Chapter 8 Overcoming the impossible, Just for Today
One of my biggest problems was to bite off more than I could chew. Many times I have folded under the pressure of going to fast and attempting too much at once. Instead of making small achievable goals and taking one small step at a time, I would over exert myself and then fall flat on my face.
I have finally learned how to reduce the anxiety and pressure of life, by focusing only on what “Today” brings me. In this Chapter I will discuss how God expects us to obey his impossible commands with just simple faith and how crucial it is to learn how to live in the presence of each day, “just for today,” rather than being crushed by the enormous pressures of future anticipations. I will also emphasize how crucial it is to develop “daily” discipline, and continue to grow in the power and knowledge of God.
How to obey God’s impossible commands, just for TODAY:
Some of God’s teachings seem unreasonable at first, but I’ve accepted the fact that I may never fully understand, at first, why God tells me to do something. It has become very clear to me, however, that I must force myself to trust and follow his teachings anyway. I can’t be motivated to obey God by the satisfaction of having all the answers first. I have made a total commitment to God and now I understand what Job was talking about when he says, “even if he slays me, I will serve him.” (Job 13:15) This “total commitment” has helped me overcome some of the weak areas of my faith, such as believing and obeying some of God’s seemingly impossible commands. The more I trust and believe God’s Word, the more intimate I become with him, even if I don’t understand what he is doing to me.
Be perfect and stop sinning:
One of the most difficult teachings of Jesus is for us to “Stop Sinning” and “Be Perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) Even though Jesus commands us to “STOP SINNING,” it seems impossible to obey, because all we see in our lives is our inability to be perfect. When all we “see” are our character flaws, how can we even try to be perfect?
The bible teaches us that everyone stumbles and makes mistakes, especially me. (James 3:2) It also teaches us to not think more highly of ourselves than we should. (Rom. 12:3) Anyone who thinks they are perfect is more than likely deceiving himself. Why then, would Jesus command us to “be perfect and to stop sinning.” How do we reconcile this issue? There must be a good reason why God expects us to obey this outrageous command.
When I think about trying to be perfect for God, I instantly think about how far away from perfection that I am and begin to crumble at the very notion. It is crucial to remember two very important points before disregarding or attempting to obey this seemingly impossible commandment of God. 1) It is only by the power of God within us that we can overcome all our weaknesses. We can NOT do it on our own. 2) God is telling us to aspire to become like him. He knows that we are going to make mistakes along the way, but he wants us to grow and continue to make diligent effort towards spiritual perfection anyway. He wants us to believe and try to be perfect like him, not act as though its impossible and become lackadaisical about it.
Only by the Power of God:
The key here is, once again, do we have “Faith” in God? Do we believe that God has the power to change us or not? It is crucial that we examine our faith on this issue to determine if we are relying on God properly. If we believe that God has the power to change us and he lives inside us, then we should be able to understand that it is by his power that we are able to do what he teaches. We must realize that God himself is at work inside us, performing his holy works of faith. (Gal. 2:20)
He is the one who provides the power to transform all our weaknesses into his strength. All we have to do is believe, submit and follow him. Over time and through many experiences, God will prune the dead unproductive traits from our lives, as he builds and cultivates the qualities of his character in our hearts. He is transforming us into his holy children.
As God’s children, we have inherited a measure of his power and authority which we are expected to live by. We will learn how to apply these godly traits more as our relationship with God grows and our faith increases. Once we learn how to live in the power of God, we will be able to overcome all our weaknesses, as well as obey all his Teachings, even the difficult ones.
Even though it is all God’s power that changes us, he still requires us to use our faith and cooperate with him. We are allowing him to transform our lives when we simply believe and obey his teachings. As long as we submit and rely on God’s Spirit and power to be our strength, we have nothing to worry about, but as soon as we try to be perfect and stand on our own strength, we will fail miserably. It may take years of failing, but if we “DO” the best that we can by never giving up, then we will be pleasing to God and increasing spiritually towards perfection.
Make a diligent effort:
God expects us to trust, believe and follow what he says, even if we don’t understands what he’s doing. Although God’s final intention is to perfect us by his power and Spirit, he knows that it will take time. He understand that we will make many mistakes along the way. Regardless of our personal limitations, God desires for us to “DO” what he is teaching and cooperate with his Spirit.
