Flesh Counts for Nothing
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
I am struggling. I know what I need to do, but the repetition and necessity of my daily duties are killing me. This life is simple, right? Stay in the Word, Stay in the Vine, and every little thing will be alright. Right?
This life is freaking hard. I know that need to stay connected to Jesus. If I do, He’s promised me that “Springs of Living Water” will flow, and that I’ll have “life more abundant”. I know this and I’ve experienced this. His Joy and Peace are amazing and indescribable. I’ve felt this verse:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is true; BUT:
Daily labor and duties of this world constantly distract and detract from my devotion to Him. Just because I had a good day of fellowship yesterday, in no way means that I’m guaranteed another good day today. It is a daily “picking up of my cross, denying myself, and following Him.” It would be so much easier if my decision to follow was a 1 time commitment. It is a daily commitment. I feel like the Isrealites in the desert with their daily manna: They were only allowed to gather enough for that 1 day. One day at a time. For 40 years. Crap.
When I try to deny myself earthly pleasures to get closer to Christ, I find myself fighting against myself and my will is conflicted. Example: fasting. Ever tried it? It sucks. I’m trying to re-develop the habit of fasting, knowing that it a discipline that is necessary for growth in His Spirit. Sometimes I don’t even make it a whole day. I suck at it.
Another example: witnessing. I’ve discovered that for evangelism to be fruitful, I need to be in God’s presence; full of His amazing love and Power. When I am “in the Vine”, experiencing His love, His love fills me and pours out of me to others around me. My witness is effective because it is not me speaking, but Christ in me. His Holy Spirit is given to me so that I can witness.
However; staying in God’s Presence takes time and denial of other items in my life. Witnessing takes time and dedication to the individual. My plans get quickly thrown to the side. My time and energy is divided, and it sucks.
This is an aside about what I’m talking about. Two weeks ago, our church changed locations from a Theater to a School. The fam loaded up the van and spent the morning canvassing the neighborhood, inviting folks. As my boy and I were passing these out at an apt. complex, I began a conversation with a guy in the lobby. This turned into a 45 minute conversation about Yuggio cards [yep, Yuggio cards], culture, and religion. I was able to share my testimony, get his number and pray for him.
As we were talking, a single mother came out and I commented on her kids, and related how my wife and I had 3 kids in 4 years just like her [she seemed a bit overwhelmed at the time]. I hand her a flyer and that’s that. The next week, the guy I spent 45 mins with doesn’t show up, but she does. It’s mother’s day, and she’s got nothing going on so we invite her to Burger King playland and spend 2 hours talking with her about kids, culture, health, and Jesus. My wife and I were able to get her number, pray with her and got invited to her daughters’ birthday party.
This stuff is awesome. I want it to happen all the time. Jesus is really, really cool.
The Problem Is:
I’m not satisfied. The next morning I had to get up and go to work. I’ve tasted and seen the Power and Majesty of Christ. I’m ruined. I’m done. I can’t go back to ‘life as usual’. And I feel ‘life as usual’ pulling at me like a hook in my soul. I’m trying to resist it, but I’m in it. America the Beautiful is demanding my time and energy. Someone Beautiful is sitting in front of me. I long to sit with Him, stare at Him, and adore Him. I long to do His will, to be obedient to His voice to prove my love to Him. Time in the Presence of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, and fellowship with His Spirit is more amazing than words available to me.
Then the alarm rings and lunches need to be made, clothes need to be washed, cars driven to bus stops, work, then more work, then drive a bunch more, then dinners need to be made, fires put out and run on sentences continue.
My current struggle involves me finding ways to invite the Presence of Christ with me in this run on sentence that is my life. Little things I’m trying that seem to help include:
- Resisting media: I’m not a huge sports guy anymore, but I’ve replaced sport radio/talk radio with worship and prayer in my morning commute. I enter work with His Presence.
- Praying for people: When I feel thoughts of judgement come to my mind, I’m making efforts to pray blessing over that person. Some people more than others;)
- Taking lunch: reading awesome books about faith over my lunch break instead of checking stupid news (which is really just “intelligent” gossip and heresy)
- Taking quick breaks: to pray and re-invite Jesus into what I’m doing.
- Setting my alarm earlier: to pray/read more.
- Journaling: helps me out more than I can explain. Organizes my prayers and catalogs His answers.
I know my goal
My goal is to remain in His love. To fight to stay in the Vine. This is not easy, it is not natural; but I have faith that it’s worth it. He is worth it. He is a rewarder of those who do good and who EARNESTLY seek Him [Heb 11:6]. My soul has been awaked to His love, and I cannot share His affections with anyone else. He is JEALOUS for me; jealous for my heart, my time and my energy. I have no response but to surrender.
I do not want to revert to a check list to please Him. It’s unfruitful and burdensome. His burden is easy, His yoke is light. If I wake everyday with a list of do’s and dont’s [pray for 1 hour, witness to 5 people, ect], my life is fruitless. I’m serving my schedule and breaking fellowship with His Spirit. My goal is to stay connected to the Vine, He will bear the fruit.
I must stay in His Love.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.