But can’t we say the same?
Our culture and our world encourages us to focus on ourselves. We are bombarded with messages around self-care, growing ourselves, improving ourselves, and becoming our very best self. While these things are not necessarily bad, they can quickly replace the thing that is to be center - the person we were created to worship.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul shares what the life of a Christian should look like, and it is the opposite of what the world around us teaches. In Romans 13:14, Paul says, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
In the Christian life, we are to love our neighbor and consider them above ourselves. They may not do as we do, worship God as we worship God, or hold the same expectations that we hold, yet we are to respect our neighbors. Our goal as Christ-followers is not to please ourselves. It is to glorify God and love our neighbor well.
We can easily fall into the trap of self-glorification, especially in our social media driven world. I can quickly think that I deserve more, that I come first, and that my needs are the most important. However, God calls us to so much more. He calls us to crucify our own desires so we can make room for His desires. When we let go of the things of our flesh, we can be filled with His Spirit, used for His kingdom, and shine His light for others to see.
Jesus calls us to a countercultural life. He made it clear in His ministry that choosing to follow Him requires sacrificing the things that we want and desire. Yet following Him is filled with promise and reward.
So how do we let go of these things of the flesh?
For me, it is coming to Jesus daily. When I spend regular time learning from His words and actions, the Holy Spirit brings them to mind just when I need them the most. Our flesh-pleasing desires come so naturally and easily, so I have found that I need to come before Jesus in prayer all throughout the day. When I am tempted to put me first, when my jealousy rears its head, or when I am tempted to act rashly out of my own desires, I find that if I can pause and come to God in prayer, even for just a quick second, it realigns my heart and mind with His.
To live the countercultural life that Christ calls you to, devote yourself to learning more about Him, spending quality time with Him in prayer, and joining Him in His work around you. He will meet you where you are and align your heart and mind to His.
Memory Verse: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25
My husband and I are navigating the foster care system. We are currently completing all necessary steps to open our home for foster care. Our emotions have been on a wild roller coaster, and we know it will only speed up once a child is placed in our home. It seems that the questions pile up, the unknowns become scarier, and the what ifs grow larger each day.
Reading through Nehemiah, the account of the Israelites rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem spoke to my heart.
The people faced severe opposition. They had to work while holding weapons for protection. They labored day and night building and guarding. Do you ever feel the exhaustion of laboring day and night to work for and guard your family?
Nehemiah believed that God would see them through. Even through the opposition, the taunts, the fear, and the exhaustion, he placed his full trust in the Lord. Nehemiah knew the work God had called him to complete, and he knew God would provide if he was obedient.
Jesus knew the trouble we would face. He knew how hard and scary the world can be, but He left us with a promise. John 16:33 reminds us that this world will bring trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world. He is victorious!
When the world is dark and scary, we can place our trust in Jesus. When the path seems unclear, we can lean on Him. When life throws it taunts and fears our way, we can stand firm in God’s calling and promises.
Nehemiah knew the trouble this world could bring, but just as Jesus promised, Nehemiah also knew that God would be victorious. My husband and I know that this path we are on will bring fear, pain, and sadness. However, we can stand firm just as Nehemiah and the people of Israel did with our weapon in one hand (God’s very words and promises) while we continue the work the Lord has laid before us with the other hand.
Our God is faithful. He is working for our good and for His glory (Rom. 8:28). And He is victorious. Wherever He has called you, continue to fight clinging to His word and His promises as you continue in His work.
Memory Verse: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:3
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