Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!
Just five days after Jesus was welcomed by the people in the event that would one day be known as the triumphant entry, the Lord is in the garden challenged by His Flesh to abandon His Future. The substance of faith and confident hope hung in the balance that day as our Savior and Lord prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Those who had followed the Lord throughout His Ministry witnessing firsthand all of the signs, wonders and miracles comparative to their historic teaching as Children of Israel completely missed the significance of the moment succumbing to stress rather than reaching deep within to press on. The Lord told the men that his “soul was crushed with grief to the point of death” yet they would not bother to inconvenience themselves enough to stay awake and pray. Don’t judge them too harshly. Our turn is coming. Jesus surrendered in that moment to the Will of God the Father when He said, “Yet I want your Will to be done, not mine.” Such an acknowledgment to the Lord does not end the battle but most often sets off a war. Human beings are not given to submission and pride does not allow for surrender rallying against such behavior every step of the way. But those who choose to be victorious must come to understand today that the struggle is real!
To have a willing spirit is one thing, but to be strong enough to walk God’s Way and submit to His Will is completely different. Our flesh is weak. Our body is weak. We are tempted at every turn to settle for lesser things, give up on God’s Best, and quit trying to do the Will of God and have His Promises. Jesus did not ask the men to pray for Him, but it says, “Keep watch and pray, so that YOU will not give in to temptation.” The Lord knew what was coming. There was no way to stop it. It would be a terrible tragedy that would result in a triumphant return. Jesus was not concerned so much about His Own Plight but the struggle of those who would be left behind.
John 17:9-15 (NLT)
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”
When Jesus was physically here, He offered human protection to His People by the Power of His Name. Jesus knew, of course, that His Time here was drawing to a close. He would die and offer salvation to the world. But would they accept? In doing so, each one would have His Spirit to guide and protect them from here to Eternity. But without such a helper, He knew the weakness of their flesh would quickly overpower their spirit. Those who belong to Jesus will be subject to warfare. If you are not engaged in a battle with your flesh, then most likely you are not being real with yourself. All Children of God must struggle to overcome their flesh if they want to live by His Spirit.
I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
God is faithful. He will always show you a way through temptation so that you will be able to endure. If we are not challenged in following in the footsteps, I dare say that we have quite possibly wandered off course. God’s Way is always contradictory to man’s way. His Spirit guides us from glory to glory that is impossible outside of a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ. But the enemy tempts us with religious attitudes and restrictive behavior calling it godliness and righteousness when the only way to be like God is through Jesus Christ and faith in Him is the only requirement for righteousness. To stand strong in our own strength is the greatest lie of all for it is when we are weak that we become strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Who wants to be weak to find true strength? No one who lives in the flesh. Human flesh demands its own way and demands gratification and comfort in this life. Self-entitlement comes forth from a selfish soul bent on compromise and substitutions if that is what it takes to be temporary satisfied. In most cases, we trample through God’s Grace and the Blood of Jesus thinking that is what is for. So we can live in our weakness and make it through life living however we choose and accepting less than God’s Very Best. When facing insults, hardships, persecutions, troubles and the like, we cry out to the Lord for His Mercy and Grace to ease our burden and suffering. Disinterested in the Will of God, we cry out simply to be rescued from discomfort, discontentment, discouragement and defeat only to never truly seek the Lord wholeheartedly but use His Grace as an excuse to remain weak and misguided. The devil is a liar. He has one purpose. He wants to destroy you. He will rob, steal, kill, and make you suffer in an attempt to turn you from Christ and keep you from His Grace. The enemy hates you but is not about enticing and romancing you to lure you into temptation. The greatest temptation of all is to walk in our way and never fully repent turning to follow Jesus. His Grace is all that I need. It is a safe place to store my faith so that confident hope can be produced that leads to prosperity. The very thing that I seek to satisfy my soul and all its longings cannot be found in this world but in one man, Jesus Christ. My weakness allows the Power of Christ to come in me, work through me and overflow from my life. I saw a t-shirt that said, “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” Now I know what that meant to the owner and watching world, but to me it tells a different story. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. The harder that I try to work out the details good or bad in my life, the less likely I am to surrender to the Grace of God and His Righteousness found only in Jesus. It is okay to feel weak and even to admit it to the Lord. In fact, it is a requirement for true righteousness and genuine faith. These are the qualities that produce a solid stand for the Lord. It has little or nothing to do with me but fully relies on Christ. All I can do is come which means surrendering my will, mind, and emotions especially me heart to fully accept His Power in my life.
Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Thank God for the honesty of Paul who admits that even when he wanted to do what is right, he inevitably ended up doing what is wrong. To love God’s Law with all of our heart means to embrace it. All of it. I am married. If I keep part of my vows but refuse to keep them all there will most definitely be a breach in our relationship. I must overcome the temptation to have my way all the time in order to walk with my husband. Our walk with the Lord is no different. It takes a concentrated effort to follow His Voice, listen to His Word, and obey His Commands not because we have to but because we want His Will in our life. We desire all the benefits of the Cross enough to pursue them wholeheartedly. We will always be at war with ourselves that is the purpose of endurance to keep turning back when our flesh gets us turned around and submitting more and more of our life to the Grace, Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ. We will never be fully free from sin outside of Jesus Christ and the day of redemption. Until then, it will remain a struggle in our life.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
I know you are weary. I know that you want to give up. I know the fight is hard. I know the struggle is real. But I also know that God is good. I know that when Jesus accepted God’s Will that led Him to the Cross, it was for me. It would be the strength that overcomes my weakness. Jesus overcame the world. He was tempted so that I would be able to find my way out by His Example. He is the one who initiates and perfects my faith. I can do nothing worthwhile, good or beneficial outside of His Power that lives in me. I just have to keep trying. I must never let go of my faith no matter how hard the enemy fights to take it replacing it with fear. I cannot allow my mind to be distracted by doubt as the enemy tries to fill my head with his lies and threats. God is good. He has good things in store for me. This allows me to accept His Grace knowing that He is working every detail in my life for good. All I must do is win the struggle to surrender and give all of my life to Jesus Christ. It says in Luke 22:43, that when Jesus accepted God’s Will over his own that an angel of the Lord came to strengthen Him. This is a promise for us, too. In surrender, God meets us there. He strengthens us to take just one more step of faith. Each morning He gives us new mercy for all the times that we try and fail so we can try one more time. Instead of adding new weight and responsibilities called for by religion, I am told to strip off every weight that keeps me from running the race. The Lord has promised that He will carry my burdens in exchange for His Yoke that is easy and light. I am wrestling with the world for my faith but I am struggling with myself. I win when I give up and surrender all that I am to all that He is. Do not take it lightly my friend, this struggle is real. But the ones who endure to the end with faith in hand will be saved. Don’t feel guilty. There is no need to be ashamed. His Grace is enough. His Mercy is new each morning. You will overcome just don’t give up. If you are breathing, there is still a chance to have God’s Promises and live a prospering life. The Lord is not finished with you yet, so why are giving up? He made your life be enough to fulfill His Purpose and Plan but you must still live in the moment. The struggle is real. End the struggle. Accept all of Jesus and demand less of you.
O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me.