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A few years ago, I had the opportunity to have a quiet retreat in a very special place: The Western Desert of Egypt. You might have heard some places described as a “thin place”. It might be a particular church or property or even a region. There is no doubt that the Western Desert is a thin place.
That is, it is a place where the “veil” that separates us from the spiritual realm is very thin. Another way to say it is that the Western Desert is a great place to seek God’s presence because He seems to be particularly near.
That is because women and men have sought God in this region, sometimes in isolation and often in monasteries, for centuries. They have lived lives totally dedicated to God and many have been martyred over the centuries as a result of the ebb and flow of anti-Christian sentiment.
During my short retreat, I wrote three brief devotionals which will be posted over the next few days.
The motivation of self (we might also call it ego) is to seek glory and honour. Jesus made it very clear that if we succeed in our hunt for glory, then we have had our reward and none awaits us in eternity. It is quite possible to live an apparently godly life with many good works, fasting, prayer and much sacrifice—all to no lasting benefit.
Mat 6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Mat 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Mat 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
It is essential that we realize that our egos are in direct competition with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants us to live a life that brings honor and glory to Jesus Christ. But our egos demand and are offended if we don’t get glory. When we do get honor and praise for our righteous acts, then the spiritual and eternal reward to which we should have been entitled is squandered; spiritual growth comes to a halt and our good works can easily become worthless religion.
“Lord, I get so easily offended when my acts of service are not recognized by others. I confess that this is the voice of the easily offended ego and that my ego works against your purposes in my life. Help me today to deny my selfish interests, take up my cross and follow you.”
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