The Spirit has all the self-control I need

Self-control is a sticky widget.

Temptation surrounds all of us. None of us are exempt! Though the temptations I am more vulnerable to are probably different from yours, the struggle against them is likely the same.

God calls us to exercise self-control. But how do we do that? How is it possible? I can be extremely disciplined in certain aspects of my life, and throw up my hands in defeat in others.

Lately I’ve been fighting a battle of self-control. To be honest, most days my effort has been less than desirable. I’ll be diligent for a week or two (or a day or two to be more accurate), and then I fall back into the same pattern. Frustration sets in, and excuses follow.

This week as I was studying God’s Word, and praying about the struggle, God brought this to my attention:

I don’t have enough self-control. The Holy Spirit living inside me does.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells me that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Instead of focusing on what I can’t have or should resist, I need to rely on the Holy Spirit inside of me. Self-control is a result of the Spirit working in my life. Self-control is not about me resisting or overcoming in my own strength. That will lead straight to defeat. Self-control is giving myself to God.

So, for the last few days, when I have faced a particular temptation or started to feel the oh-so-familiar struggle, I have either thought or actually voiced this truth:

The Holy Spirit has all the self-control that I need.

That’s it. Then the Spirit gives me the strength I need, and I move on with my day.

I realize this seems overly simple. I don’t know if this will always work for me, or if it may work for you. But to call out to God in the moment of my weakness has proven humbling and energizing. I cannot do this on my own. It’s God! The Holy Spirit is teaching me this week that when I lay down my struggles, desires and decisions, He will fill me with what I need most: more of Him.

Standing firm this summer

 

On Wednesday nights this summer, a small group at our church is working to pray over every home and business in the city limits of Mountain View, Missouri.

Now, this is not a big town, but as we began the task last night, I realized just how big a vision God had given us! That’s why I am glad before we stepped a foot outside of the church, we meditated and prayed over Ephesians 6:10-20:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

In this passage of Scripture, God calls us to be strong in Him and to stand firm three different times. We can’t be strong on our own. We have to be “in the Lord.” In order to do this, we need to have His clothes, His words, His eyes and His voice.

First, to be in the Lord, God offers us His own armor. We get to dress like our Father, and follow Him into battle. And, He makes sure we are well protected. He gives us His belt of truth, holding everything together through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. He puts on us His breastplate of righteousness that protects our hearts so we can do what is right. He laces up His shoes of the gospel of peace to ready our feet to go and bring peace through the Gospel. God helps us take up His shield of faith to protect us from Satan’s attacks. And, our Heavenly Father crowns us with His helmet of salvation, the saving work of Jesus Christ protecting and giving life to our entire being. Going out to prayerwalk, we first needed to get dressed in the armor of God.

Secondly, God provides our first offensive weapon: His Word. We are called to wield the Sword of the Spirit. To be “in the Lord”, we must have His words. We must be daily diving into Scripture and letting His Word guide us, step by step and moment by moment.

We must also have His eyes. God calls us to pray, the second offensive weapon, at all times and on every occasion. We must stay alert and persistent in prayer. Prayer is not just something we do when we can’t think of anything else to do. Prayer is not for the weak. Prayer is our opportunity to talk with our Father and see the world and every circumstance through His eyes and His point of view. It is our connection to the power of the Holy Spirit! God welcomes us into His throne room to worship Him, and invites us to sit on His lap and look out from His vantage point to see people’s hearts and lives the way He does. What an incredible privilege!!

Finally, God offers us His voice, to speak boldly and proclaim the Gospel. God gives us the words to vocalize to make known the wonder of the cross.

This is where we began on our journey to pray for God’s redemption and majesty to break out across our town. I am so incredibly grateful I can be a part of what God is planning here!

Will you join us in praying this summer? Pray for your neighborhood and your community! If you are not sure how to start, the International Mission Board has great resources you can follow, with Scriptures to claim, as you intercede for those around you.

Be strong in the Lord, and stand your ground!