Sitting with the Shepherd
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
One of the most persistent enemies of my spiritual life, one that I battle on a daily basis, rain or shine, and one that consistently tries to exalt itself above God is none other than me, myself and I. Yes our fallen flesh is very intent on ascending to the throne of our lives and usurping the throne that belongs to God alone.
Perhaps this is why the greatest spiritual battles are fought on the heels of the most prominent victories in my spiritual life. I cannot say that I enjoy times of duress and hardship any more than you, but these are the times that I draw closer to God and trust in Him alone for my spiritual well-being. It is often during these times of testing that God allows me glimpses of my own inadequacy and the total depravity of my fallen flesh. The Apostle Paul put it this way; "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead," (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NKJV) Although no one enjoys being in this position we need to e reminded by the Holy Spirit of who we are apart from Christ so that our total reliance will be on God and not self. We tend to forget that we were one dead in our sins and trespasses and unable to rectify our hopeless estate in life. But God stepped in and rescued us from sin and despair. I once asked of my wife, who was faithful to me during years of the insanity of my bondage to alcohol, "It wasn't that bad was it?" She merely rolled her eyes as if to say, "You've got to be kidding me!" It was that bad and if I fall back into self-reliance it could get that bad again and much worse, quickly.
The reality is that my fallen flesh, over all of the years that I have been a Christian has never gotten any better than it ever was in my past. There is no such thing as self-help. I am as powerless in the flesh now as I have ever been, and in times of great spiritual achievement and my greatest victories I need to be reminded of that. If I should ever fall back into relying on myself the results would surely be catastrophic. So in order to maintain my spiritual heath I remain cognizant of the fact that it was by grace alone and the faith that He gave me that I am standing today. I cannot boast or take any credit. That is the Gospel.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What has the Holy Spirit shown you about your flesh in times of trial?
2. How have you personally minimized the effects of sin in your past?
3. How has God demonstrated to you personally your need to depend on Him?
My Father in heaven my God, It is only by Your grace that I stand today, a new creation in Christ, alive from the dead. Thank You for giving me the measure of faith that I needed to come to Christ and receive this grace. May I rejoice in the gift of my salvation today. Amen