One thing I can speak about well from a whole lot of experience is the heavy price I pay when I choose to follow self. Holding onto control in a whole lot of areas of my life brought me to a place of complete weariness and defeat. I was being ruled by fear and self-doubt and not walking in victory in Christ.
Self is a whole lot heavier to carry than the cross. When we carry our cross we crucify our flesh. Our flesh weighs a whole lot and as we shed the dead weight (because make no mistake, our flesh is death not life) we become light; we become free and we can “mount up on wings as eagles.” We will “run and not grow weary…walk and not faint.” As our flesh is crucified, our infilling of the Holy Spirit increases and the Holy Spirit has no weight. He’s weightless! He’s the wind that lifts us up and propels us forward through His invisible power.
As we enter this new year there is this thing we all do where we examine our life. Like a grocer or any retail store worker we take a look at the shop and assess, “I need more of this and less of that.” Whether we make official resolutions or not, I think we’re all taking stock of our lives and viewing the new year as our chance for a reset….a fresh start. In the taking stock, we often set lofty goals. We want to make changes. Common goals for me in the past have been….lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, be more patient with my family, be more organized and efficient, love more, pray more, etc. The common denominator with all of these is that they all require more self-discipline.
One major Word of knowledge God blessed me with in 2016 is that I am powerless to transform myself. In my own strength I conform, but as I have surrendered area after area of my life, I’ve experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of Christ. As I seek first the Kingdom of God, He takes care of the rest of my needs. As I repent for sin, cry out for mercy and take the gift of grace granted through Jesus Christ who died for my sins, I can become who God created me to be.
Meditating on this past year, I recall how far the Lord has brought me and I can see that only when I truly surrendered to Him and got honest with myself and Him, crying out in repentance did dramatic transformation occur in my life. I’m reminded of where the Lord had me back on September 15th and that was only 3 1/2 months ago! Like David in Psalm 51 after falling into sin with Bathsheba, I was crying out to be transformed. David recognized he could not transform himself and Psalm 51 is a roadmap for true repentance and transformation. I find it very noteworthy that even David spoke of the Holy Spirit. In verses 11 and 12 David said, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”
Going into this next year, we are all anticipating new things…change for the better. We won’t be able to reach our goals without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We can only endure what this world has to throw at us…only be strong enough, wise enough and surrendered enough to be who God calls us to be through the leading of and obedience to the Holy Spirit. But I warn you, you can’t remain with the Holy Spirit and stay in your comfort zones. “The Spirit is never static. Never standstill. Like the wind, the Spirit always moves,” says Ann Voscamp in her book Thousand Gifts Devotional.
The more we crucify our flesh, the more filled with the Holy Spirit we become, so my New Year’s advice for you my friends is this: Crucify your flesh and cry out to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because apart from his power, we can anticipate an exhausting, frustrating and striving year.
So this is my strategy for success this year:
I’m laying every area of weakness before King Jesus and submitting them to Him. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can I transform into who He calls me to be. “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord.” ~ Zachariah 4:6
Lord, as I enter this new year, let the good work you began in me continue to be completed. Show me the areas where I am being ruled by my flesh and give me courage to crucify my flesh through repentance and obedience. Fill me more and more with your Holy Spirit….more of you God…..less of me. Mount me up on your wings as an eagle and let’s fly together Lord, and may I be a living testimony of your greatness and goodness God!
Scriptures for Meditation
~ Psalm 51:
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:8
~ Isaiah 40:29-31:
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.