Friday, January 13, 2017
I remember a time when I was 22 or 23 and I was having a minor freak out
over what I should be doing with my life. I had certainly planned on being married by then and at the peak of my calling(you can all laugh). I seriously thought I had missed it. I remember processing all of this with a leader and he gave me some advice:"Throw yourself into the knowledge of God." Initially, I was like "that's it?" I wanted him to tell me what to do with my life and who to marry! Little did I know that this advice would ring in my heart in each season of both heartache and blessing, as well as job/assignment and relationship changes through the next 7 years. Although, sadly, I was weak many times in following this advice through my 20's, I believe that the times that I did have greatly impacted and stabilized my internal world, especially through pain.
One of my favorite examples of someone who walked this out throughout their life was David. When he fell into sin and made a mess of his life, he returned to God and poured out his heart before Him(Psalm 51). When David was surrounded by enemies being mocked and slandered by them, he gave Himself to meditating on God's laws. He wasn't going around justifying Himself and slandering them too, but gave Himself to God's Word and prayer.
If that was me, my initial response would be to justify myself to some people and find something to distract myself with.
"Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes."
"The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law."
"Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have given me life.
I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
The wicked wait for me to destroy me,
But I will consider Your testimonies."
Many of us have pain, some of it from our own doing, some of it from other people, some of it from loss, all of which come from living life in a fallen world. No one can escape pain, it touches everyone. Sometimes, we experience seasons of great increase and blessing and pain is the furthest thing from our mind. No matter what season we are in, we have a thousand options to escape or indulge, and the choices we make in each season will greatly impact the next.
Let's Be Practical
So all of us are in different seasons of life and have different amounts of times on our hands, so giving ourselves to the knowledge of God will look a little different, but will still take intentionality. To the mom, it could look like hanging a verse above the kitchen sink or the steering wheel, and praying it and saying it briefly. To the single person, it could look like scheduling time in the Word and prayer rather than using all of your free time hanging out, watching Netflix, or on social media(guilty 🙋). To many, it could look like joining a Bible study and staying committed to it. I know for me it's easy to get excited the first few weeks of a Bible study, and then the 4th week, Id rather stay home or do something else, but I have found staying committed when I don't feel like it bears a lot of fruit. Like I said before, we have a thousand easy ways to distract ourselves and it takes real intentionality to reign in our minds and our lives to focus on God, but anytime we engage with the Word, we are sowing seeds of life and truth into our hearts and minds.
It's Not Too Late
It's not too late, you're not too young or too old to get a vision for growing in the knowledge of God. I know what it's like to look back with regret on poor choices or to look at my own current life and be overwhelmed with where I'm at, but God's mercies are new and I can choose to lean into His grace, cry out for an increased hunger for Him, and make small choices in my present life to talk to Him and grow in His Word.
May we have a cry like Paul in our hearts, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...Not that I have already attained all of this or been perfected; but I press on, that I may lay ahold of that which has laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself as have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ."~Philippians 3:7-8, 12-14
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
People who ski, I suppose, are people who happen to like skiing, who have time for skiing, who can afford to ski, and who are good at skiing. Recently I found that I often treat prayer as though it were a sport like skiing--something you do if you like it, something you do in your spare time, something you do if you can afford the trouble, something you do if you're good at it. Otherwise you do without it most of the time. When you get in a pinch you try it and then you call an expert.
But prayer isn't a sport. It's work. As soon as I've said that I'm in trouble because so many sports have become professional and as such are almost wholly indistinguishable from work. I could say that work is something you have to decide to do, you have to allow time for, you have to go at with energy, skill and concentration. But all those things could be said of the big business which is sports. Competition is deadly, equipment highly technical and expensive, salaries absurdly high.
But prayer is no game. Even if you are part of a "team," as when others join you in prayer, you are not cheered on by spectators or coached by any experts. You won't get any trophies--not on this side of the Jordan, anyway. It's not likely you'll get any credit at all. For some people prayer might fall into the category of "fun," but that's not usually the reason we pray. It's a matter of need and responsibility.
Prayer is work because a Christian simply can't "make a living" without it. He can't live a Christian life at all if he doesn't pray.
Prayer is the opposite of leisure. It's something to be engaged in, not indulged in. It's a job you give first priority to, performing not when you have energy left for nothing else. "Pray when you feel like praying," somebody has said. "Pray when you don't feel like praying. Pray until you do feel like praying." If we pray only "at our leisure"--that is, at our own convenience--can we be true disciples? Jesus said, "Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences" (Luke 9:23 LB).
