mercifully calls us to restoration and peace if we will head His voice! Sometimes we don’t recognize how deeply we are hurt until later. I have worked with sheet metal before and gotten multiple cuts and didn’t even realize it until later! The metal was so sharp that it cut my hands and arms without pain. Life can be the same way! Listen to your emotions and invite Holy Spirit to examine your thoughts and attitude(s). God will expose these “cuts” and bring healing–but expect that it will involve some pain and grief.

Part 4

Jesus modeled forgiveness for us in His life, ministry, and death! The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that

“what the human heart needs every day: we need God, we need to be forgiven, and we need to forgive” pg. 210

Jesus didn’t just model forgiveness when He taught us to pray. It was the message of His life. And it was the declaration of His death as He uttered, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” But even more, it is the proclamation of every saved soul:”I am forgiven. Therefore, I must forgive.” pg. 220

If you are struggling with forgiveness, I would recommend reading Lysa’s book and taking time to reflect on the process of healing. During my reading, I had to stop and pray/work through some difficult/painful emotions. The mature way to handle our emotions is to acknowledge and prayerfully work through them. This will involve some deep soul searching and facing difficulties. Yet, God is faithful. I also recommend reaching out to a trusted mentor/pastor or professional counselor to help process the deeper hurts. Healing doesn’t come quickly or painlessly. I have been working through Lysa’s book for several months before I was able to write this blog. My journey of forgiveness is onging and will continue until God calls me home or returns.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, May God grant you wisdom, discernment, and courage in your journey of walking with God! My prayer and highest hope is that you will experience peace and hope as you forgive others and self! I write and speak these words as a fallen human who daily strives to be more like Christ in how I forgive and love others!

Lee Stanfill

When God’s task/call seems impossible

Introduction

If you were to encounter me at the park with my kites you might think that I was crazy if you watched me. First, you would observe me launching a green delta kite.

As you watch it rise into the sky, it would appear to dance and move erratically as it ascends through various wind speeds fighting it’s way through the turbulent wind eddies. After a few minutes, if all goes well you would notice the kite in stable flight and very high up! I would then cause the kite to begin moving through out the wind window (various clock positions relative to my position) to search out the boundaries and strength of wind. Why would I disrupt the stable flight?

Glad that you asked. There is a method to this seemingly disruptive flight. I first launch the smaller kite to “learn” “discover” the wind speeds at various heights and angles to get ready for an even bigger launch!

The smaller kite shows me the “where” and “how” in relation to proper kite flying before launching the more powerful parafoil kite. In some ways, our lives are like kites in the wind of God’s Ways! God will at times disrupt our stability! Have you considered that the seemingly unrelated and “difficult” moments of your life might be part of God’s work in your life to prepare you for His unique purpose(s)?

Some days it seems “impossible” to fly a kite especially when the winds are shifting or very low. But this is inconsequential in comparison to what Abraham, Sarah, and Moses faced in their lives! Join me as we examine various quotes/insights from Oswald Chambers and Jon Bloom that will encourage and challenge your faith.

What Enoch, Abraham, and Moses have in common

At first glance, it would seem that Enoch, Abraham/Sarah and Moses don’t have much in common! All four walked with God daily facing various trials and important tasks. Abraham and Moses tried to “help” God along with His plan. Sarah encouraged Abraham to have a son via Hagar. Moses observed an Egyptian taskmaster mistreating Hebrew workers. Moses struck down this Egyptian and fled into the desert. Abraham brought conflict and jealousy into his household.

God had a special plan for each of the individuals involved. His plan was ultimately fulfilled! Chambers refers to “getting into God’s stride.” He uses the example of Enoch and later Moses. Remember that God took Enoch to heaven. Link to good article about Enoch with relevant scriptural references:

https://www.christianstudylibrary.org/article/genesis-5-enoch-man-who-walked-god

Chambers writes

In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. The individual person is merged into a personal oneness with God, and God’s stride and His power alone are exhibited.” October 12

The important factor in God’s plan is our daily walking with God. We want to “see the bigger picture.” Chambers reminds us that “He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways.” God trains and disciplines us on a daily basis. As finite humans, we often find ourselves grappling with God and His Infinite Ways! We need eyes of faith to properly discern God’s movement(s) in our lives and plans!

It’s God’s Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible. Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now–get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose. Oct. 12

Walking with God isn’t easy as God will expand our faith and work/move in unexpected ways! Exodus 2:22 indicates that Moses (as an adult) became aware of how the Egyptians were mistreating his people. Like Abraham and Sarah, he wanted to bring about change in circumstances. They all relied on their own power, reasoning, and plans! We too make the same mistake when we attempt to bring about a vision from God apart from Him. One wonderful aspect of God’s Living Word is that it presents people as flawed humans even the ones God calls and uses!

