Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When my husband travels on business, there is a definite shift in the atmosphere of our home. I am not afraid to be alone with our children. I am not really given to a spirit of fear. It is the absence of his covering as head of our home that I miss. His role is vital to the success of our family. When he is away, even for a short period of time, the order of our household is interrupted. The agenda and itinerary comes well in advance so plans are made and schedules reordered. However, the looming darkness overhead makes even the smallest inconvenience gain momentum in thought making it a much larger undertaking. I feel a sense of being overwhelmed although everything is under control.
Our commitment to Jesus Chris is much like the partnership of marriage. After all, we are the bride of Christ preparing for pending union coming soon. Daily we press in to know our Bridegroom more and more yet feeling the pressure of a world that would like to take the place of the Lover of our soul and prostitute our covenant with our One True Love. While He is away, preparing a place for us, we face daily pressures of compromise and substitutions freely offered in the absence of our Savior and Lord. At every opportunity, given a short cut, distraction or fast track to success that is not the prosperity offered by Jesus but a way to keep us from the Truth. I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. He took hold of you and me because He loved us with a love greater than death, jealousy as unyielding as the grave, blazing with the passion of a mighty flame that many waters could not quench nor rivers sweep away. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7) Are you pressing into the Love of God today? Do you know how much Jesus loves you? The Presence of God is the place that we experience God’s Love before we meet Him face-to-face. It is the place of communion with our First Love that allows us to release the weight of this world and escape the pressures of life.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
For those who choose to live by faith, there is a warning. To live in such a way is to look at our life compared to Eternity not the natural. If at any point, one begins to evaluate their position and pressure from a human standpoint – it will completely overwhelm them. See God’s Power alive and active in us draws us out into His Perfect Will according to His Plan which far exceeds what we can think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) If we try to see this from human perspective, it will overwhelm us in that moment because humanly it is impossible to do what the Spirit in us is capable of doing. It defies our humanity. It is illogical. His Love completely undoes us but when we live in His Presence – it does not matter because we just want, need and desire His Love.
The vessel that contains the Power of God is only human. We cannot escape our flesh yet so we must deal with it daily. Demanding submission and maintaining self-control are imperative because we will be hard pressed in life. The darkness tries to press in to extinguish the Light of God’s Love in us, but there is counter pressure by His Spirit working His Love inside of us so it will make its way out into the world. We live under tremendous pressure. Yet in all of the difficulties, struggles, circumstances, trails and tests undergone by believers pursuing faith and confident hope, one thing remains. He will never leave us or forsake us. It is up to us whether we embrace the Love of God each day or leave it behind for that which we can see, feel and touch.
Psalm 118:5-7 (NIV)
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
When hard pressed…you and I will encounter pressure in this life. The greatest will be that to give up or give in to the pressures of life that tell us to live for today. The Lord brought me into a spacious place. I believe that the Lord answers prayer. When we pray in accordance to His Will, it allows us a greater life than originally thought possible. Committing our life to know Him more changes our goals and aspirations from that of society to make this life better as we build a foundation of faith and hope for forever beginning today. Compare it the three little pigs story if you will, each giving what they would give who experienced consequences to their actions.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) I am a firm believer in sowing and reaping in life – naturally and spiritually. My mom told me over and over again that it was part of life. Now I have lived long enough to experience it. The premise of the benefits of sowing and reaping in the Kingdom are not like this world. We invest unconditional love becoming living sacrifices based on faith in God who we cannot see and confident hope that every single word that He spoke is true. It is in sowing our life into the Kingdom and reaping its reward with time that our faith becomes a reality and hope is secure. We must “endure” to the end. If there was not any pressure in life, Jesus would have used a different word.
Luke 8:43-48 (NIV)
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Everyone has issues. No one is perfect some just act like they are. The reality is that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Whether our struggle is physical, emotional, or spiritual, the Power of God is available to those who are willing to press. This woman would have been shunned from the Jewish community as unclean because she had an issue. When she heard about Jesus, she believed enough to go into the community that condemned her. Her condition surely weakened her to an anemic state which meant it took all that she had to muster up enough strength and stamina to press through the crowd that day. Though her body was in such a frail state, she would not be deterred. She didn’t need Jesus to speak to her. She didn’t need Him to touch her. She didn’t want any undue attention. She believed in a Lord and Savior who healed the sick, delivered the bound and forgave sins. She was convinced that if she could just touch the Lord and be in His Presence even if only by the hem of His Garment that she would be healed and she was.
What is your issue today? Are you thinking of giving up? Is the pressure too much for you to handle? Of course it is silly. The Power of God will always challenge the boundaries of our humanity. Is the life you are called to more than you can do? Absolutely. His Power is made complete in our weakness. God didn’t call us to be the strong one. He asked us to be completely surrendered to His Love. Our commitment to His Love will cause pressure in our life outwardly and inwardly that at times can be overwhelming. If we desire more faith, it will result in pressure that carries beyond where our feet can touch to a place beyond our ability and control. Hope creates a perspective that is high above the conditions of this world and looks to Heaven. When we look back over our shoulder at the past, it can be riveting to see how far the Lord has carried us and how far we could fall? See God is doing more in us than we can comprehend. His Plan is perfect even though we are not. You will be challenged every single day to stay in love with Jesus. To remain committed to your union in the midst of his physical absence. We have been given the privilege of His Presence. It is a place that we must go.
One thing is for sure during the Daniel Fast and intense time of prayer, the Lord is stirring up every insufficiency of faith in me. He is pressing me to evaluate what made me quit or give up in the past and decide if it will limit my future. It is uncomfortable. It is forcing a choice to compromise or change. I want change. More pressure. I am hard pressed today. Not because I want a hamburger, although I will admit it sounds good, but because I want more of Jesus. To have that which I desire will require more of me than I have ever given and to accept the pressure that comes when we ask for more faith and confident hope that impacts the Kingdom of God adding to its numbers. Rattling the cage of the enemy, shaking the locks on his doors, and threatening his worldly dominion is not taken lightly. Though he knows he cannot win, he will not give up the fight or his mission to steal, kill or destroy anything and everything in my life. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.” Do you feel all alone today? Are you thinking of giving up? Are you hard pressed? Do not succumb to the pressure but press into the Lord today. He is our refuge. He is our strength. It is Jesus who has given us this spacious place in life to grow in His Love and prosper in faith. Do not let the enemy rob you of this precious opportunity called today to step into His Presence to be covered by His Love.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.