Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 8-My joy....your joy

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.

Today we talk about joy. I am trying to understand that the joy referred to here does not necessarily mean happiness. One can be filled with joy even in the most dismal of circumstances. So what is joy and what brings it? This is not an easy concept for me.

According to Chambers the joy that Jesus had came from "the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which His Father sent Him to do."

From the verses preceding the verse above:
John 15:9-10 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love.

So joy comes from following the will of God. It sounds simple on paper, but actually living and doing the will of God on a daily basis is hard work.

I dug a little further than Chambers and found this gold nugget:
"Happiness is a consequence of good things happening around us; it is superficial. But Joy comes from inside, from knowing that God has not forsaken us and that He does indeed love us. That Joy can come from no one but the Holy Spirit." Ruth Senter

That brings a little more light on what Jesus means by joy. I guess I can understand this when I think about my father dying last year. I certainly was not happy about it, but there was a supernatural peace and joy about it. It was God's plan that my father's life on earth was at the end. I can submit to His will in this and find joy in knowing and trusting Him about that.

Too often I am looking for happiness in this life. What's in it for me? That's wrong! I need to look to Jesus for His joy. What does He want me to do? What's in it for Him?

Photo: My laughing daughter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 7-Am I convinced by Christ?

Luke 10:19-20
...However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

I think I am a lot like these disciples. I get excited when I know I've made a difference in the world for Christ. I somehow think I deserve a star. "Look what I did because of Christ!" Although, I am quick to point out that I didn't do it on my own, it is far better to acknowledge that Christ has shed his grace upon me by allowing me to become his child. It is too easy to slip into a little bit of pride.

I like what Chambers pointed out:
Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living waters through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it.

...remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God's purpose, as long as you keep in the light as god is in the light.

My favorite part of todays' devotional is underlined above. I am glad that He doesn't let me know. Sometimes He does let me know years later. A couple of years ago I was talking to a man I had gone to high school with. I had not seen him in years. He has since become a Christian. This is an amazing thing...you would never have believed he would ever become a follower of Christ had you known him back then. What surprised me was that he told me that he remembered me being a "good Christian girl." I guess I was of some influence on him. I never would have guessed it. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't know because I probably would have gotten in the way of Christ working through me.

My job is to walk in the light of Christ....period!

Photo: Corbett's Glenn. Brighton, NY

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 6-The testing of faith

John 11:40 "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

Can I trust God when common sense calls me to reason away my trust in Him? When He says, "It can be done," do I cry out, "Impossible?"

So many times, it just looks like things are not going to work out. That I should cry out in despair and give in to worry. When our finances look very bleak and we have three hungry little birds with their beaks wide open crying for more more more. When I hear bad news about the economy. When senseless tragedies happen. Do I trust Him or do I say that it is time for me to take matters into my own hands?

Chambers: "Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense."

And here's another gem, "Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict."

Remember this one: "The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death."

That last quote from Chambers reminds me of my father. He really faced that last test with absolute confidence in Christ. That memory will stay with me forever. Dad believed and he saw the glory of God throughout his life...and in the end, face to face when the clouds parted, the sun broke through and he was taken home.

Photo: My father.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 5-What's the good of prayer?

Luke 11:1 "Lord, teach us to pray."

Today's topic in my devotional is prayer. I actually groaned inwardly when I read the topic. I'm just trying to be brutally honest here. God knows that I groaned...so I am telling you that I did. When I hear about prayer, I sometimes liken it to doing some strenuous exercise. For me that would be like forcing myself to do sit-ups repeatedly.

I really don't do well with prayer...and I know it is an intricate part of walking with God. I don't do sit-ups: hence I have very weak abs. I don't pray: hence I am a weakling spiritually too.

Actually, throughout my Christian life, I have gone up and down in my prayer life. Just like with exercise. There was a time when my prayer life was the bomb! (at least I thought so) What happened? Somewhere along the line, I stopped doing it. Just like with exercise. There was a time when I trained for a 5k race and did it. Now...I couldn't do it if my life depended upon it.

What does Chambers say about prayer? Here are some quotes from him concerning the topic.

"We look upon prayer as a means for getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself."

