Dear Ones,

Do you want to be blessed?  Of course, you do.  We all do.  None of us really likes to think about it, but one of the surest ways to be blessed of God is to do just what Jesus did.  Deny yourself.  Deny your flesh.  It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have any fun or that He doesn’t want us to have our dreams and desires fulfilled, but so often, carnal desires lead to destruction, and God knows that by putting aside the flesh, we will come into His true joy and peace, and in that our blessing lies.

John 10:10 says that Jesus (the good shepherd) laid down His life for us (his sheep).  We are in all things to follow after Christ and His example.  Matthew 16:24 tells us that if anyone would follow after Jesus, he should deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus.  That’s a lot to think about.  Think of all the times Jesus denied His own comfort or human needs, sacrificed unto death to ensure our peace, our salvation, our righteous standing with God.  We have received precious promises, eternal life with God, overcoming power, and righteousness all because Jesus chose to deny Himself and carry out His Father’s plan.  We enjoy all that we have received from Jesus’ sacrifice, yet how willing are we to do the same?  We don’t really like to hear about laying down our lives for our friends and certainly not for our enemies.  (Read Matthew 5:43-48.)  It’s so much easier to receive the blessing than to give it.

Setting aside our flesh, our carnal existence, however, is not an option.  It is a command.  Galatians 5:16-17 says:

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want.

Then, the Scripture goes on to list many acts of the flesh which obviously would produce darkness in our lives.  There are, however, also many good things which produce advantages in our lives, which when we put our trust in them, instead of the Almighty God Who brought those very blessings into our lives, will also become a snare.  Look at what the Apostle Paul outlines in Philippians 3:4-6:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel [Paul’s physical heritage], of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee [Paul’s education, trained by Gamaliel -- a gold star in any tally book bringing social, spiritual, financial, and political advantage]; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church [again, a political/social feather in Paul’s cap in the culture of his day]; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless [Paul’s own personal knowledge and works becoming righteous in his sight and in the sight of others]. (Commentary added)

Yet, Paul considered all of this inconsequential, to be put aside, in order to walk in the Spirit of His Lord.  This demands crucifixion of our flesh, denial of self and worldly desires.  Paul says in Philippians 3:7-9:

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.

So, what’s the point?  The point is, we are to walk by the Spirit, not the flesh, not trusting in our own strengths in the flesh even though they may bring us advantage in this world.  It is not that God won’t use them to bless us, but our desire should not just be to receive blessings.  Being “carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).”   

There is a hurting world out there, and the sooner we become serious about not just receiving our own and get our eyes and hearts focused on others, the sooner God’s ultimate blessing will invade, infuse, overcome, cover and saturate our lives.  Christ certainly didn’t focus on what He could get out of life.  He became a blessing to us through His sacrifice, and as much as we don’t like to think about all that His sacrifice really required of Him, we need to do so, AND we need to be like-minded, willing to lay down our own little, small-minded, small-world existence to set aside our carnal mind frame and adopt the Spirit of Christ.  That is, ultimately, how we receive the greatest blessing in our own life anyway.  We all know that.  It is just harder to do than to talk about.  Doing so will, however, culminate in the greatest joy we will receive here on this earth.  Yes, desire the blessings of God in your own life, but then use them not as an end unto yourself, but as a tool, a ministry, a way to touch the lives of others.  Receive your healing and reach to minister healing; receive your financial blessing to distribute to those in need or in ministry; receive your peace and sow peace, or sow your joy to light the path of another in pain.  Whatever your blessing is, don’t let it be an end in your own life; don’t rest in the carnality of your advantages and achievements.  Take the carnal, and turn it into the Spiritual, the powerhouse and blessing it is meant to be to a hurting world.  

Galatians 5:22-25 serves as a great inspiration: 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

We can all do this in each of our lives and be the blessing to the world God intended us to be.  To be crucified in our own flesh, to be the Holy Spirit unto another is precious unto God and priceless to the one you reach.

Go forth flesh-crucified and Spirit-alive,

Lisa Marie

If you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life and desire to, pray this:  Dear God, I believe that Jesus is your Son, that He died on the cross for me and was resurrected for my redemption.  I choose to make Jesus the Lord of my life.  I thank you for forgiving me and for filling me with Your Holy Spirit.  I thank You that I am Your child, that You are my Father, and that You have great things planned for me.  Amen. 

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