Monday, May 5, 2014

40 Day Challenge - Draw Closer to God & Your Hubby (Day 8: Pray)

Day 5's was challenging us to be joyful no matter what because we understand what we gain as a result of tribulations: a new understanding that this is not our home, stronger faith, unyielding trust, making us more conformed to the image of Christ. By submitting to God's sovereign plan - our character, our prayer life, or worship - improves ten fold. This process of sanctifying us will never end in this lifetime. There is no limit to what we can learn! Embrace it.

Day 6's challenge was to memorize Proverbs 3:5, reminding us to put our trust in Him knowing He will guide us.

Day 7 was the ultimate challenge in recognizing that true JOY comes from the order of your priorities: Jesus, Others, Yourself. Make Christ your centerfold, increase His Name, decrease your own.

Day 8
As mommy’s we are called to embrace self-sacrifice 24-7. There is absolutely nothing about being a wife or mom that allows selfishness. God honors our self-sacrifice. By sacrificing our own selfish desires we are being conformed to the image of Christ. Christ came to serve, and proved it on many occasions. One that stands out is the time He washed His disciples feet. He took the form of a servant and taught His disciples that the greatest among them were actually the lowest. If we are to be like Him, we too must do as Jesus did, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Self-sacrifice means that we become servants, submissive to the point where we give up on our dreams and rely on God’s plan - even if that means death. To prove this fact, the entire purpose of the gospel of Mark is to show Christ as the servant (Mark 10:45) “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” His example of servanthood was displayed perfectly through His life and through His death! Christ did not want to die on the cross (read Matthew 26:39) and yet He was submissive to the point of a painful death ON OUR BEHALF. On the night before His death, He prayed, "Not my will, but YOURS be done.

What can we learn from Christ's example? When we recognize God's sovereignty, when we recognize the plan GOD has in store, when we put Jesus first and others second, when we embrace all of those things and let our selfish desires go, we begin to understand the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and live life joyfully as a result - no matter what we face. So what does it mean to be a selfless woman? It means you are a strong woman, because there is absolutely nothing about self-sacrifice that is easy, or fun, or for the weak in faith.
  • Be a strong woman who's entire purpose in life is to serve Christ.
  • Be a strong woman who puts the needs of others before her own (husband, children, church family, enemy &etc.).
  • Be a strong woman who's rock is God. 
  • Be a strong woman who's hope is in Christ alone.
  • Be a strong woman who laughs at time to come because of her faith in God; like the Proverbs 31 woman, you have nothing to fear! 
  • Be a strong woman who embraces self-sacrifice for the sake of the gospel in the lives of her loved ones; husband first, children second.
Be like Christ and embrace self-sacrifice, no matter how difficult. 

The way Milton Vincent explains self-sacrifice in his book, A Gospel Primer, is perfection:
"Compared to greater endeavors, self-love is mundane and tiresome. Consequently, the more thoroughly I can be done with such tedium, the freer my soul will be to soar at its God intended heights. 
One of the leading causes of my natural tendency to self-love is fear. I fear that if I do not love myself there would be no one left to love me quite so well as I do. An even more significant cause of self-love is a lack of persuasion that there is someone out there who is worthy to be loved more than I. Arrogance lies underneath both these causes: I love myself supremely because I am the most worthy person I know to be loved and also because I think I can do a better job at it than anyone else. Such arrogance makes me dangerous, yet it is deeply ingrained in my sinful flesh. 
Thankfully, the gospel frees me from the shackles of self-love by addressing both of these causes. First, the gospel assures me that the love of God is infinitely superior to any love that I could ever give to myself. "Greater love has no one than this," says Jesus while speaking of His love. And the deeper I go into the gospel, the more I experience the truth of His claim and thereby know how far His love for me surpasses even my own. His astonishing love for me renders self-absorption moot and frees me up to move on to causes and interests far greater than myself. 
Second, the gospel reveals to me the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it lures my heart away from love of self and leaves me enthralled by Him instead. The more I behold God's glory in the gospel, the more lovely He appears to me. And the more lovely He appears, the more self fades into the background like a former love interest who can no longer compete for my affections. 
Preaching the gospel to myself every day reminds me of God's astounding love for me and also of His infinite worthiness to be loved by me above all else. These reminders deliver a one-two punch to my innate self-absorption and leave me increasingly absorbed with Christ and with God's ultimate plan to gather together all heavenly and earthly things in Him." 
(Vincent, M., A Gospel Primer, p.29-31, bolded mine)

Today's idols are not cast in gold and set up to display in a temple. Today's idols are in fact of flesh and blood. Stop making yourself an idol by loving yourself supremely. Let go of the world's idea of "love yourself above all else" because no one can do it better than me, myself, and I; and embrace the love of Christ knowing that His love is like no other! That's step one in embracing self-sacrifice: Christ alone is #1.

What's the next step? Giving it to God (whatever "it" is). Today, let yourself cry for a lost dream, or your plans, or self-love. Women are so emotional that I truly believe we need to allow ourselves a moment to cry; but do not cry, "Oh, whoa is me...." instead, as you cry, pray these things:
  1. That God give you understanding.
  2. That after today you can fully and whole heartedly give this dream to Him.
  3. That you fully and whole heartedly do as Proverbs 3:5-6 states: trust in Him and His plan for your life.
  4. Knowing this won't be easy, ask God to give you strength to persevere.
  5. Pray that you wake up tomorrow morning (and hence forth) ready to joyfully serve Jesus and others above yourself.
  6. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY Go back to Day 2, get over yourself, get over whatever you think you deserve and PRAISE HIM for all His wondrous works!
Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray when your standing, sitting, peeing, eating, cooking, playing, cleaning… in all that you do today pray and if you can think of nothing to say, say this:
Translation: I am pleased with your plan for my life Lord, whatever it is. And if you let me decide for myself in any event, I would rather give it to you, because you are forever wise and can do no wrong, as I do. I rejoice to think that all things are in your power, and it gives me great joy to give it all to you.

If you just joined us, and I'm so glad you did, start with (there is an order to the madness)...
  • Day 1 - The Gospel
  • Day 2 - Stop & Consider the Wondrous Works of God
  • Day 3 - Trust in God's Sovereignty
  • Day 4 - Using Music to Focus Our Hearts & Minds on God
  • Day 5 - Sanctify Me
  • Day 6 - Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Day 7 - Deny Self

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