The Lord said: Heaven is my throne; the earth is my footstool. What kind of house could you build for me? In what place will I rest? I have made everything; that’s how it all came to be. I, the Lord, have spoken. The people I treasure most are the humble— they depend only on me and tremble when I speak. Isaiah 66:1-2 (CEV)

The great preacher C. H. Spurgeon writes, “Till we are emptied of self we cannot be filled with God; stripping must be wrought upon us before we can be clothed with the righteousness which is from heaven.”

One of the things that have made the USA great has been our attitude of self-sufficiency. We covet the American Dream. We pride ourselves on the great accomplishments we’ve made as a nation. While there have been some significant atrocities in our history, for the most part this nation has been made great by ‘pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps’ and moving forward to become world leaders in many ways.

Ironically, the very thing that has made our nation great is an enemy of the body of Jesus Christ. When God spoke through his prophet Isaiah, he was speaking to a people who were intent on ‘doing things’ in order to reach God. Activity has never impressed God. He says to us, in a sense (My paraphrase): “Ok. Let me get this straight. I made the universe. The earth is nothing more than a place for me to rest my feet, a most unimportant piece of furniture. Now you are going to build me a house? In your miniscule power you’re going to provide a place where I can rest? Listen to me and listen carefully. I don’t care about your activities. I’m not interested in seeing what you can do for me. Here’s what I want. Emptiness. That’s right. Emptiness. Your respect for my words and adherence to my ways is far more important than all your fancy endeavors.”

Jesus says the same thing in a different way during the Sermon on the Mount when he says to his hearers, “Blessed is the one who is poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:3) Poor in spirit means spiritually bankrupt. Discipleship demands that we be completely emptied of our own self-sufficiency and filled instead with his Spirit.

The question we must ask ourselves is this. Are we doing the things we do for our own glory or for God’s glory? Are we labeling our activities (church involvement; prayer; Bible Study; etc) as worship when we are really just entertaining ourselves?

We cannot be filled with God’s power and greatness until we are emptied of self. How many marbles need to be added to a jar before it is no longer empty? One. To be completely emptied for God’s use isn’t reserved for ministers or leaders. It’s the admonition for any of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. Nor is it something that his possible in our own power. It can only come through daily seeking the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. His power comes only when we acknowledge our weakness.

PRAYER: Holy Father. I confess to you that even though I love you and call you Lord, many of the things I do are done to try to impress you and/or others. I ask that you empty me of self-sufficiency so that I can be completely filled for your glory. Amen.