We go through periods in our day to day walk, where we find the enemy on our flank, suggesting that all that we strive for is meaningless. Most of the time, if we are diligent in remaining in God’s word and seeking His face, we will quickly overcome these attacks.
It is the attack that manages to breach our defenses and leaves us wallowing in self-pity and doubt. It is to these times that we want to talk today. As we all, have them from time to time. Regardless, we are more than conquers in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:37 (NKJV)
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
What is the enemy focused on that at times can be so effective to throw us off our course?
Psalm 106:34-36 (HCSB)
They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them but mingled with the nations and adopted their ways. They served their idols, which became a snare to them.
The Psalmist is talking about God people the Israelites. God had given them strict order when they passed over into the promised land to wipe out those who occupied the land. Instead, they made exceptions and allowances. In some cases, it was simply the path of least resistance to avoid a potential enemy by making them their allies. In other cases, there was an opportunity for gain woven into the bargain that predicated the preservation of those who God said must be eliminated.
It’s not any different in our lives. We know what God tells us to do. We may lie to ourselves and make excuses for ourselves, others and even God Himself. But every excuse is a lie. Every time we walk away from what God has made clear us we are lying; to God, to ourselves, and to everyone around us.
Song of Solomon 2:15 (HCSB)
Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.
See, it’s the little things, that drive a wedge between us and the true vine. The little foxes. A small accommodation here, and allowance there, consideration for how perhaps someone else might think about our convictions. If I only can gain their respect (friendship) then I can be a positive influence in the situation. That’s good isn’t it Lord? If I just do this? Once? Well perhaps, once in a while.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (HCSB)
Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The answer is, that it is not okay to make an exception, accommodation, or allowance. Because each one we allow, drives a wedge between us and the one we seek to follow.
Luke 9:23 (HCSB)
Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
With every consideration that is counter to what God calls us to our grip on that cross we carry becomes weaker and the cross itself become heavier. Till the oppressive weight of the burden surpasses our strength and we fall to the ground, injured and falling behind the steps of the Master.
A wedge because, when we place our will ahead of obedience to the Lord, we are not denying self. The consideration is to make things easier for ourselves. Oh sure, we may say, that this may even possibly extends God’s reach, into the lives of the lost but the fact is, that the God we are considering, is an idol of our self-will, created out of our self-interest.
Exodus 20:4 (HCSB)
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
‘Anything in the heavens above or on the earth below’; I believe that covers the idol of self.
The question that persists at this point is ‘why?’. Why when we, who claim to have given our lives to Christ Jesus, still insist on placing our will before His?
I’m not going to place words in your mouth. I think that this is something that only you as an individual can really answer for yourself. However, I can speak for myself, and I really believe that if you are honest with yourself that you will ultimately come to the exact same conclusion.
When I project self ahead of Christ, I’ve demonstrated a lack of trust on my part.
Think about what you are saying when you place self ahead of Jesus. You are saying that you know better than He does in your life. We are saying that our finite mind, is superior to God’s. We are saying that the Lord’s motivations are not in our best interest. We are saying we don’t trust God!
I know that is harsh. Believe me, it hurt when I realized this for the first time. But there is no wiggle room to squeeze around this.
Jesus said in John 14:15 (HCSB); “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.
Let’s take this a bit further. This passage says if you love Jesus you will obey Him. Let’s go to the attitude in obedience as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (HCSB)
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I can just imagine the puzzled faces, over the placement of this verse. Give thanks for everything? What has that got to do with obedience? Plenty!
If we are truly giving thanks for ‘Everything’, what possible justification can we cook up to go against the will of God? Remember we are talking about being ‘truly thankful’. In other words, we are buying into our circumstances 100%. God has placed me here for a reason. Number one is always to glorify Him. I not only accept that, I’m completely on board with it.
Be that good or bad. Something that makes me happy or sad. It will not diminish my joy. That’s right. It will NOT diminish my joy.
Philippians 4:11-13 (HCSB)
I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
“In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content”. Regardless of the circumstances, no matter what the problem, if I am sitting on top of the world, or life has dealt me the most grievous sorrow; “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me”.
Place trust in the one that spoke the universe into existence. Our hope is vested in He, who sacrificed all, on a cross in order to redeem us, His creation; to be able to have the very relationship, with Him that we were created to have.
If we hand over our doubts, give Him our fears, shed our self-interest as he covers us with his Grace and mercy; we can and will secure that trust and believe in the outcome that He as ordained for us.
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I’m denying self, taking up my cross every day, and following you Jesus. Because I trust you and I believe in your outcome.