It’s all about Jesus

Following on from my previous post about Cambodia, I want to dive deeper into the need for Jesus.

The culture I live in loves job promotions, high status, being famous, good looks, and absolutely idolises having loads of money. The thought of being able to retire at 30 and travel the world eating endless amounts of delicious food is just too good to be true for most people. I’ve often heard it said that I should “be happy” and do things I want to. Being selfish is wisdom in this culture!

However, I have come to realise that a lot of pain and suffering comes from the selfishness in me! Every idol I have put in my life has been from selfishness, and it’s those idols that hurt the most. For example, by putting my career as an idol, any time something went wrong with my job, I got extremely distressed. I was always fearful of losing my job and the social status that came along with it. The fear was crippling and draining my life.

If I had genuine unselfishness and had put my focus on Jesus and what he wanted for me, this suffering would have never happened. I am so thankful for the trip to Cambodia, which taught me a lot more about what is most important in this world. My job is just that – a job. It’s not my identity, and if I lose it, I’m sure my Father will lead me to another one to pay the bills. 🙂

I challenge you to put your trust and hope in Jesus. Don’t put more weight on things of this world than you should. After all, we are called to be “in the world but not of the world.”

Simple Humility

The following post is something I believe God is telling me to do, and I wrote it like a letter to myself. However, I want to share it with you because you may also find it useful.

Give up the desire to be better than other Christians. Don’t try to be more than others; Don’t even compare yourself to them. Comparison isn’t from God; It’s a worldly way of thinking. Your desire should be to have an intimate relationship with God. Pursue intimacy with your Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Don’t spend a single drop of energy in the pursuit of being more than another Christian. It seems godly to want more than others, but the foundation of that thinking is selfishness. You want more for you than for them.

Although you know it’s wrong, it leads to thoughts of wanting others to fail, or at least not succeed as much as you. It may lead you to prayers along these lines: Can I be more spiritual? Can I have just a little bit more anointing? Can I lead just a little better?

Put these thoughts of being better to death. You are here to be God’s hands and feet, so you represent him and no one else. No, you shouldn’t even represent yourself. The more you die to yourself, the better. Jesus said to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. So, how’s that self-denial going? How does that cross feel? Are you dying? You must die so that he can live.

“The old has passed away. Behold! The new has come.”

You weren’t given life to live for yourself. Many people do that and end up with nothing inside. Australia is arguably one of the richest countries on earth, and suicide is higher here than anywhere in the world. Why? Many, if not most, Australians do not deny themselves, and do not take up their cross to follow Jesus. They look inward rather than looking outward. Do not do that, but rather, live for Jesus instead; He gives life and fullness, and only he can satisfy.

Who are the happiest people on earth? The rich? They have plenty but often want more. The poor? Sometimes yes, but the poor can covet riches and be miserable too. No, those who are truly happy have died to themself and put away every lust of success and riches. They live not for themselves but for God alone; He gives them strength and purpose. Interestingly enough, God may give them success and riches beyond their dreams. HOWEVER, those joyful people take no pride in their riches nor do they boast in them. They boast only in the Lord because their worth is in him!

If you look at each decision you’ve made the past year, do they tell the story that you’re denying yourself and taking up your cross? Do they say you are pursuing money? Do your actions paint a picture of humility, or a picture of pride?

The Deal with Pride

Today I was reading from Jeremiah 50. After reading the chapter, (a prophesy of judgement for the nation of Babylon), I noticed a few things.

Firstly, Babylon had been used by God to bring His judgement to nations that disobeyed Him. Babylon didn’t deserve God’s blessing or attention, yet He chose to use them to fulfill His purpose. By carrying out His work, the nation became very wealthy. (Lots of plunder from sacking many a city)

Secondly, Babylon didn’t acknowledge God and His blessing, but instead put themselves as the reason for success and praised their idols. They were so prideful that they couldn’t see past themselves and their own abilities. They put their full trust in themselves. Further to this, they decided that some man-made idols should be praised and worshipped. (uh-oh… I can take a guess where this is headed)

Thirdly, God didn’t take kindly to their pride. (Surprised? Me neither) God saw their arrogance and commanded a judgement on them that was, (get this), worse than every other judgement the other nations suffered. The worst part? There was no chance for repentance. The judgement on Babylon was to be final, and no one would ever live there again. Never ever is a very long time, so you know God was serious. In fact, God says “desert creatures and hyenas will live there” (v29), meaning God basically made the land haunted. All because some people trusted their own strength rather than the all powerful God of heaven. God doesn’t mess around, and I believe He wanted to make a point about pride and humility for people living after (aka you and me!). Those who call out to God will be saved, while those who trust in themselves will be brought low. James 4:6 says it well:

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

All throughout the old testament you can read of God bringing judgement on Israel for disobeying Him, yet they always turn and repent. God loves a humble heart, and gives grace when He sees it. Therefore, the lesson for you and I is simply this: Pride is a big no-no. You and I can start practicing more humility. And if you already are? Great! Keep going.

Ask For Directions

From a young age, I have been competitive. I always do my best to win at everything – from games at a friend’s house, to working on a project for my job; I do everything I can to be the best. This competitiveness drove me to listen to a lot of audiobooks. The purpose was to learn everything I could about my job, the world, and business in general. The problem is that a lot of successful people chase after money. They aren’t Christian, and their values started to rub off on me as I listened.

Can you relate to this? Do you find yourself following other values rather than God’s?

This morning I prayed that God would realign my heart and my desires. I want to follow Him and His direction for my life rather than creating my plan. I know God is looking out for me now. I have surrendered to Him so that He will lead me.

Each day is a day to surrender. To follow God requires each step (each day) to be used for good. Each day is an opportunity to draw closer to God and the destiny He has for you!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.‘ God will lead when we are willing to follow.