The struggle is real


The struggle is real

Scripture: Romans 7:24, 25


There is a saying that some use to illustrate something comically, ironically or dramatically and can be used to express frustration, amusement, or a host of other emotions: “the struggle is real”. There is a much more desperate struggle that takes place in the heart of every man, woman, and child that is truly the real struggle, one that no life has ever been free from: the struggle between sin and sanctification. Sin, the result of disobedience to God, is a force that has corrupted, destroyed, and eventually killed every person that has ever lived (Romans 6:23). Sanctification, the power of God at work in the heart of any man or woman who surrenders at the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).


The struggle that we face, even after we’ve come to know Christ as Lord, is our flesh struggling against the desire and will of the Holy Spirit who dwells with-in our hearts. Paul spoke of this struggle this way: For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15 ESV). As a follower of Jesus Christ, as a teacher, preacher, minister, and disciple, I am fully aware of God’s desire and will as revealed in His Holy Scriptures, yet no matter how I struggle, I still fall and fail God daily.


The Devil is a liar and the father of them (John 8:44) and he would have you and I believe that if we fail God, surely we cannot be saved, forgiven, or redeemed. How could someone who claims to be a follower of Christ fail Him? How could someone who knows the Word of God fail to keep even the most basic commandments of Christ? How could someone who loves God disappoint Him over and over? Knowing the terrible price Jesus paid on the cross for me and because of me, how could I give in to the temptation and sin that He died to set me free from? Paul reminds us of the truth that we must hold on to: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:24, 25 ESV).


Today maybe you find yourself walking in a painful, dark valley, alone and desperately crying out to God, don’t give up. Though we may fail God, even in a very big, public, terrible way, the grace of Jesus Christ is enough and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:28, 29). Maybe you are angry with God, questioning the pain and suffering in your life, maybe in your heart you are screaming “God, where are you!?” Quietly listen for His reply: “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You are not alone, Jesus is with you (Matthew 28:20) and trust that He who has started a good work in you will see it through until it is completed (Philippians 1:6).


May the words of Jesus pierce the darkness of the night you find yourself in, and may His blessed hope fill your heart with peace, joy, strength, and hope:


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

He is willing


He is willing

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:9


In our last three devotions we have considered how God is faithful, how He is present, and how He is able, these three truths alone are breathtaking. So often when we think of God, we envision a mighty Judge on His throne handing out eternal life sentences like they mean nothing, but the truth couldn’t be farther from this. Yes, God is righteous, holy, and He alone is Judge, but is that all there is? We can rejoice in the truth that while God is all those things, He is so much more.


My mother has always explained that she envisions God as the mighty, scary Father figure, while picturing Jesus as a gentle, warm person, but in truth God and Jesus are One (John 10:30, Hebrews 1:3) and thus as Scripture describes, God is the true picture of love (1 John 4:8). We must never forget that if God judged us according to His holy, perfect Law and condemned us to hell, He would be right and good for doing so, but He has a much more amazing hope for our lives: eternal life and fellowship with Him.


Scripture reminds us: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 KJV). By the law of non-contradiction (two things that are directly opposed cannot both be true) if God is not willing that we should perish, He must be willing that we come to repentance and eternal life. Not only is God willing, but because He is faithful, present, and able, He has already given us the only way back to Him: Jesus (John 3:16).


Today I wonder, do you think God is against you? In Christ we are assured that God is for us and in His will through His power, nothing can stand against us (Romans 8:31). May the words to the old hymn “There was One who was willing to die” remind us of the love and the willingness that we may be saved that we have through Jesus:


There was One who was willing to die in my stead,

That a soul so unworthy might live,

And the path to the cross He was willing to tread

All the sins of my life to forgive.


They were borne on the cross,

They were borne on the cross,

O how much He was willing to bear!

With what anguish and loss,

Jesus went to the cross!

But He carried my sins with Him there.

He is able


He is able
Scripture: Ephesians 3:20, 21


In our prior two devotions we have explored the truth that God is faithful and that God is present, but we must also understand our God is able. I remember during a especially dark time in my life, long before I came to know Jesus as Lord, I prayed over and over to a God I did not know. In the course of a few months I found myself alone, living in my aunt’s spare bedroom, with my dad hanging on to life dying in ICU. Two very different but two very memorable prayers were uttered over and over again during this time: “Lord, please let me dad live” and “please send a woman in to my life who will love me and cherish me”.


I can clearly remember in the course of a few short days praying and crying in the bathroom floor of the restroom at the hospital, and a message from one of the nurses caring for my dad that changed my life forever. The message was from a former friend from high-school who was caring for my dad in ICU, that woman is now my wife of 5 years. Ultimately when the doctors came to us with the news that my dad was dying and they needed to remove him from life support, I was heartbroken. I remember asking how long he would take to die, they said a few days…


I can still remember the prayer my brothers and I prayed, gathered around the bed of my dad. I had asked everyone to leave so we could pray together, by the time we said “amen”, my dad had went on to be with the Lord, a few days had become a few hours. Though the Lord didn’t answer my prayer to let me dad live, 10 short months later as my firstborn son came in to the world, I looked in to the piercing blue eyes of my dad and his memory still lives on through my son today.


Scripture reminds us: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 ESV) – not only is God faithful and present, but He is able. He is able to see past tomorrow, past next week, down through each second of our life and He is able to provide for us in ways we cannot comprehend.


Today maybe you have been praying night after night, day after day, and it seems as if God has failed to answer your prayer… but has He? Though God may not answer our prayers in the way we want or think we need, He will always provide what we truly need knowing the full impact of each door he closes, and each door He opens. Today let us trust Him and know that He is able to meet every need. May the lyrics of “God is able” by Hillsong remind us:


God is able
He will never fail
He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things