Monday, November 12, 2012

The Changed Life

Change how you get there
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new —2 Corinthians 5:17

One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you?

I do remember a profound change in myself when I accepted Christ many years ago.  Others noticed it too.  It was the summer that was between my 8th and 9th grades.  In 8th grade it was very important to me what the other kids at school thought of me. I spent a lot of time worrying about my popularity and trying to be "cool."  When I became a Christian that summer...all of that instantly changed.  Popularity didn't matter at all any more.  I cared more about doing the best that I could at my school work.  I was kinder to other people as well.  I was also more respectful to my teachers.  I still remember that several people at my school commented on how I had changed during 9th grade, including one teacher who I had two years in a row.

And as long as I “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7), God sees nothing to rebuke because His life is working itself into every detailed part of my being, not on the conscious level, but even deeper than my consciousness.

I know that there are areas in my life that could use improvement.  I would like to profoundly change again.  Now the changes are more slow and subtle.  I want to change over night like I did in 1981.  Walking in the light on a daily basis is hard work, don't you think?  I am thankful that he continues to work changes in me...but sometimes I just want to see those changes like I did all of those years ago.

Photo by Alex Barth.  from Flickr Creative Commons.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Supreme Climb

Construction Signs
He said, ’Take now your son . . .’ —Genesis 22:2

God’s command is, “Take now,” not later. It is incredible how we debate! We know something is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it immediately. If we are to climb to the height God reveals, it can never be done later— it must be done now. And the sacrifice must be worked through our will before we actually perform it.

I must say that I don't think I could ever obey like Abraham did.  Such faith!  Such self-sacrifice.

Always guard against self-chosen service for God. Self-sacrifice may be a disease that impairs your service.

"What do you want me to do Lord for self- service?" -I have to admit that when I pray a prayer such as this, I often think quietly something like, "I hope it is not something too hard to do." So if that's my attitude, am I really willing to serve him? Is my attitude really one that says, "I'll serve you, Lord...if it's not anything that makes me feel too uncomfortable?"

You must go through the trial before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because by going through the trial you learn to know God better. God is working in us to reach His highest goals until His purpose and our purpose become one.

Is that why life seems to be a long string of trials?  Because God wants me to know him better?

Photo image by jphilipg. Construction Signs, Creative Commons Flickr.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Trial of Faith

If you have faith as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you —Matthew 17:20

Really?  Is that true?  Nothing?  Then why couldn't I start my car this morning?

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself.

It is true that I tend to think this.  I keep thinking that if I have enough faith, then things will go somewhat easily for me.  The problem is that God never promised this.  Instead, he promised the opposite...that we would have trouble in this life.  I'm thinking of the Apostle Paul who had all sorts of trouble for his faith...and eventually martyrdom.  I'm thinking of believers in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia...where it is downright dangerous to profess Christ as your savior.  Life is no picnic for those people of faith. I do have trials...but they are really a cakewalk compared to some people's.  Mine are somewhat trivial.  Yesterday I had a flat tire in the rain.  A trial? inconvenience.  I have Triple-A membership and there was a nice store for me to stay in and keep myself warm and entertained while I waited for someone to come.  Today my other car would not start when I attempted to leave for a day of substitute teaching.  A trial?  No...another inconvenience.  I went inside, called the school.  Within a few minutes they called back and told me they had already found another sub.  I have a warm house to stay in and I can catch up on laundry today I guess. Disappointing because we need the income, but we have food to put on the table.  Plenty of it in fact.  

Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

I really have had terrible times of trial...which I lived through, by God's grace and mercy.  I do in fact know what it is like to be absolutely tested and stretched to the breaking point.  I know what it is like to cry out to God in the depths of despair and feel nothing but utter darkness.  It was during that time...that I had to choose to walk by faith.  It was a choice that I made in my mind as I battled against the darkness.  I did not feel any hope at all...but I decided to believe and choose to live. (yes...literally choosing to live over the other choice of ending my life)

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried.

Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive.

I guess this is what I was talking about when I described my circumstances as "inconveniences."  I watched the news last night.  The people who lost their homes due to hurricane Sandy-theirs is the real trial.  I woke up to a few branches and whole bunch of seed pods on my lawn from the tree in my yard. (Impressive? Not really.) Not being able to find a job and being financially strapped right now?  Is that the result of simply being alive or an actual trial of faith?  Sometimes it is actually hard to tell the difference.

Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). 

No one is trying to slay me...but it would be easy to slip into anger and self pity or complaining about my circumstances.  I am choosing to remain true to God's character in all of this (or at the very least, try to do this).  I will not complain. I will thank him for who He is and what He has done for me.  I will thank him for a warm house and for laundry.  I will thank him that he loves me and that he really does have a plan that includes my best interest (Jer 29:11)  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Without faith it is impossible to please Him . . . —Hebrews 11:6
Yet faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life.

I believe this is absolutely true.  I once said to a friend who was going through some trying times, "What is faith that has not been tried?"  Words of wisdom...straight from my mouth.  Hahahaha.  It's easy to spout that off until you are the one being socked with all the trying circumstances and are left wondering if God has left you out in the cold.  Of course I really don't believe that He has left me out in the cold...but I kind of have to wonder when we get a bill in the mail for over $500 that we have to figure out how we are going to pay.  (Thank you Mr. Boiler...our annoying resident in our basement...unfortunately in upstate NY, we cannot simply evict him.) or when I have had the 7th job interview and they call to tell me that they have chosen another candidate. (3 last summer, 3 this summer and 1 recently for a long-term subbing position.  Teaching is not a good field to be in right now.) 

Faith always works in a personal way, because the purpose of God is to see that perfect faith is made real in His children.

Lately it is much more than Mr. Boiler or trying to land the job...we have a list.  So I am struggling to have faith that this is all going to work out in the end.  One of the big questions lately that has been gnawing at me is, how are we going to send Allen off to college next year?  Shouldn't we be farther ahead by our mid-40s in order to do this?  (And how did I become the mother of a senior in high school already?...I'm certainly not old enough!

Faith is a tremendously active principle that always puts Jesus Christ first. The life of faith says, “Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I’m going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word”

So in all of this, I am still believing that Jesus Christ saved me and that the Lord loves me and will take care of us. (Matthew 6:25-34)  History tells me that he has taken care of us.  We have always had food on the table and clothes on our backs.  We always managed to have a car or two that ran (usually). Somehow the bills got paid...even when it seemed like they would not.  Back then I always thought it was a season of life that we were going through and that certainly things would get better and financially more secure as the years rolled on. We have new hurdles now that we didn't have in the past.

