The longer we go with God the more struggles we will have in our lives.  This is why many people turn their backs on God and walk no more with Him. All of these struggles in our lives center around our submission and obedience to God and His word.  It is always about our submission and obedience to God.  If we cannot be submissive and obedient to God our lives will be fruitless, unfulfilled, and God will not be able to use us as He desires.  Now I know this on one level, but I really do not know this on another because I too often struggle in life. Often times we shift the heart of the struggle (our obedience and submission to God) to other things in our lives and get off track.  We most often struggle in life because of our compromise, tolerance, and diversity to what God has said.  Today our society, more and more, is built on compromise, tolerance, and diversity. Well these terms are not spiritual principles contained in the word of God. In America and around the world we see this shift away from the holy standard of God’s word to diversity, everyone is different and we must accept their individual expression and accept them for what they believe, well the Bible does not teach that.  The Bible says we all were made in the image of God, in God there is no diversity.  God expects us to look, sound, and act like Him not like some tattooed, body pierced, free thinking, anything goes person.  Today we are told we must be tolerant.  In the past the word tolerant meant to endure or put up with things and people we disagree with, but today tolerance means we must accept the differences of people where there is no right and wrong absolutes judgments, everyone’s point of view is considered valid and has merit, where there is not a Godly bench mark of truth (as the word of God) to guide our lives. And in the world today it seems the best we can do is compromise, giving up something to get something.  We see this in the contemporary format of most churches today.  The days of the traditional God inspired preaching and music are gone.  Rarely do you find a church that holds the line on proper attire and behavior in church.  We have compromised the word of God in church so now our lives too are compromised.  Remember as the people go so does the church and as the church goes so does the nation.  It is no wonder America is on her way out.  We have given up Godly standards and principles to get people to come to church for the show.  And what do they find – the compromised word of God that cannot save anyone. Standing our ground for the truth is not popular nor will it earn you much money or big crowds. Who wants to be poor in spirit when you can have a big church and travel around the world holding big services with millions of people? Now these terms are worldly terms, terms that are from the spirit of this age and of the world.  We must always keep in the back of our mind, Jesus did not come to save the world (a system contrary to what God has said) it is lost and doomed, but Jesus came to save them that were lost.  Luke tells us, “For the Son of man (Jesus) is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)  This is a critical thought we must get well into our spirit and understanding, if not we will mix the things of God with the things of this age and of the world confusing our self and others.  Make no mistake the world is lost and cannot be saved only fallen man can.

Today in the world and sadly in many churches we hear of political struggles, struggles for equality and for civil rights, but these are not struggles against man, but in reality they are struggles within us against God because we have not aligned our heart and thinking up with Him.  At the heart of every issue is always an issue of the heart.  In Genesis we read of a man struggling with God. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled (struggled) a man with him until the breaking of the day25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled (struggled) with him. 26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.  29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  (Genesis 32:24-30)  There are some points from these verses I would like for us to consider.  If we have to struggle with God to be blessed we have not found favor in God’s sight.  Our struggle is a thing of the heart where God must deal and judge in our lives to be able to bring us to understanding and peace.  Like Jacob, we struggle when we are alone. It is God and us alone in the valley or on the mountain top.  Struggle is something we allow God to work out of us so that He can work His life into us. The more we struggle the less of God we will have in us.  There is a better understanding of God and His ways after we have struggled awhile.  I wonder what blessing God would have given Jacob if he would have not struggled so and submitted?  All he got was a new name and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.  We must not struggle with God.  But notice Jacob was getting ready to struggle with his older brother Esau who wanted to kill him for lying and deceiving their father. Struggling with God often comes before struggling with man so that we will have the right heart condition to deal with man correctly.