When God commands us to “stop sinning and be perfect,” he expects us to do our absolute best, by attempting to walk in the direction of his Word. God knows that we can not “be perfect” without him, but he will test our hearts to measure our faithful efforts. He wants to see how much we will try to obey him. That’s why the Bible says if we judge ourselves we will not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31) If we are performing with a pure heart and trying our best to obey God, we will surely correct our own mistakes and be diligent to walk as he teaches. This will show God how faithful we are to his ways and prevent him from having to judge and correct us.
When we faithfully attempt to obey what seems to be impossible, God is very pleased with our efforts, because we are acting in faith. God is stretching and building our faith every time he pushes the limits of what we can believe. He is satisfied by our faithfulness to do what he says, even if we fall short and fail. He wants us to prove our faith and love for him by diligently following his teachings, no matter how difficult they may appear.
This is when God’s power begins to move on our behalf. When we “Do” all we can do, to the limits of our faith, then God will pour out his amazing miracle working power and make possible the things that we could never do on our own. He transforms our weak faith into his strength and supplies us with everything we are missing. The moment we mix our faith with “real effort” God will begin to build up and increase our inner “spirit man.” This is how we grow in the Spirit.
Our efforts to follow and obey God are crucial in proving that we love him. Jesus said “if you love me” you will keep my commandments. If we are not committed to God, even when we are suffering or confused about something, then we are not really committed to God. We must demonstrate, by our actions, what we “say we believe.” God loves it when we mix our faith with actions, but we must learn how to reasonably manage our attempts to obey God and not be overly zealous. I am having to learn how to manage my passion for God, while I remain patient in the progress that I am making. (James 2:20-22)
Just for today:
My life can be like trying to eat an extra large pizza in only 3 minutes. It’s impossible without vomiting my guts out. But if I realize that I have all week to finish the pizza, I can begin to slowly manage and consume it without getting sick. I always fail when I try to achieve too much to quickly. Thank God, I am learning how to live in the moment of “Today,” and only chew on one mouthful of challenges at a time.
The concept of living “Just for Today” is a beautiful way to manage the overwhelming burdens of life. Living for “Today” only, allows me to confront the seemingly impossible challenges without suffocating. The notion that I can take just a small slice of my worries and chew only on one mouthful at a time, has given me a more reasonable perspective.
When we learn to walk in the moment of “today,” we are learning to properly allocate our problems and solutions for each new day, rather than allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by tomorrows anxieties. We carry only today’s load, by taking small manageable steps that are achievable and reasonable.
Success and victory will come by steadily moving forward, little by little, and slowly making real progress that will last. If we continue to take small steps each day to improve our lives, we will be victorious “today“ and everyday, even though we may still have an enormous journey ahead of us. These small steps are perfectly pleasing to God, because they are done in faithful obedience to him. It doesn’t matter how far we have to go. What’s important is that we are “doing” what he has commanded us “today.” This is perfect obedience and perfect faith. (James 2:22)
When we hold onto what we have “Today” we will actually be securing our future promises for tomorrow. We look forward to future victories by following God with each small step that we take “Today.” When we do only what we need to do for “Today,“ we are on the right path to fulfill our destiny and we will be living in victory right “NOW.”
Developing daily disciplines
It is very crucial that we develop daily disciplines. No one will force us to do anything. We are responsible for our own lives and will have to learn how to train ourselves to practice living faithfully. If we do not force ourselves to do what we should, who will? I am going to discuss some vital concepts and practices that will draw us closer to God, build up our faith, give us spiritual strength and increase our mental and spiritual health.
Probably the most important daily practice for me is to “Totally Surrender” to God. I had never achieve any long lasting breakthroughs or victories in my life until I finally learned how to surrender my mind, heart and body to God. Everyday, I must live according to God’s Spirit, wisdom and knowledge and trust him to lead and direct me.
God understands our burdens, weaknesses and limitation because he has suffered and was tempted in his flesh also, but he set the perfect example by submitting completely to the Father. By totally surrendering to his Father, even unto death, he became victorious and inherited all things from the Father. We must follow Christ’s example and surrender our lives completely to God, then we will also be victorious in our lives and overcome death. (Rom. 12:1)
After we have established a firm commitment to surrender daily to God, then we must learn how to develop “Diligence.” Only those who learn how to be diligent in their efforts will ever experience real breakthroughs and victories in their lives. Even when I don’t “feel” like doing what I must, I have to make myself “Do” it anyway. Persistence, determination and motivation fuel my diligence, which is vital to maintaining my spiritual progress.
