I just posted our chat for Let's Talk! Tuesday, but felt like I should repost this from earlier this year as well. It is for me, if no one else :) ......
Lately (as you can tell by several of my posts) God has been speaking to me through a single word. He is always speaking to us, and there is usually a spiritual lesson to be learned and applied in our every day adventure (aka....our life), we must train ourselves to recognize His voice, listen to His instructions, and follow His leading.
So yesterday, as I was reviewing pages in my journal and contemplating what I was going to write for the day, I found myself mulling over a particular phrase that I sometimes use: "Today, I was challenged......or God challenged me to......"
As I considered this word "challenged," I began to ask myself the following question:
Why do I sometimes feel challenged when God speaks to me, gives me instruction, or corrects me?
Immediately, I knew the answer.
Flesh vs. Spirit (The war within us)
Dictionary.com defines the word challenged as:
- something that by nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc
- a call to fight, as a battle, duel, etc
Walking in the flesh can even become very religious. (Gasp!) For example, concerning ourselves with the attendance at church, the size of our building or how great our programs are rather than how many people were healed, saved or set free. Or concerning ourselves with performance rather than quality.
When my flesh wants to hate or hold a grudge, my spirit says to love and forgive.
When my flesh wants to indulge, my spirit encourages me to practice self control.
When my flesh wants to close myself off from people, eliminating the chance of getting hurt or wounded, my spirit pushes me forward into relationships, risks and vulnerability.
In the natural (flesh), the spirit sometimes just doesn't make sense!
But we are not to live according to the flesh......
And it's about more than just moral behavior.
Our flesh looks at things completely differently than the spirit, handles things differently, tries to solve problems according to our own ability rather than allowing God to handle things, etc. Living and walking according to the spirit or flesh involves our thought patterns, our motives, our innermost being. Our transformation from flesh to spirit must take place from the inside out. Our mind has to be renewed according to the Word of God, our thinking has to change.
So when God speaks to me and I am challenged, my flesh is sometimes screaming, "No!" or doubting, trying to rationalize and "make sense" of things, while my Spirit is simply saying "Yes, Lord!" For example, when God asks us to get outside of our self and put someone else's need above our own, it can be a challenge to our selfish flesh (especially if we are in need ourself). Or when we are sick in our body, but God says we are healed, it can be a challenge to get our thoughts to line up with His word! Or when there is no money in the bank, but our desk is piled full of bills, and God says "Trust Me...", it can be a challenge to keep our peace and not worry! Or when God says on a Sunday morning to stop in the middle of a church service and worship or pray, setting all programs and agendas aside, it can be a challenge to our flesh who wants to control everything and make everything "pleasant and acceptable" to our visitors.
Romans 8:5 says that those who live according to the flesh keep their minds set on the things of the flesh. It also says that those who live according to the spirit, do the opposite - they set their minds on things of the spirit. What are we setting our minds on?
Jesus, in Mark 14:38 says to His disciples, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
The word "watch" in this verse means to be sleepless, keep awake, be attentive, be ready! Jesus knew that His disciples, apart from Him, were weak and would not make good choices. He instructed them, as He does us.....Watch and pray! Don't allow your spirit to sleep, be attentive, be ready! When we spend time in His presence, praying, worshipping, studying, etc., our spirit is built up. When we neglect these things, our flesh begins to take over, ruling our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, eventually causing us to doubt God's word.
As we continue seeking, searching, and drawing closer to our heavenly Father, it will become less and less challenging to listen and obey. It should be our flesh that is met with a challenge when giving counsel or prompting us to do something contrary to the word of God!
Be encouraged today to walk according to the spirit, not the flesh! Set your mind on things above. Spend time in His presence, building yourself up. Keep awake, be ready! Fight the temptation to do it your way, and allow God to have His way in your life! Choose to believe His word for your life today!!
Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.