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Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Just Can't Do It My Way

Galatians 5:17 (ESV)
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Occasionally I hear the recording of Frank Sinatra singing "I did it my way," playing at a funeral. Somehow the family thinks this is a good testimony of how the deceased lived. I always hope the family is misled. I hope the deceased had more sense than to do it his way.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I haven't done things "my way" frequently. It doesn't matter how many times I have seen God act I still somehow think I can do things without Him. So, I don't consult Him, don't ask for His direction, don't seek His power and forget about achieving His results. Then, I get what I can do and nothing more.

Joshua led his army against Jericho and won because he followed God's way. He gave the glory to God and continued on toward Ai without consulting God. He didn't know that Achan had taken some of the things from Jericho which were dedicated to the Lord. Joshua, thus, acted upon his own leadership and the power of his own army. He was soundly defeated by a bunch of farmers with farm implements. How many times does this need to happen before we realize that we need to do everything God's way.

The Bible says that we are either Spirit led or flesh led. We understand the things of God when we are in the Spirit. We walk with His power. We want only what the flesh wants when in the flesh. And we get only what the flesh can get.

The flesh leads us to the things of the world while the Spirit leads us to the things of the Spirit. It seems fairly simple but give us a moment unto ourselves and we can make the most fleshly things into things of the Spirit. We will bend what we want to make ourselves and others believe that they are things of the Spirit. Deceiving ourselves is the greatest deception of all. Sometime it takes a great defeat to realize what we are doing.

So, today I go to worship. I will preach what I believe to be God's message. I will ask to be baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit in the delivery. I believe God is going to do something that will amaze me. I don't think He has to entertain me. I just believe that He is an amazing God who is always doing more than my IBM (Itty-Bitty Mind) can anticipate. I don't think Moses actually expected the Red Sea to open when he got there any more than I think that Joshua anticipated God's method of making the walls of Jericho fall down. Each was obedient. Each expected God to do what He said. Each did what the Lord told him to do. Each was amazed when it happened. (Joshua was told that it would happen but I still can't imagine not being amazed when it did.) You can believe and expect that the Lord will do as He has said and still be amazed.

I have to set my mind or spiritual things or I will do things my way. I know because I have done things my way so many times before. I must, must, must remember though: I just can't do it my way.


Anthony Chia said...

In the Lord and in our own strength
I have already encapsulated what is “IN THE LORD”, in one of my blog articles on my own blogsite. I reproduce it here:

“In the Lord” is about faith and dependence on the Lord. It means the action (for example, an Easter outreach event) is done through a full reliance on the authority, power and ways of the Lord, with a faith that, 1) raises hope leading to endurance through troubles, 2) holds confidence in His love towards us, 3) believes in His wisdom and ability, 4) does NOT doubt He is in control, and 5) trusts He does NOT change of His nature attributes (key of which, is holiness, and so, from that, righteousness and justice).

How then should we define “IN OUR OWN STRENGTH”?

When NOT in the Lord, you are in your own strength! That really is it; if we operate without element of faith and dependence on the Lord, we are operating in our own strength. For example, suppose, just the week before, one of the ferries, from Singapore to Batam (an Indonesian island, close to Singapore) sunk on the way to Batam, and several people died in that incident. And now, suppose also that you have scheduled to go to that Batam island to do an Easter outreach event. What are you going to do? Cancel the outreach event? Or go with your mind thinking, you are able-bodied enough, that if the ferry sinks, you can swim to shore (hopefully, ferry sink near to either side!)? Or do you come before the Lord and pray, telling the Lord that despite the possibility of one or more of the ferry boats are in similar state of disrepair and could sink, even though some assurance has come from the operating entity, you still would stick to the plan for the Easter event; telling the Lord that since the ferry service has resumed, you will trust the Lord and depend on Him to protect you on your voyage. Are you going to believe in the power and authority of the Lord, over men, even over machines and forces of nature, that even when a trouble comes, you will keep your hope up and endure through the troubles? Are you going, in the confidence of His love for you and the people who you want to reach out to? Are you going to do this with the belief that God is wise and able, and in control, and that whatever else can change, He does NOT change, of His nature, and so, His holiness, righteousness and justice, and so, He is reliable, and are NOT shifting sand or unpredictable?

That is just the boat journey only; the same can be posed of all various actions that are needed to successfully carry out the outreach event. Are you going to trust in the Lord that the others would be courageous enough, to still go? What if someone would NOT go because he chickens out; are you going to abandon the trip? What if someone falls sick, and cannot go, will you still endure through the challenge (maybe last minute, you have to improvise)? What if it rains on that day, and the event is an outdoor event? Or suddenly the wind changes direction, a haze comes upon the area (this is one common enough thing now, in this part of the world)? Are you determined enough to want to brace through any or more of what could possibly come, depending on the good Lord?