Diligence is what separates the strong from the weak, the wise from the foolish and the content from the poor. Setting small goals, working through the objectives, taking measurable steps and necessary actions towards progress, are all characteristics of a diligent and productive child of God.
Our diligent effort proves to God that we’re not lazy, but willing to “Do” what he says. Once again, we can’t overcome our weaknesses or be perfect without God, but through our diligent cooperation with him, we will see an increase of victory in our lives. It pleases God to see us follow his teachings with the highest level of effort and walk worthy as his children.
After daily surrendering to God and maintaining a diligent effort to follow him, the next important discipline is to practice “Self-Examination.” We must be able to determine if we are “doing” what we are supposed to be “doing.” We need to evaluate our lives in order to measure whether or not we are being productive or allowing ourselves to fall backwards.
In the process of transformation, I must be constantly aware of my attitude and efforts to cooperate with God. As he teaches and guides me, I should be able to recognize whether or not I am learning and following him with my best effort. If I notice that I have become lazy and irresponsible, then I must be ready to discipline myself and correct my behavior. The Bible teaches us that if we “Judge” ourselves, we will not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31)
This will take time to develop and execute with precision, but God is the one increasing our abilities. He will show us our weakness when we learn how to evaluate our lives through the eye of his Spirit, we will begin to understand more clearly the spiritual things that God is working on inside us. We will be able to see things that we could not see on our own.
This will take an enormous amount of sacrificial honesty about ourselves, which can only be possible by our willingness to surrender our whole lives to God. Any amount of selfishness or self-centeredness will block our understanding and spiritual perception of ourselves. But if we are pure in our hearts towards God, then he will show us amazing things that we could have never known without him. He will guide our minds and put new desires, thoughts and words into our hearts. Then we will be able to compare our old ways to God’s new teachings and make better decisions.
We must constantly be aware of the internal conflict between the Spirit and flesh, so that we can quickly manage our old impulsive self-destructive behaviors when God points them out. They will not be able to easily hid and secretly destroy us from within, because the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see them clearly. We will be able to properly disperse any threats that jeopardize our purity, because we are closely monitoring our hearts everyday. After we have examined ourselves closely through the Holy Spirit, the next step is to immediately confess and repent from any impurities that we find.
Confession and Repentance:
Unfortunately, even though God is gradually transforming us, we will still make many mistakes and stumble along the way. “Confession and “Repentance” are very powerful practices that keep us from becoming entangled by our old habits and continuing to grow in our relationship with God. That’s why it is essential that we examine our lives carefully. We can avoid stumbling into serious trouble by immediately confessing our weaknesses to God and then repenting from them.
After we examine ourselves through the Spirit of God, we will notice many weaknesses. We can either pretend that they don’t exist or we can confess them to God. When we confess our weaknesses, we expose and bring attention to them. This will diffuse any potential strongholds from developing and making it much easier to repent.
We must immediately call upon God for help. He will help us overcome even our minor problems so they will not spread like cancer, but we have to be honest and confess them. This kind of diligent effort comes from a pure heart and shows God that we are willing to embrace his holiness, rather than make excuses for our sins.
Confession also keeps us from falling into self-deception. Unfortunately, I became very good at hiding my sins and allowing them to develop strong chains of deception around my neck. Instead of being honest and confessing them, I would either convince myself that I didn’t have to worry about those “little problems,” or I would completely pretend that they didn’t exist. (Prov. 28:13) How was I ever going to repent or change if I remained in this condition?
After we confess our weakness they will lose their power over us, because we are not hiding them. It will then become much easier for us to repent and follow God. “Repenting” means to turn away from something and go in the opposite direction. I am constantly repenting from things in my life; sometimes all day long. This keeps me on the right path and growing in the Spirit of God.
We simply confess our mistakes, say we are sorry, and remain firmly established in our spiritual grow program without any hindrance. We stop the sinful action immediately. We can not afford to let too much time pass before we take these action steps. We must immediately “Do” this or we will fall backwards. If we don’t immediately manage our mistakes, we will be allowing just enough time to pass for our hearts to become hardened. Once our hearts get cold and hard on a particular matter, it will take a long time to work through it again. I have learned to quickly deal with my issues, so I can prevent this from happening.