Moses’ Desert Experience and Later Call

Moses spends forty years in the desert with sheep. Chambers describes this time as

God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. . .In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God. Oct. 13

If you’re experiencing a time of spiritual drought/desert experience, perhaps God is molding you for a later task! I have had times in my life where God has “set me aside” to refocus on Him. God has recently placed me in a season of reflection/renewal after a difficult year of teaching. There are moments when I feel discouraged and forgotten. Like others, I want answers and quick actions from God, but that’s not the real meaning of walking with God! God desires that we just as Abraham/Sarah and Moses learn “true fellowship and oneness with God.”

We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him–our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased.” If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead. Oct. 13

This last sentence concerning “great personal growth ahead” gives us hope! The journey of faith isn’t meant to be easy, comfortable, or self-fulfilling! We can only find our ultimate fulfillment in God’s Infinite Being! The most important task is to be unified with Christ! It is through our relationship with Christ that God works! Recall how that Moses’ face glowed after he met with God! It was a sign of God’s presence and greatness in Moses’ life.”

Remember that because of Christ’s Atonement we too have access to God’s Presence and even have the indwelling Holy Spirit!

When God’s promises seem impossible: Abraham and Sarah

Abram was an old man when God sent him forth on a journey. For twenty-five long years, he and Sarai waited on the promised child to come. Finally, an angelic visitor came bearing news that Sarai would be pregnant. Can we blame Sarai for laughing? She was ninty-nine years old. She was well beyond the age of child bearing! Yet, the visitor assured the old couple that a son “Isaac” would be coming. Sarai (princess) become Sarah (princess of multitude) and Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of the multitude). This child named after “he who laughs or he rejoices” would come a year later. Abraham and Sarah wouldn’t live to see the multitude of people/tribes that would come years later. But they walked with God and believed His promises. Hebrews 11:8-12

God Expands the boundaries of our faith

Jon Bloom discusses how God “exposed the boundaries of [our] faith–boundaries he means to expand.” pg 94

Jon Bloom Things not Seen, Chapter 14: “God’s Mercy in Making Us Face the Impossible” following quotes from page 94.

Sometimes our difficult circumstances make it seem impossible for God to fulfill his promises. . . Learning to rest in the promises of God occurs in the crucible of wrestling with unbelief–seasons sometimes long seasons, when everything hand on believing that God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exit.” Romans 4:17

We will wrestle with doubts, struggles, and times of silence when walking with God. We will face impossible situations and difficulties that will seem to be without solution! God has a purpose for these moments in our lives!

If you’re in such a season, as difficult as it feels, God is being incredibly kind to you. Because it is in such seasons when we really learn that nothing is too hard for the Lord. Genesis 18:14 Abraham and Sarah “grew strong in [their] faith (Romans 4:20) because God pushed them to believe more than they thought was possible. For the sake of our joy, he does the same for you and me.

Summary Points

  1. God desires relationship and oneness with us! God’s plan and activity in our lives will draw us closer to Him!
  2. Relationship is more important than knowledge or learning. God’s Ways are infinitely above ours and we can’t fully understand Him! Trials lead us to a deeper trust and dependence on God!
  3. God will strengthen our faith and will finish the great work that He has for us! Philippians 1:6

For Christ’s glory,

Lee Stanfill

Is it Worth It All?

In the last blog post, I discussed the necessities of denying and dying to self in order to follow Christ. Today, I would like to encourage you to consider the best investment we can possibly make during our time on earth. This post is the third in the series of fan vrs follower wherein I reflect on Kyle Idleman’s ideas presented in Not a Fan. All posts will be under the category “Not a fan” if you would like to read all three articles together.

Matthew the Tax Collector and Outcast–Called to Follow Matthew 9:9-11

To begin, let’s consider the disciple know as Levi or Matthew. The name Levi means “joined together.” This name came to represent the priestly and temple servants. It’s possible that Matthew’s parents named him this to represent his future service to God. They may have intended for him to serve as a priest or temple worker. Yet something went wrong with Matthew. As we read the synoptic Gospels, all accounts present him as serving as a tax collector for the hated Romans. He would have charged in excess in order to enrich himself. He was considered in the class of “tax collectors and sinners.” He was cut off from God’s Temple–not even allowed to enter the outermost court. His friends were other tax collectors and sinners–the spiritual rejects of society.