God brings us into particular circumstances to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make the object of our faith very real to us. Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in Him. But once we hear Jesus say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless. Faith is the entire person in the right relationship with God through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Lord, I must be awfully thick headed.  I keep failing your "classes" because it seems that I am going through the same types of trials over and over again.  Haven't I taken this course before?  Did I fail it?  I thought I had passed it because I got through it. What am I doing wrong? I am getting very frustrated. Here I am again in "Remedial Faith 101,"  but then again, if I graduate from this, what's next?  A harder class?  I guess that I must admit that I do not want to take the classes anymore...or at least I would like a summer vacation.  How many days until summer vacation, Lord? Yeah...I want things to be easy but that's not the way it's going to be.  Life is full of hurdles.  Some are Big and some are small.Through it all I am going to choose to remain in right relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I guess that is what the test is all about.  Am I still going to trust Him and remain in Him?

Right now I am trying to learn prayer...perhaps that is what this is all about. 

Photo Image: "Dinner" from the album: Sum,Sum, Summer Time by my darling sister, Martha Teal.  Used without permission. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Justification by Faith

If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life —Romans 5:10

Read the following very carefully.  It took me a couple of times to get it.  In fact, use the link to the right to go to today's devotional and read the entire thing yourself and let it sink in.

I am not saved by believing— I simply realize I am saved by believing. And it is not repentance that saves me— repentance is only the sign that I realize what God has done through Christ Jesus. The danger here is putting the emphasis on the effect, instead of on the cause. Is it my obedience, consecration, and dedication that make me right with God? It is never that! I am made right with God because, prior to all of that, Christ died.

I sometimes get very confused about what saved me.  I think that what saved me was my decision at age 15 to go forward in a church and pray to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. That is not what saved me.  Jesus Christ dying on the cross saved me...I simply realized what the amazing thing He did for me really was on that day in 1981 and actively decided to follow Him.  I cannot take credit in any way for His salvation.

Lord, thank you for your salvation.  That you did it all...and that although I have not done anything to earn it, you have given that salvation to me.  Amen.

Photo of cross imbedded in concrete. Taken by Photographic Textures, Creative Commons Flickr

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Method of Missons

you've been warned
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . —Matthew 28:19

Oswald is quick to point out that it is not our job to save souls (that is the work of the Holy Spirit)...but it is our job to point people to Jesus. -The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus.

We can't point anyone to Jesus unless we have a personal relationship with Him ourselves. am I doing with that?  I think it is important to do self-examinations of our walk with the Lord.  I often think that my relationship with the Lord is not what it really could be, but I am trying to take steps in the right direction.

“Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20).

So, I am not perfect...but am I walking with Him?  Everyday?  Not just a couple of times a week, when I finally have time to carve out of my busy schedule?  OUCH!  Sometimes, I must admit,that is what it amounts to. The other night at Bible study, an older man named Dennis got up to share how he has been journaling and praying every morning.  He sets apart a specific time of the morning to do this. He said this not to brag, but to encourage us to do the same. He shares what a difference it has made in his daily walk with the Lord. I must admit, that I definitely see the Holy Spirit of God in this man's gentle and wise demeanor. He really is similar to my own father in that way. He is truly leaving a legacy to his children and grandchildren just like my own father did. I'd like to be this way too.  I have so many excuses why it won't work for me. I think- "Sure it works for Dennis, he's a retired teacher. He probably has so much free time now that he's not getting up and ready to go to some high school every morning." I am not a morning person and I already must wake up at 5:30 AM and sometimes before then just to get where I am going that day.  It has always been difficult for me in the morning.  (Just don't try to have a real conversation with me for at least and hour and half!) When I get home in the afternoon...there is the cooking, interacting with the family, the cleaning up, the laundry, the evening's activities and then it is being so tired and going to bed and starting all over again.  Did you ever feel like you are on just a daily rotation through life?  I just don't think God intended us to be this busy with life so that we can't even get off the rotating merry-go-round of life to spend time with Him.

Do I have to get up at 4:30 AM? Readers, do you have something that works for you?

The challenge comes from the perspective of the missionary’s own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. 

Also...if I truly believed that God would be so much more powerful in my life...that the Holy Spirit would become more real to me because of devoted prayer with Him...that He could touch other people's lives through mine, wouldn't I go out of my way to make time for Him?  Wouldn't I?

Wouldn't you?

Photo: "You've Been Warned" by Robert Couse-Baker. Creative Commons Flickr

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nothing of the Old Life!

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new —2 Corinthians 5:17

There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is nothing remaining of the old life. Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and “all things are of God”

I still see too much of my sinful nature...I'm taking an awful long time to be changed into his likeness.  Sometimes I get so frustrated about it.

How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that “is kind . . . is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil”? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself.

Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see. 

I had to underline that because it exactly what I want to be...but I'm not.  I still worry about things and money and this and that.  I don't seem to be changing.  It reminds me of what I decided today about something else in my life...that I feel I need to change.  I always bumble around during job interviews because I get so nervous. I kept thinking that in time, the change would happen naturally the more I interviewed...but it hasn't.  Instead, I have to work at it to get it to change.  I have to take active steps. So I am getting together with someone who has been in the field for 30+ years to practice. 

One other thing I have decided to change is my prayer life.  Simply put: I don't like to pray.  I know...I can hear you all just gasping in shock.  "What?  She doesn't like to pray?  And she calls herself a Christian?!!!??"  So I have joined a small group about prayer.  I have also signed up to come to my church on election night and pray for one hour for our country.  I need to...practice...what else? I know I need to grow in the area of prayer.  I've heard that it can change you so that you hear God more.  I know that Oswald has said that prayer is getting to know God...or something to that affect.  The truth is that I don't like to pray.  I can't hear God and I struggle to trust Him.  It's the ugly truth about myself.

Photo by Vincent Lock. "Practice" Creative Commons Flickr

Friday, September 28, 2012

The “Go” of Unconditional Identification

Vistas al patio.
Jesus . . . said to him, ’One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor . . . and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’ —Mark 10:21

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him . . .” Mark 10:21. This look of Jesus will require breaking your heart away forever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked in this way at you? 

