Pastor Jonathan had a series he did in the January of 2012 titled Becoming A True Disciple, based on Matthew 16: 24,25
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
He broke it down into four sermons, the first being: Deny Yourself. This is a tough concept to grasp. It means laying aside all that you are and letting Him change you.
1: Deny Yourself. We must lay aside all that we are and die to self. We must be dead and buried. ONLY by letting Him live through you can you live at all.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.Now, I don't know about you, but this submission idea not a natural concept for me. I've never been submissive and my will was everything. The idea of denying me used to be an abhorrent thought. Back in September of 2012 Pa, Mama, Brianna and I were studying the book of 1st John in our Faith Bible Institute class. The verse that changed me was I John 1: 5-7:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you,
that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness,we lie, and do not the truth:but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,we have fellowship one with another,and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
It was like...well the light went on. Salvation's purpose wasn't to get me out of Hell...it was for me to WALK with HIM! Wow! (Even now, 1 & 1/2 years later, that discovery excites me.) I was to walk in light, to do what He said, leaning on him for every second, allowing His light to show my stains of sin so I could repent of them, confess and restore our fellowship. And oh, what a sweet fellowship it is! To have someone beside me, to talk to, walk with, be comforted by. Someone for whom I can give it all without hurt, doubt or regret!
Over this past summer, Näna, Emma and I did a study together through the books, Do Hard Things and Start Here, both written by Alex and Brett Harris, founders of the Rebelution.
*side note: These books are simply awesome. They are practical, useful tools of us "normal" young people. I would highly reccommend them to any and everyone who can read. Any age, Christian or not. Seriously, they're that life-changing.*
Back to my story. We did this study, and it changed my way of thinking entirely. Suddenly, I saw the unacheiveable as acheiveable. I could lay down my life for the life He was giving me. All I had to do was simply...let go. Perhaps, I'm not making sense. Maybe this is something you just have to learn for yourself. But I guarantee, when you do get it, you'll be ecstatic. No more burden to bear. Like Casting Crown's song, Come to the Well.
You can spend your whole life
Chasing what's missing.
But that empty inside,
It just ain't gonna listen.
When nothing can satisfy,
And the world leaves you high and dry:
Come to the Well.
And all who thirst will thirst no more.
All who search will find, what their soul's long for.
The world can try, but it can never fill.
Leave it all behind,
And come to the Well.
So, to put what just took me all that time to say into a nutshell (a really deep nutshell), I've changed. When reading those book, the light clicked; it all fell into place. All the knowledge of Christianity and the daily walk I'd gained through my life suddenly made sense. And it was so simple, even an adult could do it.
So. My challenge to you is this. Fall in love with Jesus. I don't mean just silly, fluffy feelings that people call love. I mean a real, deep, I-want-to-do-all-I-can-to-show-how-grateful-I-am-for-abundant-life love. Start by doing those little things that every Christian ought to do and usually doesn't...At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying,
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 18: 1-4)
- Read your Bible every morning. This should be a given, but you'd be surprised how many Christians don't. I mean, just ask around. If you have problems with consistency *guilty*, ask someone in your family to remind you every once in a while, when you aren't expecting it. The threat of having someone else know you're slacking is usually enough incentive. At least for me.
- Pray. Again, should be 'primary school stuff', but when was the last time you just took time to thank Him for all He's done for you. I'm not referring to the "thank you for the good weather, my health, and my family". The trick here is: BE SPECIFIC.
- Talk to someone. Communication is the basis of any relationship. Good communication. Pick a lull in dinner conversation to say: "You know, God showed me something awesome about ____ this week." This is pleasantly unexpected and usually leads to a wholesome and exhorting conversation. It strengthens family ties and encourages others' involvement in their own studies. CAUTION: THIS IS ADDICTIVE. The more you do it, the more your crave it. I mean really crave it. Like when you're in the PMS stage and you just found out that there's no peanut butter in the house. *personal experience*
Just. Go. For. It. Honestly-what do you have to lose?