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The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

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The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

We have it in our heads that if we struggle with temptation, if we fall into sin from time to time, there must be something terribly wrong with us. Everyone else seems fine. We must be pretenders. But the truth is everyone struggles with something. The battle itself is part of living in the already … but not yet dilemma.

Through the cross Jesus overcame sin and nailed them on it. Yet still we have to fight the battle against sin. And I am convinced we will fight that battle until the day we die.

That’s basically what the writer of Hebrews says.

God uses the struggle against sin to grow us, so don’t be surprised by it.

Don’t be discouraged by it.

Fight the fight (Hebrews 12).

Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Now he holds the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.

You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:

“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you.

The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”

Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.

 

Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. 13 Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord.”[1]

 

Every single one of God’s children lives between the “already” and the “not yet.”

Already Jesus reigns, but His final kingdom has not yet come.

Already sin has been defeated, but it has not yet been completely destroyed.

Already God has given you his Word, but it has not yet totally transformed your life.

Already you have been given grace, but God’s grace has not yet finished its work.

We all must wait for the final end of the work that God has begun in and for us.

But be assured, GOD IS AT WORK EVERYDAY!

“He who began a good work in you will will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

IMPERFECT? Yes.

PERFECT? Absolutely!

 

[1] Hebrews 12:1-14 GW

Weakness Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

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Weakness Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

If we never experienced any pain, never missed the mark, never experienced any kind of suffering, could we actually grow?

God actually used weakness to complete the work He wanted to do in Jesus through the things He suffered. This is why Peter and the disciples told Jesus He was not to go to Jerusalem, suffer and die. Weakness could not be the plan of God.

Jesus you are all powerful. Jesus you have all authority in heaven and earth. It didn’t make sense that you, of all people, should suffer.

But God chose the pathway of weakness to finish His work in Jesus. “Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but we see him crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. Through God’s kindness he died on behalf of everyone.”[1]

The Apostle Paul was a man of faith and power. Once he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14) but got up like nothing happened and he went on. Another time he was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake and merely shook it off. Paul prayed over dead people and they came back to life. Through his faith he saw amazing miracles happen again and again.

Paul experienced visions and deeply spiritual revelations. He even described them in 2 Corinthians 12, and wrote about them in the third person as if he was writing about someone else’s experience!

“I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don’t know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows. I don’t know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that – he was taken up to paradise. He heard things that couldn’t be put into words. They were things that people aren’t allowed to talk about.”[2]

As wonderful and amazing as those experiences were, Paul discovered that they were not what caused him to grow the most. In fact, these spiritual experiences had the potential to harm Paul, to become a stumbling block through spiritual pride.

So God chose to weaken Paul in order to keep him grounded.

During that season of weakness Paul made an amazing discovery. The pathway to power was through weakness. The more he embraced his own weakness the more he leaned into God’s power.

Paul writes; “I could have become proud of myself because of the amazing and wonderful things God has shown me. So I was given a problem that caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer. Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.’ So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me. Because of how I suffered for Christ, I’m glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.”[3]

Weakness is actually a part of God’s plan.

 

[1] Hebrews 2:9 GW

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 GW

[3] 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 GW

The Glory that Comes to God’s Child

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The Glory that Comes to God’s Child

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. Romans 8:26-27 NLT

Interestingly, no other country has the prosperity Americans have. Go 12,000 feet up a mountain in El Salvador and you’ll find one spigot to get water for the whole community—and it’s not sanitary. I know because I’ve stood there. It’s cold in their village with no heat, but their faith is rich. Life is hard, but there is a joy there. They live closer to eternity with more awareness of the next life. God is with them in a special way.

We must have a sense of purpose in this life.

We must focus on the work we have to do. Romans 8:28 says, And we know that God causes everything to work together[m] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.[1] Talk to anyone used of God and you’ll find humility. Billy Graham, for example, says he is still amazed God used him. He always understood it was a divine gift from God—the glory that comes from being a child of God.

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to say. The Holy Spirit helps us to process the struggles in life. We are in a battle, but we will be victorious.

 

[1] NLT

God Knows You—He Knows Your Heart

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God Knows You—He Knows Your Heart

There is a reason thoughts come. Sometimes God wants to bring something to our attention. When temptation comes, we experience the pull of the flesh. That’s the time to get excited because God wants to take us to a higher level of maturity. God doesn’t temp us, but he reveals the thoughts and intents of our hearts to us.

If there are things in our hearts that rise to the surface, we can repent and ask God for victory. We don’t always know what’s in our own hearts, but God does.

Shrapnel is microscopic pieces of a bomb, shell or other objects thrown out from an explosion. Military men and women have returned from war and did not even know shrapnel laid buried within their bodies.

Over time the shrapnel festered and found it’s way out—sometimes years later. That’s kind of how God works to bring out those ungodly desires hidden within our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for him to see. We must answer to him (GW).

With the power of the Holy Spirit, you can stop the destructive behavior. Jesus can restore our peace if we are willing to humble ourselves and fall before the mercy of God.

For more on this topic, listen to the podcast http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/2015/09/20/four-stages-that-may-lead-to-catastrophic-failure/

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