I just love what Chambers comes up with. That question is really something to ponder. Years ago, I had a mentor named Mike. I was 20-something and Mike and his wife spent hours with me and a few other young people. They really exhibited to us what it was like to walk closely with Jesus. One day Mike looked at me and said, "Do you still love Jesus?" That question has stuck with me all of these years later.

Do I love him enough to break away from all other allegiances?

This look of Jesus transforms, penetrates, and captivates. Where you are soft and pliable with God is where the Lord has looked at you. If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on having your own way, and always certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, then there are whole areas of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.

Chambers manages to cut right to the core of my heart. Nothing can come between my heart and Him. The rich young ruler had an allegiance to something other than Jesus.  When Jesus looked at him and called him on was his way of calling for a transformation.  It may have been just the beginning. I'd like to think that that gaze stuck with him for years and that he did turn fully to Christ.

Photo by Xip. Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, September 24, 2012

The “Go” of Preparation

Molly gets a bath

If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift—Matthew 5:23-24 

I'm thinking of all the things in life that need constant checking and redoing:
  1. oil levels in cars
  2. toilet bowls needing to be cleaned
  3. dust levels in house
  4. air pressure in tires
  5. food supplies in cupboard
  6. dishes
  7. mowing the lawn
  8. gasoline in cars (no one wants to think about that lately)
  9. physicals
  10. baby's diaper
  11. eating
  12. fluid intake
  13. getting sleep
  14. bathing
  15. bills to pay
  16. clothing-yeah...they wear out or need washing
  17. diabetics need sugar levels checked
  18. snow shoveling in winte
  19. updating virus protective software
  20. you think of one
You see?  No matter how ready we get...we are never done getting ready or fixing things or updating or redoing, etc.  But as Christians we often forget to check ourselves...and repent, and turn from sin.  We constantly need updating.  Look at your hearts...see what's there.  Ask God what needs to change. Repent of the sin He points out.  It's not fun to do.  No one likes it...but it keeps us running smoothly.

Some direct quotes from today's devotional:
  • It is dangerous to become settled and complacent in our present level of experience. The Christian life requires preparation and more preparation. 
  • The “go” of preparation is to allow the Word of God to examine you closely  
  • Do you have anything to hide from God? If you do, then let God search you with His light. If there is sin in your life, don’t just admit it— confess it. 
  • Never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you. You were looking for some big thing to give up, while God is telling you of some tiny thing that must go.
  • Behind that "tiny thing" lies the stronghold of obstinacy, and you say, “I will not give up my right to myself”— the very thing that God intends you to give up if you are to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Are you ready to give up yourself and "go" prepare yourself?  It's tough...I don't like to see my sin.  I guess I have to anyway...just like a little kid who hates taking a bath.

Photo: Molly Gets a Bath, by Ginny.  Flickr Creative Commons.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Missionary’s Goal

He  said to them, ’Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . . ’ —Luke 18:31

Interesting statement to read in Chambers devotional today since I have been lead to believe in the past that my big goal as a Christian is to win souls.
The goal of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful or to win the lost. A missionary is useful and he does win the lost, but that is not his goal. His goal is to do the will of his Lord. 

This is actually freeing for me because I have been certain over the years that I am sinning or a big disappointment to God because I don't know that I have won a lot of lost people.   I have been told that I have been an influence...along with other people.  I never could say that someone has converted to Christianity because of me.  I just don't know.  I went to a church in the past where this was stressed.  How many people have you won?

In our Lord’s life, Jerusalem was the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will upon the cross, and unless we go there with Jesus we will have no friendship or fellowship with Him. Nothing ever diverted our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned our Lord even the slightest degree away from His purpose to go “up to Jerusalem.”

What is his purpose for me?  I must be lead daily.  I don't know where I will be next week or even next year.  I the meantime- he wants me to:
1. To love Him above all else.
2. To be His servant.
3. To love others the way He does.
4. To obey His word.

Everything else will fall into place if I just do these things. (I've added one today...I thought of it yesterday but thought it would be an obvious part of #1 and #2...but today I added it)

I'm still taking baby steps and I can hear His voice a little better.

Photo by me. A road in Pifo, Ecuador.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Missionary’s Predestined Purpose

Now the Lord says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant . . . —Isaiah 49:5

Here's something to think about:
And when we are born again we are brought into the realization of God’s great purpose for the human race, namely, that He created us for Himself.

I'm created for Him, and yet I almost always get it wrong-that I am created for myself.

We must continually keep our soul open to the fact of God’s creative purpose, and never confuse or cloud it with our own intentions. If we do, God will have to force our intentions aside no matter how much it may hurt.

Believe me...I've experienced this.  I can attest to the truth of it.  What is God's purpose for me.
1. To love Him above all else.
2. To be His servant.
3. To love others the way He does.

A missionary is created for the purpose of being God’s servant, one in whom God is glorified. Once we realize that it is through the salvation of Jesus Christ that we are made perfectly fit for the purpose of God, we will understand why Jesus Christ is so strict and relentless in His demands. He demands absolute righteousness from His servants, because He has put into them the very nature of God.

Every day I think I need to keep this in mind-I exist for His purpose.  I was created for Him. In other words: I am not my own. 

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik. Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Divine Commandment of Life

. . . be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect —Matthew 5:48

The focus of today's devotional is Matthew 5:38-48. Take a minute to read it. I've linked it to Bible Gateway for your convenience.

So today we are about loving our enemies rather than just those who we feel a natural affection for.

Beware of living according to your natural affections in your spiritual life. Everyone has natural affections— some people we like and others we don’t like. Yet we must never let those likes and dislikes rule our Christian life. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7), even those toward whom we have no affection.

The example our Lord gave us here is not that of a good person, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “. . . be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” In other words, simply show to the other person what God has shown to you. And God will give you plenty of real life opportunities to prove whether or not you are “perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people.

