May 21, 2013

Motivated from the inside out…

Sometimes, when things in life become too confusing, or unbearable, or out of control, I try to imagine a clearer vision, an easier solution, or at least something I can control. This doesn’t work very well. For one thing, my imagination does not even come close to God’s solutions. For this, Paul wrote…
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21, KJV)

God’s view of life is not the same as mine. Where I see chaos and difficulty, He has a plan that is “exceedingly abundantly above” what I can ask for or even imagine. He knows which challenges to place before me that will draw out faith and strengthen my resolve to serve Him. My problem is that if these challenges are producing doubt and disobedience, then what do I do?

Today’s devotional points to the same verse as yesterday. It reminds me of a fundamental truth about being a Christian. My life is not about following rules or doing certain things, but about the motivations behind who I am and what I do. This motivation is not about me or about outside influences. It is about the One who saved and preserves me for Himself, the One who is closer than a brother…

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I tend to have a fairly black and white approach to most things. As far as being a Christian is concerned, it seems there are no grey areas. That is, if the Spirit of God is not in control, then the flesh is. I am either filled with Him or filled with myself, standing for Christ or tipped over and useless.

Lately I’m rethinking this. I’ve had so many ups and downs that I often don’t know which way is current. I’ve had several things happen that could be seen as God at work or Satan trying to ruin my walk with Christ. When I ponder the reason for this season of mishmash, it seems related to being immersed in theological studies. The lectures and readings are so amazingly good that my spiritual enemy does not want me to learn and grow, so he is hitting me with all sorts of goop.

But there are other complications. I’ve had old habits  flare up that I assumed were conquered. The spiritual weapons used in the past seem powerless in the present. Not only that, my motivations keep changing. At times, I’ve wondered about my sanity, or is this some sort of dementia? At the same time, I’ve experienced deeper and richer Bible study, amazing messages from the pulpit, and richer and more transparent fellowship with other Christians than ever before. This is like riding a roller coaster, or being in a blender.

The author of the devotional reading says that Christians need strong motives for action and for resistance to temptation. We need them to counter the damaging rule of the flesh from within, and to oppose all that slams into us to crush our wills and fortitude from without.

Certainly, God gives basic truths that are clear and proven weapons. Jesus is my Savior and He WILL save me. With all temptation, God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) even as I struggle to find it. No weapon formed against me shall prosper because my righteousness is from Him (Isaiah 54:17), praise God. A thousand promises are given, plus the example of Jesus using Scripture to fend off the tantalizing offers from His enemy and mine. I have all I need to win this battle.

The devotional writer says that there is no better source for Christian motivation than today’s verse. It appeals to the “sanctity, responsibility, powers, and capabilities” implied in the inward presence of the eternal Spirit of God, the great gift of His new covenant, sent to me by Jesus Christ.

Apart from the Spirit, I have no resource in “moments of moral surprise” or depression, or when a felt sense of isolation threatens to take out my heart. Apart from the Spirit, I cannot respond when called upon to be daring, or to obey a difficult request. As the devotional writer suggests, these words be emblazoned on the walls of that inner temple of my heart. It is here inside my heart that I need Him for acquiring a clear vision, a firm grasp of truth and even more, the ability to make use of what He so freely gives me.

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