Thursday Devotional

The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:17

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.  –Martin Luther

The following is a classic devotion by C. H. Mackintosh, taken from the book, Inspiring Faith 365 Days a Year.

“To live by faith is to walk with God: to cling to Him; to lean on Him; to draw from His exhaustless springs; to find all our resources in Him; and to have Him as a perfect covering for our eyes and a satisfying object for our hearts—to know Him as our only resource in all difficulties, and in our trials.

Such is the life of faith.  Let us see that we understand it.  It must be a reality or nothing at all. It will not do to talk about the life of faith; we must live it; and in order to live it we must know God practically—know Him intimately, in the deep secret of our own souls. It is utterly vain and delusive to profess to be living by faith and looking to the Lord, while in reality our hearts are looking to some creature resource. How often do people speak and write about their dependence upon God to meet certain wants, and by the very fact of their making it known to a fellow-mortal they are, in principle, departing from the life of faith!”

Anxious!

Do you know what time the play starts?

When were we supposed to be there for the sale?

How long is the surgery supposed to take?

I have to sit here in silence and meditate for how long???!

Linear time. I’m caught up in its constant tick, tick, ticking drum beat.

Where is rest, peace, calm, and serenity in TIME?

 

How much is two and two?

Did that touch from his hand mean he likes me?

When am I ever going to understand this disease?

What should I do, how should I do it, when should I do it, for how long should I do it???!

Understanding.  Is it God’s realm alone, or mine as well?

Where is rest, peace, calm, and serenity in UNDERSTANDING?

 

How much do I push to gain it?

What should I pay to buy it?

If it never comes, am I a failure?

Wisdom.  Like fine wine, it matures as I wait for it; God’s recipe, not mine.

Where is rest, peace, calm, and serenity in WISDOM?

 

“Peace, be still.” Mark 4:39

“You of little faith,” Jesus replied, “why are you so afraid?”  Matthew 8:26

“’This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!” Job 38:11

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:6
“…have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:18-19

 

 

Consider the Other boats

There were also other boats with them.  Mark 4:36

The story of the stormy sea is recorded in Mark’s gospel. You know it, right?  That time when Jesus was dog tired after performing miracles all day long, and he asked his crew to push-off in a boat and take him to other side of the lake?  It was the dusk of the day, and the Lord had been healing people since sun up.  He’d been listening to them, interceding for them, touching them and taking away their pain.  I bet his back ached and his feet hurt.  He had earned some much-needed rest for his all too human body about the time the wind came up.

Bolder and bolder the wind became, until the guys in the boat grew pale.  The gale force knew the Savior was in the boat, but it didn’t care.  Instead, it chose that moment to do what wind does: blow.

As I read the account of the storm that woke the Lord that day, I was impressed with the fact that “there were also other boats with them.”

Some have suggested that Jesus got in the boat that night to escape further ministry.  I’m not sure I “buy” that.  Others say he hopped in the boat and asked the guys to take him to the other side of the lake because he had work to do over there the next day. Maybe.  Still others say the Savior did what he did, when he did it, so that He might impress his disciples or maybe be alone with them.  I think we can pull from the narrative recorded in Mark’s gospel and put some of it in Column A and other parts of it in Column B, and we’d be okay doing that, but what drew me in today was the miracle that happened in those boats that Jesus was not safely sleeping inside.

They took on water, too.

They were shrouded in darkness, too.

The men inside them had their hair soaked by the briny waves, too.

They feared for their lives, too!

When the storm was silenced and the waves made to quit their threats, Jesus had accomplished many things.  He’d scolded his followers, he’d saved their fishy hides, he’d given them a lesson on faith versus fear to ponder, and he’d saved the lives of those others in the other boats.

Can you imagine what the crowds looked like when the rooster crowed the next day?  I’m guessing the word quickly got around that Jesus had saved them all–not just his fearful, faithful fellows in the ministry, but also those of the fringe.

What a great reminder to hide in my heart as I fight back against nausea in my own half-sunk boat.

Jesus: In the stormy forecasts of life, He is salvation for us all!

Am I really helping?