It's a real tall order, I know...but that is what God calls us to do and that is what being a Christian is all about.  I don't really have too many people that are least that is what I told myself initially.  But when I really stop to examine myself, I know that there are people that I would rather not deal with. I am a substitute teacher.  There are students that are difficult to like.  I'll give you an example of a student that I encountered 2 days ago. Within 5 minutes of class starting, I had to write him up and send him to an in-school suspension room because he kept mimicking every word I said in order to throw off the lesson and amuse his peers (even while I was on the phone to the office regarding him).  How do I love a kid like that? How do I love the teenage girl who rolls her eyes and lies to me when I tell her that she needs to put away her cell phone? ("I don't have a cell phone!")  How do I love a teacher who treats me like "just a sub" who hasn't quite arrived at the grandeur of "teacherdom?"  How do I love some neighbors (who have since moved away) who constantly picked fights with me and the other neighbors over petty or even nonexistent things?  How do I love the special needs high school girl who's social skills equal an elementary school girl-and who annoyingly engages me in conversation and monopolizes all my time in class?  (That one makes me feel terribly ashamed...but I am all about opening my heart here).  So, I may not have enemies in the traditional sense...people threatening my life or trying to hurt me...but I have plenty of people that I can chalk up to being "enemies" in the spiritual sense.  How do I love these people? It's really hard to do that! Sometimes, quite frankly, I don't want to love them.

I'm trying to learn this "secret" that Chambers speaks of:
The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life, not in times of intimate fellowship with God. And when we come in contact with things that create confusion and a flurry of activity, we find to our own amazement that we have the power to stay wonderfully poised even in the center of it all.

The truth is that I cannot supernatural love others who I find irritating on my own. I can even "act" like I love them outwardly...but inside I wish they would go away. I want God to transform me so that in my heart I truly do love them.

Lord God, you are perfect.  The only way I can love others perfectly the way you do, is if you put that love in my heart for others.  I can't love them on my own.  They are just too annoying.  Help me to see them the way you do.  Amen.

Image Source: "Ithaca Street Art" by Shira Golding. from Creative Commons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are You Going on With Jesus?

You are those who have continued with me in my trials. Luke 22:28


Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him?

I've experienced some changing circumstances. Some good and some not so good-my brother dying, depression, losing another loved one, marriage, low income, no income, children, best friends moving to other countries, my father dying, my mother's aging and dementia, my children growing...and needing me less and less, the disappointment of being unable to find a job after going into debt to earn a Masters Degree,...actually I have it pretty easy compared to so many in the world.  This is all that's gone wrong in my life?

Anyway, my point is that everyone goes through changes.  Sometimes these changes are very good and sometimes they are painful.  In either case, it is easy to stop following Jesus.  If things are going great...we sometimes slack off in following him.  It seems we are doing fine on our own.  If things are going terrible, it might be easy to say, "Where is God?  He doesn't love me!"

We can't be Christians in name only-showing up at church, saying the mealtime prayer, saying the right things because we all know "church talk." That's not enough.  I was "raised born again."  I hardly know how to live another way.  But is it in my heart?  We need to be Christians in our hearts. In needs to be sincere through the good times and the bad.  Steadily onward.

 Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us? 

Image:  The score of the hymn: Onward Christian Soldiers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Missionary Weapons 2

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet  John 13:14.

What does it look like for me to wash another's feet?  Sometimes it mean offering to hold a crying and fussy baby so a mother can eat.  Sometimes it means clearing the dishes...when the dirty dishes aren't yours.

Sometimes it means volunteering your time to help another who is swamped with work. Sometimes it means doing a little extra at your job without getting paid for it-and that is where I failed today.  I was in a school library today, because I had two hours of free time while subbing for another teacher at the school.  I did some work in the library to help out.  I am an unemployed I know library work.  I did a little cataloging, book processing, and I showed the new aid a few things.  The new library aid is in her second week of work at the school and she knows almost nothing about library work.  The librarian has had almost no time to show her how to do things...and the aid is not a quick learner.  I only had to work until 11:00 today...and left promptly at 11:00.  It has occurred to me that I should have volunteered some time to help out.  It would have been washing her feet.  I didn't have to be anywhere, I just wanted to go home and eat lunch. Oh I hate it when I am so humanly selfish.

Aside from that I have ample opportunity to wash the feet of those around me every day.

The things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God’s power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done.
Jesus said, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (13:15).

How can I wash someone's feet today?  How can YOU wash someone's feet today?  (and do it willingly without complaint)  Sometimes we have to plan for it, other times opportunities can come upon us unexpectedly.

We have to go the “second mile” with God (Matthew 5:41). Yet some of us become worn out in the first ten steps. (Right after I finish this post, I am going to email that librarian and offer her my help.)

Photo: Statue of Christ washing the feet of saint Peter ( 18th century ), by Giovanni Giuliani.-taken by Wolfgang Sauber. Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 10, 2012

Missionary Weapons-1

Fig Tree
When you were under the fig tree, I saw you —John 1:48

The last sentence in the devotional today says:  
God’s training ground, where the missionary weapons are found, is the hidden, personal, worshiping life of the saint.

Basically it's all about being ready for a crisis. Do you think that when you are put to the test for your faith that you will rise to the occasion? If you are not worshiping in your private life,then you will fail to honor Him in the time of great testing.  This speaks deeply to me because I'm not sure I am doing what I should be doing in my private life.  Sometimes I get so busy that I barely give God a thought.

Everything will be out in the open, and you will find yourself to be of no value there if you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions in your own home.

I'm not entirely certain about Oswald's choice of scripture here.  I guess it symbolizes how Nathaniel acted when he was not in church...or with his spiritual friends...when he was in an everyday setting. If you have any insight on this, let me know.

Today's question to ponder is: Do you worship the Lord when you are alone in an every day setting?

Photo Image:  Taken by Mike Bogle. A picture of a fig tree in Sydney, Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fountains of Blessings

Water Fountain 2012

The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life John 4:14.

 Remember that song?

I've got a river of life flowing out of me! 
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see. 
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me! 

Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole! 
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.

I've got a lot of goals lately.  A new school year has begun...and it's almost like New year's to me. So in effect, I have some New Year's resolutions.  One of them is to stay at the that rivers of life will continually flow out of me.  Today's devotional isn't talking about a peaceful river or simple stream, but a gushing fountain. We are to continually stay at the source-Jesus Christ and drinking of the Holy Spirit.  We are not to do this with selfish motives (poor thinking: if I follow Jesus...I will be personally blessed) but we do it because it's the right thing to do and we are to be a blessing to others.

If you find that His life is not springing up as it should, you are to blame— something is obstructing the flow. It's a daily check...not always easy to do. It takes diligence and work.  Like getting regular physical exercise (which is also one of my resolutions).  What's blocking my flow, Lord?

