Thursday, September 20, 2012

Living in Victory: When I don't feel victorious

What about days (like today) when I don't feel victorious? I feel defeated!
What about days (like today) when I'm clearly living in sin? The sin of sloth / laziness / loafing! And fear!
What do I do when prayer and Bible reading are so painful I'd rather have my teeth removed without anaesthetic?
What do I do on such a day?

First, we must diagnose our condition (biblically). If we can't endure reading our Bibles, then we'll have to rely on what little we have stored away in our hearts. What does the Bible say about our present state? Remember Paul's words to the Galatians? "Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" This sounds a lot like where I am now. I'm looking at myself--my flesh. I'm trying to muster up the courage, the strength, the industrialness--the goodness--to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. But everything in Scripture testifies to the fact that I can't...but God can. "For I can do all things..." by myself? No! "through Christ..." If I find that I have not the power to do what it is that I am called to, then it is because I'm exactly right, I don't have the power. But Jesus does! And He is ready and willing to supply me with that same power, so that I have all I need for life and godliness!

"Abide in Me...for apart from Me, you can do nothing," said Jesus to His disciples. Am I not a branch, empty and useless without the sap supplied by the Vine? If I refuse the Vine's sap, and go on in my own strength, I shouldn't be surprised if I shrivel and die and produce nothing.

So there is my condition: Trying to do in my own strength that which I have not strength to do.

Second, we must prescribe a (biblical) remedy. If we cannot bear the thought of speaking to God in prayer--we don't know what we'd say to Him; we're tired of failing Him all the time; we figure we ought not have been so foolish as to fall into the traps of the devil again--then time may be well-spent considering the character of God. Here, again, one's knowledge of Scripture will be of huge help.

God told the wayward Israelites multiple times, that if they would but turn back to Him--He did not care how often they had strayed before or that He knew they'd stray again--He would receive them with open arms. They were the sheep of His pasture. We, too--as the spiritual Israel--are likened to sheep. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. We may wander, we may stray, we may be weak and stupid creatures, but Jesus has compassion on us. He cares for the sheep, feeds the sheep, loves the sheep, and ultimately lays down His life for the sheep.

My soul, accept the fact that you are a sheep and Jesus Christ is your Shepherd! Allow Him to lead you home!

So in the end, we can come back to the Bible and back to prayer if we acknowledge that we are but poor humble sheep and Christ is our kind, Good Shepherd. Prayer and Bible reading will no longer be dreadful, but blessed to us, if we look to Jesus to safely guide us back into the heavenly fold of His grace and bring us to the Father.

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