14 Days of Love: Denying Self

Originally published Thursday, 07 February 2013.



I really like comfort.

In fact, I love it.

I like to make myself a little comfort cocoon. Just hibernating in my stuff. The things I rely on. The things that make me happy and cozy and have that warm-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-milk-living-in-a-Norman-Rockwell-painting feeling.

My possessions, my checking account balance, my food, my health. Stuff I take for granted. And I know that I rely too much on these things for hope, for security.

I count on each day being like the last because of what I have. My home, my money, plenty of food, my healthy body.

But I don't really have control over any of it. None of it can really keep me safe, care for me. It can all be taken in an instant.

Maybe that's why I hibernate in it. Love it all so much. Cling to it, not wanting to let it go. Satisfying my daily desires to indulge, buying more, eating more, using more, acquiring more, and not sharing any of it.

I find today's challenge so refreshing in a sore-muscles-after-a-good-workout kind of way.

I need to let go. Release my choke hold on the desires of my flesh that I find so much comfort and security in. 

I need to instead grasp tightly the Hope that can only be found in God's unfailing love. And choose to sacrifice and serve in order to combat my desire to indulge in too much TV, Starbucks, frozen yogurt, Facebook.

I'm too used to comfort. I need to get used to a little discomfort, a constant hunger pang, that I fill with God instead of stuff.

Day 6:

Filling Up on His Love: Psalm 33:4-5, 16-22

For the word of the Lord is right and true;

    he is faithful in all he does.

The Lord loves righteousness and justice;

    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;

    no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

    despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,

    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death

    and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;

    he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,

    for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,

    even as we put our hope in you.

We can hope in the Lord. His love in unfailing.

We cannot hope in our strength, the “size” of our “army.” No protection created by man, made up of man, can match the strength of God.

We cannot hope in the strength of our “horse.” In war, horses seemed to give you great power. But riders can lose control of their horse, which can be dangerous, especially in battle. And if a horse is killed during battle this could cause the rider great harm or death, as well. While a horse may seem strong, ultimately we can’t control it or know for certain it will always be there to protect us.

Our hope can only be in God’s love. It is the only thing that cannot fail us.

This scripture paints such a beautiful picture of the reliability and protection of God’s love. Unrelenting, forever faithful. Strong and stable, our shield and strength. That is our God’s great love for us.

Pouring Out His Love on Others: Galatians 5:13-15

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b]

We have great freedom in Christ. Freedom from the old law. Freedom through faith in Him.

Our hope is not in following the law of the Old Testament. Our hope is not in following new tips and philosophies. Our hope is in the love of God, who sent His only Son to die for us.

Just as it was in Psalm 33, our hope is in God’s unfailing love.

I love that this passage encourages us to look outside ourselves when celebrating that freedom. Not indulging the sinful nature, but serving one another, loving our neighbor.

We are to go, live out the celebration of God’s unfailing love, personified in Christ, by serving others.

The rest of this chapter in Galatians encourages us to walk in the Spirit. If we walk by the Spirit, we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The acts of the flesh are listed as: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, “and the like.”

By staying in step with the Spirit we experience the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

What better way to serve others than by the fruit of the Spirit!

Today’s challenge… deny your “flesh”, serve in the Spirit

Fast from something. Television, food, Facebook, whatever. Deny that desire, and take that opportunity to serve someone instead. Instead of watching TV, take that time to write a kind note to a friend or do a household project for your spouse.

Skip that latte and donate the money to an organization instead (check out http://forgo.it/, you “forgo” a purchase and donate that amount to good cause instead).

As you fast and serve, meditate on God’s unfailing love. Remember that your hope is in Him, His love, not in your own strength. As you fast, use it as a reminder to deny the habit of finding security in things of this earth. And as you serve, use it as a reminder that our hope is in God’s provision, His unfailing love.

Pray through the list of “acts of the flesh.” Sexual immorality, impurity, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, etc.

Do you struggle with any of these? Perhaps a “lesser version” of one or more? Confess it.

Pray for God’s strength, for His unfailing love to fortify you and fill you with the fruit of the Spirit. So that you may love & serve others out of that fruit.