Here's an entire paragraph from Chambers today because I cannot put it any better:
We are to be fountains through which Jesus can flow as “rivers of living water” in blessing to everyone. Yet some of us are like the Dead Sea, always receiving but never giving, because our relationship is not right with the Lord Jesus. As surely as we receive blessings from Him, He will pour out blessings through us. But whenever the blessings are not being poured out in the same measure they are received, there is a defect in our relationship with Him. Is there anything between you and Jesus Christ? Is there anything hindering your faith in Him? If not, then Jesus says that out of you “will flow rivers of living water.” It is not a blessing that you pass on, or an experience that you share with others, but a river that continually flows through you. Stay at the Source, closely guarding your faith in Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him, and there will be a steady flow into the lives of others with no dryness or deadness whatsoever.

I hope you will both join and encourage me on my journey.  I'm noticing that people are viewing this blog and so far, my sister is the only one that comments.  Please feel free to add to the comments here.

Happy gushing!

Photo source: By Wen95, via Wikimedia Commons: This is what I'm talking about, folks!  A Gushing fountain in England.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

It is interesting that I have now started to post responses to devotionals that I posted on a few years ago.  Check the archives for more on this one.

He who believes in Me . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water  John 7:38

There's that verse again!

I'm thinking about rivers again today.  How they start out small and unassuming....quite often a small stream in the mountains. The other thing I'm thinking about is how this small stream was just itself...allowing the waters to flow and bless others-tadpoles, minnows, little children playing, someone stooping during a hike to fill a water filter for a drink...someone's garden...or simply watering the grasses and wild flowers along it's bank. That stream isn't thinking..."I wish I were of some use in this the Nile or the Mississippi!" or thinking this, "When am I ever going to grow big so I can really be something?"  That stream simply flows and keeps flowing and blesses so many around it...even when the world hardly thinks about it.

God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.

Sometimes a stream encounters a fallen log or a piles of rocks...for a while it might seem like the stream will stop there and become stagnant. But it doesn't stop for long...the building power and strength of the water either break the barrier or find a way around it.  However, it would become stagnant if the source of the stream ceased to flow into it.  That is the way with us if we don't keep at our source: Jesus Christ.

The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.

I think this is quite a challenge-to stay at the source of the river that flows through us.  I get distracted, overly confident in myself, lazy, or just plain indifferent sometimes.  There is no room for this in a river that flows!  It is a daily battle to keep believing and looking to Him.

Photo by Jarlhelm :The stream in Teuchl, Austria. Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


They were Yours, You gave them to Me . . . John 17:6

“You are not your own” 1 Corinthians 6:19

This is going to be short...because today's devotional is fairly straightforward.  Do you realize to whom you belong to?  You belong to Jesus...therefore listen to Him.  Do what He wants you to do.  Go where He wants you to go.  Obey Him.  Follow Him.  Seek His will for you.  Consult Him.  Give up your will for His will.  You are not free to do your own thing. 

To say, “I am not my own,” is to have reached a high point in my spiritual stature. The true nature of that life in actual everyday confusion is evidenced by the deliberate giving up of myself to another Person through a sovereign decision, and that Person is Jesus Christ.

Photo Image:  This is a photo of my nephew and his fiance's hands...which I unabashedly stole from Michelle's facebook.  (Michelle...if you have a problem with this, let me know)  Used without permission. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pouring Out the Water of Satisfaction

He would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. 2 Samuel 23:16.

In this devotional this morning, Chambers talks about taking the blessings that God has given us, and pouring them out to Him.  When we do this, we also bless others.  Just like the rivers of living water that flow out to us.  I don't think that I am much of a blessing to others.  I think too much of myself.  It's interesting...lately the Lord has shown me something about myself that is not very flattering to me.  Another ouch.  He showed me that many times people will come up to me and ask me how I am doing...and then I proceed to talk about myself-my job situation, my family, etc...and then the conversation ends and I realize with great conviction that I never asked about the other person.  How are they doing?  How is their family?  Is there something they need prayer about?  On Saturday night, I went to a party and Wendy came up to me and asked me how I was doing...did I find a job yet, etc. I proceeded to blab away about how I've had job interviews and no bites, and how the market looks bleak for getting a job, blah blah blah.  I yacked at her for at least 20 minutes.  I could sense our conversation coming to an end when I realized that I had done it again.  It's all about me.  I quickly apologized and asked her how her family is.  She spoke a few minutes about how each one was doing.

I'm going to get better about this.  Lord Jesus, help me to focus on others and what they are going through...not just myself.

All this has very little to do with Chambers devotional today...just saying.  The thing is, I need to decide to be a blessing to others.  Here's something from Chambers today. How can I pour out “to the Lord” natural love and spiritual blessings? There is only one way— I must make a determination in my mind to do so.

If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you hoarded it. Yet if you had poured it out to Him, you would have been the sweetest person on earth. If you are always keeping blessings to yourself and never learning to pour out anything “to the Lord,” other people will never have their vision of God expanded through you. 

I am afraid that I have horded many blessings for myself.  I have horded my home because I did not think it was nice enough or big enough to entertain or bless others with.  I have horded conversation.

Today I am going to another picnic and I am determined to ask others about themselves and not talk about me. You can never set apart for God something that you desire for yourself to achieve your own satisfaction. If you try to satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you. You must sacrifice it, pouring it out to God— something that your common sense says is an absurd waste. This means my library degree, my talents and abilities, my money, my home, my interests, my family, my cooking skills, my piano playing, my car...even my dog.  It is all strange to think about, but every little thing I have is a blessing from God...and I must pour it back out to him. 

Lord, teach me how to do this.

Photo:  My daughter, Alicia and our dog, Sherman.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

He who believes in Me . . . out of his heart will flow . . . John 7:38

There's that verse again...the Lord must have really been bringing that message home to Oswald Chambers many years ago.  I wonder what that man's Bible looked like in that passage.  Was it like my own Father's Bible on some pages...underlined with all sorts of notes and symbols in the margin?

If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all.

All of my life I have been hoping to gain some things...a nice home, enough material possessions to make me comfortable...enough money to pay for all the things that we supposedly need in this life. A nice backyard so that we can enjoy it with friends. I keep going back to these desires and being frustrated because we are on a stationary bike in life. It seems like everyone around us is moving on down the road and we are still spinning our wheels in the same place. What is God trying to teach me in all of this? I've figured out that I am not seeing things from His perspective...I've figured this out and am trying to gain a new insight from Him...but how do I keep from looking back and then falling into the same ditch?

