Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trusting My Father

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. —Matthew 6:33

Do I do this? Truly seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first? Really first? Above all other concerns in my life? Do I think about it and strive for it more than doing my job well, taking care of my house, worrying about finances, concerns about our old car, the house needing painting, getting new clothes, old wounds, what others think of me, my children, what I'm going to cook for dinner.....? Paying the bills when they come? Getting out of debt? Is the kingdom of God and His righteousness my FIRST concern?

"The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live. Jesus reversed the order by telling us to get the right relationship with God first, maintaining it as the primary concern of our lives, and never to place our concern on taking care of the other things of life." (Oswald Chambers)

 I don't get this right. I stumble on this one. But, you know what? I think it's getting better. The Lord just keeps pounding this one home again and again. Over and over again in my life. I need to trust Him! Not my money, not my job status, not my 403b, not my investments...nor my savings. I have come to the conclusion that the Lord never intended me to be wealthy...or financially independent. Every time we seem to be doing better with money...along comes another trial. Our car needing major work done on it. Another child going off to college. Another emergency room visit. And every time one of these trials comes along (and it seems to be often), He shows us that it's all going to be okay. We are never hungry. We have a place to live, we keep breathing.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25

We have everything that we need. I have made a resolution that I will not worry anymore about our retirement. I know he will provide for us. This does not mean we can be stupid with our money. We will still save, choose wisely what we will purchase, forgo the purchase of the yacht...I will still contribute to my 403b and Jamie will still contribute to his 401k, but we will not worry about being years behind in our retirement.

I will trust the Lord and seek Him first. I will trust Him. I will allow Him to be in the driver's seat of my life. I won't worry about what road He will take me down. I won't worry about where I will live or how I will clothe or feed myself when I get there. I will trust Him and enjoy the journey.

It is one of the most difficult, yet critical, disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into absolute harmony with the teaching of Jesus in these verses.(Chambers)

Isn't that the truth?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Take the initiative

Add to your faith virtue... 2 Peter 1:5

Today's devotional from Oswald Chambers is about taking initiative. It is about developing habits of prayer, Bible study, and devotion. It's crazy that as usual, I am reading in a devotional the exact thing that I am hearing the Lord tell me. I am simply out of the habit of  spending regular time with him. A long time ago, hardly a day went by that I did not do a devotional. I remember filling notebook pages full of notes and thoughts on scripture. I remember writing out lists of names of people I was praying for. I am ashamed that now it is the opposite. Hardly a day goes by where I spend the time I need to with the Lord.

The enemy has been attacking me vigorously and visciously with terrible painful memories. Ones that make me angry and feel resentment. I have trouble sleeping during these times. I will go to bed and fall asleep immediately, and then around three o'clock AM or so, that awful snake will wake me up to torture me. I got to school fairly early two days ago, around 6:45, and I read a devotional book that I have on my desk. It was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego going through the flames and how the Lord was with them. I know the Lord is with me through the flames...but I know that those three men took initiative every single day to walk closely with the Lord.  They were able to realize his presence with them. I remember thinking to myself that I ought to make a habit of doing a devotional every single morning at work...and yesterday I forgot. Today I forgot at first and then I remembered,...but was immediately distracted by an article that I needed to find for a teacher about language development in children. Later, as I was packing up for the day...I saw my lonely devotional sitting on my desk....Streams in the Desert.

"We need to steep ourselves in scripture, through prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to teach us, reveal truth to us, expose the lies in our hearts and replace them with His Truth." (A quote from my friend Ruth's blog post for today)

Today Oswald says this:

We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him.

So true. So true...and I know it. I've known this forever and I've been ignoring it.  Now I just need to simply act upon that knowledge.

Beware of the tendency to ask the way when you know it perfectly well. Take the initiative— stop hesitating— take the first step. Be determined to act immediately in faith on what God says to you when He speaks, and never reconsider or change your initial decisions. (Chambers)

We have to get into the habit of carefully listening to God about everything, forming the habit of finding out what He says and heeding it. If, when a crisis comes, we instinctively turn to God, we will know that the habit has been formed in us. We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we have not yet been.(Chambers)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. ~Phillipians 2:12