Paul was really good at helping us to deal with our struggles.  In Ephesians he helped us when he said, “For we wrestle (struggle) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)  The word “wrestle” here, Strong’s #3823, means to struggle in a contest between two people in which each endeavours to throw the other and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck.  Now Paul is not talking about spiritual warfare a divine spiritual principle not found in the Bible. Jesus nor any of the disciples used this term.  Like most things we do not understand in the Bible we make up terms and names to support a thinking or doctrine we believe and want to spread to other people. This is why we have so many denominations and doctrines today. But, here Paul is saying we must not wrestle or struggle against man  “we wrestle not against flesh and blood (especially our Christians brothers and sisters) because our struggle is against, principalities, against powers (Strong’s #1849, power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases), against the rulers (Strong’s #2888, the lords, kings, and rulers of this world) of the darkness of this world (Strong’s #4655, persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway), against spiritual wickedness (Strong’s #4189, depravity, iniquity, wickedness) in high places.” The word “places” was added by translators. Paul is describing this world’s (then and today) subtle seductive philosophy and thinking that is contrary to God and what God has said.  It is always eminent and in direct rebellion to God and His word. This thinking is a heart condition that wants its way that wants its desires and emotions satisfied to belong, fulfilled, and justified. Just watch TV and look at what Hollywood and all the beautiful people say success looks like.  I do not know why many denominations have hi-jacked this verse to make it seem more spiritual, but  if Paul was taking about demons then he would have said demons, but he did not. He was talking about the wicked worldly rulers, principalities, and those in power and exercise authority who have brought great darkness to the church. We wrestle not against the kings, lords, and rulers (flesh and blood), but it is against the system they project in the world and as it manifests in our lives.  Paul was telling us our struggle is against a world system that is contrary to God’s order and system.  All throughout his writings Paul time and time again warns us not to be conformed to this world’s thinking and philosophy.  For example in Romans, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  Romans 12:1-2) How can we know what “is our reasonable service” and “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” if we are conformed to the world’s system of thinking and philosophy?

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) today struggles with their past.  Recently I read of a SBC pastor who has asked the entire Convention to embrace the administration of President Obama (America’s first bi-racial President) saying it would go a long ways in the reconciliation process between blacks and whites making an atonements in ways for the SBC support of slavery in the past. Well, this pastor has been deceived in his heart and blinded by the civil rights gods of this world.  The issue is not the need for civil rights or even the need for reconciliation between a black and a white man, but clarity of heart and understanding as to what God’s word says about the issue.  The Bible is clear in God there is no slave or free, male or female, no earthly nations only Christ and Him glorified in our lives one (unity) in Him.  Paul tells us “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:26-28)  If you are a Christian (black or white) and you are struggling over slavery then you are held captive in the prison of your heart to the things of the past because of the lack of understanding of God’s word. It is not about slavery, but what God has said.  The real issue why the SBC and other Christians cannot support President Obama and his administration is because of their ungodly position on such topics as:  abortion, sodomy, lesbianism, and so many others.  Now I wish him no harm, but we will either believe the Bible or we will believe what the government says is true. And rarely do they agree.  One is of the world (perishable) and the other is what God says (eternal).  The word of God (the Bible) is very clear on these topics. God calls them sin (an abomination in His eyes) and in our heart and life-style we in America say no God is wrong these things are okay and we will do them.  We thumb our nose at God shaking our fist in open defiance saying we know better.  Well, either we in America (that includes Christians) will call things true what the world says is okay or what God calls them.  We as Christians must not support (with our time or money) any organization (such as political parties) or anyone who supports things such as abortion, sodomy, lesbianism, or anything which is in direct rebellion to God’s word.  How can the SBC support such lies and open rebellion? How can we call ourselves Christians and be a Democrat whose main ideology and philosophical agenda supports such heresy against God’s word?  We cannot, but if we can then we have been deceived by the gods of this world and the truth of God’s word is not in us.  How can we be called Christians (Christ like) and support the shedding of innocent blood of babies and other things God calls an abomination?  It is not a reconciliation issue, but it is an issue of obedience to God’s word.  When we believe the Government and the Supreme Court over what God says (the Bible) on spiritual issues then we have called God a liar.  Just because the Supreme Court (which is made up of men and women) passes laws that does not change nor makes God’s words null and void.  When will America learn?

God’s answer for our struggles is submission and obedience to His word.  Obedience to God always brings us into a place of inward rest and contentment the place God desires we all allow Him (our choice) to bring us to.  Who cares if the world is falling a part?  Certainly not the one who is at rest in God and has stopped struggling. You know dead men (spiritually speaking) are dead to their selfishness and self-seeking and do not do much struggling.  They are at peace with man because they are at peace with God.  Peace and joy seems to be a great struggle for man, well guess what my friend there will be no peace and joy on the earth until Jesus comes back and sets up His earthly kingdom, until then we can only have peace and joy in our heart. We struggle for unity and peace (even in the church) through politics and worldly practices, again worldly philosophy and thinking, but God’s idea of peace and unity is through our submission and obedience to His word.  Only when we have submitted to God’s word can we cease from the struggles in our lives.  Oh we will feel the pain and anguish, but it will not matter our focus will not be on the struggle nor on the world, but a higher call to come up near God.