I have to try harder

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There are days when I wonder if I am ‘good enough’ to even call myself a Christian. I get fearful and I plot to run away to some retreat. Sometimes I get short-tempered and regrettable angry words out-run my self-control.  Evenings arrive when I realize I have largely wasted the day, missing God-given opportunities while daydreaming about being someone else, somewhere else. Sometimes I don’t act like I love Jesus.

Shocked, are you?  Not if you know me.  “But, Jerry, you’re a pastor, a person who has been following Jesus for 50 years.”  I am but I am also a garden variety human being. I am not making any excuses for my lapses, nor am I in any way proud of any of those sins. Looking at myself in the mirror confirms the message of God’s grace.

Paul, the apostle of Christ whose spiritual revelation gave us more than half of our New Testament, did not boast of being a super-man. He admitted to being a lot less than perfect, to experiencing life at its lowest. At the same time, he reveled in the radiance of Christ Jesus that filled his soul.  He says  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NIV)

What a contrast of realities we find in that inspired Word! God does the miraculous, making a Creation moment in us, through Jesus!  At the dawn of time, He spoke to the chaos of darkness, calling light into being. When the world was captive to sin, full of evil, He spoke again and His Son entered that world to be Light that reveals the love of God. He speaks to you, to me, with the voice of the Spirit, and when we turn in faith to Him, light dawns in us, transforming us from the inside out.

That sounds so thrilling, doesn’t it? It is!  But … we’re still just clay pots!

In the ordinary places of life, in the daily things of work, He makes us different. If we determine that somehow we must make ourselves wonderful, that we must turn ourselves into perfection embodied, we create an impossible expectation, a crushing burden of religiosity that will exhaust us, demoralize us, and produce anything but the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  “Try harder” produces anger, fatigue, fear, hypocrisy, and defeat!

If we ask, “Am I man enough to do this?” the only answer is “No, but He is God enough to make me who He wants me to be”

He is the treasure held in us, the radiance that shines through us. In our authentic love for Jesus we are changed, but not through self-help and rigid disciplines. Our ordinariness is enveloped by His goodness, His radiance, so that people see Someone in us that makes a clay pot into a thing of beauty.  I am not (nor are you) ‘good enough’ but He is.

Our ‘goodness,’ our ‘righteousness’ can never be earned or attained. It is received, a gift of God, that makes us more than we could ever hope to be by ourselves. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)

Let His light shine in you today.
Failure? Take His grace.
Success? Give Him praise.
Struggle? Receive His power.
Victory? Rejoice in His provision.

Here is a word from the Word. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2, NIV)  Clay pots full of the treasures of the Lord!  Now, that’s amazing.

____________

So Will I (100 Billion X)
(Be inspired!)

God of creation
There at the start before the beginning of time
With no point of ref’rence
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I

I can see Your heart in ev’rything You’ve made
Ev’ry burning star a signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain no syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in ev’rything You say
Ev’ry painted sky a canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I So will I

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in rev’rence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if ev’rything exists to lift You high so will I\
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created the light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in ev’rything You’ve done
Ev’ry part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart eight billion diff’rent ways
Ev’ry precious one a child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind

Benjamin Hastings | Joel Houston | Michael Fatkin © 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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