From Self-Effort to Christ-Reliance

Living in this world apart from Christ is wearisome at best. Even as Believers we embrace the false doctrine that we have to try harder and strive more to please God and to grow spiritually.

We struggle from day to day and almost never awaken without some trepidation over what will happen to us next. Trouble seems to happen in “threes,” and we are always waiting for the next shoe to drop.

We think of these trials as building character in us and transforming us into the image of Christ; so we patiently continue to prod along making the best of every negative circumstance.

Most of us need a breaking point in our life in order to step over the line from self-effort to Christ-reliance. Therefore, trials are actually like the Law – designed to bring us to the end of our self and to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-26).

God encourages us to take our focus off our competent human abilities or our mortal frailty, and to concentrate on the reality of Christ in us instead (Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 2:20).

As we do, we start to live a victorious life apart from human effort and understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We enter into rest in God’s presence, which provides us with deep inner peace and fulfillment regardless of our circumstances (Hebrews 4:10).

Jesus delivers us from the bondage of every negative emotion, wound and issue we experience, and brings us astounding joy which defies description and is full of His glory (1 Peter 1:8; James 1:2-18).

God’s Spirit helps us to see our problems as adventures rather than as challenges. Our supply for each circumstance, and the wisdom to deal with it come from Christ in us, our only hope for success (Colossians 1:27).

God orchestrates every nuance of our life. His abundant light overcomes the densest gloom. His power and majesty slay every demon in spiritual darkness, which comes against us (1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; Daniel Chapters 9 and 10).

As we decrease, He increases (John 3:30). We exhibit more and more of Christ’s divine nature and we never, ever leave His presence (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

His Spirit leads us moment by moment in the center of His will for our life, transforms our character with the nature of Christ, and replaces our carnality with the fruit of His Spirit (2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 5:22-23).

Prayer:
Father God, nothing this world has to offer can take the place of Your goodness and grace. When the issues of life become more than we can bear, we sit on Your lap and snuggle in the safety of Your arms. This provides us with a ring-side seat to view the seed for a miracle, which You place within every trial, as it sprouts into fruition.

You designed salvation so that abiding in Christ is accomplished by one swift act of total surrender. It may take a deep trial, a layoff from work, rejection from a mate or a week-end retreat; but when our soul finally yearns for You alone, we readily relinquish our will to Yours.

Thought for the Day:
We no longer work out our own issues in life using God’s strength to fuel our human effort, because we come to the realization that we can live life only as His Spirit leads each moment of our day and provides us with the desire, wisdom and strength to walk in the center of His will. – Philippians 2:12-13

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The Breaking Point

People often think that the life we know is better than the life we do not know. That is why women stay in abusive marriages and continue to suffer the torment. They believe they do not deserve better.

When we come to Christ, He humbles us; yet He gives us His holy boldness. We start to realize that we are not defective; and that in Him, we are “enough”.

Christ in us transforms us into all that He intends for us to be. We no longer need to strive for perfection, because God’s Spirit within us changes us from one stage of holiness to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We find our true identity and fulfillment in Christ alone (Colossians 3:3-4, 2:9-10; Philippians 1:13-2:16). We are adopted as God’s children, conformed to Christ’s image and co-heirs with Christ of God’s Kingdom.

Most of us need a breaking point in our life in order to step over the line from self-effort to Christ-reliance. The trials, which God allows in our life, are designed to bring us to the end of our self.

My breaking point was when the love of my life decided that there was no option for us, but divorce. I had no job, no alimony and no foreseeable future.

In this bewildering new world, my only option was to rely totally on God for each moment of my day. As I did, I entered a deeper relationship with our Lord; one that I continue to this day.

As I listened to His Spirit within, He led me to get a job at a Montessori school where my training and relationships taught me to nurture my own soul.

He also gave me two other jobs, so I could pay my bills and save for a rainy day. Eventually, in His perfect way and timing, He brought a nurturing, appreciative husband into my life as well, and restored my ministry as a Pastor’s wife.

Prayer:
Father God, You brought me to the place in my life where I stopped trying and gave up. I cast all of my cares on You, because I had no doubt that You cared for me. You taught me that Your Spirit will put us in the right place at the right time, if we will listen to that still, small voice within us (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Remind us that the sooner we stop trying, and enter into Your rest, the sooner our life will hold unspeakable joy, even in the midst of sorrows. Your Spirit leads us to be productive for Your Kingdom; and in the process, all of our needs are met.

Thought for the Day:
As we totally surrender our heart to God in prayer, we give Him our weaknesses and failings – even the sins we commit in secret. We no longer live in shame, but in the fearless confidence and identity of Christ in us. – Job 11:13-15; 1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:27