The apostle Paul did use an analogy from sports to describe prayer. He said we "wrestle." In the wrestling of a Christian in prayer, "our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil" (Eph. 6:12, Phillips). Seldom do we consider the nature of our opponent, and that is to his advantage. When we do recognize him for what he is, however, we have an inkling as to why prayer is never easy. It's the weapon that Unseen Power dreads most, and if he can get us to treat it as casually as we treat a pair of skis or a tennis racquet he can keep his hold.
If we're going to ask, "Is prayer work?" somebody will want to ask, "Does prayer work?" That question assumes that results ought to be measurable. The trouble is they are not by any means always measurable or predictable because the One to whom we address our prayers is infinite and incomprehensible, "and all that is comprehensible about him" (wrote John of Damascus) "is his infinity and incomprehensibility." His thoughts are as much higher than our thoughts as the heavens are higher than the earth.
And he is Love. Infinite Love will never give a stone when bread is asked for, or a scorpion in place of an egg. But what will Infinite Love give if our prayer is for a scorpion?
Prayer is compared in the Bible to incense. "Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee," wrote the Psalmist, and the angel who stood before the altar with the golden censer in Revelation 8 was given incense to mingle with the prayers of the saints. Incense was very expensive, blended by a perfumer according to a strict formula. It appears to serve no particularly useful purpose. Its smoke and fragrance soon dissipate. Couldn't incense be done without?
Prayer is like incense. It costs a great deal. It doesn't seem to accomplish much (as we mortals assess things). It soon dissipates. But God likes the smell. It was God's idea to arrange the work of the tabernacle to include a special altar for incense. We can be pretty sure he included all that was necessary and nothing that was unnecessary.
Christ prayed. He offered thanksgiving, he interceded for others, he made petitions. That the Son--co-equal, co-eternal, consubstantial with the Father--should come to the Father in prayer is a mystery. That we, God's children, should be not only permitted but commanded also to come is a mystery. How can we change things by prayer? How "move" a sovereign and omnipotent God? We do not understand. We simply obey because it is a law of the universe, as we obey other laws of the universe, knowing only that this is how things have been arranged: the book falls to the floor in obedience to the law of gravity if I let go of it. Spiritual power is released through prayer.
I could say, "God can make my hands clean if he wants to," or I could wash them myself. Chances are God won't make my hands clean. That's a job he leaves up to me. His omnipotence is not impaired by his having ordained my participation, whether it be in the washing of hands with soap or the helping of a friend with prayer. Christ redeemed the world by the laying down of his life, a perfect sacrifice, once for all. Yet he is in the business, as David Redding says, of "maintenance and repair." He lets us participate with him in that business by the laying down of our own lives.
One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying, in effect, "my life for yours." My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my concentration, my faith--here they are, for you. So it is that I participate in the work of Christ. So it is that no work of faith, no labor of love, no smallest prayer is ever lost, but, like the smoke of the incense on the golden altar, rises from the hand of the angel before God.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience,
that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by
other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do
things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may
push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans,
but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such
failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of
their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such
thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification
that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy
left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants
you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence
upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by
day out of an unseen treasury.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden
in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for
His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let
others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him
and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without
knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more
precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done,
and thus make YOUR REWARD TEN TIMES GREATER WHEN JESUS COMES.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and
will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time,
which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind
that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a right to do as He
pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which
puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell
yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and
bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the
Settle it forever, then that you are to DEAL DIRECTLY WITH THE HOLY
SPIRIT, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or
chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem
to use with others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God
that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this
PECULIAR, PERSONAL, PRIVATE, JEALOUS GUARDIANSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OVER YOUR LIFE, then you will have found the vestibule
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Yahweh is my Shepherd. I belong to Him. His leadership is perfect! He feeds me in the best pasture, gives me clean water to drink, shields me from the enemy, and leads me on the path of life. When I wander and get lost going my own way, He searches for me and brings me back. He binds up the broken places in my heart and heals me when I am sick. Because my Shepherd is perfect in every way, I lack nothing. He knows me and I know His voice. He knows exactly what I need and when I need it. He lays down His life for me and gives me life. No one can pluck me from His hand. For the sake of His great Name, He leads and guides me.
Friday, March 5, 2010
What do I really count dear? If I have not been gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear, time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself. Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received; he refused to use his energy for any other thing. Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance at being asked to consider himself; he was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Practical work may be a competitor against abandonment to God, because practical work is based on this argument--Remember how useful you are here, or--Think how much value you would be in this particular work. That attitude does not put Christ as the guide as to where we are most use. Never consider whether you are of use; but ever consider that you are not your own but His."