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Monday, December 2, 2013


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

God commands and expects us to be strong and courageous.  We have no other option because it is a command!  There is no room for cowardice.   The apostle Paul prayed for courage that he might preach the Word of God with all boldness and so must be.  Nevertheless, courage is something that we must have as we walk the path of righteousness with God's help. 

Courage doesn't necessarily involve fighting a battle, climbing the highest mountain peak, or defying the strongest storm.  Courage is the way we walk the path God wants us to walk without straying.

Jesus is our perfect example of walking the path of courage, the path of righteousness.  He modeled it.  He walked the path opposed to the culture of that time when He healed the cast-offs of society.  He touched the lepers, Matthew 8:1-4.  He exposed the Pharisees' adultery, hypocrisy, and neglect of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  He cried out against their habit of lying and retaliation against their neighbors.  He said,
 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven"  (Matthew 5:20).  

Jesus spoke against their greed for earthly treasures.  This must have taken a lot of courage!  He told them that what they valued was of no value at all.
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven... "  (Luke 6:22-23). 

  • Jesus is our best example of dying to self.  
It takes a great deal of courage to die to self every day.  There was no selfishness in Jesus. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a Savior.  Jesus simply lived a life of sacrifice, dying to Himself for us.   He died to what might have been His own ambitions and earthly desires.  Although He was God and was richer than any of us, He did not use that for His own benefit.  Let us never forget that our Lord Jesus became poor for us! 
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men"  (Phil. 2:5-7).   
"For you know the Grace of poverty our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich"  (II Cor. 8:9). 
Jesus always cared for the wellbeing of His flock.  He lived for everyone else but Himself.  He died to Himself! It must have taken lots of courage to die a cruel death on a cross and not run away.  
"And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed"  (I Peter 2:24).
"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24).  
Our selfishness must be crucified with Him when we are baptized into His death.  Let us take a moment and meditate on this.  Through Jesus' blood, we crucify all our selfish desires, ambitions, lusts, greed, and all those things that make us stumble.  Yet, we seem to keep living for self!  This, of course, does not produce in us the good fruit of peace, but rather strife and hypocrisy. 
"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy"  (James 3:16-17).

  • Dying to ourselves demands a lot of courage:  
When we die to ourselves, we bear pure, sincere, and merciful fruits.  Life-giving fruits! My question is, how can we live only to ourselves pleasing the desires of our flesh, knowing that this produces only strife and hypocrisy? How much better it is to live for God and the ambitions He has set for us, which reap a bountiful harvest of peace!  The choice is ours.
Lest we forget, Jesus has already walked the path of courage, the path of righteousness for us when He died that cruel death on the cross.  Through His death, we have peace and life-giving things, rather than strife, hypocrisy, and evil things.  Remember that we must live in that same courage and sacrifice all the days of our lives.  Let us not take for granted Jesus' shed blood that we may live in the fullness of life every day!  
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit"  (John 12:24). 
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me"  (Gal. 2:20).

Therefore, let us arm ourselves with the mind and purpose of Christ to bear abundant fruit to His glory as we walk His path of courage and righteousness.
"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does."  (I Peter 4:1-6)

To show His love, our Lord Jesus was crucified and died for me. To show my love and gratitude for Him, I must die to self, be crucified with Him, and live for Him daily.

May our Lord give us the courage to die to ourselves so that we may live a rich and abundant life to His glory. 

The following poem expresses the courageous voyage of dying to self, being crucified with Christ in our daily walk.

"Crucified With Christ"

As I look back
On what I thought was living
I'm amazed at the price
I choose to pay
And to think I ignored
What really mattered
'Cause I thought the sacrifice
Would be too great.

But when I finally reached
The point of giving in
I found the cross
Was calling even then
And even though
It took dying to survive
I've never felt so much alive.

For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live
Not I but Christ
That lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live.

As I hear the Savior
Call for daily dying
I will bow beneath The weight of Calvary
Let my hands surrender
To His piercing purpose
That holds me to the cross
Yet sets me free.

I will glory in
The power of the cross
The things I thought were gain
I count as loss
And with His suffering
I identify
And by His resurrection power
I am alive.

And I will offer all I have
So that His cross is not in vain
For I found to live is Christ
And to die is truly gain.

For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live
Not I but Christ
That lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live.


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