Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Playing Tug-O-War with God


 
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – James 4:1-10

I believe two of the most misunderstood words in the Bible are ‘submit’ and ‘humble’.  Somehow we have found these to be difficult actions, and avoid them as if they were an incurable disease that would suck all the strength we have right out, leaving us limp and powerless! 
But submission is the easy way and leads to humbleness.  It is when the struggle ENDS.  Read the first few verses of James 4 as it describes a life of struggle with words like wars, fights, desires, lusts, murder, coveting, adultery and finally, ‘enmity with God’.  That simply means you’re the enemy of God, on the opposing side.

When I was a little girl is school we used to play tug-o-war.  When picking sides for this, I would very quickly scope out the big kids, the ones with more power than I had, because I knew that if I stuck with the puny little girls like me, I was going DOWN!  We all need to take a look at who’s fighting on the opposing side and see if we need to change teams.
Friends, God is mightier than your struggles, and He is jealous to have us on His team.  While we chase after all the dreams and goals we may have, we sink deeper into a life of lack, desire, lust, and attempts at pleasure.  Yet, He never stops pulling for you. 

Sometimes when we were playing tug-o-war, I’d give in to all my friends wanting me to be on their side.  It was going to be the losing side, but for some reason, I’d give in, knowing I would get tossed to the ground, hands raw from pulling the rope, and knees sometimes scrapped up.  Does satan not do the same thing?  He tries to pull you into his side, with all sorts of empty promises of pleasure, contentment, and peace.  Have you felt the pull?  He says things like “work more hour and you’ll have enough”, “hang with those in positions of power and they’ll appreciate your hard work”, “you deserve more – and you shouldn’t have to work for it”, “stand up for yourself and fight till you win the argument”, continuing the struggle you are in by dangly the carrot in front of you at all times.  Yet, I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis said about peace.  He said, “God can't give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”
Have you ever just wanted the world to stop so you could get off?  You get so sick and tired of the struggles and discontentment that you just want to have an out of body experience long enough to get rest?  God understands that.  He gives you two commands to overcome the struggle.  First, submit to God.  Submit, submit, submit!  There’s that word again.  Submit is not to struggle under the hand of someone else.  Submit is to stop struggling and let someone else take over.  Do you know anyone better equipped to run your life than God?

Secondly, He says “resist the devil and he will flee”.  Now, don’t be scared.  He did not say “fight the devil with all you have!”  He just said resist.  One of my favorite ways to silence the temptations of satan is to just turn on worship music.  He and I don’t have the same taste in music! It’s a simple resistance and it doesn’t hurt me at all.  I get lifted up by it, and he gets defeated.  There’s no war on my part.
Lastly, God gives us instruction for being on His side and how not just the battle, but the war of life is won.  He says “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  Oh we don’t like this verse cause it calls us ‘sinners’!  Don’t look away just because that word hurts.  You have to know the problem to accept the cure. 

We struggle with God only when sin is on the throne of our hearts, and we all have our favorite sin, that thing that we don’t want to stop even though we know it’s wrong, that one that we know isn’t good for us, but we feel legitimately allowed to have that one sin because for some sick reason we think we deserve to have a fault.  Now, deeply look into that sin – that specific one.  Is it worth struggling with God?  Do you really think God is going to be ‘ok’ with your ignoring his command to come clean?  Was He just kidding when He called it ‘sin’?  Friends, He is “God ALMIGHTY”, and you are “You Not Mighty”. Give it up, come clean, let Him purify you, and take from your mind the double standard. 
Do you want the struggle of life to end?  Of course you do!  And friends, there is no high like when God lifts you up! James says that is what comes from humbling yourselves in the sight of God.  He says it’s turning laughter to mourning, and joy to gloom.  When you see your sin, your lack of faith, in the same way God sees it, it’s no more a laughing matter, and it won’t bring you joy.  Then, the struggle ends.

You are as close as you want to be to the end of your struggles.  Draw near to God.  You take the first step, and He will run to you.  He is jealous for you!

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