Saturday, February 25, 2017

If It's Up To Me I'm Going To Fail

Hey Friend,

I was recently struggling with an issue about which I desperately needed wisdom.  I know the first part of James 1:5-8

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

Okay, I get it....need wisdom...go to God and ask and He will give.  Sounds good.  But then comes the rest of the passage:

But let him ask in faith without doubting.  For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.  

Uh oh...wait a mean to tell me that God's answer to my question is contingent upon my faith?  But I'm the queen of doubters.  I'm going to get crushed by the monstrous whitecaps of that surging sea.  I can be as indecisive as they get.  To me this spells failure!

Lord, I don't like this part of the verse.  Did you have to put that in there?

Panic stricken and unraveled, I start searching in my mind for scripture.  Key stories and verses I keep in my "Emergency Kit" for times like these.

I am reminded of the time that Christ says to the doubting father who is asking for his son to be healed, "Everything is possible for the one who believes."

The father responds, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"  (Mark 9:22-24)

Whew, I'm not alone.  I can relate to this father.  I believe, but there are so many times that my belief falls short and I cry out, " Lord I do believe, but help the doubting Thomas part of me that falls short."  

The truth is that I cannot create in myself the magnitude of faith that is called for.  No matter how hard I try, I'm just not going to be able to muster it up.  

Okay, that's what I conclude about Wisdom, but what about faith itself??  The passage on wisdom calls for the man to ask with faith without doubting.

So what does the Bible say about my faith?

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this not on your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

So the faith that I so boldly profess at times.  This is not my own doing?  My faith, itself, is a gift from God?  You got it.  Not even my own faith is my own. When I am tempted to be smug in my faith and knowledge, I am being an arrogant fool because the faith I have is a gift from God so that no one may boast.  And, not only is God the author of my faith, He is the perfecter....He will continue to grow the gift He's graciously given me.

Okay, what about all the fruits of the Spirit - showing kindness, gentleness, compassion, love, forgiveness, patience....

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING." (emphasis mine)  (John 15-5)

Nothing?  Really?  Okay what about following your decrees Lord.  Surely I can follow your Word?

"And I will put my Spirit in you and move you (cause you to move) to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."  (Ezekiel 36:27)

Like a lightening bolt, it hits me between the eyes.  If it's all up to me...surely I am going to fail.  TRUE!

But here is the Good News:

"I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."  (Philippians 4:13)  

In Jesus EVERYTHING is possible! Through Christ moving in me, I can do all things. 

Real discipleship is complete dependence on Christ for everything.  My life, our lives, should be Christ-sufficient and not self-sufficient.  This is the only way to bear fruit as a true disciple.

Also living in complete dependency on Christ requires great humility on our part.  Every day I need to humble myself before Him and acknowledge that apart from Him I can do nothing.  That's a big slice of humble pie!!

Apart from Christ, I do not have the ability to bear fruit.  He supplies EVERYTHING from His abundant fullness.  

So back to that wisdom thing....I am realizing by drawing on the Scriptures that only God can create in me the faith that He deserves.  The faith to follow His wisdom comes from Him, not something I muster up.  

I just need to embrace Him, let Him transform me, abide in Him and watch how He will move in me.  

Dear Heavenly Father,  Forgive me for my arrogance in which I give myself credit for the faith that I have.  Thank YOU for the gift of faith that you have so graciously given me.  I thank you that you don't leave me to fend for myself on my own self-sufficiency.  Help me to humble myself and know that the only way not to fail is to rely and depend on Christ's sufficiency.  Rely and depend are not "bad" words...they are words to truly live by.  Thank you that you realize I am but dust and I need your Spirit to move in me (cause me to move) to follow your decrees.  More of you, Lord and less of me.  Thank you for all the gifts you give me on a daily basis.  May I live my life to give you the credit and the glory.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed,
ps.  There have been three separate bombings near our school in the Middle East.  The children are afraid and frightened by all of this.  I can't even fathom the fear that they must live through each and every day.  

Would you please pray for our school, the children, the teachers and staff that God would place a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe.  And, that he would give them a sense of His abiding peace and comfort.  

If you would like to help financially, we could really use your support as we have been harboring more children to keep them safe.