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Transformation Garden - February 28, 2016

  • 2016 Feb 28

Feb 28

Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:

“The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea the Lord sitteth King forever. The Lord will bless His people with peace.”

Psalm 29: 10,11

Through The Storm

“I heard a voice, a tender voice,
soft falling through the storm;
The waves were high, the bitter winds
were calling yet breathing warm.

Of skies serene, of sunny uplands
lying in peace beyond;
This tender voice, unto my voice replying,
made answer fond.

Sometimes, indeed, like crash of armies
meeting arose the gale
But, overall, that sweet voice kept repeating,
‘I shall not fail.’”

A Dawn of Day

Today’s Study Text:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you want to come with Me, you must forget yourself.”

Matthew 16: 24
Good News Bible


“Forget Yourself”

“They that deny themselves for Christ shall enjoy themselves in Christ.”

John Mason

What do I think that Jesus meant when He told His’ disciples to “deny” themselves?

What does the word, “self-denial,” mean to me personally?

There is a great difference between denying yourself things and denying yourself.”

Adrian Rogers


“There is no other way to live this Christian life than by a continual death to self.”

Francois Fénelon

During this time of the year when Christians around the world focus on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s precious Son, and our Redeemer, I thought it would be most appropriate here in Transformation Garden to study the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples.

Maybe, like myself, the thought might have crossed your mind, “But I wasn’t one of Jesus’ disciples when He lived on earth.” This fleeting idea passed through my head, that is until I went to my Greek dictionary and looked up the word “mathetes,” which in Greek means disciple. However, this word which describes those who accompanied Jesus, also means, “a learner or a pupil.” And isn’t this exactly what you and I are? Spending time with Jesus as learners, as pupils under His instruction makes us disciples, too. This is why the words Jesus spoke to those precious individuals who chose to drop what they were doing in their own lives and put the priorities of Jesus first as they followed His leading, are just as pertinent in your life and mine today as they were over 2,000 years ago.

It is for this reason we will continue our study about Jesus’ distinct calling in your life and mine, recorded in Matthew 16: 24 where Jesus said that if we want to be His disciple, if we say, “Yes,” when He says, “Come to Me,” then, as The Message Bible states, “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self.” In the Amplified Bible this passage reads, “Let (her) deny (herself), disregard, lose sight of, and forget (herself) and (her) own interests.”

It is interesting to me that right after Jesus’ invitation to us to come along with Him, the very first thing He says we need to do is drop the pesky “my way or the highway” attitude. Jesus makes it clearly apparent, right up front, that the “me first” or “my needs first” frame of mind has no place in His Kingdom.

I love the way Jesus let His followers know from the very start that His path wasn’t business as usual in this dog-eat-dog world, and in two specific ways. First, when we deny ourselves, we take on a new way of looking at others which changes our behavior. Secondly, when we deny ourselves, there’s a gear shift in our lives because we know we aren’t the ones who can plow ahead, trying to fix ourselves anymore. No more of this pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps nonsense. Why? Because when we deny ourselves, we recognize the need for that Someone who is the real power-source in a life with a new purpose, a new goal, and a new focus.

Let me be clear, sadly some people get the mistaken idea that self-denial means I become everybody’s doormat, being walked on and used as a scrap heap. Jesus’ words, “deny yourself” contained no such meaning. In fact, the Greek meaning of deny means to abnegate, which I needed to look up in the dictionary, to find that the word denotes the qualities of one who refuses themselves. And when this thought is combined with the Greek meaning we find that by denying ourselves, we reverse the course of a life which is often focused on our own ambitions and wants. Now there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and having longings. But I would point out that in the school of Jesus, as one of His pupils, I have found that frequently, Dorothy’s own ambitions and desires are so mixed up in the stew of earthly ambitions and desires it becomes impossible for me to separate what is God’s will for my life and my own willful way, to the point that even my own prayers can become a list of selfish desires I want the “Santa Claus” in the sky to fulfill for me.

