Friday, September 11, 2009

More Lessons on the Art of War

I LOVE the Lord! He is so gracious to me! He is my Rescuer! My Deliverer! The Only Wise God who knows exactly what I need! He knows that we gain strength as we lean on Him and find Him Strong!

These last few weeks, obstacles have been allowed on my path that I am powerless to move. It has been a fresh reminder each day of how desperately I need my Savior. Some days, I have fallen to the temptation to look at the size of the mountain in the way and shrink in fear and discouragment - but that's not the Lord's plan! He wants me to be able to rejoice in Him always and give thanks in all circumstances. This is His will for me in Christ Jesus and if I don't want to put out the Spirit's fire in my life, I need to take to heart what He's saying. He's been teaching me valuable lessons that I thought I would share with you. May we grow strong in His strength as we apply His Word to our every situation.

1. Give Up Trying to Play God and Humble Myself!

Jesus lived a sinless life upon this earth offering us His perfect example to follow. In Philippians 2:5-7 we read, "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God[possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being."

These verses spoke to me in a new way. You see, the obstacles I have been facing have not felt fair. I have caught my thoughts swirling with things like "I don't deserve...", "I DO deserve..." or just in general complaining to the Lord about my plight. These are all such symptoms of pride! If the Lord never did anything beyond saving my soul it would be worth serving Him forever and yet all too often, I can be found putting myself onto the throne of my life - basically telling the Lord, "if I were God, I would do things differently." Jesus WAS and IS God and yet He humbled Himself and submitted to the will of the Father.

2. Crucify My Sinful Notions!

The passage goes on to say, "...He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!" (verse 8). If I am going to follow Christ's example, I need to be willing to live the crucifed life. Selfish ambition, thoughts of getting even and complaining against my Maker are no way to live!

3. Recognize the Name and Authority Jesus and Bow the Knee.

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (verses 10-11). May I trust Him - every moment - as Lord over all and desire to see His will be done in my life as it is in heaven.

4. Live Out My Salvation with Reverent Trembling and Vigilant Obedience!

"... work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)" (verse 12). Salvation is completely a gift of grace but in light of the unfathomable price that Christ paid to save me, may I live my life cultivating the ground for His work in me to grow. May I purposely work to remove the weeds that would discredit His Name.

5. Praise the Lord! He Gives the Strength!

God never asks us to do anything that He does not give His strength to carry out! These directions are not too difficult. "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you, [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (verse 13).

6. So Stop Grumbling and Start Trusting!

The end of verse 13 reminds us that everything that God is working out in and for us is according to His GOOD pleasure. So I will endeavor to "Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting..." (verse 14).

7. I Can Rejoice in the Day that the Lord Has Made!

Before telling us to rejoice in the day that the Lord has made, Psalm 118 gives us 23 verses worth of reasons of why we can do exactly that! The Psalmist even reassures us that God knows that it is hard but "in the Name of the Lord" we can be triumphant! Lord, may this be what people see when they look at me. "... in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse]..." may I be "seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose" (Philippians 2:15-16).

Lord, this isn't an easy lesson to learn but I praise You that You haven't given up working on me! May I acknowlege with my actions what I profess with my mouth - that You are Lord of my life this day. You are trustworthy! You are my Strength! May I live Your way. In the profoundly gracious Name of Jesus... Amen.

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