Monday, November 13, 2017

Faith or Experience?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

We should battle through our moods, feelings, and emotions into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus.

That sentence from today’s devotional is very fitting for me. I battle a lot of moods. It is almost constant. I have accepted it as my lot in life...but it doesn’t mean I use it as an excuse. I battle through it and it’s tough sometimes. Satan continues to try to destroy me via my mood swings...and he continues to lose the battle!

We must break out of our own little world of experience into abandoned devotion to Him. 

I am guilty of being in my own little world quite often. I get lost in my memories and self pity. Sometimes it launches into an all out war of unforgiveness toward others...two people in particular who I am no longer able to interact with. I have been convicted about this sin of mine and am happy to say that I am finally winning this one too. I am finally being able to let it go and forgive. They really didn’t know they were in the wrong. They hurt me deeply, but they were either reacting out of their own hurt or truly believing that something else was going on that wasn’t. (Or both) Also...the Lord ordained all of my days for me...including the deep valleys of my life. (Psalm 139:16)

Thankfully, Chambers reminds me of the following truth:
Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims and provides— He can present us faultless before the throne of God, inexpressibly pure, absolutely righteous, and profoundly justified.

I am profoundly thankful for that. Without that...I am hopeless...for I am too unforgiving, too self absorbed, too bitter on my own strength. My sour moods left unchecked, just fester and darken.

Jesus Christ wants our absolute, unrestrained devotion to Himself. We can never experience Jesus Christ, or selfishly bind Him in the confines of our own hearts. Our faith must be built on strong determined confidence in Him.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Key of the Greater Work

…I say to you, he who believes in Me,…greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. —John 14:12

And He promises, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14:13). Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness.
We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

I never thought of my not praying as a form of selfishness before. I guess it is. It seems like the more time goes on...the older I get, the less spiritual I actually become. I am shrinking spiritually. Why am I doubting more? Why am I more cynical than ever? 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… —Joshua 24:15

 A person’s will is embodied in the actions of the whole person. I cannot give up my will— I must exercise it, putting it into action. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God’s Spirit.

Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift.

You have no business trying to find out where God is leading— the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.

I think that if it was at all possible for me to meet Oswald Chambers in person, he would be gravely disappointed in me.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Come as you are...holy garb will be provided

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. —Psalm 37:5

This is the over-riding theme in all of my devotional lately. "Trust in the Lord. It's all going to be good." Well...that and this one which I have also put into laymen' terms. "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." (Okay...that is not in the Bible per say, but in so many words it is.)

Here are the gems from today's Oswald Chambers devotional.

God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account.

LOL. That's all I can seem to come up with for that one. Actually I have a little more. Sometimes even when I consult him the plans seem to get upset. Maybe there is a communication gap going on here. Reminds me of my husband and I. I will say something to my husband (or he to me) and we seem to have an understanding. After all... we are both speaking English and grew up speaking that language within the same geographical region of the we aren't getting confused by different phraseologies. Later on however, we will have this problem because we misunderstood one another. Am I just not understanding God? (I know it isn't the other way around)

If we have the idea that we have to put on our “spiritual face” before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are.

This one is a comfort...especially seeing how I can never be perfect. So far from it I could cry sometimes. "Why am I like this?" I often ask myself. I know I have issues...I admit it. I can't get that spiritual face on all the time. I misplaced that quite a long time ago. You know what is kind of funny...or not, depending on how you look at it. I used to consider myself to be quite spiritually together and mature. (Makes me kind of laugh now) I seemed very wise to myself. That would have been circa 1984 or so. All knowing at the age of 17. Now... I'm even wiser because I understand just how dim witted I can be spiritually. I'm just me. I fret. I obsess. I don't pray the way I ought to. I say dumb things that irritate people. I'm sinful in ways that I don't even recognize as sinful. I am just me. The imperfect one. Luckily I don't have to be perfect to be loved by Him. He says, "Come as you are." He will provide the garments of righteousness. Amen!

You cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). 

