Friday, August 8, 2014

EMPTY YOURSELF! (Christian Growth Series)

JESUS' MINDSET!

5 LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

When He made Himself of "no reputation," the Greek Word kenoph┼Źnia is used which means TO MAKE EMPTY OR VOID.

Jesus was equal with God but "emptied Himself!"

The Amplified Bible says it like this:

But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave).

If we are to grow in Christ, we must ask God to fill us with Himself. Before we can be filled - WE MUST FIRST BE EMPTIED!

One of the biggest roadblocks to growing in Christ is trying to hold on to our lives - all our beliefs, likes, dislikes, philosophies, etc!

We simply cannot have both! The world, the flesh and the devil are all highly contrary and incompatible with God's ways, thoughts and words! We simply must surrender one to get the other! The flesh clashes with the  Holy Spirit. They are like matter and anti-matter! No wonder Christianity is so weak when we try to appease both!

We want to watch and listen to what we want, eat and drink what we want, think how we want and do what we want - when we want. Then we tell God to work in us and through us without meddling in any of it!

For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
Galatians 5:17

Jesus taught that, even loving our own families above God can hinder the work of the Spirit in our in our hearts:

37 HE WHO LOVES FATHER OR MOTHER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 And HE WHO DOES NOT TAKE HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW AFTER ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME.
39 HE WHO FINDS HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, AND HE WHO LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE WILL FIND IT.
Matthew 10:37-39

These are Jesus' words - not mine! Don't shoot the messenger!

OUR VALUE SYSTEM! We all grew up in a certain place. We were either taught certain values by our parents. We were influenced by peers. We were molded by what we saw and heard. Each of us had a unique set of life of life experiences. All these mixed together became the foundation stones for what we believe later!

Unfortunately much of what we believe is wrong! If we are merely random products of evolution and consist only of cells animated by chemical reactions then we cannot really say if our thinking is right or wrong. Any morals we have will and should be based on personal preference.

On the other hand...
IF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE REALLY IS THE ALL-WISE, ALL-POWERFUL, ALL-KNOWING  CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE WHOSE WAYS AND THOUGHTS INFINITELY TRANSCEND OUR OWN, WE MUST BOW TO HIS GREATER INTELLIGENCE AND WISDOM!

THERE IS A WAY THAT SEEMS RIGHT TO A MAN, BUT ITS END IS THE WAY OF DEATH.
Proverbs 14:12

We mistakenly assume that, because we accept Christ or go to church, we have comprehensive knowledge of God. We believe the rest of the world around us is complex and should be thoroughly studied in order to understand it. Yet with the things of God, we somehow that believe everything can be understood by saying a once-and-done prayer, followed by a half-hearted, casual acquaintance!

If I am to learn from a qualified tutor or mentor, I must first submit to his or her wisdom by emptying myself of preconceived ideas. If I know very little about music and decide to study under a world-class musician, I would not constantly disagree with him and doubt what he is teaching me.

How much more so with God! It is fine to ask Him any questions in order to clarify what He is teaching or understand more fully. But following Christ is not democratic process!

If we are to truly allow the master to teach us and fill us - WE MUST EMPTY OURSELVES OF ANY PRECONCEIVED PRINCIPLES, ETHICS, MORALS, VALUES OR NOTIONS!

MULTIPLE CHOICE!
We are not free to pick and choose what we believe. There is objective truth that is beyond debate, discussion or personal feelings

Earthly teachers constantly change their methods and practices. For example, for many years, athletes were taught to utilize"static stretching" before competing. This is the most familiar kind of stretching in position for a fixed length of time. Recently, athletes have switched to "dynamic stretching," in which a muscle is flexed repeatedly for a number of times.

Since new information and methods change, it not unreasonable to doubt our earthly teachers from time to time. Some may become stuck in "the old ways" or there may simply be alternatives ways which our teacher or trainer does not accept! We may "pick and choose" which teachers to follow and may accept some or all of what each teaches.

God, on the other hand, does not change! He does not adjust or correct His ways for new trends! He never needs to update His knowledge base! No new information can come before Him that He needs to consider or new issue that He must wrestle with! He is entirely, exhaustively familiar with the past present and future and the individual needs of every human that has ever lived or ever will live!

"That doesn't make sense" some may argue! How can He know something before it happens? This illustrates my point! Many turn from God because they do not understand His ways. Until they do, they will adamantly refuse to believe in Him or submit to Him!

How arrogant and foolish to think God must answer to us or to assume that if He just explains Himself, we will understand Him! Many intellectuals often seem to struggle with this. (Some incredibly intelligent people believe strongly in God by the way!)

Could it be that intelligence is not the problem. Could the problem be that all their lives, many have been told that they were "gifted," "advanced" or "special?" They have been led to believe that they are the hope for our future because their greater intelligence allows them to see what "normal" people cannot! If something was true, surely they would be able to understand it! They cannot understand how God can know the future therefore it is not possible!

Scientists deride a literal Noah's Ark. They calculate the dimensions of the Ark and the number of species they believe existed at that time and laughingly discard it as impossible. Yet often these same scientists speak of all the great things man will do in the future! They predict man will one day be able to accomplish everything from transporting matter to creating a giant screen to block the sun and protect the ozone layer!

These predictions illustrate the haughty attitude of man, believing that God can't override nature but man can! Much of what is taught in today's universities and colleges is contrary to God! If we simply and naively accept it as truth and fact, we will find ourselves at odds with genuine truth and on the wrong side of many of life's issues!

We must make a regular practice of laying our own ways, ideas and desires on the altar before God - thus emptying ourselves! Why? Not to remain empty - but so that He can fill us!

UNREGENERATED MAN DOES NOT RECEIVE, KNOW OR UNDERSTAND THE THINGS OF GOD!
BUT THE NATURAL MAN DOES NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 
1 Corinthians 2:14

WE MISTAKENLY THINK GOD IS LIKE US!
These things you have done, and I kept silent;
YOU THOUGHT THAT I WAS ALTOGETHER LIKE YOU;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
Psalm 50:21

GOD PROMISES THAT WHEN WE EMPTY OURSELVES AND SUBMIT TO HIS TRANSCENDENT WAYS, HE WILL SHOW US HIS SALVATION!
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
AND TO HIM WHO ORDERS HIS CONDUCT ARIGHT
I WILL SHOW THE SALVATION OF GOD.”
PSALM 50:23

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