As I was reading several weeks ago, I came upon a passage from a book entitled, The Soul of Prayer, by P.T. Forsyth which opened up my mind to the larger picture Jesus had in mind for you and me when He asks us to “deny ourselves.” Here’s what P.T. Forsyth wrote when he noted that God gives us the longings of our hearts and what is best for us when we are “spiritually” prepared – when we have learned to deny what we want and replace our longings with what God knows is best for us, not only now but for eternity:

“I have often found that what I sought most I did not get at the right time, not till it was too late, not till I had learned to do without it, till I had renounced it in principle (though not in desire). Perhaps it had lost some of its zest by the time it came, but it meant more as a gift and a trust. That was God’s right time – when I could have it as though I had it not. If it came, it came not to gratify me, but to glorify Him and be a means of serving Him.”

For so many years of my life, as I read Matthew 16: 24, I thought to myself, “What is it that I can give up to prove to God that I’m a worthy candidate – denying myself some trinket or desire. How very wrong I was for Jesus wanted more of Dorothy than just the fact that I gave up some tasty treat or materialistic purchase. It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon who so eloquently explained this thought in a sermon to young pastors when he said, “Prepare yourselves, to become weaker and weaker, prepare yourselves for sinking lower and lower in self-esteem; prepare yourselves for self-annihilation – and pray God to expedite the process.” As I read this passage, I said to myself, “Why would I want to have myself go lower and lower in what sounds like a difficult process. Then I read this passage by Horace Bushnell, “The more a man (or woman) denies himself (herself), the more shall he (she) obtain from God.”

So I ask you today, how much of God do you want to fill your life? How filled-up with His grace and love do you want to be? As Sir John Powell explained, “Once you say yes in faith to Jesus and accept His blueprint for the fullness of life, the whole world can no longer revolve around you, your needs, your gratifications; you’ll have to revolve around the world, seeking to bandage its wounds, loving dead men and women into life, finding the lost, wanting the unwanted, and leaving far behind all the selfish, parasitical concerns which drain our time and energies.”

This is the reversal that takes place in your life and mine when we say to Jesus, “Yes, I will come. Yes, I am willing to deny myself.”

And what will the results be in our lives? I love the way one of my favorite spiritual giants, A .W. Tozer, answers this question: “When you empty yourself, God Almighty rushes in!” In the words of Jesus, “If any man (or woman) will come after Me, let him (her) deny himself (herself)” (Luke 9: 23, K.J.V.).

“God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having – life with Himself.”

Oswald Chambers


Several months ago my mother sent me the poem below which she came upon in a book she was reading by S. D. Gordon. While we have not been able to identify the author of this poem, it touched my heart so deeply that every day since I received this, I read these words as my personal prayer, for it reminds me that there’s no greater need in my own life than to “Come” when Jesus calls and to “deny” those things, whatever they be, that distract me from following Him totally.

“My hands were filled with many things
That I did precious hold,
As any treasure of a King’s –
Silver, or gems, or gold.
The Master came and touched my hands
(The scars were in His own),
And at His feet my treasures sweet
Fell shattered, one by one.
‘I must have empty hands,’ said He,
‘Wherewith to work My works through

My hands were stained with marks of toil,
Defiled with dust of earth;
And I my work did ofttimes soil,
And render little worth,

The Master came and touched my hands
(And crimson were His own),
But when, amazed, on mine I gazed,
Lo! Every stain was gone.
‘I must have cleansed hands,’ said He,
‘Wherewith to work My works through

My hands were growing feverish
And cumbered with much care!
Trembling with haste and eagerness,
Nor folded oft in prayer
The Master came and touched my hands
(With healing in His own),
And calm and still to do His will
They grew – the fever gone.
‘I must have quiet hands,” said He,
‘Wherewith to work My works for Me.’

My hands were strong in fancied strength
But not in power divine,
And bold to take up tasks at length,
That were not His but mine.
The Master came and touched my hands
(And might was in His own!)
But mine since then have powerless been,
Save His are laid thereon,
‘And it is only this,’ said He,
That I can work My works through

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
[email protected]

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