Crossroads Connection for the Week of February 23
 
 
 
Article 1
 

 

Your Struggle Is Real

By Skip Heitzig

The premise of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is that a London doctor named Henry Jekyll develops a potion that turns him into another man: Mr. Edward Hyde, a cold-blooded murderer. At first, Dr. Jekyll can control Mr. Hyde, but eventually, Mr. Hyde starts taking over whenever he wants to.

This sort of struggle is familiar to believers, because we have two natures battling for supremacy within us: the fallen human nature we were born with and the new nature implanted in us by Jesus Christ at the new birth.

Paul the apostle was very candid about this struggle, particularly in Romans 7. Let's look at four reasons in that chapter why this struggle is so real for believers:

1. We struggle because of what we know. "The law is holy…. But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful" (vv. 12-13). Paul was saying that the Old Testament law is good because it was given by a perfect God and it reveals His righteous standard. The problem is that through the law, we discover just how far we have to climb to reach that standard—and we can't climb very far.

2. We struggle because of who we are. "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin" (v. 14). What Paul meant is that the law deals with inward attitudes, not just outward actions and keeping a set of rules. That's how he could conclude in Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one."

3. We struggle because of what we do. "The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (v. 19; see also vv. 15-24). Every one of us can relate to this struggle. With our new nature comes a longing to please the Lord, but we're chained to the dead man of our old nature. Thus, there's conflict (see Galatians 5:17).

4. We struggle because of what is possible. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (vv. 24-25). In his desperation, Paul cried out, "I can't get rid of Mr. Hyde myself—I need a source beyond my ability." And that source is Jesus Christ. If Jesus saved you, then He will also sanctify you, mature you, and give you victory.

The struggle is real, but so is that victory, and it comes by walking in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:16). So get busy reading God's Word, praying, doing God's work, and fellowshipping with God's people so you don't have time to wallow in the problems you're facing. And let the battle that rages inside of you cause you to rejoice. The fact that you struggle proves you're a child of God and He is doing a work in you that, according to Philippians 1:6, He will one day complete.

Copyright © 2020 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved



 
 

Article 2

God's Shield of Protection

By Bonny Mulder-Behnia  

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-5

“When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”
Isaiah 43:2

Have you ever felt that you just couldn’t handle one more difficult thing? Have you wondered how you will get through the next days and months?

God knows the struggles of his people. Through Isaiah, God assured Israel as they were oppressed in exile. God reminded them of his power in the past, and God pointed to his sure presence for the future. The Red Sea had not swept over them as they left Egypt (Exodus 14), and in Babylon a fiery furnace would not burn Daniel’s friends (Daniel 3). God promised, “You are mine,” and “I will be with you.”

The comfort in this passage—that God never lets go as we face all kinds of dangers and struggles—is for God’s people both as a group and as individuals. Nothing can destroy the people whom God has called, so we need not be afraid.

In the summer of 2013 I was shocked and saddened by the death of my youngest sister. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with melanoma that required surgery, followed by numerous complications. For a while it felt as though the waves of grief and flames of fear were too big to handle. But God did not allow me to be swept away or burned.

The almighty God personally promises to be our shield of protection as we navigate the fiery darts of the devil.

Great I am, help me to trust you when life feels overwhelming and I am pummeled with problems. Thank you that I am precious to you and that your love is eternal. Amen. 

 

Article 3
 

When Fear Fills Your Heart

By Greg Laurie

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

—John 14:1

When children are afraid of the dark, they need someone to reassure them. The best thing to do is turn on the lights so they know there’s actually not a monster or other supposed threat to them under the bed. They need the reassuring words of an adult who can help them get a proper perspective.

Like little children, we need the reassuring words of our heavenly Father to help us in times of anxiety. Because no matter where you live, how much money you make, or what you do for a living, you’ll never be able to create a trouble-free life.

Job 5:7 says, “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (NLT). Just when you get through that one conflict or difficulty, that one hardship or trial, another one will come. It always will be something.

I don’t say that to depress you but to prepare you. Understand, troubles do come. While there are reasons to be troubled, there is a greater reason not to be. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1 NLT).

Jesus said this to His disciples in the Upper Room, after they learned He would be crucified. Needless to say, they were very stressed. Deep anxiety and fear filled their hearts.

But Jesus was saying, “Look, I haven’t brought you this far to abandon you now. I know what I’m doing. So I’m asking you to believe. I’m asking you to trust Me.”

When I don’t understand what is happening, I fall back on what I do understand: God is our Father who loves us and cares for us.

When a problem you’re facing fills your heart with anxiety and worry, remember this: God is bigger than your problem. 
 


  Article 4

 3 Nails

"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20).

It took three nails to crucify our Savior to the cross. God says that if we are to allow Christ to live through us then the old man must be crucified. We can each voluntarily crucify our flesh, but we often cannot complete the process by ourselves. It usually requires a third party to put the third nail into the old man that allows the work to be completed in us.

For Jesus, it was Judas.
For David, it was Absalom.
For Joseph, it was his brothers.

Betrayal is a nail that will either complete the death process, or we will linger in unforgiveness and bitternesss that will result in an even worse state - partial death.

This condition never allows you and me to experience true freedom.

When Jesus died He was freed to fulfill His mission on earth. He was resurrected from death to glory. When you and I die we are freed to become all God wants us to become in our lives before God. God gives us the cross to give us God and a new life in Christ.

Is someone in your life trying to put the third nail into your death process? Do not fight it. Allow God to complete His process.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. You have freed me from my chains." -Psalm 116:15, 16

 

    
 

Article 5

 

The Danger of Anger

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.
Daniel 3:19

During the six-year reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary in England (1553-1558), the Catholic monarch put to death some three hundred Protestant leaders of the breakaway Church of England—most by burning at the stake. Sometimes, sympathetic executioners would tie a bag of gunpowder around the neck of the condemned to hasten their death once the flames reached high enough.

 


Recommended Reading:
Ephesians 4:26-27

Think about it: to make death excruciatingly painful, you would make it slow, not fast. Yet when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon condemned the three friends of Daniel to a fiery death, he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. They would literally die the moment they were exposed to the horrendous fire; hardly suffering at all! The king was so “full of fury” that he lost touch with reality. That is what anger has the potential to do.

The apostle Paul knew that, which is why he commanded Christians not to let anger fester or to “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). Don’t let anger be the cause of irrational actions.

Whatever begins in anger, ends in shame.
Ben Franklin

 
 
 
 

                                     

 


 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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