Pulled in two directions

Sometimes I am conflicted – behaving as if I am two persons. I know how I should act or what I ought to think but I have no desire for what’s right. Who among us has not realized that we should love that person selflessly, but honestly have to admit that we do not like them –at all?   We know that forgiveness is what God wants from us, but sometimes we hold onto offense anyway, feeding our resentment and refusing to turn the situation over to God. If we continue in that kind of conflicted living, James tells us that we will be ‘unstable in all our ways.’  We will be anxious, indecisive; a waffler.

Some decisions are easy. Tonight for dinner I’ll have chicken because I do not care for fish.  Done!  Most decisions are far more difficult especially when two sets of values compete inside our heads. When values compete,  we see fewer things in clear contrast and a fog of indecision increases.  From personal experience I can assure you that remaining in that place will make you angry, miserable, and soul-weary.

Recent events have left many of us conflicted- tore between polar extremes in our culture, told that we must only think or speak in certain ways to be a ‘good person.’  Very little overlap in ideas is allowed. The intensity of judging and shaming causes many thoughtful people tempted to retreat into silence, refusing to make any decision.

Hopefully, as Christ’s followers, we are asking ourselves questions like these.  
What is the right thing to do to love others in a godly way?  
How do best honor my Savior in this time?
Or even that old one, What would Jesus do?

The struggle to find the right path; not the popular one, not the one that allows us to avoid rejection, nor the one that keeps us from offending anyone, is real and can be intense even for Spirit-filled Christians. Please do not allow shame or guilt to overwhelm you if your thoughts are divided, your emotions in turmoil.

God reminds us that “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Galatians 5:17, NIV)  That is not to say we are helpless in the struggle, nor should we throw up our hands and go with whatever comes easiest!  Freed by God’s grace from the bonds of sin, we live in and by the power of the Spirit.  He helps us to live as ‘more than conquerors.’  The Word declares  “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16, NIV)

When the early Christians came into sharp conflict over the proper practices of faith in their culture, Paul told them to stop judging each other, to stop condemning and shaming. He reminded them Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4, NIV)  The Spirit will work, convince, convict, and change that person who is open before Him!

In that famed story of Israel’s revival, the bold preacher threw down the challenge to the leaders of the nation in that epic day on Mt. Carmel. Idolatry was rampant, the palace corrupt, the people deceived.  “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21, NIV)  God demonstrated His power and Presence that day by sending fire from Heaven that burnt up the sacrifice Elijah had prepared before the assembly.  The false gods were exposed as nothing. That generation returned to worshiping the Lord, but history tells us that it was not very long before the same sins cropped up again.  The lesson – each day has its own victories.

Know this, too. Secondary choices in our Christian life follow the primary one – choosing Christ as LORD. We cannot fragment ourselves and give Him only parts of life. The greatest joy of Christ can only be found if we desire to make Him Lord of all. When we run up against an attitude, a value, a thought, a habit that stubbornly resists yielding to His will, we find strength in honest confession, without excuse.  If we blame our culture, our parents, our church, our spouse … or the Devil … for our choice, we become a victim. If we acknowledge the gap, truthfully acknowledging both our sin and our weakness, God promises not only forgiveness but to make us overcomers. Yes, the battle is real.

Here is a word from the Word. It was David’s prayer. He knew the struggle. I’m making it mine. Will you make it yours?

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:11-12, NIV)

And the Lord’s promise is this – “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20, NIV)

_______

BE YE GLAD! (A great song of hope. Listen for a few moments and take hope)

In these days of confused situations
In this night of a restless remorse
When the heart and the soul of a nation
Lay wounded and cold as a corpse
From the grave of the innocent Adam
Comes a song bringing joy to the sad
Oh, your cry has been heard and the ransom
Has been paid up in full, be ye glad

Oh, be ye glad
Oh, be ye glad
Every debt that you’ve ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord
Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.

You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they’ve had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.

So be like lights on the rim of the water
Giving hope in a storm sea of night
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter
Of these fugitives in their flight
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle
You are winsome and young as a lad
And there is no disease or no struggle
That can pull you from God, be ye glad

Oh, be ye glad
Oh, be ye glad
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord
Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad

Michael Kelly Blanchard © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

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