Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

daily devotions Archive

Wednesday

6

January 2021

From Self to Selfless

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) | From self to selfless | Read more at hopereflected.com

New Year’s resolutions are almost always focused on self.

Popular every January, New Year’s resolutions are almost always focused on self: Bettering ourselves, practicing new habits, or letting go of our old ways. Rather than be self-focused, each of us would benefit so much more if we would choose to be God-focused, turning our eyes to the Creator, growing in our relationship with Him, and dedicating more time to our daily devotions than once-a-year resolutions.

“Each of us would benefit so much more if we would choose to be God-focused, turning our eyes to the Creator, growing in our relationship with Him, and dedicating more time to our daily devotions than once-a-year resolutions.”

Hope Reflected

There is a great danger when we put so much emphasis on our “self”.

Self-deception is the lie that we are enough in and of ourselves. Rooted in pride, self-deception tells us that we are right, that we can save ourselves, that we are enough. The reality is this: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12). Rather than taking up our own causes, Jesus called for us to take up our cross and follow Him. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Self-denial requires us to put off the old as Paul wrote (Ephesians 4:22). How fitting for the start of a new year.

Masterfully demonstrated throughout Scripture by Satan himself, self-exaltation honours self first, and puts a focus on what we want and our needs.

Hope REFLECTED

While self-exaltation builds up our reputation, Christ made himself of no reputation.

Self-exaltation, like its cousin self-deception, is once again a sin with deep roots in pride. Masterfully demonstrated throughout Scripture by Satan himself, self-exaltation honours self first, and puts a focus on what we want and our needs. The reality is this: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” (Proverbs 15:33). True honour comes only after humility. Christ is the perfect example of this, and it is His example that we are called to follow. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5. While self-exaltation builds up our reputation, Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant… he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:7-8). These are not character traits that can be developed through self-exaltation, just the opposite. Humility and obedience are only learned through daily self-examination in accordance with God’s Word.

This year, rather than taking a self-focused approach to life, may we aim to live God-focused lives.

Self-righteousness tells us that we haven’t fallen prey to self-deception or self-exaltation, or any of the other self-sins. Self-righteousness encourages us to play the game of comparison, looking down our noses at what others are not doing – or not doing right – and boasting in our own works. Spoiler alert: All our works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The reality is this: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12). Rather than self-righteousness, self-sacrifice sees us being transformed by God’s mercies (Romans 12:1-2). Self-sacrifice forsakes the love of self we read of in 2 Timothy 3:2 and seeks God first and others second (1 Corinthians 10:24). Self-sacrifice is selflessness rather than selfishness. This year, rather than taking a self-focused approach to life, may we aim to live God-focused lives.

Originally published as “From self to selfless.” Independent Plus. January 7, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

Share Button

Monday

7

September 2020

Devotions require devotion

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 | Read devotions require devotion on hopereflected.com

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Devotions are the name that we give to our daily time with God, usually spent reading the Bible and possibly a Bible study guide or book, and praying. They are not something we do just once, they’re not a habit we develop overnight, and they’re not a practice that comes to us naturally. Devotions require commitment, dedication, loyalty – our devotions requires devotion.

The Bible isn’t merely a history book

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (15:4) The Bible, with its 66 books, 31,102 verses, and countless topics that are just as relevant today as they were when they were written, is given to us for our learning and for our comfort. The Bible isn’t merely a history book; it is our tool book, and the greatest weapon in our arsenal, after all, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Devotions convict us of our sin

This is one of the reasons that some Christians neglect to spend time in devotion with God’s Word. Because the Bible discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and it’s quick to convict us of our sin, it makes for some uncomfortable self-reflection. As Tozer once said, “An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.” This is another reason we ought to devote more time to God. “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading,” wrote C.S. Lewis. God’s Word has the power to transform, and the more time we spend in the Bible the more we will grow.

Our devotional time will bring us closer to our Lord

There is a misconception that our devotional time will always be filled with some spiritual enlightenment, with “aha” moments, and feelings of closeness with our Lord. This is not always the case – and that’s not a bad thing. We may at times experience enlightenment, and there will be truths revealed to us that we’ve not seen or understood before. Our devotional time will bring us closer to our Lord even when we don’t feel it. Our daily soak in God’s Word is meant to develop, reprove, correct, and instruct us over time. Devotions take time. Just as going to the gym doesn’t give you overnight results, so devotional time in God’s Word won’t transform you in a day.

“I will run the way of thy commandments… Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” (Psalm 119:32-33). Our devotions require devotion.

You may also be interested in: 3 reasons to start doing devotions daily

Originally published as “Devotions require devotion.” Independent Plus. May 7, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

Share Button