Yesterday we were thanking God that not only did He ‘give’ His only Son so that we might have life, but that we can also ask Him with confidence for all that we need to fully live that new life, to ‘live it abundantly,’ John 10:10, as Jesus Himself would like us to. Today I was thinking that in addition to confidently asking for the good things that we need, we also need to ask Him to take things away. Jesus died, yes indeed, to give me new life, but He also, of course, died to take away all my bad stuff.
I mentioned in Blog 329 the sermon I heard, years ago now, when we were encouraged to ‘give’ Jesus what He came for; the things that we normally hide, the things that spoil our lives, like our sin, our anger, our doubts and unbelief, our fears. All the things that He died to set me free from, my bad stuff; it’s all, since the cross, legally His. Jesus has bought it all with a price. Now that for me is a very liberating thought. I, like many others, have been brought up ‘not to be a nuisance’, not to ‘trouble other people’. It can lead to a kind of independence that can rob others of their opportunity to connect, to be kind, to care, or to be useful.
Now clearly there is a balance in everything, nobody wants a neighbor who is constantly asking for the ‘proverbial cup of sugar’, but at the same time it is sad when someone in need shuts the door on any help that we might be offering, especially when that help would be given out of love and not duty, and would bring the giver joy, and not a headache. Even Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35. So our independence when we work hard trying to free ourselves of sin etc, makes Him very sad.
So as one who doesn’t like to ask for help, in case I am being a nuisance, the thought that Jesus has already paid the price to take away my ‘rubbish’ and now just lives, thrilled to give and pour into me – His well loved child – all that I need of His life, His love, His favour and His grace is, as I said, a very liberating thought. I am free to ask Him to remove my rubbish, and I can ask with confidence Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit working within me, just loves to deal with my ‘old man’ habits and weaknesses.
We have in recent years been very blessed by the material from the ‘Love After Marriage’, and ‘Single Life’ workshops run by ‘Nothing Hidden Ministries’. They have put this process of asking the Lord to take away our rubbish, into a simple, memorable prayer journey. It involves i) taking the negative or sinful feelings that come into the mind– jealousy, anger, doubt, fear, or unhelpful thoughts like ‘I’m no good’, ‘God doesn’t care’, etc, thoughts and feelings that are not part of my new life in Christ, and bringing or ‘nailing’ them to the cross. (They have to die there with Jesus because He took them on Himself to the cross).
ii) I then repent of partnering with these thoughts and feelings and I break all the agreement I have made with these lies, negative beliefs and feelings. iii) I can then ask God to take them all away, (He can’t take away what I am still agreeing with or holding on to). iv) Finally I ask Him to show me what good things the Holy Spirit is going to give me to replace the rubbish. (Remembering that He is the Spirit of Truth). It has been a powerful tool in our lives and the lives of many others. Working through this process with a friend can bring even more significant change.
Now when I was young, at Christmas time, households were always expected to give their trades people a Christmas Box, at this time of year, to show their appreciation. The dustmen were included. It was a way of saying ‘Thanks you’ for a job well done in removing our rubbish throughout the year. God will remove our rubbish all year long if we ask Him to, (as described above or in any other way) and we don’t need to wait for Christmas time to give Him our thanks. Saying thank you, is however, an important part of the process.
Thanking God every time I give Him some more of my rubbish, releases my faith that the job has been done and it confirms my freedom from that particular sin or habit. Thanksgiving that my ‘old stuff’ has been taken away also releases another ‘thank you’ that enables me to receive the blessing that the Lord gives me to replace the ‘rubbish’.
Try it! It is an amazing way to grow in faith and confidence, that the old has gone and the new has come. Thanksgiving is, as ever, a powerful way of increasing our faith and confidence for ‘asking’, for ‘letting go’ of the rubbish, and ‘receiving’ the new, ‘putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’ Ephesians 4:24