There are days when I struggle to walk worthy of God’s calling. It seems like every thought, word and action comes from a dark place in my past. I have learned that these days will happen less and less as I mature in the Spirit of God. It can be very challenging when all I “see” is failure, but I must make myself press through and overcome with my faith.
Sometimes, I spend all day confessing my weaknesses and repenting, but the more I practice holiness the easier it get. It is challenging and uncomfortable to confess, repent and walk holy for God, but I can not afford to be irresponsible anymore. It is best for me to practice diligence in this area, instead of allowing myself to develop a hard callused heart. Once my heart is stubborn and rebellious it takes an act of God to correct me. I don’t want to suffer and go through the chastisement process if I can just simply correct my own behavior early. (1 Cor. 11:31)
Growing in the knowledge of God
It is extremely important that we continue to “Grow in the Knowledge of God” everyday. The stronger our relationship with God, the more knowledge, wisdom and understanding he will add to our lives. Subsequently, our behaviors and choices will be influenced by his Holy Spirit and we will live like “the sons of God.”
That is why it is important that we surrender to God and develop spiritual disciplines in our lives. If we stop growing in our relationship with God, our access to God’s Spirit, power and knowledge will decrease, we will literally wither up and die. (John 15:5-6) The knowledge of God is nourishment for our spirits and we must diligently seek after it like food. We can not survive without our “Daily Bread” from God. Jesus told us to seek a fresh portion of God’s Daily Bread everyday, because we desperately depend on it. (Matt. 6:11)
“Daily bread” is everything we need to stand firm and overcome this world. Our “daily bread” from God is a supply of the heavenly gifts and treasures needed for spiritual warfare, as well as a fresh portion of wisdom, knowledge, and power, which is perfectly measured out to us for each new day‘s tasks. Because everyone’s needs are different, God will supply each of us with just the right amount of nourishment for that particular day; not too much and not too little.
Our daily portions are measured perfectly for us, so that we will always depend on our heavenly Father for each new day’s supply. This will prevent us from wandering off to far from his source of nourishment. All we have to do is go to God everyday and ask him to feed us. When we pray, read and meditate on God’s Word, he is more than generous to supply us with everything we need. (James 1:5, Prov. 2:3, Hosea 4:6)
If we ignore the need for God’s daily bread, we will suffer severely and eventually starve our spirits for what they need. God warns us that we will be destroyed without his knowledge. We will grow weak, lose focus, and fall backwards into perpetual self-destruction. But, if we are growing in the knowledge of God, we will increase in his power and continue to overcome the challenges of our flesh and this evil world. We will have everything we need so that we can live holy like the children of God should. (Col. 1:9-10, 2 Peter 2:1, Hosea 4:6, Prov. 2:3)
Prayer and Fasting
These next two practices are extra important if we want to mature spiritually and strengthen our relationship with God. If we are going to overcome all our challenges we will need to develop the disciplines of “Praying and Fasting.”
It should be obvious to the reader that developing a strong prayer life is essential to communicating with God. As simple as it is, many of us fail to pray properly. The two biggest problems with praying are how little time we pray and what we are focused on. Let’s take a look at what Jesus teaches about prayer.
How to Pray:
Jesus set the standard when he taught us how to pray. Keep in mind that we do NOT merely repeat the words themselves, but use them as a model for our own personal unique prayers to God. (Matt. 6:9-13) The first thing Jesus told us to do when we start to pray is to honor God, but instead we are usually focused on our own needs. The beginning of our prayers should always show respect and worship to God first. “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”(Matt. 6:9)
This is how we are supposed to address God when we come to him in prayer. Let us make sure that we respect and honor him as our God and not only as our personal “problem solver.” Again, do NOT just repeat the prayer and think that you are praying. That is NOT the point Jesus was making. It is simply a basic format for praying.
Next, we should find out what God wants for our lives, but instead we usually pray for our own desires and plans to be accomplished. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matt. 6“10) We should be more concerned about what God wants for our lives than asking him to “do something for us.” When we discover what God wants us to do then we will understand what our purpose for life is and we will prosper in everything that we do, because we are fulfilling his purpose for our lives. Too often we are praying for things that are leading us in the wrong direction.
Next, we are told to ask God for our “daily bread.” “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11) As we have already mentioned, it is crucial that we rely on God everyday to supply our needs. If we go one day without our spiritual nourishment we will suffer weakness and begin to deteriorate, whether we notice it or not. Sadly, most of the time we are asking for our material needs to be met, instead of seeking wisdom and patience for our lives.