Yet, when Jesus came by his tax collector booth and called him; Matthew stops immediately and follows Jesus. Kyle describes the process of Jesus calling disciples:

Instead of followers applying (like normal rabbis), Jesus invited followers. This approach of going to someone and inviting him just wasn’t done. A rabbi wouldn’t humble himself, or extend himself in that way. A rabbi wouldn’t risk rejection, a rabbi would do the rejecting. But Jesus takes the initiative. It would have been shocking enough if he had simply allowed Matthew to follow him, but Jesus actually extends the invitation. pg 121

Jesus calls, heals, and makes righteous the outcasts and “sinners.” Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him? Kyle reminds us: “When Jesus invited Matthew to follow, he was making it clear that this is an invitation extended not solely to the religious elite, the morally upright, and those who have their lives together.” pg 122

Matthew gave up his profitable tax collecting racket to follow Christ because he recognized a better treasure!

Parable of the Hidden Treasure: Matthew 13:44

Jesus uses a series of parables to teach about the real value of God’s Kingdom.

“Jesus wants us to understand that following him is a pursuit that requires everything we have. . . It gives us a picture of what Jesus had in mind when he invited us to come after him. . . Followers understand that following Jesus is a pursuit that may cost them everything, but it is the best investment they could ever make.” pg 133

Jesus uses the parable examples wherein a man and a merchant sell everything to buy a field and pearl that were exceeding more valuable that what was sold. We have a choice in what we daily invest our time, energy, and spiritual resources on in life. We can invest ourselves in our careers, families, etc but what are you investing in God?

Jesus is clear in His expectation: He must be first! Jesus warns that our attachment to personal property, wealth, success, dreams, hopes, desires, even family members can keep us from Him.

“Pursuing Jesus is your choice and Jesus wants to make it clear what you’re agreeing to if you respond to his invitation. He will settle for nothing less than to be the great love and pursuit of your life. That’s what he wants.” pg 136

Counting the Cost

The rich young ruler - Gospelimages

The Gospel writers include the Rich Young Ruler account to warn us in Matthew chapters 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18. In all accounts the following happens in order:

  1. Rich young ruler–possibly the leader of a local synagogue comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to “inherit eternal life.”
  2. Jesus replies that he must obey all the commands of the Ten Commandments.
  3. He replies that he has obeyed all of the commandments– he proclaims his righteousness by good deeds/works
  4. Jesus adds that he must sell all of his property, give it to the poor, and then follow Him.
  5. The Rich young ruler walks away grieving because he wasn’t willing to part ways with his wealth/give to others.

Mark 10:21 mentions that Jesus “felt a love for him” prior to telling him to sell his property. The key Greek words “agape,” “stugnazo,” and “lupeo” are present in this context. Jesus loved Him with the highest love. The young man became “gloomy, shocked,” and left in “grief.” The young man walked away from Jesus because of the high cost of following Him!

Can you admire this young man for his honesty? He recognized the cost and what it would mean. I believe that his honesty and grief may have been the start of his relationship with Christ. Prior to encountering Jesus, he believed that salvation and eternal life came from obeying the Ten Commandments. Yet Jesus opened his eyes to realize that he was falling short. He wasn’t loving God with all of his heart, mind, strength, and soul and loving his neighbor as himself Luke 10:27.

In depth article on this account:

https://www.gotquestions.org/rich-young-ruler.html

The most dangerous place to be in our lives is to think we are right with God due to our deeds but not recognizing our sinful, fallen state!

Closing Thoughts & Summary

Personal Reflection Questions:

  1. What is holding me back from following Christ with all of my mind, effort, and resources?
  2. Why does God ask that we forsake all to follow Him? Why is the cost high?
  3. Am I being honest with God and responding to His Holy Spirit, Living Word, and conviction(s) to repent?

Words of encouragement:

God knows that the journey is difficult and costly! When it feels painful remember the price God paid to save us! Let us turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father and remember the joy and glory that awaits us in eternity with Him! Walking with Christ means that we never walk alone!

I type these words as a pilgrim who must count the cost and make the proper daily investments in Christ,

Soli Christos gloria!

Lee Stanfill

Truly Following Christ: Understanding the Messiah & The Cost of Being His Disciple

For today’s word of encouragement, we need to thoughtfully consider the call of Christ on our lives. Jesus taught multiple lessons during His time of earth. He performed miracles such as feeding thousands of people with four loves and a few small fish. He cast out demons, restored the blind, and healed the sick. Crowds were following Jesus hoping that He was the promised Messiah. Jesus embodied the virtues of truth and grace during His time on earth. Shortly after feeding five thousand men (untold numbers of women and children present too), he asked the disciples who people said He is and whom they thought He is (Luke 9:18-20). Peter replies, “The Christ of God” (v. 21). Jesus then describes His role as “The Christ”. Jesus mentions four key elements as follows (v. 22):

  1. must suffer many things
  2. rejected by elders, chief priests, and scribes [religious authorities]
  3. be killed
  4. be raised up on the third day.

