Saturday, May 28, 2011

How To Avoid Defeat As A Follower Of Jesus

Maybe I am not as patient as I used to be but come on, when are we going to get a clue? Do we really think that Jesus intended us to live such weak and wishy-washy lives? Not at all. He gave us the Holy Spirit and he laid down the foundation so that we would be more than conquerors in our lives. Life does not dictate to us, we dictate to life. Our flesh does not control us, we have control over our flesh. We are victorious because Jesus Christ is in us through the Holy Spirit and there is no greater power or authority in heaven or on earth. Yet we live and act as if we have no spiritual muscle at all. The problem is actually quite simple: we have wondering eyes.

Christianity is not for the faint of heart but instead for those who are willing to remain submitted to Jesus Christ at all times; good and bad. We read:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

That is one of the basic Kingdom principles we have been reborn into. What we were is gone and forgotten. As a new creation we understand that our only source of strength is Jesus Christ. This world has nothing to offer us and nothing to sustain us. The dark cannot offer support to the light. In hard times we do not run away from Jesus but we run even closer to him. He has promised us strength and power to overcome everything, even temptation but, we must keep our eyes fixed on him:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Fix your eyes. Come on now, let's be honest; the times we have been defeated and overcome in the past are the times we took our eyes off of Jesus Christ. We allow anxiety, fear, worry to become bigger than him. We become so busy trying to find our own solutions we lose sight of the one who holds all the solutions. We cannot see any possible escape in the natural world and we let go of the supernatural. Yet we belong to the supernatural. We belong to the God of miracles. We belong to the author and perfecter of our faith. But how can he perfect it in us if we can't keep our eyes on him long enough to persevere? We have to stop babying each other and instead encourage each other with fervency to remain in Christ with great joy and anticipation. We need to be a people who renew their expectancy in our God of promises.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 141 did not have the advantage we do of being possessed by the Holy Spirit yet he still understood the importance of staying focused on God:

But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; 
   in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. (Psalm 141:8)

And his desire was not a difficult one; he simply wanted to live a holy life so that his enemies would be put to shame by their evil deeds:

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; 
   keep watch over the door of my lips. 
Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, 
   to take part in wicked deeds 
with men who are evildoers; 
   let me not eat of their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3-4)

What he had to ask for is ours naturally if we are keeping in step with the Spirit. The Spirit is building this character into us so it is a natural product of our relationship with Christ. You cannot hang out with Jesus and stay the same; he rubs off on us. As we keep ourselves focused on him, relying on him for everything, obeying his commands, we discover muscles we never knew we had. Honey comes from our lips instead of death. Our heart is revolted by evil instead of drawn to it. We only desire the delicacies of the Lord. But when we lose our focus, when our eyes begin to wonder, we become weak. Our strength leaves us and we find ourselves again filled with jealousy, anger, bitterness, hatred. We seem to be off balance all the time and we can't get anything done.

There is only one solution. It doesn't matter how disciplined you become in other areas of your life, if you are not disciplined in your relationship with Jesus it will all end up in a mess. Lose sight of Jesus Christ and you lose sight of life. Focused on Jesus Christ and you will be more than a conqueror; you will have victory over everything in your life, including your body and its many desires. When you don't feel like praying, pray twice as hard. When you don't feel like worshipping, shout even louder. When you don't feel like studying the Word, search even deeper. Whatever your flesh is telling you, do the opposite, run to Jesus and receive the strength of a warrior. Push yourself and you will be amazed at what the Lord does through you. To God be the glory!


Carolynn said...

Thanks so much for being real with us! I needed to hear this's all about Jesus!

Pastor Paul said...

Keeping it real for myself too. What is the sense of worshipping Jesus if we aren't going to go all the way? Have a great day of worship tomorrow. God bless.