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.