April 2, 2014

Struggle means amazing conversations with God

One lie that my spiritual enemy uses is that God becomes annoyed with my feeble attempts to live for Him and to pray to Him, so He leaves me and occupies Himself elsewhere. I get more than annoyed at my feeble efforts so it is easy to believe that lie, even stop asking God for help. But Jesus says . . .

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:11–13)

But this lie concerns more than my prayer life. That old devil also uses it to get me discouraged. He says things like, “You will never learn, never get it right. Your feeble efforts are a joke in the face of God and He is fed up with you and of course you should be fed up with yourself . . .”

Paul knew that Christians get stuck on those kinds of thoughts. He wrote the church at Thessalonica and told them how he and his friends were praying “most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith . . . Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:10–13)

This morning I noted that “He increases my love for others and He establishes holiness in my heart.” I will not be perfect until Jesus comes, but that isn’t the point; the point is that He does it. All my efforts are useless unless I am relying on Him in faith. The sequence is faith > obedience > growth. “Try harder” never enters the equation.

Immediately following this word about being established blameless in holiness, that old liar put the thought in my head, “You? Never!” but that lie didn’t get very far. The very next verse in my devotional booklet was this one . . .

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

I cannot become blameless, but nothing is too hard for God. He is amazing. Whenever I am in any spiritual battle, I can be thankful for Jesus who intercedes for me. He set the example for my prayer life too, making it a priority in His life. He rose up “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

Prayer is a gift, a privilege. God wants to discuss everything with me. Even these devotional thoughts are a conversation with God. He speaks, the enemy interrupts, and He speaks again with reassurance for me against those lies. He knows every thought, every struggle, every desire, and continually reminds me that He will never leave me or stop loving me. His Word will always be available to guide me through the battlefield of life and answer the attacks of my enemy.

This is why “I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” and why I am so glad that “God remembers His Word to His servants, in which He has made me hope.” (Psalm 119:47–49)

At times, my scattered mind seems an easy target, but I realize that in the struggle to remember and rely on the promises of God, I am drawn back to Him continually. I need the daily bread He offers, and I need that “pray without ceasing” that He commands. Without the struggles, I’m certain that I would not pray, for the enemy would quickly lie and tell me that I didn’t need God at all.

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