Monday, November 25, 2013

Struggles On The Altar

                This past weekend has been very difficult for me. If you have read my blog recently, you will know that I am trying to give up nicotine, and you will understand the hold it has had over me. I have been doing pretty well, with a few slip ups here and there, but otherwise, I am staying the course and have not wavered. But, one thing I have noticed is that my desire for nicotine is making me think ungodly thoughts
towards my husband, my children, and I am finding myself on edge all the time. Yesterday, I have to admit, the very presence of my husband grated on every nerve I have in my body. His very voice was to me like nails across a chalkboard. (I am being real, people) This morning, I went before the Lord and I laid out my struggles to Him. I prayed and asked for forgiveness, for His mercy and His help. For what is in me, is warring against what I know He is asking of me, and that is not some place I want to be.
                I found myself fighting the urges, struggling with the desire to go and ask my son for a cigarette, and the battle to not wig out on my poor husband who has done nothing wrong except breathe in the same room as me. I prayed and asked to Lord to help me, I want this battle to be over. I feel like I am a lemon being squeezed from every side and I feel like I am about to break wide open. I want to scream, and shout, I want to run away and just make these struggles go away. But the Lord, He is faithful, and He led me to Psalm 118.
                “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118:1
                His mercy endures forever. I need His mercy today, I need His goodness in my heart today, and I need Him to take over my thoughts, my desires and the flesh within me that is fighting against me. As I read the words, “His mercy endures forever” I stopped and pondered for a moment. To endure means to stay constant and not waiver, it means to stand when all else is falling, it means to stay in the same state or condition at all times. God’s mercy never changes, it never waivers, it is constantly standing for me, it never fails.  David (the writer of this Psalm) states that His mercy endures forever. His mercy, His goodness, His kindness, His faithfulness, His constant abiding favor has existed from eternity past, exists now in eternity present and will continue to remain in eternity future.
These past few days I have been like a lemon squeezed. We are facing financial decisions and obstacles on the right side, on the left side I find my struggles with nicotine. I am faced with my wrong thinking and wrong heart attitude from the front, and all the poor decisions I have made are coming up behind me. I am being squeezed, so I did what David did.
                “I called upon the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.” Psalm 118:5
                I called out to Him this morning for help. I could not take it any longer, I was fighting a battle that I could not win, and I needed His help. So I called to the Lord because His mercy endures forever and He answered me, He responded to my call, He heard my cry for help and He came to my rescue. He set me in a broad place, which when I looked this phrase up refers to liberty. That is exactly what happened. He came to me this morning, and through His word has given me liberty from all that was squeezing me, and He has placed my feet back to where they needed to be- in Him alone.
                I found that the struggles I was experiencing were not spiritual, so to speak. I thought this weekend that I was fighting a spiritual battle, that the enemy was attacking and I was allowing him to win. But, sometimes I think we give the enemy too much credit. Everything that happens to us, the struggles we face, and the distresses we find ourselves in are not always spiritual warfare. Sometimes they are fleshly. “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you want.” (Galatians 5:17)
                I do not want to be addicted to nicotine anymore; I do not want to be angry and upset at my husband any more. I do not want these thoughts running through my mind anymore. The battle that I find myself in is within, not from without. I am in the midst of a battle of my flesh against the Spirit of God who is also in me. These emotions, these distresses, these struggles are because my flesh does not want to stay on the altar which I have placed it on. My flesh wants to smoke; my flesh wants to do what it wants to do when it wants to do it. But God has asked me to sacrifice my flesh, to give it all to Him, and my flesh wants to get off the altar.
So, how do I keep my flesh on the altar that God has asked me to place it upon? I bind it. “God is the Lord and He has given {shown} us light. Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” What the Lord is showing us is that we need to bind our flesh to His altar so that it doesn’t run away. Whatever it is that your flesh is fighting against today, we need to take it and bind it to the altar, we need to secure it, we need to offer it to God, and tie it down. But, we can only do that if we tie it to the strength of God. Horns in the bible are used to symbolize strength, God’s strength. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my Salvation.” (Psalm 18:2)

                Whatever it is that is troubling you, whatever it is that is causing you distress, bind it to the altar of God’s strength. Bind it with cords so that it cannot run away. We must die to ourselves, we must let our flesh die, and we must lay our flesh on the altar of God and leave it there. All my struggles these past few days have not been spiritual warfare from the enemy, but warfare inside of me. The things I want to do, I don’t, and the things I don’t want to do, that I find myself doing. (Romans 7:19)When this is happening, it is because your flesh is warring with the Spirit of God who has your flesh on His altar. We can and will win this battle with our flesh, for this flesh will die and we will be raised to new life in Jesus Christ. No matter what our struggles are, no matter how squeezed we are feeling, we can praise God our Father for His mercy, His constant care and love for us, and for the strength He gives us to conquer this flesh we are stuck in. Bind it to the altar of God, bind your sacrifice to His strength, and let us praise Him and glorify His mercy, for it endures forever. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.