Is that title confusing to you? If you were at Hope Church this weekend, it would totally make sense! ;)
Our pastor began a new sermon series called "What's it to You?". Today's message was Part One in the series titled "How Do You Lose It?". He started by asking the question "What do you need to lose?" They rolled up on the stage a giant pair of letters spelling the word "IT" and showed a short video where people wrote down what their "it" is on it. One person said anger. Another said secrets. Another said worry.
So the first thing we were asked to do was to identify the "it" in our own life that we need to lose. I instantly began tearing up because I knew I needed this message. I did not hesitate to write on my bulletin that my "it" is SELF centeredness.
And then lo and behold one of the first scriptures Craig referenced was Ezekiel 28:2 "In the pride of your heart you say, 'I am a god...' But you are just a man and not a god., though you think you are as wise as a god." (NIV)
Whoa. I looked down at the life application section of my bible and read this: "When truly wise people get closer to God, they recognize their need to depend on him for guidance."
Craig went on to discuss how we wear ourselves out trying to play God. We try to control everything and everyone around us. By this point I am feeling like Craig is preaching directly to ME! (oops, there's that self-centeredness rearing its ugly head again! JK)
But seriously, this is where I am. I don't mean to make excuses, but before we went on vacation in November, I had a pretty good routine of getting up each day and starting it with God. Then came vacation, where not only did I NOT have any quiet time with God, but I also became obsessed with material things. Temporal things. Things that DON'T matter in the grand scheme of things!
Then we got home from vacation and moved into a new house and I attempted to get back into my quiet time each day, but to be honest I was treating it more like something to check off my to do list. Naturally, the farther I have drifted from enjoying intimacy with Christ, the more stressful things have been in my life. Why? Well, when I choose to sleep later in the mornings instead of waking early and allowing God to fill my cup, I grow very weary very quickly. I am too spiritually dry to handle day to day stresses in my own strength! And I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound corny, but truly...when you get out of the habit of reading your bible, you forget how God wants you to live. And when you forget what His Word says, you lose that peace and joy that comes from knowing Him and from living in obedience to Him. Am I rambling? Sorry! ;)
Back to today's message...Craig concluded his message by discussing what happens when we try to go it alone. He said you find yourself frustrated. (Romans 7:21,23 TLB) You feel fatigued. (Psalm 32:4-5 TLB) And you experience failure. (Proverbs 28:13 GNT)
All this was very good for me to be reminded of. It really hit home. And then he mentioned this verse:
"Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)
Oh my gosh! That is how I have felt lately! I had a couple of days last week where I literally felt like I was facing a death sentence. I can't tell you how much this scripture meant to me...esp the part I put in bold. My trials remind me that I need God! I can't go it alone, which is precisely what I've been trying to do!
Now here's the icing on the cake...my New Year's Goal, resolution, whatever you want to call it, is LESS of me. I'm disgusted with the level of self-centeredness I seem to constantly battle. I want God to be first in my life, then others, THEN me. And guess what verse Craig closed with? The wording of the Message version was PERFECT.
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and His rule." (Matthew 5:3 MSG)