I ate too much one night last week—WAY TOO MUCH! And it came back to bite me, to burn, and act like a volcano within me. Well, it was Taco Tuesday, and I love tacos, and hot sauce (though the feeling does not appear to be mutual!).
I really struggle with the “I feels…” …like eating more tacos than I should …or thinking the best way to relax is to sit in front of the television …or wandering around on social media (my latest addiction: Pinterest) – and I am so adept at finding ways to justify my “addictions”!
The apostle Paul wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. … You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:5-6, 9).
In the preceding chapter (Romans 7), Paul delineates the struggle we all (whether we admit it or not) have against the sin that resides within us, our human nature or “flesh”. Past religious teaching, my upbringing in a rather dubious and somewhat cultic denomination, implied that we could, somehow, overcome our sinful nature by adhering to laws, or “the law”, if you will—the problem is that legalism can only change behavior, it doesn’t touch the nature of sin that is ours through the original sin. However, we can confess our sin, and rejoice with the apostle Paul in declaring, “Wretched man [woman] that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
Which brings me back to our mindset, where we choose to focus our attention, …or, “[our] attitude, disposition, or mood” … “The ideas and attitudes with which a person approaches a situation, esp. when these are seen as being difficult to alter” … “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations” … and, “An inclination or a habit” (from Dictionary.com).
There are many ways to approach life and the circumstances that surround us every day; and learning to walk in the Spirit is a growing process. It is easy to revert to the “flesh”, my natural inclinations, attitudes, and habits in response to the things that seem to overwhelm me (even restlessness and boredom seem overwhelming sometimes!).
But we are cautioned, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Romans 3:2-3
Soooo, all of that to get to the prayer I read from one of my journals the other day that, among other things, includes a paragraph about responding to life with one of the many substitutes available (alcohol) for living life the way we are called—walking in the Spirit…
Father, thank you for your Word; thank you for your Spirit and truth. Teach me, Lord; establish your wisdom deep within my soul. Help me to comprehend the spiritual realities of the scriptures that extend them beyond being wise sayings written down centuries ago to expressions of your wisdom, relevant to my life today.
Lord, it is easy to be led astray by alcohol—your Word doesn’t forbid an occasional glass of wine, though the Holy Spirit admonishes through the apostle Paul, “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). There are times of stress or fatigue when it is easy to say, “I need a drink”, when in reality, what we need is to seek you, to be filled with your Spirit. Convict your people when the promises of wine or string drink lure us away from intimacy with you; instead, help us to recognize our need to seek you for peace and restoration. Grant us discernment to recognize that wine is a mocker, and quicken our hearts to pursue you to meet the needs of our souls.
Jesus, you are my King, the ultimate authority in my life. Help me to live with integrity on earth, praying for the leaders of this country, respecting their authority and acknowledging your sovereignty.
Guide the hearts of your people away from strife; help us to avoid quarreling. Train your children to work with diligence to accomplish your purposes for us in every season of our lives.
Grant me discernment, O God; protect me from evil people and shelter my life from the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.
No one can make their own heart pure; nothing can cleanse our lives from sin except for the redeeming blood of Jesus. Thank you, Lord God my Savior, for your incredible, amazing gift. Continue to wash me with your Spirit and your Word—purify the motives and attitudes of my heart, I pray. Open my ears to hear your voice and my eyes to recognize your ways.
I ask, Father, for a family heritage of integrity, that my children and grandchildren would choose to live as your children, with pure and upright conduct. Keep them in your love, your grace, and the power of your Holy Spirit.
Help us to be careful in all our personal interactions. Keep us from dishonesty or attempting to take advantage of others. If someone manipulates or takes advantage of us, help us to be quick to forgive, recognizing that you take care of your children and provide all that we need.
Encourage me to be careful about my words, Lord; to seek knowledge and to speak with wisdom. Teach me to recognize slander before I utter it—let your Spirit convict me when I am inclined to slip into simple babbling.
Remove every inclination towards revenge or retribution from our hearts. Remind your people of the injustices you suffered for our sakes and help us to forgive as you forgive all those who receive you. Encourage us to trust you in every one of life’s circumstances, recognizing that you order our steps—and you are aware of the difficult people and situations we encounter. Help us, Holy Spirit, to live with integrity in all our ways.
Endow your people with wisdom to manage the resources you have entrusted to us, and opportunities to use the gifts with which you have enriched our lives. Search our hearts and bring light to the hidden attitudes and motives that do not honor you—may we respond with humility and cooperation to your conviction and discipline, O Lord.
You alone, O God, are righteous—steadfast love and faithfulness come only from your throne; I owe all my worship and allegiance to you. Your majesty and dominion are everlasting, and I belong to you! Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.