Chambers also mentions the scripture in Mark 14 where Mary pours the expensive perfume on Jesus' head.  Some people sitting there thought it was a terrible waste.  They were thinking about what could have been done with that money on earth.  I admit that I probably would have been sitting there thinking...,"that could have been used to pay for my tuition bill, or pay for _______."  I can fill that blank up with a lot of things.

Our Lord is filled with overflowing joy whenever He sees any of us doing what Mary did— not being bound by a particular set of rules, but being totally surrendered to Him. God poured out the life of His Son “that the world through Him might be saved.” Are we prepared to pour out our lives for Him?

Dear Lord,  after all of these years, I'm still not getting it.  I don't see things the way you do.  I see perfume dripping onto the floor.  I'm spinning my wheels spiritually too...not just in the worldly sense.  What do you want from me?  Where do you want me to go?

“He who believes in Me . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”— and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break “the flask” of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him? 

 I don't know how much longer I can keep reading these Chambers devotionals.  They are all so convicting.  (Realize this is said "tongue in cheek")

Photo: I took this one at Sonnenburg Gardens in Canandaigua, NY.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

Today, Chambers talks about how it is not important to know and understand when you are being of great use to the Lord.  In fact, it is by God's mercy that we don't know.  Otherwise...we tend to focus on our spiritual accomplishments, rather than simply walk with the Lord. Knowing can be detrimental to your walk. I believe it is true.  We humans are a prideful sort.  I can picture myself saying, "Yeah me!  Look what I did!"

If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it.

It is really so simple...but it seems to evade me.  Just live for Jesus each and every day!  He will do the rest!  He will make rivers of living water flow out of you...and that will effect everyone else around you in a positive way.  I want this.  I really do.

For quite some time I have felt like a desert spiritually.  No more.  I want living water!

Image Source:  Photo by Hubert Stoffels-The Jonathan's Run Falls in Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania. Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Unsurpassing Intimacy of Tested Faith

 Jesus said to her, ’Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ John 11:40.

If you haven't done so already, use the link to the right and go read the devotional yourself!  It is speaking to the very heart of where I am today.  Can I trust the Lord for everything in my life?  Can I trust him to provide for my needs and to guide and direct my steps?  It is a very difficult thing to do on a daily basis.  Especially when nothing seems to be working out! My stars never seem to line up. Sometimes I honestly feel like hollering out to God, "Are you up there?  Do you see me?  Do you hear me?"  He's the still small voice...that I keep missing...that I can't hear.

Chambers describes exactly how I feel:
Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, “I believe ’God shall supply all [my] need,’ ” the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?

Today I read some other pretty serious stuff in this month's Voice of the Martyrs publication.  Descriptions of believers being beaten and thrown into prison for months or even years...all because they follow Jesus.  What I am going through in my life can hardly be considered suffering when I read these things.  If God would allow that to happen to a Christian, why would he care about whether or not I have a job...or enough money to pay the bills?  Do I really believe the Lord will take care of me?

Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “It’s all a lie”? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, “Oh yes, I believe God can do it,” but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (Luke 9:28-42).

This week summer ends for me.  My job ends...and then I am faced with an uncertain school year...more of the same...with no end in sight.  I just feel so discouraged.

Photo:  I took this.  I don't know when or where it was just seems fitting somehow.  An unknown road going to an unknown destination...and it is winter.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sacrifice and Friendship

Wandering in the desert

I have called you friends . . .John 15:15

Truth jumps out in the very first paragraph of the Oswald Chambers devotional today:
We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if . . . !” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways.

Surrender is undoubtedly the most difficult thing for me to do in my walk with Christ.  It is because I want to control my life.  I want my plan to work.  I think I have a great idea for my life...and so many times that plan goes right on its head.  I get very frustrated by this and think, "Why, God?"  I keep striving for my own way all they time.  I also get consumed by worry.  As if worrying over something is giving me more control over a situation.  I fool myself into thinking that worrying is helping me. It is basically coming right down to the truth that I do not trust God for His best for me. I think I know best. This want and desire and struggle for control results in joyless living.

But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy...Have I ever yielded myself in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If He is not the One to whom I am looking for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in my sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life.

Lately I'm feeling more at peace because I am learning to trust Him more about my situation. (It also could be because my friend, Claudia says that she is praying for me constantly.) I have gotten to the end of myself and have thrown up my hands and said, "Okay, Lord. Whatever! I believe that you will work all of this out somehow." John 15:9-11 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. If I would just be wise enough to stay close to Him. Listening to His words and being grateful for what He has done for me, I would know joy and contentment.

Hebrews 12:1-2...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And Chambers again:
“I have called you friends. . . .” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us, which has no resemblance or attraction to our old life but only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

Why do I keep wandering away from Him over and over again? It always results in being parched with thirst because I end up in the desert. 

Image Source:Wandering in the Desert by Shayantani Sarkar, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Spiritual Search

What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Matthew 7:9

Today Chambers talks a little about human relationships between children and parents.  Parents generally give good things to a good child when he or she asks.  He also talks about Christians who simply ask God for things when they are not walking in the light.  These same Christians often say that God has not answered prayer because it is not His will that they have what they have asked for.  This may not be true.  What might be the case is God is not answering because they are not walking in the light as the Bible tells us to in the following verse.

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

We must constantly be examining ourselves in order to stay in the light and to be able to communicate with God and have His blessings in our lives.

Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence. Is your relationship right with your spouse, your children, and your fellow students? Are you a “good child” in those relationships?

We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? 

For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God.

I admit that I have been in this situation in my prayer life...where I feel like no one is listening...and quite often it really is because I am not in the light. It is reassuring that God my Father does want to give good gifts to me when I ask.  I also think that if I am truly walking in the light, I won't be as likely to ask for the wrong things.

Photo image: I took this one of a little boy pointing to a butterfly in a church parking lot in Pifo, Ecuador. That is his mother standing nearby.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I indeed...but He

I indeed baptize you with water . . . but He . . . will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11

There was a point where I finally came to the end of myself and said, "I cannot do anything to make myself Holy...I need Jesus to make me Holy."  It is the truth.  On my own...I am selfish...and I complain....and I cannot love my brother and sister the way a Christian should.  I get tired and cross.  I start wallowing in the negatives...and then self pity comes along and OUCH!  I can only wash my outside with water, but He cleanses me on the inside with fire.  Sometimes I can only paste on a smile and pretend to be Holy...but He can change my heart.

