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Summary: This is the fourth of a five-part series of messages on managing relationships with love and Godly character. This sermon focuses on giving selflessly to others in our core relationships.

I don’t know if you need this message today, but I guarantee you I do. We are in the middle of a series entitled No Wake Zone. We’re looking at some Biblical principles that, if we would follow, would really create no wake zone relationships. Relationships, we’ve said, of rest and refreshment and encouragement. Relationships are really, really difficult. Today we’re going to look at one of the reasons why relationships are so difficult, and that is because of me, because of self.

As I think about the difficult times and the difficult spots and the relationships I’ve had in my life, one thing that stands out and transcends all those different occasions and situations is me and my selfishness. So, today, we’re going to talk about how to break the stronghold of self, because we’ll never have no wake zone relationships without dealing with our own selfishness.

My youngest son, Clay, loves going to pet stores more than anything else and he just loves animals. He’s kind of an outdoor guy, he’s really into that. So, whenever he has some time and I ask him what he wants to do, I know what he’s going to want to do. He wants to go to a pet store. He’s kind of in a snake phase right now, which is not good. He really wants a snake. Sometimes when kids ask you a question, as a parent, it’s tough to come up with an answer. I don’t have a difficult time answering that one. He says, "Why can’t we have a snake?" "Well, it’s easy. We can’t have a snake because snakes are evil. When you look in the very beginning of the Bible, Satan masqueraded as a serpent and so that’s why we can’t have a snake."

One of the pet stores he likes to go to in town, they have this, just massive boa constrictor. I’ve got to tell you, I want to squeal like a third grade girl when I see it. I mean, I just do. Man, they mess with me. So, he’s talking about snakes and the sales person is just all over it. She’s wanting to unload this boa constrictor on us; like that’s going to happen. I said, "Well, I’m sure a snake like this is hard to keep up with." Or, not hard to keep up with, obviously. That would be a problem if you lost it wouldn’t it? "Hard to take care of." She said, "Well, no not really. You only have to feed them once a month." I said, "Well, that’s not bad." She said, "Yeah, but it’s like a small pig." Wow. That’s a neat scene I want going on in my house, a National Geographic special in your den.

She said, "Really, the main thing is, you have to help with their shedding. That’s what you have to help them with." I don’t want any part of that. I was just sort of playing along and I said, "Well, how does one help with the shedding of a snake of this size?" She says, "Well, you just have to have a spray bottle of water and just keep its body moist because it’s has to have tons of water on its body so that it’s easier to shed that outer layer." Since I’m a preacher and I’m always looking for illustrations I said, you know what, that’s it. I have an outer layer. I’ve got this hard shell in my life called my flesh and it makes relationships hard. Really, that’s a Biblical principle, that we could shed this outer layer so that God could live his life in and through us.

We’re studying on Wednesday in the book of Ephesians. Ephesians tells us how we shed that outer layer. It says in Ephesians 5:26 that we are cleansed, or we grow closer to God through the washing with water, through the word. That’s what the Word does. It cleanses us and it breaks this stronghold of self so that God can do what he wants to do in our life.

Let’s take a look today at a couple really quick principles that are so, so important to apply in our life if we’re ever going to have healthy relationships, in any arena of our life. If you have your Bibles, you can open them up to Romans 12? We’re going to look at this passage for just a second today. Then I’m going to look at four keys to really breaking the stronghold of self. Because, again, we’ll never have no wake zone relationships without this idea of dying to self. Romans 12:9. If you have that, let’s go ahead and stand. We did that last week. We want to continue to do that because we’re showing our honor for God and his word and our obedience to it.

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