Next, we are taught to seek forgiveness as we have forgiven others. “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12) If we are not properly examining our lives, we will not see our mistakes in order to confess them properly and ask for forgiveness. It is crucial that we remain humble and keenly aware of our weaknesses so that we can constantly seek forgiveness. Also, it is very critical that we understand that we can not be forgiven of our sins unless we forgive others.
This is a very serious problem that many need to resolve if they are going to have victory in their lives. So many people hold resentment, envy and grudges with others that their prayers are completely ineffective. Our spiritual growth and relationship with God will be hindered and damaged if we do not understand this truth. The Devil will keep us in bondage forever if we do not learn how to forgive EVERYONE in our lives. Please, examine yourself thoroughly and ask God to reveal any hidden darkness in your heart.
Next, Jesus taught us to pray that we will not be led into temptation. Many times I had waited too late, until I was already trapped in a stronghold or temptation before I would begin to cry out to God for help. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” (Matt. 6:13) This has been a serious problem for me. I am learning to prepare for trouble ahead of time by asking God to “lead me away” from things that may tempt me, instead of foolishly thinking that I can handle everything on my own.
Finally, the prayer ends by acknowledging God once again. “For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever, amen.” So you see that our prayers should begin and end by praising and honoring God. Since I have been practicing this format when I pray, my relationship with God is getting stronger and all my prayers eventually get answered, even though sometimes the answer is “no.”
The last discipline that I want to share with you is the most powerful. This book is too short to elaborate on all the immeasurable benefits of “Fasting,” but I will highlight the essential points for you. As powerful as “Fasting” is, I am not surprised that very few people practice it because it is very difficult.
Let’s take a look at what Jesus says about “fasting” in Matthew 17:21. (If your Bible does not have that verse, go find a more reliable Bible, such as the King James Version, the most reliable English translation available) Jesus taught us that some kinds of power and faith will only come to us “if we are praying and fasting.” That means we will be limited in our faith and God’s power if we do not practice “Fasting.” That is a very stunning statement to make. We should all be practicing “Fasting” to some degree if we want to increase and surpass our everyday normal spiritual abilities. It is the only way to achieve some of the breakthroughs and victories that some of us are looking for.
Methods of fasting:
There are many different method of fasting, but suffice it to say that “fasting” basically involves the practice of omitting food and/or water from your life for a designated period of time for some predetermined spiritual purpose. You can also fast using many other sacrifices as well, such as watching television, sports, music, coffee or whatever will be a sacrifice to surrender unto God for some predetermined spiritual purpose.
There are many spiritual reasons to fast. In the Bible we learn that people fast to repent from sins, to intensify a prayer request, to show how sorry they are, to get God to change his mind and to build up spiritual dedications and commitments. I personally fast for all the reasons. The whole point of fasting is to afflict our “Flesh” and humble ourselves before God in order to achieve a particular spiritual purpose.
There is something unique and spiritually significant that takes place when we are willing to deny our “Flesh.” Our spirits are magnified before God. We are able to engage the spiritual elements of God in a more powerful manner. When we make this sacrifice before God, we are saying to him that he is more important than the things of this world, even our own physical needs. When we do this with a pure heart, God recognizes our efforts and he draws closer to us. He hears us and responds in a mighty way.
When we practice fasting, we are diligently showing God that we are willing to “Do” anything for him. By afflicting our bodies and crucifying the flesh, we become poor and weak before God, demonstrating our dependency on his Spirit. We are crying out to God from the most inner parts of our souls. This is the most intense way to communicate to God.
The Bible tells us that God rewards those who diligently seek him and he saves those who are broken hearted. Jesus told us that the poor in spirit are blessed, because they will see God’s power. I feel closer to God when I humble myself and cry out to him in my weakness. I have seen many breakthroughs and victories in my life by “Fasting.” Do your research and start fasting as soon as you can. Begin with simple goals and grow in intensity over time. (Ps. 51:17, Matt. 17:21)
In conclusion, the impossible things of God become possible when we learn how to walk with him in the moment of each new day. As we practice our daily disciplines and grow in the knowledge of God, we will experience his transforming power and overcome all the obstacles in our lives. Next, we will compare the difference between knowing what to “Do” and actually “DOING” it.