North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

One of the hardest things to do in life is to put your own desires behind everyone else’s. We call this self-denial. This concept is completely opposed to the worldly idea of living free with no restrictions. Always getting what you want when you want it isn’t healthy and rarely does it happen. But the temptation is always there to pursue. If you’ve ever had doubts about exactly what self-denial means, Matthew 16:24-25 makes the meaning clear: “Jesus said to his followers, If anyone wants to be my follower, they must forget about themselves. They must take up their cross and follow me. If anyone wants to keep their life safe, they will lose it. If anyone gives up their life because of me, they will save it.”
A lifeguard friend once told me about a situation that happened on his watch. Two lifeguards were on post at Pensacola Beach. One was a three year experienced guard and the other was a rookie. The seasoned guard saw a man struggling in the water, dived in, and came up under him. He turned the man back toward shore, surfaced behind him, locked on the prescribed hold, and began pulling him to safety. The rookie guard wanted to help. He swam right into the arms of the struggling man. The seasoned guard had to use his hands and feet to pry them apart before they all drowned. He got the man ashore, but then had to go back and assist the other lifeguard. He had swallowed so much water he couldn’t make it on his own. With regard to “being saved” (salvation), we’re like that young lifeguard. We may have the best intentions, but none of us can save anyone else. We can’t even save ourselves without the help of Jesus! He promises to help us when we lose our lives in him.
The cares of the world are enough to cause us to think about how our future is going to play out. Left on our own; nothing is guaranteed in this life. But the commitment you make to Christ comes with the assurance that you will be loved and provided for no matter how difficult or lonely life can become. Many people attempt to hang on and protect their lives at all costs. Christ doesn’t ask for an arbitrary commitment. If you’ve ever once considered following Christ, you have to know you have to make a total commitment. It’s in this way only that you can have security in him. While dying on the cross, Matthew 26:53 says, Jesus could have called out to God and had twelve legions of angels (70,000) come save him. But he committed his life a ransom for all of us.
If following Christ meant giving him preeminence in your life, would you do it? If following Jesus Christ meant you would have to change boyfriends or girlfriends, would you do it? If following Christ meant you’d be alienated from some or even all members of your family, would you do it? If following Jesus Christ meant doing only what he wanted and never what you wanted would you do it? I meet people every day on fire for Christ. I encourage you to stoke your own passion to follow him. But be mindful that enthusiasm and emotions are not enough. Jesus saves people on the basis of their faith in him, not on the basis of their emotional enthusiasm for him.
My thought for you is to not be trouble God will expect more than you are capable of giving. Believe in God and believe in Christ (John 14:1). No person is S-A-F-E outside of Jesus. In him we are: S-ecure. Insecurity plagues the mind in our competitive world. However, your confidence doesn’t have to falter. Security isn’t found in possession, but in being possessed by Christ. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will give you everything you need because of His great riches in Christ Jesus.”
In Christ we’re A-ctive. Ephesians 6:7-8 says, “Be happy as you work. Do your work as for the Lord, not for others. Remember this, whatever good thing you do, the Lord will pay you for it.” Even some Christians exert energy only in the pursuit of personal interests. They’re lax when it comes to serving and commitment to God. There are many ways to be active for God. Give a smile, a kind word, a warm-handshake or hug. When we help others, God will also reward us with good.
In Christ we’re also F-ree. Don’t be held in bondage by the world and selfish pursuits, but glorify God and be the blessing you can be to others. Jesus is the One who can set you free, because he is the truth. When you know him in a committed way you will be free from all that holds you back from real life (John 8:32).
In Christ, you can be E-nduring. People who hope to get to Heaven on flowery beds of ease, comfort, and pleasure may be unable to endure when circumstances become rough. See your trials, troubles, and tests as life training for spiritual and worldly battles. Christ always wins, though it may not seem that way. Trust him and he’ll enable you to persevere through the tough times as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).
“Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow him.” Don’t look at the Cross as a nice decorative piece. But see it as a way that leads to life eternal. A cross may be an instrument of death, but for us it’s the way we’re to live our lives for him.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s the author of the “Living With Purpose” book series, “TBH The Truth Will Set You Free”, and “Running With Purpose”. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Feb 1 2015. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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