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I Die Daily...

As we ride the ups and downs of this frantic rollercoaster called life, the downs overshadow the ups. The night always feels darker than the day feels lighter. The brokenness stays longer than the healing and rejoicing moments. It may be our fragile nature, our natural propensity to focus on the worst, or it may even be some semblance of reality. Either way, we are guaranteed to have both the ups and downs in this life. The question is simply one of perspective. A principle you learn in psychology is that you’re perception of life defines what you deem as reality. The idea is that whatever you perceive things to be is what you believe to be true, no matter how much bias you have or missing information you might have.

Since we are guaranteed to suffer in this life: number one, because of the fall and the fact we live in a broken and corrupted world in these pitiful earth tents destined to be dissolved in order to be reconstituted to perfect purification one day. Number two is because we are Christians. There are not many things you can guarantee in this life, but anything guaranteed in the Bible you can trust in wholly. In John 16:33, Jesus says:

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus, so kind and tender, gave us encouragement and strength from such gentle words as we have written in the gospel of John. He gave us this encouragement not because we were going to relax in cruise control but because we would be making our best impression of our favorite action movies, cops and robber's car chase scene to the end. Our lives will not be relaxed and controlled because we are the antithesis of everything the world’s system and its ruler stand for. We are the seeming virus in this world's otherwise fine operating system. We provide a hiccup, speed bump, and a detour that can lead others to see the narrow path that few will find.

As aggressive as monarchs and dictators are in snuffing out anything that would even smell like it may be antagonistic against their reign, the prince of the power of the air is all the more cunning, diabolical, and effective in attempting to ruthlessly cut out anything that would disrupt his smooth conveyor belt to hell. Not only is the ruler hating and attacking us, but every unbeliever looks onto our lives and seeks to throw whatever rocks they can to shatter the glass of our already fragile resolve and purity. The world enjoys nothing more than seeing people of the faith fall short, fail, and then attempt to keep them there.

Jesus says that is why He gives us His peace, and He roots His ultimate reasoning for our peace to be that He has overcome the world. The victory has already been won. There is nothing to fear or fret over. Our God is the God who has already claimed the victory. Our great Champion said to take heart…but He also said the infamous words in Luke 9:23.

“23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Never in my life has this verse meant more to me than now. If I would come after Christ, I must deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Him. What a demanding cost to follow the Savior of the world. There is an overwhelming feeling that can quickly try to overtake us as we think about this, yet God is gracious and patient and slowly lowers the weight of the cross beam on our shoulders as we stumble forward in sanctification. I have found this true in my life, and I am sure you can say the same.

One of the three things that has grown me the most in this life is daily dying to myself. Every time I have denied myself for the benefit of my wife, children, deacons, and congregation, God has always faithfully, slowly grown me in ways I never would have expected. I look back year after year and am astounded by how immature, unknowledgeable, and incapable I was the year before. I pray that there is never a year that this doesn’t happen to me, as I am vividly aware of how much I do not know and how much I still need to grow. The Lord is gracious to a pitiful sinner like me!

Much like building muscular strength is a journey of a thousand steps, denying yourself is a spiritual muscle that will grow exponentially with time under tension, repetition, and consistency. There are days when it can feel like all you have done is die to yourself. You and I both know that if we were to analyze these days and make an accurate judgment of ourselves, we would have been able to die to ourselves more. We give into temptation so easily. We are so weak and unable on our own. Jesus denied Himself to the point of sweating blood…while I may feel that dramatic, I have never come close to fighting my sinfulness to that degree.

As we choose to die to ourselves daily, we grow the most essential characteristic of any Christian: humility. My dear family in Christ, if there is one thing the church needs more now than ever, it is for us to become a more humble people. God works through the means of self-denial to grow in us the beautiful and refreshing fruit of humility. Stand firm in the faith. Do not waiver. Hold onto that cross and keep your eyes fixed on your Lord and Savior walking ahead of you. See the cross on His shoulders and how He pushes the physical body to its absolute limit. Act like the man or woman of God you are called to be and die to yourself today.

May God bless your week as you seek His kingdom first!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Dan

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Colossians 1:28

"Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ."

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