Here is what Chambers has to say about it:
Repentance does not cause a sense of sin— it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.

Sometimes I've tried to convince myself that I'm doing all right spiritually.  I'm a nice person, I believe in Jesus, I go to church, I attend Bible study on Thursday nights, I send my children to Christian camps, I even currently work at a Christian camp and I also keep a devotional blog...but it is all me doing the work and sooner or later I realize that I'm at the end of myself. That is when I know that Jesus needs to do some real work in my soul. My salvation (which is marked for me by a decision at age 15) is not just an experience I had once...but an on going work.

Chambers is so good at nailing it home that I will just end with his words:
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John is not speaking here of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. “He will baptize you . . . .” The only experience that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are ever conscious of is the experience of sensing their absolute unworthiness.

I indeed” was this in the past, “but He” came and something miraculous happened. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything.

Image source: Fuoco by Giovanni Dall'Orto. Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Ministry of the Unnoticed

Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .Matthew 5:3

Chambers translates the above verse in the following way:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . .” This literally means, “Blessed are the paupers.” And then he goes on to make the next statement, Paupers are remarkably commonplace!

Today's devotional is reassuring to me because quite often...I feel poor in spirit. I feel ordinary.  I am just me.  I'm not extroverted, outgoing or even strongly motivated most of the time.  I am just me.  I'm looking for a job, so some of these catch phrases really ...I don't know how to say it.  I guess they scare me because I'm just me.  I wish someone would give me a chance because if they did, they would find that I am a dependable worker and reliable and I'll try my best to do just about anything asked of me in a job (within reason of course). I'll stay late to finish a job...and I want to do the job I am meticulous and detailed.  But I'm also introverted, a little timid and somewhat quiet.  I'm not flashy or stylish.  I'm really quite commonplace in many regards.

Chambers again:
At the foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the genuine loveliness of those who are commonplace. I am truly blessed in my poverty. If I have no strength of will and a nature without worth or excellence, then Jesus says to me, “Blessed are you, because it is through your poverty that you can enter My kingdom.” I cannot enter His kingdom by virtue of my goodness— I can only enter it as an absolute pauper.

I can be assured that I am useful to God.  He loves me just the way he made me.  He has a purpose for me being...just me. I should never wonder if I can be of any use for God because:
If I wonder if I am being of any use to God, I instantly lose the beauty and the freshness of the touch of the Lord. “He who believes in Me . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). And if I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord.

I just need to believe and abide in Him. How do I abide in Him?  By doing what I studied "Coming to Him" (Matt 11:28).

I just want to believe in Him, abide in Him...and let Him do the rest.

Who are the people who have influenced us most? Certainly not the ones who thought they did, but those who did not have even the slightest idea that they were influencing us. In the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself.

Photo taken by me at Robert Treman State Park in 2010.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Self Awareness & Christ Awareness

(Two devotionals at once because they really go hand in hand)

Come to Me . . .Matthew 11:28

I admit to being very self aware and Chambers says:
Self-awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives.

He is also quick to point out that self-awareness in itself is not a sin...because it can happen suddenly because of nerves or being in an unfamiliar situation, but Chamber goes on to say that:
It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs our rest in Him must be rectified at once, and it is not rectified by being ignored but only by coming to Jesus Christ. If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.

I think that is one of my problems.  Instead of getting rid of it right away, I allow it to brew and grow...and then I am in the struggling and turmoil that he mentions previously.  I think it must be a mark of maturity...or at least growing towards that, to be able to recognize that I need to run with it to Jesus to get rid of it right away.

Never allow anything that divides or destroys the oneness of your life with Christ to remain in your life without facing it.

I think I've done this many times because I simply didn't recognize it as the "anything that divides" me from being one with Jesus. Perhaps that is why I'm going along and then I say, "I can't hear Him."

Nothing is as important as staying right spiritually. And the only solution is a very simple one— “Come to Me . . . .”

Continuing on with today's devotional:

. . . and I will give you rest Matthew 11:28.

This is really pounding home the previous devotional of turning to Christ immediately when something is causing us to be separated from Him.  Why have I done this again and again in my life?  Sometimes it is I mentioned in Saturday's post.  (Oh I know how truly stubborn I can be while walking with Jesus...believe me.  I am also truly fed up with myself...thus this devotional) Othertimes it is really something that has snuck up on me and come to me by surprise.  I pray that the Lord helps me be more and more aware of my being separate from Him so that I run to Him to fix it...instead of waiting and then saying, "Why can't I hear Him?"

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once, asking Him to re-establish your rest. Never allow anything to remain in your life that is causing the unrest. Think of every detail of your life that is causing the disintegration as something to fight against, not as something you should allow to remain. Ask the Lord to put awareness of Himself in you, and your self-awareness will disappear. Then He will be your all in all.

Following Christ is never a passive thing. I admit that I have a passive personality.  I'm generally not especially proud of this. Walking with Christ is something we need to work at.  We need to examine every detail of our lives so we can find the problems that have come between us and Christ, and then, don't stop there, but fight against these problems by taking them to Him and surrendering them.  It is too easy to see them as little and not anything of importance.

Chambers takes it one step furthur by saying:
Beware of allowing your self-awareness to continue, because slowly but surely it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is satanic.

All I can say is "Ouch" to that one.  Enough said.

The next paragraph in the Chambers study is so good that I cannot disect it with one or two sentences.  It is something to think about deeply:
A complete life is the life of a child. When I am fully conscious of my awareness of Christ, there is something wrong. It is the sick person who really knows what health is. A child of God is not aware of the will of God because he is the will of God. When we have deviated even slightly from the will of God, we begin to ask, “Lord, what is your will?” A child of God never prays to be made aware of the fact that God answers prayer, because he is so restfully certain that God always answers prayer.

And yet in the very next paragraph he says this:
Jesus says, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest,” that is, Christ-awareness will take the place of self-awareness.

I guess to put it simply, I just need to "Come to Jesus" because:
Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest— the rest of the completion of activity in our lives that is never aware of itself.

