I was looking through my notes on messages I have wanted to teach on and ran across this one that I actually meant to post some time ago. As with all things though, when you “try” to serve the Lord and follow His Holy Spirit, His timing is always best. What made this stand out is that as I was reading various Blogs today, a theme of spiritual battle seemed to be threading its way in many of the articles I read. So, when I seen this one, still unused, I had to address it for very practical reasons. Remember, the Scriptures are a guide to us and it isn’t just a matter of reading them, or memorizing them, but actually applying them into our lives. Well, here is one of those very real practical reasons!
I want to share something with all of you that you may be experiencing or may have experienced from time to time and especially as you continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your service to the Lord and to His creation.
Now, understand that this is from my experience and the experiences from some of my peers over the years as we have discussed this among ourselves. I can’t say I have any Scriptures to back this up although I have many in mind that COULD be used, I just shy away from trying to make the Scriptures fit my “theories” rather than my experiences lining up with Scripture.
From comments and emails I have receive, many of you may have noticed that after an extremely worshipful day, or a time when you wrote something that seemed to come from your very core, your inner spirit, that you felt you needed to take a couple days to yourself, or a day or so from writing. Especially those who blog, you may have brought out something that you have done in the past to keep your posts going, or you just feel you need to take a short break from the Blog itself.
Now I would imagine that several of you who are still teaching/preaching from the pulpit can attest to this fact and you may already know what I am going to bring up. The truth of the matter is that when we surrender ourselves to the will of the Lord through the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is an “unnatural” thing to do in the sense that our flesh, the human nature is always fighting with our spiritual side to gain ascendance. It is a battle we will fight until the Lord calls us home to be with Him! Indeed, it is a real battle that goes on.
The flesh IS weak, there is no question for those of you who have been serving the Lord for some time. We can be strong in the spirit because of the Holy Spirit equipping us as vessels to complete what His will is. We see this in a real-life situations where there appears to be a oneness with the messages being taught from day to day. It is obvious if you read various blogs that there is at times a definite thread or theme that the Lord is putting forth for all those He has led to those posts! Remember, these lessons are still there and working in those whom the Lord brings to read each of those posts; HIS job is not finished, whereas ours is laid out in print already.
I learned this years ago when I started teaching from behind the pulpit and especially as I spent time in prayer and meditation in preparation for the lesson/message. The day after, I was always wiped out (it seemed both mental and physical) and the thing is, I noticed it especially as I also had a full-time secular job as well. It was all I could do at times to get through the next couple of days after delivering an anointed message. Mind you, I didn’t hit the “anointed” mark every time, but that was my goal and the more prayer and meditation went into a message, the more it seemed to mentally and physically take a lot out of me.
I had and have since those early times, talked with Pastors and teachers about it and the response, I guess not so surprising, was varied. Some definitely knew what I was referring too and others thought it might be all in my head!! (And that’s to put it ever so nicely!).
The truth is our flesh is in a constant state of warfare against our spirit (according to many of the Apostles writings) and when our spirit wins, the flesh feels it. Now as time and experience go by, it doesn’t affect you quite as much, because like a soldier or an athlete, you become more conditioned with time, but it DOES affect you none-the-less. I guess that is why when I did talk with so many of my peers, brothers and sisters, that some were aware of the situation and some had never given it any thought. This is why in the past when the Lord would bring someone my way to disciple, I always made it a part of my teaching so they would be prepared if it did happen to them, and I have only met one other Pastor/Minister who ever mentioned it to those he was shepherding.
Part of it goes hand in hand with the way the flesh is, but also the way the enemy tries to attack after what could be considered a spiritual victory. It is one of the reasons why we need as servants/ministers of the Lord to remember the danger of pride and/or arrogance. The enemy of our souls will latch on to that faster than anything and this is something that many who are leading a congregation, whether it be teaching, leading worship or doing the actual preaching, probably experience when so many want to congratulate you on a good service.
I shared something with a brother from another Blog that I follow, that I have kept on my desk for years, and it helps me to remember that I am JUST the vessel. I am the messenger and NOT the message!
It goes like this:
RELIGION says: I do the work, I get the credit and God accepts it!
CHRISTIANITY says: God does the work, God gets the credit and I accept it!
It is the difference between recognizing our place in the Lord and protecting ourselves against pride and remaining humble in our service to others. As true ministers/servants of the Word, we do what the Holy Spirit leads us to do (and this applies to any ministry/spiritual gift!) and the Holy Spirit does the work. He leads those whom He wants blessed/served and HE and HE alone works on their hearts! Man in general, the flesh does NOT want to accept that. That is where surrender has to be willingly given to the Lord. That is where true Godly Love comes into play in real demonstration and action. You love the Lord and you love those you are serving!
So, I just want you to know that it IS the natural order of things that when you have fought in the spirit, there is a time needed for refreshing. Jesus constantly took Himself aside from the disciples after spiritual warfare, whether He was speaking to the crowds or feeding the crowds and in see it in the examples listed in the Gospels so that He COULD be in communion with His Father, and we need at times to follow that same example. Don’t be upset or concerned if you have that “after-victory let-down” for a day or so. Your spirit is alive and rearing to go, but the flesh is saying, “hold on a minute!” Jesus touched on this in the Garden of Gethsemane when He stated to Simon Peter, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mark 14:38.
This also brings me to another point I want to make and it’s about temptation, though my main goal here is to encourage you if you feel weak after a victory; remember, the enemy will use victorious times to ALSO tempt you. In the flesh we ARE weak after a victory but also susceptible to pride; it is a perfect time to stay on your guard, for as Peter has written, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9. I am sure he may have been thinking back to that Garden incident when he wrote these verses!
The more intimate you become with the Lord and the more surrendered you are, the more you DO, the more you may sense the battle but also the stronger you will become. Don’t let the enemy beat you over the head with false accusations about how weak you are, in the flesh, we KNOW just how weak we are. Our strength IS and ALWAYS will be in the Lord!! Remember this passage from one of my favorite Epistles of the Bible, the Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:4b, “because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” My prayer, my hope is that as you continue to serve you recognize the awesome blessings of total surrender.
In closing I want to leave you with some words of the Apostle Paul that are also fitting in these types of circumstances:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
God bless greatly, all you who continue to persevere and continue to serve the Lord AND others despite how you may feel! LOVE is NEVER untimely!!