Sometimes I read a devotional and think, “Wow, that is harsh!  That is cutting, brutal honesty. That is what needs to happen here, because, yeah, I’ve come to the end of my understanding with this person/situation/circumstance, and only the touch of the Holy One is going to be able to right what has gone wrong here.”  I had that thought today, as I read Oswald Chambers.  Brutal. Honest. Raw! Nothing I wanted to cozy up to, I assure you.  This is, in part, what Oswald had to share today:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30

“If you become a necessity to a soul, you are out of God’s order.  As a worker, your great responsibility is to be a friend of the Bridegroom.  When once you see a soul in sight of the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been in the right direction, and instead of putting out a hand to prevent the throes [struggles], pray that they grow ten times stronger until there is no power on earth or in hell that can hold that soul away from Jesus Christ.”

He goes on to say, “Over and over again, we become amateur providences, we come in and prevent God; and say—This one was a thief, he stole my affections from Jesus, and I lost my vision of Him.”

He finishes with, “Never mind what havoc it brings, what upsets, what crumblings of health, rejoice with divine hilarity when once His voice is heard.  You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it.”

Wow!  That is mind numbing stuff, isn’t it?  Our NATURAL inclination as believers is to rush in, do all we can to prevent further damage…BE that solution for others who are struggling.  And listen, I don’t think we should withhold goodness, or mercy, or help to those who need it, but we might benefit by asking the Lord if He is causing their struggle. What if he wants them broken and the only way to accomplish it is through their present hardship? What if He wants them to see HIM as their Savior, and not us? What then?

This brings up so many questions—questions only God can answer.

Today, let’s invest out time in finding out what He thinks.  Let’s listen long and hard BEFORE we do any more harm with our helping ways.

This message is counter intuitive, I will admit, but it rings true to my listening ears.  I’d love to hear your thoughts concerning it, and what the Lord reveals to you when you bring your service for Him before his throne and ask him if you’ve been moving in the right direction when offering help to others.

May we all see His Way more clearly, and do His Will more surely.  Amen.   

The Terrible Truth about Satan

Teaching on Satan and his power to subvert God’s intentions for our lives, Phillip Keller wrote this:

“The terrible truth is he is very real, very active, and exceedingly deceptive.  While appearing to give us liberty by allowing us to do whatever we wish in response to our own inherent selfishness or sin, he watches us actually enslave and destroy ourselves.

Many of us have been under the wrong management most of our lives. We have been in the wrong hands. We have been so mishandled that all of the original, superb purposes for which we were created have been totally distorted and misspent. We are virtual slaves to sin, to ourselves,and to Satan.

Yet the Stranger of Galilee comes into our lives. He looks upon us with love.  He touches us with tenderness. He sees beyond our sins.  He extends His knowing hands to take us into His understanding care.

We are not always keen to go.

We are afraid He may have sinister motives.

We recoil from His control.

Life under the old master has made us very suspicious. We are not at all sure things will be any better now.”

It’s here that I ask readers to pause and meditate.  Think on those times when you were not keen to go into God’s care. Times when you wondered—because of your current circumstances—if God did indeed have sinister motives for you or your loved ones.  Our memories can be our worst enemies, because they so often twist the truth, making events and injuries seem much worse than what we experienced in real time. This is another of Satan’s evil machinations concerning us.

Try to dig deep and be honest with yourself when answering these questions.

When have we recoiled from God’s control over us?

I can attest to not being keen on God’s plan for me at times.  I’ve been suspect concerning God’s motives or His plan. I’ve experienced times when I recoiled from the Bible as it called out to me from the shelf, beckoning me to pick it up, read, digest its truth, and be comforted.

“No,” I’ve said aloud.  “I won’t pick you up!”

Admittedly, I’ve had my moments of stubbornness, rebellion, and self-will run riot—all to my personal detriment, I might add. These only delayed my recovery.

Keller goes on to write:

“In our human ignorance and suspicion, we are convinced that to come to Christ’s care can be even worse bondage than before.

It takes some of us a lifetime to learn that Christ, our Good Shepherd, knows exactly what He is doing with us…”  [emphasis mine, ljh]

There it is again–the suggestion that we might be suspicious in our dealings with God. That we might doubt his sincerity and goodness…that we cannot be sure when dealing with Him that we are getting the right guidance, being moved in the right direction, or being loved for who we are and not anything we do.

Oh, Christian, I have been there and I know the pain of his sulfurous warmth breathing down my neck.

I have dwelt in that dark land for longer than I wished. I have been the one who publicly said of my Savior that I loved him, while privately I resisted him and wondered how He could find anything in me that might be attractive to Him or anyone else.

