Self-Denial

“But going on ahead to the ship, the rest of us set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for that was what he had directed, intending himself to go by land [on foot].” (Acts 20:13).

What caught my eye about this verse was that instead of jumping aboard a ship to journey onto his next place, Paul walked there by himself. I read that this could have been because it was a shorter route by land but also it could have been that in order for Paul to keep his flame burning for God, he denied himself the pleasure or the rest he would have aboard a ship, as the route he took was not a an easy one but actually very dangerous.

How many Christians could have that said about them? They deny themselves of pleasures or a life of ease, so that the Presence of God is alive and shown powerfully in and through them? In truth I can’t even say that about myself.

I can imagine Paul did enjoy his time alone with God on his walk but if the terrain was so treacherous then how much was he really enjoying that walk while treading his path in sandals and a robe? Really puts things into perspective for us modern day believers as we live life for ourselves and our comforts instead of protecting our relationship with special Presence of God; whatever the cost. Doing what we need to do for the protection of our inner lives so that when people look at us it’s not us they see but the glory of God radiating through us.

Really how many Christians can honestly say that they have an intimate relationship with God on a daily basis? Not just going through the motions of religion. Religion is deceptive. It can be made of a routine of doing all the right things. Spending time with God. Reading the Word. Praying a list. Relying upon our own strength and wisdom instead of God’s. Or even resting upon our laurels with an aim to be positioned in the church to do an important task. To the outsider it may look and sound like we’re doing and saying all the right things but are our hearts right as we do these things?

If we compare our fervency to know God, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings to the Apostle Paul’s in the Bible, I bet the majority of us fall way short (Phil 3:10). And we accept that’s the way it is and excuse ourselves by saying we’re sinners saved by grace. When I don’t think that’s what God intended for us when Christ died for our sins; half-hearted faith that’s worked out by means of our own power. Or even positioning ourselves in a comfortable place within the church to serve. He wants us to venture beyond our understanding of Him. Reach for more of His Presence and allow Him to live and move and to actually have us (Luke 11:10-13, Acts 17:28).

So what are you actively doing in your life to encourage growth into new understanding of who God is? Or even to experience God in new ways? Are you seeking God for more new revelation of Him in His Word? In order to live closer to Him and give Him the ability to show more glory through you? Or have you entered into a state of just floating around, satisfied in your understanding of who God is, creating a sheer boredom in your walk with Him?

At this point in my life I am praying that God would do a new thing in me. That He would reveal new facets of Himself to me. Yearning for Him to get more of me and I yo get more of Him. Satisfy me. Pressing in. Its a daily challenge and I admit that I fall short but I praise God that, I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:21). I find the more I press into God the more He helps me to experience Him in a real way. That’s grace. Taking that time with Him everyday to just sit and commune with His Spirit. To worship Him. To adore Him. To plead for His amazing grace to help. To listen to Him speak to my heart. Putting away all distractions. To just be with Him.

It’s a choice between settling for the mediocrity or going after more of Him. How much might our relationship with God grow if we seek to do that every day? And turn our lives around from either settling on the mundane life or riding out the chaotic life to a life of peace. It would transform our attitudes or our perspective and virtually change our lives.

I want to encourage you to consider how you can seek to know God more deeply. Ask Him to make your heart ready and expect Him to overwhelm you with His Presence. Yearn for it. Thirst for more. Ask, seek, and knock for more of His Presence (Luke 11). Jeremiah 29:13 says, we will truly find God when we seek Him with our whole-hearts. Now that’s a challenge worth the fight.

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity]. (Ps 9:10)

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