Pressed – one way God disciplines our soul.

Good morning all! As I was waking this morning, I felt pressed down, perplexed about where my life is going, and tempted to give space in my heart and mind to despair and discouragement.

But God is faithful and his mercy is always fresh every morning. This morning as I felt pressed down, I was aware of a thought from deep in my soul to set my mind on Christ. This was the Holy Spirit within me giving me a way out of the temptation pressing upon me, and he does this for everyone, including you.

I’m reading through a one year bible, but this morning I didn’t follow the plan. Instead I followed the Holy Spirit’s hint within me and read Colossians 3:1-3 and it was fresh air to my soul.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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.” ESV

Father disciplines true sons and daughters

Over the past couple of weeks our Father has been bringing new discipline to my flesh. (Hebrews 12:6) e.g. As I pray for a revival of repentance and rest to flow through the church of Jesus Christ. I am not surprised that Father is leading me to a deeper repentance and rest.

The discipline is straight forward – Paul, set your mind on things above. All the time, for everything. Always process and minister from heaven to earth and Spirit to flesh, not earth to earth and flesh to flesh. So, what happened last year or week does not tell you what to do today, it tells you to live by faith not sight and seek the mind of Christ for what you’re in today. This has profound implications on my choices and my conversation. And I need to work it into my life so it’s intuitive and instinctive, that’s what discipline is for.

My devotion this morning began with me following the Spirit’s lead and recalibrating my mind, which brought a way out of the temptation to embrace despair and its ugly friends. My journey then led to growing my understanding of the Father’s current work in me in. If you haven’t already, be disciplined in working with how the Holy Spirit is working within you, and it’s not following principles or a plan or doing the right thing.

While meditating and journaling from Colossians 3, I began to consider 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 1:8-10. I saw a connection I had not seen before, God is doing new things. This connection was fresh-air to my soul.  Like being led into a green pasture and made to lie down. The Holy Spirit is emphasising, Paul, you need to get this truth into you.

Let’s begin with 2 Corinthians 2:8-10

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 NIV (Highlights are mine)

The main thought here this morning is ‘I will come under great pressure’ and so will you.

It’s not a secret that believers will face pressure from the world, Jesus forewarned us more than once including in John 16:33 saying “in the world you will have tribulation”. This is pressure because we are believers in an unbelieving world. So why all the surprise and panic at the possibility of facing some persecution because we believe in Jesus and hold to his words? Have we not been reading the bible, especially the gospels? Don’t we get that we are called to follow Jesus and look what the world did to him?

God will lead his sons and daughters into pressing they can’t withstand. Why? Se we will learn to rely on God not on ourselves. I was thanking God this morning that my great pressure is not as great as apostle Paul’s or King David’s or Jobs or many other saints who have gone before.

With this in mind, we’ll read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

Here’s the new thought. “Though our outer self is wasting away” I’ve usually read this as referring to my physical body, but this morning I saw this as the ‘self’ I was before I met Jesus and was born from above by the Holy Spirit. That person in entirety died at that moment, but it’s taking a while for that death to work its way through all the person I was.

One analogy for following Jesus is the seed going down into the ground and dying. (John 12:24-26) From this analogy I see the ‘self’ I was before coming to Jesus, going down into the ground and dying. In the ground the hard shell softens and breaks up or wastes away. Here’s the thought from ‘though my outer self is wasting away’; the outer must waste away so the new inner self, a never seen before life, can break out and grow.

This is why God allows us to be pressed. To break up the old patterns and presumptions usually full of anxiety and fear; so our new never seen before life in Christ can spring forth and grow up.

Pressed to be set free

However hard our outer shell of self is

According to the strength of our willfulness

Beyond our ability to be stubborn

And more than our pain threshold

God’s children will be pressed

God will allow pressing to come upon us beyond what we can bear to crush the outer self, freeing us from our self, and freeing the new life in Christ to burst forth in us. This is his loving discipline.

The Holy Spirit puts this in one statement in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The old me is passing away. The pressing I face in this world releases its hold on me. Now the unseen recently created by God new me can burst forth and grow. Hallelujah!

This is a process not a single event. For me its been back to the beginning again a number of times as God leads me into new deeper rest and obedience that sees more old wasting away and new bursting forth. What an adventure! What freedom! Setting our minds on what is above and seeing it become who we are on earth.

Thanks for reading, this is my prayer. Some notes, I’m not trying to present a complete argument here, I am purposefully leaving space for you to seek out truth with the Holy Spirit. Please don’t believe something because I say it, get into scripture and see it there for yourself. My role is to provoke you, breaking up old thinking and seeding new thinking and faith in Jesus Christ.

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