Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Old and New

This end of school gets me every time-- encouraging the kids to stay motivated, staying motivated myself, calendaring all the things that happen in the month of May, attending many of those things, being VERY thankful the June page looks different from the May page, wanting to finish strong but secretly wondering what their final grades would be if we threw in the towel now..... we’d NEVER do that, but it’s fun to dream, right?  And really, we can do this.

But today, I wondered if we could.  Not a stellar day here.  And EVERY time I have a day like today, I think about the full out WAR that is going on between my flesh and the Spirit--- constantly.  It was just highlighted today.  Last week, this devotional I wrote was shared on our church’s devotional page.  {I was one of 365 writers.}  I’d love to share it with you today in hopes that it will encourage you to press on in releasing your will and agenda to Him, responding to Him in obedience and when you fail, to restore fellowship quickly and fully, knowing that what He did on the cross was ENOUGH.  

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  Galatians 5:16-17

Some of our family's best conversations have been initiated from the backseat. A few years ago, Julia filled the car with these words, "Momma, I've still got some old in my heart." In less than 10 words, she had expressed the primary struggle of my 20 some odd years of walking with Christ. The word "old" to me is a four-letter word with only three letters.

This infamous battle between the old and the new, the flesh and the Spirit, can seem mystical, but there is nothing more REAL. My sins are as consistent as the tide, and "fruit" {Galatians 5:22-23} is hit or miss with me. If I have the Holy Spirit within me, why in the world do I snap at my kids so often? Respond disrespectfully to Jeff? Fight to get my own way? The answer is here: "For [the flesh and the Spirit] are in opposition to one another" (verse 17b). The fight between the remainders of sin and the beginnings of grace is expected. But I want to win way more often.  I want to respond to arguing with patience. I want to respond to the demand on my time with joy. I want to respond to hurt with kindness. I want to respond to harshness with gentleness. I want to say to my children, "You may watch Momma today and see an example of what it means to 'walk in the Spirit.' Do as I do. Respond how I respond." Sometimes they can see that, and sometimes they are watching the poster parent for confession and repentance. And, actually, that's not a bad place to start.

These opposing forces are here to stay, but Christ gives us the strategy for winning.

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." {Galatians 5:16}

Walking by the Spirit is just the opposite of feeding the flesh. Study His Word, meditate on it, talk with Him, worship Him, and, in love, serve those around you. Christ IS the strategy for winning. Depend on Him.

I ask myself these questions often.
What ways am I feeding the Spirit on a daily basis?  Or what ways am I feeding my flesh on a daily basis?  I think through things like, what my mind is dwelling on, what I am listening to, reading or watching, where my time is being spent, how and with whom.
And good friends- and my community group- know my struggles and I am able to trust them to check in with me regarding those things they know I am fighting.

Think on this thought from Andrew Murray: "Do you believe that when He takes charge of you in Christ, it is possible for God to make you a man of absolute surrender? And God is able to maintain that. He is able to let you rise from bed every morning of the week with that blessed thought, directly or indirectly: 'I am in God's charge. My God is working out my life for me.'"

So my question from that-- TODAY, am I on the journey of allowing God to make me a man/woman of absolute surrender?  Will I depend on Him to empower me when my flesh stands at attention?  Will I intentionally put my thoughts in another place?  Will I walk away if that is what it takes?  Will I trust Him in the battle?

God desires for us to live out and enjoy the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we experience victory over the desires of our flesh.  He is able to maintain our walking in the Spirit as we depend on Him to do so.  He is the strategy.

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