THIS is the terrible truth about Satan that every believer needs to know:

Satan is a liar.

Satan is a deceiver and a destroyer.

Satan robs, kills, maims, and mocks.

Satan has no love in him—in fact, he is the absence of love in all that he does.

Satan wants our worship.

Satan calls to us in our vulnerabilities.

Satan whispers doubt into our anxious ears and causes our hearts to faint toward God.

Satan hides in our secrets, our shyness, our sheltered and fiercely protected offenses.

Satan has a hard time working his magic in the life that suspects him, and trusts wholly in the Lord.

Did you read that last none?  It’s the most important one of all.

Today, I’m fully aware of how much Satan has done to distort my view of God, and I’m fighting back against his scandalous assault on all things holy.

These are the things I’m doing to wage war on the enemy:

I’m fully surrendering myself to God, to do with my life as He wishes.

I’m leaning in to God, getting close enough to hear the smallest whisper of his Word to my heart.

I’m believing that God is in the restoration business and does his best work in broken people.

I’m trusting God to erase the memories that Satan’s left in my mind; memories that are based on nothing but lies, distortions, and clever schemes to mask the purity of the Mighty One’s desires for us.

I’m hiding God’s Word in my heart, that I might not ever again forget His Majesty and love for me.

I’m chasing Joy, and grabbing hold of Love, and clinging to Hope.

Won’t you join me?

What lies about the enemy have you discovered this year?  What have you done to break free of the distortions Satan has put in your path?

 

On my current reading list…

000BOOK

A friend lent me this book.  We had both read Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer previously. He knows I’m interested in the era surrounding WWI and WWII.  Scary stuff, but much of it similar to the prevailing process of thought in our country.

Once you take God out of the equation and each man becomes his or her own authority, spiritual or otherwise, terrifying things begin to happen.

I’m not much for horror movies. I get my shivers from reading stuff like this.

Fascinating read!

 

 

The Relinquished Life

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

The following is an excerpt from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest and is titled, The Relinquished Life

No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things.  To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretense. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavor, but real solid sin; that is all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretense of being anything, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.

Then the Spirit of God will show us what further there is to relinquish…

If you are up against the question of relinquishing, go through the crisis, relinquish all, and God will make you fit for all that He requires of you.”  -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Today, I feel called to ask those of you reading my blog to be in prayer for the broken people both inside and outside the church.

Please pray for all those who are struggling with sickness, sadness, and anxiety at this time.

Remember those who struggle with addictions and abandonment.

Pray for all those who face a loss of mental and emotional wholeness.

We who call ourselves the Church–Jesus is our Master.  As such, the broken ones are our people! 

Remember, Jesus was made to break, too.

Please do your best to support the broken in prayer, in word, in deed, and in love today.

Christ calls us to weep with the brokenhearted and broken in spirit, to pray for the lost, to uphold the cause of the church, and to defend and support her however we can.  This place, this house and body that God inhabits, it needs to work in coordination with the Father’s restoration project as fully and well as it (we) can.

Please do what you can to be a part of the noble effort God has presented to his people.  A great place to begin is prayer!

Because he loves me…

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  he will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will delivery him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.  Psalm 91:14-16

God thirst to be thirsted after. –Saint Augustine

Psalm 91 opens with these words: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most Hight will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Hallelujah!  I wanted to write on that premise today, but once I read through the remainder of the Psalm in my own devotional time, I felt like the last few words of the prayer and reflection contained, for me, the stronger message.

“Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”

Because he loves me…

Do I love God?

How do we I God?

How well do I love Him?

I will rescue him…

What danger am I in?

Why do I need rescuing?

Who is my Rescuer today?

I will protect him…

Do I feel in need of God’s protection today?

Have I asked for it?

For he acknowledges my name…

When was the last time I shared Jesus with anyone who didn’t already know Him well?

How long since I’ve cried out to Him, and then rested in His power?

When was I last thirsty for that which only God can supply?

God thirsts to be thirsted after.  Today, I begin again…

Dear Mr. Webster

webster_collegiate_11

Dear Mr. Webster,

I think you should alter the definition of diet in your famous dictionary, to this:

Diet:  A period of deprivation followed by a 20 to 25 pound weight gain.

I think this would help all of us to understand how different a diet is from a food plan, which is used to calculate the wise and conscious choices that encourage healthy eating and produce permanent weight loss.

Just my two cents…

Thanks! Lori