These four elements are crucial to properly understanding Jesus as Messiah. Isaiah chapter 53 provides additional details relevant here as well. Jesus as Messiah is a “suffering servant.” He didn’t come to conqueror Rome or to establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus’ conversation with Pontius Pilate indicates this as well as Jesus’ response to the disciples when they asked if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Jesus came to suffer, die, and be resurrected to ensure salvation for all people (not just the Jewish/Hebrews).

For us modern Americans, the concept of suffering can be troubling. Think about all that people invest (time, talent, money) to prevent suffering! We don’t speak much about death and suffering as much as we tend to try to avoid it. We even have common sayings about death such as “passed on,” “entered into glory,” “kicked the bucket,” etc. Imagine a time before aspirin, Tylenol, Pepto-Bismo, Hydrocodone, and other modern drugs! Less than 150 years ago people were dying from all types of illnesses that we can take a pill and rest for a few days.

Jesus spells out what He requires for those who will follow Him (Luke 9:23-26). First, we must deny ourselves, second “take up our cross daily, and then “follow me.” In verse 24, He adds that those who lose lives for His sake in order to gain true life in Him. There is an obvious paradox in this statement that became the reality for most of the disciples. Except for John, all the disciples and apostles (including Paul) were martyrs for their faith. Some were crucified others beheaded and/or shot with arrows. Remember that most of the disciples fled from Jesus when He was tried and executed! Yet later in their lives they died testifying their faith! What a change from before! What had changed for them? They were radically changed by Christ and empowered by Holy Spirit. This is obvious in the book of Acts. Read the first chapters to see how Peter is transformed and empowered!

As modern people trying to follow Christ, what should we make of His words today? What does it mean to take up our cross and follow Him? Kyle Idleman also explains this in Chapters 10 & 11 of his book Not a Fan. We must recognize that the cross isn’t a piece of pretty religious decorum. The cross is an instrument of death and suffering!

Link to articles that explain take up cross and self-denial in detail:

https://www.gotquestions.org/take-up-your-cross.html

https://www.gotquestions.org/deny-yourself.html

I want to share some quotes from Not A Fan to encourage you as you consider denying self and taking up your cross daily:

“You can’t “come after” Jesus without denying yourself. The phrase “deny himself” isn’t just the idea of saying no to yourself–or even resisting yourself. The idea here is that you do not even acknowledge or recognize your own existence” pg 143.

We need to lose ourselves in Christ! Life isn’t about our hobbies, dreams, hopes, finances, etc. We need a greater purpose than ourselves because we are too small and finite to give ourselves meaning! Pastor Kyle discusses our modern notion of happiness as “saying yes to ourselves” and indulging our desires pg 150. The Bible teaches something much different. “The Bible would teach that the highest calling for you is to be a slave who denies himself and follows Jesus.” pg 150. Denying ourselves includes saying yes to God! We gain everything by dying to our self-nature!

I believe that worst type of bondage that we experience is bondage to self! Life in Christ is so much grander than life in our fallen selves! I believe that his why that Christians throughout history have willingly died for Christ. They realized that true life is only found in Christ–not in this world and especially not in and through ourselves!

Kyle Idleman reminds us that “we think that by denying ourselves we will miss out, but just the opposite is true. . . The truth is it’s only when we deny ourselves that we truly discover the joy of following Christ” pg 153. He asks “Am I really carrying a cross if there is no suffering and sacrifice?” pg 161. “Jesus invites followers to die to themselves. We die to our own desires, our pursuits, and our plans. When we become followers of Jesus, that is the end of us” pg 161.

Thankfully, we don’t have to walk this journey of self-denial and cross taking up alone! God has graciously sent His Holy Spirit and provided His Living Word (Bible) to guide, encourage, and convict us!

Closing Applications
  1. To follow Christ means to deny self and die to ourselves on a daily basis. I recommend that you pray each morning asking God to help with this process.
  2. To follow Christ is to be like Christ! We will be misunderstood, persecuted, and rejected by the world.
  3. We gain everything in daily choosing to follow Christ–life becomes about more than self!
  4. God will walk with you on this difficult path! The path of the disciple isn’t easy!

May God encourage you and strengthen your faith as you seek to follow Him daily!

Lee Stanfill