We all know people whose fire for The Lord doesn’t burn as hot as it once did. The bright light that was such an inspiration, such a beacon for Christ, struggles to even be visible. Maybe you are that person. You remember the joy of walking so closely to your Savior and now find the world smothering your passion.
As I sat in a bible study the Lord laid an image on my heart that was so clear it filled my mind and sparked my imagination. Living a worldly life is comparable to drowning. When we try to find our peace, joy, or purpose in earthly things we end up empty and alone. The lack of fulfillment causes us to struggle harder and to seek greater extremes to find the joy we remember. We can recall what we found in Christ but struggle to find the foothold we want to stop struggling against drowning in our sinfulness, pride, self-focus, and earthly desire. I imagine the panic and hopelessness of drowning and the inability to overcome the desperation, unable to remember what solid ground felt like. It’s kicking and fighting to stay afloat as hope sinks below the surface. We look up from under the water trying to remember what fresh air in our lungs felt like. It was this kind of feeling that caused the image the Spirit gave me to flourish in my struggling heart.
We struggle but our Savior walks on water and commands the seas to be calm. When Peter focused on Jesus he was able to walk on water too. It’s in a Christ focused existence that we can walk on top of the turbulent seas of worldliness, and that Christ can command those waves to be calm or show us how to let the water roll off our back as He leads us by example. When we take the right hand of God and allow Him to lead again, the water we once allowed to cover us becomes a mist, noticeable but harmless.
We are called to seek first the kingdom of God, focused on Christ, walking on the water with Him. We can be sure that even when we fall away and lose our focus on Him, His focus never leaves us. His hand is always outstretched and waiting for us to take it again. The world and all of the temporary things in it will quit on us and leave us alone and empty. We have a promise that our eternal God will never leave nor forsake us. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5 quoting Deuteronomy 31:6)
I found the picture above, it’s the closest one to the personal picture the Spirit gave me. I hope it helps make these words more real and reignites the hope in your heart that will fuel your fire.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
As Christians we are called to live our life in obedience to Christ our Savior. A life lived in submission to Jesus produces spiritual fruit in the believer. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a) Many believers know that a genuine walk with the Lord shows through in that person’s life. They’ve seen people who know the Lord and know what that looks like as it contrasts with the fallen world.
Many people fall into a cycle of trying to rid themselves of the fallenness in their hearts hoping that cleaning up their life will produce Christian maturity. The problem is they are using their flesh to control their flesh. That is contradictory to God’s design. Trying to control a spiritual process leads to self-reliance and pride. We must remember that the acceptance of Christ comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That indwelling gives us the ability to mature in the truth given by God’s Word and displayed in Jesus Christ. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26) Indwelling of God’s Spirit creates an inward change in our hearts which develops into an outward manifestation in our lives. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
What we must be sure to understand is: simply trying to correct sin in our lives is futile. What good is there in attacking our sinful nature with a flesh that is also sinful? We must allow the sinfulness in our hearts to be replaced by the Holy Spirit of God. We must allow the darkness of sin to be forced out by the light of God. Just like cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light; sin is the absence of submission to God’s presence in us. The only way to drive air out of a cup is to fill it with water. In this case it is the living water found through Jesus Christ. Focus in being filled with the Holy Spirit and submitting. This will give you the ability to live a life where sin and its penalty (death) have no hold over you.
The verse below talks about sin returning to a heart it has been removed from. When that heart isn’t filled with the good of God the sin has a place to return to. Think of addictions. When good habits aren’t developed the bad ones have a foothold to reoccur. The same is true with sin in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit dwell in your heart and leave no room for the deceiver to pull you away from the Father.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:14)
“Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. (Job 33:29-30)
I had a concept put on my spirit and could not find the verse until a friend opened his bible randomly and felt compelled to share with me that verse. It happened to be the one I needed to confirm God’s word to my spirit with His written Word. The two-edged sword that cuts through the snares that seek to keep believers from walking in peace and joy with the Savior. Praise God for His Word and its confirmation in my spirit which brings an overflowing joy to my heart.
As we walk in the guidance of God through His Spirit we have to remain open to, not only His Will at all times, but His correction during the process of sanctification. Our human nature attempts to draw us away from God’s path and convince us that we can walk alone at times. We tend to try and walk in our own understanding or at our pace. God has to correct His children as they run ahead of His leading. The passages above speak to a God that provides correction, not once, but multiple times in different ways so that we might receive it. This shows the love of a God who seeks for us to understand His plan. He seeks after those who seek Him. The second piece of scripture shows a God that loves His children so much that He is willing to take the time to repeat a lesson multiple time as He seeks to grow His Spirit in their hearts. I see times where God has given me a lesson to learn and then as I continue to move forward my fallen nature pulls me out of alignment with Him. He then stops me and repeats the lesson because He cares enough to take the time to make sure I walk rightly as I grow to fulfill the purpose He created for me. I found a journal that had notes of a time God had given me a lesson, I see that He has brought me back to repeat that lesson. I was floored at His patience, steadfastness, and faithfulness in correction of my sin of independence.
How grateful I am to have the chance to serve a God with such love and patience. How grateful I am to have the opportunity to return to a lesson God finds important enough to repeat for me in order for me to live complete in Him. How humble I am to my Heavenly Father as He puts His word in my heart and then uses a friend to hand me a piece of His written Word, bringing fullness and confidence that my faith is placed in a God worthy of all glory and praise for all eternity. Praise the God of Heaven!
As we move through scripture we should take notice of the names given to the deceiver. We must look into his purpose and realize that our battle is not with the flesh but with the spirit. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) The deceiver uses the fallenness of people to do his bidding and cover his involvement. We get so focused on the person we see, we forget the spiritual battle that is at work. Know your enemy! Know your Savior! Focus on God and His promises. Be the victor in the battle for your spirit!
The Accuser, The Enemy, The Tempter, The Evil one, The Murderer from the beginning, The Father of lies, The Prince of this world, The Serpent
As Jesus hung from the cross, He had the undivided attention of both His followers and His mockers. He is hanging by nails, pierced and beaten almost to death. He is weak in His dying body but strong in His spirit given by The Father. Is it plausible, since Jesus was fully God and knew He wasn’t forsaken but fulfilling the law in order to bring about reconciliation, that His outward question of being forsaken had a bigger message? (Psalm 22:1/Matthew 27:46) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? What if Jesus quoted a Psalm written by David a thousand years earlier to give comfort and hope to His followers, then and now? I ask you to thoughtfully read Psalm 22 as if Jesus recited the entire chapter while dying on the cross for you and all other faithful. See how the actions of the cross were given one thousand years in advance and see what the heart of Jesus might have felt as He died as a perfect sacrifice. Here are a few references, but reading the entire chapter with an open and appreciative heart will allow one phrase from the lips of Christ to speak volumes to your heart.
(Psalm 22:7-8) All who see me mock me; [(Matthew 27:29) kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”] they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; [(Matthew 27:39) those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads] 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”[(Matthew 27:33) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him
(Psalm 22:16-18) a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— [(John 19:33) when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs] (Psalm 34:20) He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots [(Matthew 27:35) they divided his garments among them by casting lots]