He goes on to say that we are apologetic and apathetic when approaching God and ask for very few things in spite of the scripture that says, "Ask and ye shall receive." We ought to become childlike in our asking.

"When a man is at his wits' end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits' end over."

"It is not so true that prayer changes things as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man's disposition."

Well...I definitely need to change the way I look at things. I said on Day 1 that my outlook is rather negative and that my marriage is lacking. I know it is because of my faulty way of looking at things. I know I need the Holy Spirit's help in changing this. Prayer looks like the right path to get on to change this.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 4-Theology alive

Sometimes I have been given glimpses of revelation by the Lord. Maybe it came in the form of a conviction, or an idea. I admit that I have many times not acted upon these messages from Him and therefore the conviction or idea fizzled away. Of course, I am not proud of this, but it is the truth. I have not always acted in the way that a daughter of the King should. Sometimes the result of not acting was obviously negative...but other times the results appeared to be not much at all in the end. I use the word "appeared" because maybe this isn't true. Where would I be now, if I obeyed His every word? I think I should see any negligence of obedience, however small, as disastrous.

The scripture given in Chambers today is from John 12:35 "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you."

Here are some thoughts from Chambers:
"The second you waive the question of sanctification or any other thing upon which God gave you light, you begin to get dry rot in your spiritual life. Continually bring the truth out into actuality; work it out in every domain, or the very light you have will prove a curse."

"If you say you are sanctified, show it. The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life."

Photo: my husband and cousin. Taken in Mukles' Garden, Trumansburgh, NY

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 3-Are you ever disturbed?

I have a lot to be worried about right now. I have been attending grad school and have amassed a fair amount of debt. Six months from graduation, I will be expected to start paying it off. School library jobs are few and far between right now. I just got a message on my Facebook account from a classmate who lives in Rochester and finished school in May. She said that she has not had a single interview yet. (And I consider her to be one of the best students.)

From the words on John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
It's hard not to be disturbed by all of these worries. We have bills to pay. We have three kids to take care of. We would like to see those three kids go to college too. We have a house that needs some major repairs. We would like to be able to relax a little with our budget, instead of stressing so much.

Jesus should be my peace, not money. Not getting a good job. Most of the time, I look for peace in the wrong place. Here is a quote from Chambers.
"Reflected peace is the proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him.If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed (worrying) or you have a false security."

So I am going to try not to worry. As I admitted yesterday, I cannot do this on my own. On my own strength, I will just think about it in worldly sense. And then I will receive the peace that the world gives...which is no peace at all. I must look in the face of Jesus Christ.

Photo: Taken during hike on Beach Mill Pond, Lowville area, NY.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 2-The fruitfullness of friendship

"I have called you friends." That is what Jesus said in John 15:15. I have no doubt that Jesus is my friend. The bigger question is this one: Am I a friend to Jesus? Am I willing to do what a friend does? Am I willing to lay down my life for Him? Do I delight to do His will?

To be honest, I know I can't do any of this without the Holy Spirit's help. On my own, I'm just too selfish.
"Come, Holy Spirit. Fall fresh on me!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 1-The spiritual index

They say it takes 90 days to develop a new habit. Hence...the exercise programs that are designed around 90 days. So, am I thinking about developing a new habit of bodily exercise? Well...that would probably be good, but no. I have become convicted that my spiritual walk has become very poor. I am becoming weaker and weaker in my faith and prayer life. I have pulled out the old classic by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. I thought maybe I could commit to 90 days of this and then see what happens.

what I have observed of myself lately:
  • time with God is nil
  • relationship with husband is lacking
  • I don't have a willing servant's heart
  • I don't have a cheerful disposition
  • prayer life? What prayer life?
  • I am struggling more with negative thoughts.
I fully expect Satan to try to sabotage this decision.

Today's scripture is Matthew 7:7-12, focusing on the 9th verse.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Chambers is quick to point out that if we don't align ourselves as children of God, we cannot expect blessings when we pray. Verse 12 says, So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you...

Chambers words: "I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light....It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God."

Photo: My daughter on Canandaigua Lake, Canandaigua, NY.