Feb 27, 2018

Dear Self | Say Yes
























Dear Self,

I used to wonder if I would be strong enough to die for my faith.  Would I turn aside when fear clutched me?  Or would my eyes stare straight ahead despite my trembling fingers?  The questions wrestled inside me until I found an answer:  I think - I hope - I would be brave enough.

But in some ways, dying for Christ doesn't seem as hard as living for Him.  The decision to stand up amidst persecution would take one "yes".  Living for Jesus takes a hundred "yes"es every day.

That's why this letter is for you, dear self.  I'm tired of serving you and turning away from the "yes"es Jesus calls me to proclaim.  I'm tired of you having the throne of my heart.  It's not yours to take.

Let's go back a little ways.

When we decide to let Jesus reign over our lives, do we really know what we're getting into?  I didn't.  At six years old, I only understood that I needed to be saved from hell - and that was through Jesus.

But I didn't know that it went beyond that first "yes".  Being a Christian is so much more.  It's not just saying a prayer once and living in our own strength.

I've read this verse a million times, but it became real to me for the first time this week.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Humble ourselves?  Turn from our ways?  Is that what's God calling us to do?  Jesus gave us the answer in Mark.

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

Every day, I fight against this truth.  My self bitterly resists any attempts to sacrifice my own pride and live for Someone else.  It whispers in my ear, "This doesn't matter - live for yourself!"

But am I willing to deny myself and follow Jesus?

When the options are reading a novel or spending time in prayer, do I deny myself?  When I can give a sarcastic remark or offer honest love, do I deny myself?  When I just want "me time", to run away from the world, to delete an email, to slack on my priorities, to complain about life, do I deny myself?

Do I follow 1 Corinthians 9:27 to discipline my body and bring it into submission so that I am not disqualified by preaching without putting the truth into action in my own life?

As Christians, we are called to live continually offering our "yes"es.  Yes, we will deny our comforts to bring love to others.  Yes, we will do hard things to bring Jesus glory.  Yes, we will share the Gospel with whoever God brings our way.  Yes, we will smile despite our circumstances and accept whatever may come because we know that we're not alone.

Is that the life I'm living?  Or is self still sitting on the throne of my heart?

A secular site I read today admitted that our world's focus is on "me me me."  It wrote that people are self-centered and self-serving, doing only what's best for them.  This problem is obvious to almost every person in society - but what's the solution?

Our world is consumed by self, but we are not called to be of this world (1 John 2:15).  We're called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.  Even if we're tired or unworthy or feel like a failure.

Jesus has a perfect, beautiful plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  Yet we cannot achieve the wonderful ending of a story without accepting the plot twists and catastrophes that come.  That's the answer:  Are we willing to let go of ourselves and turn from our ways to embrace the life He has for us?

Dear self, my life doesn't belong to you.  It never did.  It belongs to Jesus, and I'm going to live a life of "yes".  He's in charge.  You have permission to step down and flee.

I want every moment of my life to count for Him.  I want to surrender all of myself.  My life must be set-apart, as a bride waiting eagerly to hear her lover's call.

Every decision - what I eat, what I wear, what I read, what I type, what I do - should be chosen to lift Christ up.  That's my life calling.

Even if I never have the chance to die for Christ, I still want to live for Him with every breath I take.  I want to know Him, I want to hear His voice, I want to know Him more (In the Secret).

Right now, that might look like pausing in my busy day to sing a song of worship.  Or it might be encouraging a sibling when I really just want to be alone.

Jesus is enough.

Recently, I read a book that encouraged me in this area.  Your Dream. God's Plan.: Are You Longing for Something More? reminded me of the beauty that comes when we sacrifice our dreams for something so much bigger.  One quote summarizes the message.

When God interrupts our lives with His dream, it can be hard for us to want to step forward to embrace that calling because we see the sacrifice instead of the reward.
- Tiffany Smiling

We must let God interrupt our lives.  Yes, this involves sacrifice, but if we don't let go, we'll miss out on the greater calling and reward that He has for those who love Him.

But dear friend, will you deny self and turn to Jesus?  Was your decision to become a Christian the only "yes" you offered, or will you continue to pour out your "yes"es?  If you want to know Him, are you willing to humble yourself and turn away from your ways?  What does that look like in your life today?

I hope to hear from you in the comments.  Let's encourage one another to throw aside every hindrance to seek Him.
























As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
- 2 Samuel 22:31

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
- Psalm 37:5 

~♥~
photo credits: Josiah Chad

12 comments:

  1. Wow great post Hosanna! Each day we face small, seemingly insignificant decisions .... ones where we can choose to please or deny self. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in me and my own life... when really I was created to bring honor and glory is His name. At times i’d rather read a book in all my spare time - but as great as reading is then I could be doing other things like building relationships, encouraging a friend, etc.. there’s nothing wrong with reading sometimes but I need to make sure that that doesn’t become a priority. You’re right, every area of our lives should be for Him. We shouldn’t do this out of obligation but out of love for God .
    I was thinking today about reading God’s Word. If we say that we can’t because we’re too busy then where are our priorities? We have time to watch a YouTube video, read a book, watch tv, and such... yet we don’t find time to read God’s Word? We need to be in God’s Word everyday... to learn more about Jesus, come closer to Him, learn truth to arm us from the enemy’s lies, and more.
    Thanks for this reminder Hosanna, and for the encouragement. We can’t do any of this on our own... and learning to deny self is hard. But with God’s help we can learn and we can encourage each other. Keep living for Him, Hosanna!

