John Mastin - Dust - Milltown, Washington - 2001

Jesus and the apostle Paul had some things in common. When Jesus was in the garden praying, He sweat great drops of blood, as it were. Three times He prayed, "Not My will, but Thine be done." Jesus had the victory of the two letter word, "No." He said no to His flesh and He meant it. Paul received revelations that no one else received. Then the Lord gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble. Three times he asked the Lord to remove the thorn. God knew the tendency in every human heart to get puffed up and He gave Paul that thorn to keep him humble. 
Why do we get lifted up in ourselves? We really don't have anything to be proud of. We are made of "dust" and we tend to cling to dust. Dust in its best form is mud! We are no better than mud!! God could have made us out of platinum, silver, or gold. He chose dust to keep us humble. One man was preparing the soil to plant some grass seed. The dirt was so hard that he had to bring in some top soil and then he planted the grass and it came in really well. This is the way it is with us. Something has to be removed first and then something better is brought in to help us grow like Jesus. God doesn't remove the thorn, He just gives us more grace to bear it. We need grace each day so that can get the victory. 
In order for us to have victory, we need to have a desire for victory. We need to have a desire to say, "Not my will but Thine be done." That is the spirit that gives us hope. There might be a tendency in us to justify our position or justify our sin. When we try to justify ourselves, that is really strong evidence our lives are not on the altar. We will never become "just" before God by justifying ourselves or 
justifying our actions when we are wrong. There were some who became offended at Jesus. The reason for their offence is because what Jesus spoke revealed their condition. Jesus said, "That which is highly esteem among men is an abomination before God." They were trying to justify themselves. All progress stops cold when we try to justify ourselves. 
What we need to do is to step into the light and let God show us our need and then be humble enough to accept the remedy. The remedy is denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus. That is salvation! There is a favorite saying among the children of men, "I don't care if I go to hell, that is where all my friends are." Of course, that is not true. We read Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus. When the rich man died, he was buried. All our friends can do for us is give a good burial. But Lazarus was carried into Abraham's bosom. The rich man from afar off saw Lazarus enjoying the fellowship in Abraham's bosom. The rich man was alone by himself. He wasn't with his buddies. He was in that place of regret still trying to justify himself. 
We were in Canada a few years ago for special meetings. We were at a certain home for one of these afternoon teas! We were all enjoying the fellowship when suddenly the door opened and a black Labrador dog came rushing in and ran around the room, under the table and on the couch and then back out the door. The owners were right there, but they didn't seem embarrassed and they didn't try to stop the dog. A few minutes later, the door opens again and this rambunctious dog came running in and, again, he went through the same routine. The owners didn't try to discipline the dog or anything like that. 
The very next day, we were in a different house having tea, and suddenly the door opened and in came a twin to the other dog. But this was a different situation. This dog was in a harness and he was leading a blind man. The blind man sat down with his dog. The dog laid down and was very quiet. The room was full of people and the dog could smell the food, but he just laid there at the owner's feet. This dog was under control. He was disciplined. This dog had all the energy as the first dog, but this dog was trained and submitted and useful. 
This is the lesson God wants to give us these days. We need to be under the control of our Lord and Master, then our lives can be a blessing. The theme of the world is, "You owe it to yourself." This is the language of Satan. He would encourage us to take our lives off the altar. You owe it to yourself! It is not easy to say, "No" when everyone else in the world is saying, "Yes." They are feeding the wrong appetites and those appetites are taking them down a different road than what we are traveling. We need to think ahead and to think in long-term. 
Daniel and the three Hebrew children were in Babylon. The adversary was whispering in their ears, "You owe it to yourself." The enemy would whisper that it is okay to please ourselves just for a few days. Everyone else in Babylon was saying, "Yes!" But these four men were outstanding. They said, "No," firmly and they meant it. They couldn't be tempted or enticed. They paid with their lives and God reciprocated their faith and raised them up in the kingdom. 
When Jesus was going to Jerusalem to be crucified, Peter rebuked Jesus. He told Jesus not to go to Jerusalem because he knew what might befall Him there. Jesus turned around and looked at the disciples and then spoke to Peter, "Get thee behind me Satan, for thou savorest not.." Jesus was looking at things long-term. He understood the subtle language here of, "Save yourself." He knew this spirit could affect the rest of the disciples.