HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 7, 2007, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Deny yourself and find true life

Pastor Steven Basney, Open Arms Community Church, Howard Lake

“I just want to do God’s will . . .” are words from Martin Luther King Jr.’s last sermon, preached the day before his death.

They sum up the life and message of this great American civil rights leader. Dr. King was not a perfect man, but he practiced what he preached pertaining to non-violence.

He was stabbed, house-bombed, beaten, and jailed – yet he never resorted to violence; he was committed to what the Bible calls “overcoming evil with good” (see Romans 12:17-21).

Many even accused him of not being a Christian although he fully believed in mankind’s need of salvation through Christ alone: “Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Savior . . . Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God.”

Dr. King’s life was dedicated to serving God and helping those who were oppressed. He stands as an inspiration to all of us who name the name of Christ.

Friend, let me ask you: Is God truly first place in your life?

Are you committed to pursuing His will for your life?

Do you desire to worship God 24/7, or just on Sunday morning?

Is your heart moved by that which moves the heart of God (hurting humanity)?

Do you long to see God glorified here on earth as He is in heaven?

Are you committed to Jesus, His church, and His mission?

Research by the Barna Group in 2006, revealed some negative trends in the church. Among people who said they were Christians and regularly attended church, only 15 percent said that their relationship with God was the top priority in their lives.

Other spiritual indicators such as personal holiness and evangelism barely make it on the radar screen of many American believers. It is clear that, on average, US believers are distracted, self-absorbed, and lukewarm.

In this type of atmosphere, we must all guard our hearts very carefully and purposefully. We must move in the opposite spirit of the enemy of our souls, and allow Jesus to be our all-in-all.

Once again, I am drawn to the words of Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34b-35).

Far too many are trying to “save their life.” Very few are willing to deny themselves.

Let’s listen in on some of the final words of a man whose heart and actions reflected what Jesus taught:

“I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like a long life . . . But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

We are living in very uncertain and troubling times, but friend, you were born for such a time as this! This is your time. You will not get another this side of eternity. It is time to deny yourself and find true life.

I encourage you, by the grace and power of God, to make it your chief aim on this brief sojourn of life to be able to honestly say, “I just want to do God’s will!”

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