Tag Archives: dying to self

Zechariah 7-10; Give Up

I read several Christian blogs. And when a friend posts something on FaceBook that has been especially meaningful to them, I usually take time to read that, too. I not only want to continue to grow in my faith, I also am interested in knowing where you are in your walk with the Lord.

The last few days it seems there has been a common thread weaving through the things I’ve read. It’s the philosophy which says we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. A friend of mine posted a quote from a noted Christian speaker that said, “You can’t truly love others until you love yourself.”

A former student of mine, a young man who loves the Lord, posted that he is going through a rough time. Then he said, “I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Sounds right, doesn’t it? I mean he quoted Scripture and everything. Aren’t we promised that we can do anything because we have a supernatural power from God?

The prophet Zechariah is telling us what God will do when the Messiah comes. He will defeat the enemy! He will free the prisoners! He will bless them doubly! He will be their shield, their Savior, their Shepherd, their strength.

Well, friend. Messiah HAS come. His name is Jesus. And He offers those same things to those of us who are His children.

But Scripture tells us His children need to die to “self,” not strengthen it. His children need to take our eyes off ourselves and our situations, and focus on Him.

I’d like to ask the Christian speaker I quoted above, where in Scripture does it tell us that we only love others when we love ourselves? I believe the Bible tells us we truly love others when we love God.

The problem with what my young friend says has to do with the “I.” We read the verse he quoted from Philippians, and emphasize the “I.” I can do all things. I can do this. When we should be emphasizing “God.” Because it’s God who is the giver of the strength we need to face any circumstance.

I see so many defeated Christians who try to help themselves so God will help them. So many who are discouraged because they’ve tried, and prayed, and tried again, and continue to fail.

I think it’s time Christians gave up on the “I.” Scripture tells us to empty ourselves, die daily, seek God and place Him above everything else, including the “I.” There is something freeing about admitting, “I can’t,” then letting God do great and marvelous things in spite of me.

I know that I can’t love, or do, or be, or have anything worthwhile without Him being the force behind it, the giver of all good things.

Not “I” but Christ.

I Kings 17; Empty

I’ve heard the story of Elijah and the widow for as long as I can remember. In my mind’s eye, I can picture the figures on the flannel board in our Sunday School room. (When was the last time you even saw a flannel board? šŸ™‚ ) The lesson we learned from this Scripture was: GOD SUPPLIES ALL OUR NEEDS.

I read what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this passage today, and he reminded me Elijah had just returned from the desert where God used ravens to feed him, a stream to meet his need for water. McGee pointed me to others who had similar experiences: Moses, Abraham, John the Baptist, Paul. Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. GOD STRENGTHENS US IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.

Dr. McGee then talked about the miracle of the healing of the widow’s son. The boy had died. But when Elijah went to him, made contact with him three times, the boy lived again. GOD IS THE DIVINE HEALER.

Do you remember Jesus’ first miracle? The wedding in Cana of Galilee, right? He turned water into wine. GOD GIVES HIS VERY BEST.

Then J. Vernon challenged every lesson I thought I’d learned from these stories. While it is true that God provides what we need, that He is our strength, our healer, and that He does all things well, we miss something important if that’s all we see in these passages.

What does the never-ending flour pot, the desert, the dead boy, and the wine have in common?

NOTHING.

Well, not nothing. But an emptiness, a void, nothingness. The lessons are not just that God prepared people for ministry in the desert. It’s the desert.

It’s not only that God didn’t let the flour run out. It’s the empty pot.

It’s not raising a boy from the dead. It’s the dead boy.

And it was never about the wedding, or even just the wine. It was the empty jars.

All which were filled by God Himself. To make his point, Dr. McGee shared a story about Hudson Taylor. It’s lengthy, but I want to quote it from page 107 in Thru the Bible Commentary Series on 1st and 2nd Kings by J. Vernon McGee. (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1991):

It is said of Hudson Taylor that when he prepared young missionaries for service in his mission, he insisted, “Remember that when you come out here you are nothing. It is only what God can and will do through you that will be worth anything.” One young missionary replied, “It is hard for me to believe that I am just nothing.” And Hudson Taylor said to him, “Take it by faith because it is true. You are nothing.” You and I are just dried up brooks unless the Word of God is flowing through us.

You, my friend are nothing. I am nothing. Neither of us has anything of value to offer God who owns everything, and who created everything anyway. And until we empty ourselves and allow God to fill us with Himself, we are worth nothing to Him, we cannot be used by Him.

Sorry if that offends your sensitive sense of self.

Paul said he died daily, that he was crucified with Christ, that he was dead to self. If you think you can effectively serve God any other way, you are wrong.

Empty yourself. Let Him fill you to overflowing.

Then stand back and be amazed at what God can and will do through you, for His sake, and for His glory!

Dear Filler of our souls, IĀ pray that all of us reading this chapter in I Kings today will be challenged to BE that desert, that empty pot, that dead boy. Help us to empty ourselves of our hopes and dreams, our talents and our gifts, our egos and our rights. Then, Lord, fill us with YOU. May we be instruments in Your hands, clay in the hands of the Potter, and may You create in each of us pure hearts. Use us today as we yield to Your will. And may Jesus beĀ glorified.