October 6, 2016

The pursuit and the press( part 1)

image from www.davidmbn.com
In prayer this morning  I was humbled as I marveled at  the turning of God's attention to me the minute I called his name. The fact that I can call on his name and he respond- for I can sense the wafting in of the ever-presence of God- astounds me.  It overwhelmed me to recognize his loving kindness. I relate to David when he poses the question, "What is man that you are mindful of him?"
The song that declares "OH! how he loves us" reverberates in my thoughts and I double over smitten by the undeserved affection and attention the Lord gives me.
Again, in David's words, " these thoughts are too wonderful for me."

But it did not begin there.

Before the the presence of God was able to overtake me I was overtaken by the pursuit of HEBEL. You know, the HEBEL that Solomon writes about in Ecclesiastes 2:1.
I said [amar] in my heart [leb], “Come now [yalak], I will test [nacah] you with mirth[simchah]; therefore enjoy [ra'ah] pleasure” [towb]; but surely, this also was vanity [hebel].

 And I was troubled within, frustrated at how easy it was to attend to vain things rather than attend to the things of God, which will last forever. I felt humiliated. For someone that professes to love Christ, I had to drag myself to what I knew was good and pleasurable for my spirit.  I was perplexed that something I so enjoyed  was also something I wrestled with. Why?

Then the words of Paul materialized in my mind's eye-
For I know that in me (that is, in my fleshnothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.- Romans 7:18

I turned that over a bit and thought, wow, the one who declared "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course",  had to deal with inner warring between flesh and spirit.
This was not a strange thing I was experiencing. I mean with Paul alone I figured I was in good company. Yet the picture of Jesus warring with the body he inhabited, paints a picture of the struggle that we all face. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
God reminded me he was not looking for perfection- or my idea of it anyway.
For me, I expect God to expect me to be constantly on a spiritual high; zealous and energetic to get up and go and preach to the neighborhood. I expect God to expect me to smile allllll the time and stay chipper and upbeat and be kind and never- ever- ever have a glum day. If I have a glum day then I am obviously not walking in the spirit enough.....
God put the brakes on that quickly. He allowed the Word of God to speak to me again.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
See the only thing in me that desires the presence of God is the Spirit of God in me. It is his own Spirit that draws me to him. My flesh does not desire God. It only desires self-gratification. But this is all vanity in the words of Solomon.

I need to expect that my flesh will fight against spiritual pleasures.
So how to respond?

To be continued in part 2...

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