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    1. What you said is so true, Sarah! The Bible says that the greatest commandments are to Love God and others with our entire being; isn't that the definition of selflessness? Wasn't "self" crucified on the cross? We're new creations, adopted into Jesus' royal family! So why would we live for ourselves?

      Yes! Instead of saying "I'm too busy for ___", we should say, "___ isn't a priority." What's really most important to us? Are we living that out? Or is this just a mission to satisfy and live for "self"?

      Jessica's latest post, Asking for Others, inspired me today in that area. Let's live - and pray - for others because we're so full of Love. Thank you for the encouragement, Sarah. =)

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  2. I love this quote: "But in some ways, dying for Christ doesn't seem as hard as living for Him. The decision to stand up amidst persecution would take one "yes". Living for Jesus takes a hundred "yes"es every day." Read your blog this morning and have been thinking on it all day. Good one! thanks.

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    1. Thank you! I think that sentence is most clearly understood in a household of little people. We have to deny self every minute when we choose to hold our tongues, give a hug, heal a hurt, or push a swing. =) God's given us a great environment to put the Gospel into action. Thank you for being such a good role-model for me. =)

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  3. This post was so good! Thank you, Hosanna, for taking the time to right it! How convicting. I also have been thinking on the exact thing Sarah shared. How we're really not too busy for anything...if we actually want to make it happen. It's where our priorities are and it's so convicting when I begin to think of my relationship with Jesus in that light. Of course I have time for Him...the question is will I make Him a priority today?

    Thank you for sharing your heart through this blog post!

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    1. Challenging thoughts, Hannah! I also like what Sarah said, "We shouldn’t (give every aspect of our lives to God) out of obligation but out of love for God." So often, we can get caught up in the habits of doing the right things but for the wrong purpose. But even then, if we look closely, I think we'll discover what our real priorities are - ourselves or God?

      Selflessness is so hard! =) Thank you for the encouragement as we seek to have a heart like His. ♥

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  4. Wow! This is so true... Thank you so much for this, Hosanna!

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    1. I'm so thankful that this inspired you, my friend, because you're a constant source of encouragement to me! Let's press on in living for Jesus and others selflessly. =)

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  5. This is a great post! It is very thought provoking. Daily, It is so hard to deny self. Mark 8:34-36 is very clear and to the point. Thank you for this reminder.

    P.S. I just started a blog, and would love it if you stopped by! I'm still setting some things up, so if you have any tips to blogging, It would be great to hear from you. This is how to find my blog-bensshowersofblessings.blogspot.com
    -Brooklyne

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    1. I agree, Brooklyne! It's very hard to deny self; our natural habits want us to continue living for ourselves. But when one surrenders her life to Jesus, what a beautiful life-story can unfold!

      Press on towards Jesus, my friend. And thank you for sharing your thoughts here. =)

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  6. I was also moved by that one quote: 'But in some ways, dying for Christ doesn't seem as hard as living for Him. The decision to stand up amidst persecution would take one "yes". Living for Jesus takes a hundred "yes"es every day.'

    As I read your words, I'm reminded of the Scripture where it is written: 'For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.' - Philippians 1:21

    I've been reading a book about worldwide martyrs of the twentieth century. I'm far more afraid of the endless torture than of the death it'self because death is the doorway to my eternal home with my Lord.

    None of us (assumedly) faces physical torture as a result of saying "yes" to Christ - not in the way the martyrs did that I've been reading about. But in a sense, denying our flesh in the menial is a lesser degree of the same self-denial. And surely the one who is faithful in the menial will be faithful in the extreme because it is a matter of the heart.

    Let's let the Lord keep shaping and sanctifying our hearts. As he does, we will be given grace to say "yes" to Him every day, and to say "yes" to Him should we ever have to suffer for Him in more severe ways.

    Thank you for writing this, dear friend. :)

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    1. Jordy, I'm so sorry that it took me this long to respond to your thoughtful comment. Thank you for sharing. I'm thankful for the chance to "re-remember" this post I wrote over a month ago.

      I'm glad that we live with freedom to believe in Christ without harsh persecution, although I do think it allows lukewarmness to grow if we aren't careful. That's why both the big "yes"es and the little "yes"es are so important. I feel as if I could stand up for Jesus if faced with persecution, but those little scenarios when I have to deny self, take up my cross, and follow Him... those are harder.

      In 1st Peter today, I read how we should be holy as He is holy. Perhaps that verse explains it best. Every decision is a chance to become more in His image - more set-apart and holy for Him.

      I like what you said, "Let's let the Lord keep shaping and sanctifying our hearts." Thank you for always encouraging me towards that final goal, dear friend. ♥

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