Go away and be humble

Selwyn, now looks at another factor that is essential for becoming good receivers of God’s grace: an attitude of humility.

He goes onto say: ” … stand at your real height, look up to God, reflect on His greatness, holiness and majesty, and consider how infinitely bigger than you He is. Then go away and be forever humble.”

As usual, the text – set for reading and meditation – is good [1 Peter 5: 1-11 (NIV), I’ve added verses 8-11]: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

In most of the books found in the Bible, we can find a reference to God’s opposition to all those who are proud and boastful – if, it’s a major issue for God then it should be a major issue for us.


Paul – a magnificent model

Selwyn states in today’s study, ‘that Paul is a wonderful model for us, in this matter of receiving grace. One of the reasons why he was so open to God’s grace was because, as he tells us in today’s text, he puts no confidence in the flesh (human strengths and knowledge). … Once, he placed no confidence in human abilities (flesh) he became more open to receiving God’s grace.’

Selwyn goes on to remind us, that Paul still had problems, but he was able to handle them with God’s help. It’s the same with all of us, who follow Jesus, we will still share in the highs and lows, of living day to day. Yet, nothing will separate us from God’s love – He will never allow us to be spiritually destroyed by the troubles of this world. In His justice, mercy and love – we eternally trust.

Here are the key verses from today’s text, Paul’s letter to the Philippians 3:3,7-21 (NIV): ” … we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh … But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Notice the great way, Paul keeps repeating the key points of the gospel: righteousness from God through faith; no confidence in the flesh; citizenship of heaven; resurrection of our transformed bodies; we all should have the same view; and, we must press on and keep following Jesus, all the days of our life.

Living for Him

The following verses (part of today’s set text), from Paul’s second letter to the  Corinthians 5:14-21, are really worth your time thinking about (NIV): ” … For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

I’ve highlighted the bits I like – I think it’s so fantastic to know that Jesus does not count our sins – against us.

Selwyn continues his discussion on what it means to fully surrender our ‘self’ to God. And, it’s an on-going surrender – it’s something we have to constantly review to make sure that nothing of our self, is plotting to undermine our 100% allegiance to God.

Consequently, I think the example Selwyn gives in his conclusion, is one worth following: “One person I know explains how he maintains a continuous attitude of surrender. ‘I begin every day by spending some time sitting in God’s presence. After studying His Word, I invite Him to show me if there are any barriers preventing His grace coming through. Mostly nothing is shown me, and by faith I take it that the doors of my soul are open to Him.

Sometimes He does show me a hindrance, fear or jealousy. I repent and ask for forgiveness, resolve to put things right, and, after a time of intercession, I go out into the day, serene and secure.’ “

The main point is that we should have some, regular way of maintaining a continuous attitude of surrender – prayer is always involved; as is, the daily process of living for Him.

The last thing we give up

Selwyn starts by saying: “We talked yesterday about the fact that ‘everyone goes into the shrine of the heart and bends the knee to something. …” And, he ends with: “It is possible to give up lots of things without giving up the ‘self’. You see, that is where our life is – in the self. It must be surrendered.”

The text set for reading and meditation, is well known to many, but I think few actually understand the main message and apply it to their lives.

Luke 14:25-35 (NIV): ‘Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”’

The message is that we must be prepared (to know and accept the costs) to give up everything, including our life,  to follow Jesus. Our love for God should be so committed, that we are willing to sacrifice our relationships with our family or friends, if these relationship are preventing us from fully serving our Lord and God.

Sometimes, we justify diverting our attention away from Jesus to other priorities (for example, family) by saying to ourselves – God must agree with me, that this is a good thing for me to do, for my family. We first, must discern what God’s will is, and always follow Him; then all these other priorities will fall into place.

Taking second place

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about surrendering our ego, our being, to God.

I think it’s something that most Christians know about – it’s a more an intellectual ‘nod’, ‘Yes, we should surrender ourselves to God’. But the next step is the important one – moving that thought down into our heart and living a surrendered life.

I think Selwyn raises a good point when he writes: “… I must emphasise that surrender does not mean collapse. Some I’m afraid, see it in that way, they believe surrender involves becoming as nothing and living before God … as ‘mushy meaninglessness’. Surrender, when properly understood means we have a better chance of fulfilling our potential because we are living according to God’s design.

A truly surrendered person offers to God an alert self, no longer eager for its own way but for the way – a self, knowing its place is second, and eager to serve the First (God).”

Earlier, Selwyn says ‘we were made to have God at the centre of our beings and for the ego to revolve around Him’.

The text for today, covers the area of submission to God, especially these verses, James 4:7-10 (NIV):Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

In Exodus 20:1-7 (NIV), we hear God say to the Israelites: “And God spoke all these words:  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

You shall have no other gods (including yourself) before me.

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. … “

In a very real sense, submitting our ego to God is really an essential part of our obedience, in regard to the first three commandments. (In reality – one commandment – to love God!) Anything, we place before God – such as our family or our work or our wealth or our sinful desires – is in reality, an idol, which has taken God’s place in our life.

‘Taking second place’ is recognition of the fact that Jesus is our Creator and we are the created.

What do you think?

[I’ve disabled comments for a short while because of the amount of spam I was receiving – feel free to email me your views, to: neroliandshayne@hotmail.com Shayne McCusker – to follow Jesus]


God – the infinity Reality

I liked the key verse for today’s study, John 1:16 (NIV): “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”

The idea that we (His children) all receive blessings – no one is left out – is a great truth; one, we all should hold fast to. It brings me back to a theme that I can’t emphasise enough – Jesus loves you – He will never leave you lost in your own ignorance. He will know a way to reach you and to lead you along the narrow path of knowledge and truth.

Selwyn now moves onto another characteristic found in those who walk freely down life’s path, namely: ‘their knowledge of grace runs to more than theory: they know also how to receive it. It is one thing to ask God for grace, but it is another thing to open our heart to receive it. … We are told that to receive grace we must first surrender our ‘self’ (with all its associated independence, inhibitions and doubts).’

He concludes by saying that many may find it easy to talk about surrender but have difficulties doing it – this is an area which Selwyn will cover over the next couple of days.

Over and over again, in Scripture we are told that we must surrender our claim to our life and hand-over ourselves – to our Creator, to whom we owe our being.

In Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV), we read these well known verses: ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”‘

Jesus is saying that there’s nothing you can give God in exchange for your soul, your eternal life. He already owns everything! What you may have is just on temporary ‘loan’.

Mercy – the motive

As I mentioned in previous posts, it’s my view that people who continue in their life of sin, and try to justify their decision on the idea that Jesus will forgive them – have no relationship with God and they remain dead in their sins.

As Selwyn says in today’s study, regarding ‘Romans 12:1 (NIV): “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices … “.  In other words, the incentive for doing good is gratitude for what has been done for us. Those who try to live the Christian life out of a sense of duty are living under law, not grace. … We should strive for holiness not in order to make God love us but because He already does.’

We are called to be holy – a calling not heard by many in today’s world.


[My first chemotherapy session went smoothly – thanks for your prayers and praise to our Almighty God.]