So is that why we can't get ahead financially? I would like to trust in a great financial plan. My plan is actually biblically sound. Live simply. Pay off all the debts. Keep socking away funds for retirement and also...for emergencies and for that rainy day. The one where we decide to finish fixing up the house...or buy a new sofa. Sounds good? I think it does...but we can never seem to get there. Sometimes I wonder if God prefers us to live on the edge of panic simply so that we are forced to acknowledge that we have to rely 100% on Him rather than on our own ingenuity. I won't even touch the topic of learning to be content!

God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command— “Let not….” To do it, continually pick yourself up, even if you fall a hundred and one times a day, until you get into the habit of putting God first and planning with Him in mind.

Ah, nuts! That sounds like work to me. You mean, I have to figure out a way to stop fretting and obsessing about things on my own? I have to keep getting up and dusting myself off to try again? I have to admit that this sounds like a recipe for failure. I have been trying and failing at this for so long now. I am weary of standing up again.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fret not thyself

Do not fret— it only causes harm. —Psalm 37:8

It's easy to say, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7), until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then?...Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God. 

Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God. (Chambers)

Well, I guess that is pretty straight-forward. I have to admit that I know this all to be true. I know that what is blocking me from moving forward in my walk with the Lord is my "fretting" over the past.

I fret about: What someone thinks is true. What went wrong. How I couldn't make it right. Unforgiveness towards people. Anger that I refuse to hand over to the Lord for good. My constant reviewing and examination of the events of the past....and looking at it and somehow convincing myself that it is all helping me somehow. Looking at it from every angle is not helping me. I have fooled myself into thinking that it is helping me come to grips with what I can't undo. What I cannot change. I tell myself that it is giving me answers...but it is really a refusal to accept the Lord's plan as best.

Let me repeat that. It is really a refusal to accept the Lord's plan as best.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What is wrong with me?

To be a disciple is to be a devoted bondservant motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not truly devoted to Jesus Christ. No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has “poured out in our hearts” the very “love of God” (Romans 5:5).

Perhaps this is my problem. The Holy Spirit has passed by me. I'm always struggling to feel any devotion at all...and I almost always feel next to nothing. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I just can't get going with this "devotion towards Him."  I'm all over the board. I'm distracted by everything. I've asked for help from the Holy Spirit and I never notice any change. I just feel like I am a pretty rotten Christian compared to so many of my family members and friends.

I go to church. I bring my Bible. I take notes. I write really cool points in the margins. I try to pray. I try to have regular devotions. I try to consult the Lord with my troubles. I try to thank Him for the blessings. I am in a Bible Study. I have even been a Bible Study leader. I just feel like everything is a huge effort with very sparse results. I teach my children Biblical ways. I took them to Sunday school. I sent them to Christian summer camps. We have a verse of the week at the dinner table. We pray at the dinner table. I used to pray with the children before the went to they've grown up. All three go to Christian colleges. All three seem to have active and genuine faith. Yet I feel empty and fake so much of the time.

What am I doing wrong?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Time to pick up the tools and start working!

You will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. —Matthew 5:26

We seem to be on the same theme here in my utmost. Trial is God's way of purifying us and bringing us to Himself. Trial is necessary for our faith to grow. It may seem as though we are being unjustly punished and that it will last forever...and that God hates us. Not true. It is really the love of God drawing us ever closer...testing us. It is also called life. Life brings bumps and bruises along the way. We must decide what we will do with the bumps and bruises we receive. Are we simply going to whine about it and resort to spending our lives curled up in a fetal position under the covers of our bed? Are we going to obsess about our troubles with an endless loop of memories playing over and over in our minds?

How do we put it to good use? How do I move on from here? How do I pour what I've learned back into others so I can encourage them? How do I do this? Has the Lord opened a door that he is asking you to step through in faith? He has brought you this it is time for something new. Go through the door.

I love Oswald Chambers because he doesn't mince words.

He urged you to come to judgment immediately when He convicted you, but you did not obey. Then the inevitable process began to work, bringing its inevitable penalty. Now you have been “thrown into prison, [and]…you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (5:25-26). Yet you ask, “Is this a God of mercy and love?” When seen from God’s perspective, it is a glorious ministry of love. God is going to bring you out pure, spotless, and undefiled, but He wants you to recognize the nature you were exhibiting— the nature of demanding your right to yourself. 

Stop obsessing! Get out of your head! Quit feeling sorry for yourself, roll up your sleeves, look around for others who may be hurting...and get to work!