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Prayer for the Week January 7 – From Routine to Exciting

January 7, 2013

This is our first Monday back to school and our regular routine of life.  I actually was excited to get back to it, but I’ve found myself sort of wandering off track here and there.  It’s like I have the desire to do what I know should be done but my body just isn’t cooperating fully.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.”  (Romans 7:21-23)  This is the Message Bible translation.  Don’t you love it?

What it’s saying is that when I try to accomplish anything on my own, especially salvation, I fail.  Paul goes on to say,  “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”  (Romans 7:24-25, The Message)

I think this is something we can all really relate to.  We set our goals and expectations, and they’re good!  But we do it in our own strength from our own place of selfishness, instead of listening to the Spirit in us who will direct us perfectly on God’s path.  We set about “doing good or trying to heal ourselves, or just trying to be better” and end up falling short because we are not being led by God.   The Bible says, “God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.  He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant.  In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.  The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.  The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.  And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.  Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them — living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.  Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.”  (Romans 8:3-8, The Message)

Deep down in my heart I want my focus to be only God.  I want to say yes to Him in everything!  I don’t want to confuse my own plans with His, because that is no way to advance, to move from glory to glory!  The only way this can be done is by thinking way less about myself and my desires and recognizing that he has fully taken up residence in my life.  Then life becomes exciting!

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:9-17)

Father, this week I pray that I will lay aside my own desires and contradicted ways, allowing Holy Spirit to fully breathe in me.  Then I can joyfully say to you, “What’s next, Papa?”  Amen

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