I guess it is sort of like climbing a giant hill...which I did on Saturday.  I was gasping for breath and needed to sit down for awhile before continuing (this example is not advocating sitting down while following Jesus). What I mean is, I was fully aware that I was in poor shape.  My husband and son just kept moving quite comfortably towards the top. I just want to be able to continue on with my walk without being concious of the fact that I'm either out of shape or in great shape.  Do you know what I mean?

Photo taken by me in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Have you ever been expressionless with sorrow?

When he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. Luke 18:23

I can totally relate to what Chambers said today in his devotional.  I really get it and have experienced it first hand. The stinging repercussions of my stubborn disobedience left me reeling for years.

Here's what Chambers said:
Have you ever been there? Has God’s Word come to you about something you are very rich in-temperament, personal affinity, relationships of the heart and mind?  Then you have been expressionless with sorrow. The Lord will not go after you, He will not plead, but every time He meets you on that point, He will simply repeat-if you mean what you say, these are the conditions. "Sell all that thou hasts" (Luke 18:22)

I can think of a time when I was a young woman and God tried to get my attention...he whispered to me in that still small voice that I needed to turn from a certain idolatry in my life.  I heard the whisper, but wouldn't listen. I was the rich young ruler...unable to sell all that I had and follow Jesus whole-heartedly.  The funny thing is, up until now I never could really relate to the rich young ruler. Afterall, I never was rich.  Or was I?  The truth is, many of us are rich in something.  I was rich in my love for a young man that I was head over heels in love with.  God told me that it was idolatry and that I needed to turn from it.  I wouldn't.  I claimed to be a follower of Jesus, and yet I turned away from what He said to me with an "expression of sorrow"-just as the rich young ruler had.  My story actually has a happy ending, although I did not consider it to be a happy ending at the time.  When I was a sophomore in college, I rededicated my life to the Lord and told Him to do anything it took to make me the woman of God that He wanted me to be.  So, in a sense, I gave God permission to remove this young man from my life...and He did. It was, without contest, the single-most painful thing that I ever went through.

Am I the woman God wants me to be?  I doubt it.  I am too sinful, too worldy...too selfish.  I have a long way to go.  I am rich in things today too.  I am rich in my desire to be comfortable-in a nice house without any trouble. I am rich in my trust in material goods and in $. I am rich in thinking that I am entitled to better things in my life.  Am I still turning away "expressionless with sorrow?" How do I surrender it? I am afraid of the pain that may follow. So was the rich young ruler. 

More quotes from Chambers to ponder:
That is where the battle is truly fought— in the realm of your will before God..

Beware of allowing anything to soften the hard words of Jesus Christ..

Discouragement is disillusioned self-love.

"Lord God, I do not want to be rich in this way. Please take it away. Help me to only be rich in you-Amen"

Photo by Geoffery Bard via wikimedia commons.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Does He know me...?

...when I have sadly misunderstood Him?
 (Mary-thinking He was the gardener while she was looking for Him near the tomb)

 ...when I have stubbornly doubted Him? (Thomas-declaring that he would not believe unless he placed his fingers in Jesus' nail pierced hand)

 ...when I have selfishly denied Him? (Peter-denying Christ three times, the last with curses)

 Today Chambers looks carefully at these three questions, while using examples in scripture. Each one of these people had a personal history with Jesus. They knew Him. Jesus forgave, loved and restored each one of these people to himself afterwards. That's encouraging because although it hurts to admit, I've been guilty of sadly misunderstanding Him, stubbornly doubting Him, and selfishly denying Him. He still knows and loves me. He won't let me go...even when I am awful to Him.

 Here's a quote from Chambers: Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.

I'm challenging myself with the following questions:
Do I know Him?  Do I talk with Him?  Do I love Him?  Do I truly follow Him?  Am I truly one with Him?

Photo of my daughter in Robert Tremain State Park

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Discipline of the Lord

 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. Hebrews 12:5

I have become very discouraged lately. Nothing is going "according to the plan" least not my plan that is. Is the Lord disciplining me?

When the Lord disciplines you like that, let Him have His way with you. Allow Him to put you into a right-standing relationship before God.

Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power and do a work in me that is truly worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me— sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.

 I have to admit that I'm not sure what is going on in my life. Is God disciplining me when things aren't going right-like not being able to find a job and not knowing where to turn next? Is God just stretching me? I still can't hear Him.

I know God wants me to trust Him...but it is so hard sometimes.

Image taken by me in Cooperstown, NY.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Do Not Quench the Spirit

Do not quench the Spirit  1 Thessalonians 5:19

Today I have decided to come back to this blog.  It was good for me...but I have stopped keeping it.  Since it was a good way to keep me accountable for doing a regular quiet time, I see value in it.  I admit to quenching the Spirit as of late. I am back to square one.

The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it.

I don't hear His voice anymore.  I can't hear it.  I say, "Why, Lord, aren't you loud like a thunder or a wind or an earthquake so I can hear you clearly?"  I know it is because He is never loud. He always chooses to whisper and I so often am caught up in my busy life so I cannot hear him.  Chambers included part of this scripture in the devotional today. (I Kings 19:11-13)
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I've heard this scripture story ever since I was a little girl...but as usual there is something new to be learned from it. I just noticed the end of the passage where God asks, "What are you doing out here, Elijah?"; So often when we finally hear God we discover that we haven't really been in the right place. In Elijah's case it wasn't where he was standing (God told him where to stand), but where he was thinking.  Elijah was sure that he was the only follower of God left and that people were trying to kill him. Actually people were trying to kill him, but that was irrelevant because God had called him to a mission and He is in control.  In the very next sentence God tells him to go back home and continue the ministry He had given him.

I admit that I do not hear God very much these days...and I am trying to get back to knowing Him.

If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it  .Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light.”  When-ever the Spirit gives you that sense of restraint, call a halt and make things right, or else you will go on quenching and grieving Him without even knowing it.

 Remember when I kept that devotional blog and was learning and hearing God and growing?  I've got to stop being sentimental and put my hand to the plow and look forward once again (Luke 9:62).

Never become attached to anything that continues to hurt God. For you to be free of it, God must be allowed to hurt whatever it may be.

I've become attached to complaining, looking at my situation in life and wanting more, thinking it's not fair that I'm not "getting ahead" at my age.  

Dear Lord, Help me to become free of these attachments so that I do not continue to hurt you. 

Photo by Ralf Roletschek via wikimedia commons.