I am NOT talking about we do NOT plan, and do NOT try to cover and take the reasonable precautions; I am saying we can only and necessary only, to take reasonable precautions. Beyond that, we will brace ourselves against the odds, through faith and dependence on the Lord.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

Of course, it is necessary that the endeavour we are embarking on, is one in accord with the will and desire of God. Please, you cannot do evil, IN THE LORD! You cannot expect God to be WITH you if you are crossing over to Batam to steal from some houses! God is with you, already, for He is present with you if you are a believer, for His Holy Spirit dwells within you, but He is NOT with you, meaning He cannot agree with you on what you are doing, and so, you cannot expect Him to work with you in your evil deed. You do that (to steal) you are doing it IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH. If you succeed, you have done it IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH. Suppose there are some rich people on the island and you managed to steal from them (from their home), ah, you did it in your own way, nothing to do with God, that you are rich now!

The same can be said of many other unrighteous activities that people do; egs: you go on an adulterous night (yah, across the water, at Batam!); you “con” someone with your bogus investment scheme, arguing you need the money to feed yourself and your family; you backstab your college so that you would be the one to be promoted, or you work your tail off, forsaking rest, recreation, fellowship and time for God, to stay in the job or be promoted. These do NOT find agreement with God, and so, you cannot be doing them IN THE LORD.

But what about righteous activities? Well, the Batam Outreach in the above example, is a righteous activity, but you can do it, still either in your own strength or in the Lord. Now, I am NOT saying using one’s natural or developed endowments (egs. Talents, mind or intelligence, physical might or strength) and resources (money and facilities, etc) is NOT the thing to do. We are to put to good use all of these, for we are firstly, stewards of all the endowments and blessing and good gifts from God. I am NOT saying one who gives just money, say, $500.00, towards a worthwhile cause, is necessarily doing in his own strength, and is NOT to be commended, although it is possible $500.00 is little; if for example, person’s monthly income is $50,000.00 per month (relative to someone giving the same amount out of a $2,000.00 monthly income). Absence of faith element can however disqualify it as a thing done IN THE LORD, for Heb 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. When it is so (that He is NOT pleased), God may NOT be with you, and when God is NOT with you, you can’t be doing it IN THE LORD; you may think you are doing it IN THE LORD, but you are NOT, for God is NOT in it.

There are 2 aspects that I believe God wants us to embrace: in sanctification, He wants us to grow in holiness, and He wants to develop us or more simply put, to stretch us. Many people are contented with this: I don’t do the obvious UNrighteous things, and I just engage a little in the good works; that should do it! And so, as the common colloquial saying goes, “I don’t steal and rob, and I did give, I should be alright” i.e. be contented being nominal. We should realise the purpose of stretching is to help us to develop the inward conviction in us, of who God is and who we are, relative to, and before God. If we want NOT to be stretched it is difficult for our faith to grow.

Stewardship enters into another dimension when we yield to stretching by God. We learn to give of ourselves, as we give what costs us, and we give till it hurts. Brother Anthony where do you get all these ideas we have to give what costs us or give more till it hurts?

Well, David gave us this (2 Sam 24:24), “….I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

Jesus said, in Luke 14:27 - And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Also, in Luke 14:33 - In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

These 2 are pointing to, we are committed to sacrifice, following after the Lord. In fact, the picture painted there in the Luke passage, was that we have to have decided we would “pay the cost” even before we say, we follow Jesus. It is that we have committed and we have to then live it out.

Even in this (Heb 12:4): “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”, we are to see the picture that we need to stretch.

Going beyond – When we stretch beyond our natural endowment, IN THE LORD or when we welcome the intervention of God according to His heartbeat or when we have “graduated into the bigger league” or combination thereof, God may cause the supernatural to come into the natural; things beyond the flesh, become possible, or we say miracles take place. When we live and operate often, IN THE LORD, and so, NOT IN OUR OWN STRENGTH, and so, NOT DOING OUR WAY, we can accomplish much things for the Lord, that others may find extremely difficult or even impossible, and they glorify, NOT you, but God in Heaven. The best thing, besides, is that because we live and operate in righteousness, led by the Spirit of God, the peace and joy in and of the Spirit is shed abroad in our hearts, and so, we have the peace and rest in our Lord, despite the turbulence and shakings in the world around us.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions