Today's My Utmost for His Highest had real bearing on where I am in my life right now. Here is the text:
Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ's plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose – that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.
Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ – "That I may know Him." To fulfil God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.
"My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God."
Am I measuring my life by this standard or by anything less?
Well, am I? I want to be…I just don't know how to make it be. I know that we are commanded to be God's ambasadors wherever we are. I also know that going to "church" has no bearing on doing that or not. But how do you do that? How do you get involved outside of church? When I worked a secular job, I met people there. Other than that, I went to church. In Richmond, I work with believers. I go to church. How can I get involved in the community to meet people?
Right now, I'm having a great struggle with what I want to do and know I should do and how to get there. "Missionaries" aren't the only ones called. All Christians are called to witness. Some are called overseas while others are called here. Yet others are called to go about their jobs here and be witnesses that way.
Please pray with me that God would show me how I can be involved with Him and His work where I am right now in Richmond.
I was doing some research (and yak shaving today) and came across this online Bible Study site. It looks like it will track progess and everything. Looks really kind of neat.
I never thought I would say this, but I'm thinking about going back to school. I'm thinking of attending seminary. Here are the criteria I have in mind:
Online Learning — I must be able to complete either all (or a significant portion of the program) without setting foot on campus. I have a job and I need to keep it.
Conservative — I'm not going to a liberal heretical seminary. That means they must teach the truth starting with the fact that the Bible is the Word of God. God inspired men to write what He wanted on paper. It has no error in it.
Cost — I'm not wealthy so the cost needs to be reasonable
There are some things I'm leaning towards:
Baptist — I don't think it necessarily has to be a Baptist school, but one that is close in beliefs
Anyone have any suggestions?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light
—1 Peter 2:9
How about it Christian? Are we walking like we are a royal priesthood? Are we walking around going "Oh woe is me. God can never use me." Not with an attitude like that!
Have you seen the movie El Mariachi? The content of the move isn't important here, but it was written, directed, shot, etc… by Robert Rodriguez. He later went on to write a book about film making. He even did a video short called the 10 Minute Filmakers School. In both of those places, he makes the following point: (Matt's paraphrase here)
Don't just think about being a filmmaker someday. Call yourself a film maker today. Go out and shoot some film.
That has an application in our Christian life too. Don't just think "Oh, someday God will use me. God will make me right with Him someday." Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Go out and act like God will use you. Ask Him to show you where He is working. Go out and find it. As the Nike slogan says: "Just Do It."
Oswold Chambers has the following to say:
How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves? We must get sick unto death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God can tell us about ourselves. We cannot touch the depths of meanness in ourselves. There is only one place where we are right, and that is in Christ Jesus. When we are there, then we have to pour out for all we are worth in this ministry of the interior.
Saturday's My Utmost for His Highest talks about how to act when God speaks. The text is Peter walking on Water: Matthew 14:22-33. Here is what Oswold Chambers had to say about that:
The wind was actually boisterous, the waves were actually high, but Peter did not see them at first. He did not reckon with them, he simply recognized his Lord and stepped out in recognition of Him, and walked on the water. Then he began to reckon with the actual things, and down he went instantly. Why could not our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves as well as on the top of them? Neither could be done saving by recognition of the Lord Jesus.
We step right out on God over some things, then self-consideration enters in and down we go. If you are recognizing your Lord, you have no business with where He engineers your circumstances. The actual things are, but immediately you look at them you are overwhelmed, you cannot recognize Jesus, and the rebuke comes: "Wherefore didst thou doubt?" Let actual circumstances be what they may, keep recognizing Jesus, maintain complete reliance on Him.
if you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say – "Well, I wonder if He did speak?" Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.
How many times to we sit and wonder if God is speaking? How many times do we sit and ask God over and over to speak to us when he already has spoken. We are quick to judge Gideon for "throwing out the fleece" (Judges 6:36-40) when we do essentially the same thing.
Today's My Utmost for His Highest had an interesting take on this topic. One I never thought of before.
Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said – "I will lay down my life for Thy sake" and he meant it; his sense of the heroic was magnificent. It would be a bad thing to be incapable of making such a declaration as Peter made; the sense of our duty is only realized by our sense of the heroic. Has the Lord ever asked you – "Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake?" It is far easier to die than to lay down the life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling. We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways. There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father, and, John says, "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." It is contrary to human nature to do it.
If I am a friend of Jesus, I have deliberately and carefully to lay down my life for Him. It is difficult, and thank God it is difficult. Salvation is easy because it cost God so much, but the manifestation of it in my life is difficult. God saves a man and endues him with the Holy Spirit, and then says in effect – "Now work it out, be loyal to Me, whilst the nature of things round about you would make you disloyal." "I have called you friends." Stand loyal to your Friend, and remember that His honour is at stake in your bodily life.
The text was from John 15:13,15.
Are we called to die for the cause of Christ? Certanly if the situation demads it. But, isn't it harder to lay down my life every day at His feet and live for Him instead of myself??
Well, I have decided one thing I'm going to do…. There are 31 Chapters in Proverbs. That means I can read one chapter per day. Every day, I am going to begin reading the chapter for that day. Here is today's:
1Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
2He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.
3In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
4Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
5A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
6A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
7Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
8The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
9Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.
10The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
11The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.
12There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
13Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
14The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
15The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
16A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.
17He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.
18The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.
21He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
22Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.
23In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
24The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.
25A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.
26In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
27The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
28In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
29He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
30A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
31He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
32The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.
33Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.
34Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
35The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.
Does anyone have any ideas for a good individual Bible Study?
Well, why don't we? Today's My Utmost for His Highest has an interesting take on that very question:
Are you seeking great things for yourself? Not seeking to be a great one, but seeking great things from God for yourself. God wants you in a closer relationship to Himself than receiving His gifts, He wants you to get to know Him. A great thing is accidental, it comes and goes. God never gives us anything accidental. There is nothing easier than getting into a right relationship with God except when it is not God Whom you want but only what He gives.
If you have only come the length of asking God for things, you have never come to the first strand of abandonment, you have become a Christian from a standpoint of your own. "I did ask God for the Holy Spirit, but He did not give me the rest and the peace I expected." Instantly God puts His finger on the reason – you are not seeking the Lord at all, you are seeking something for yourself. Jesus says – "Ask, and it shall be given you." Ask God for what you want, and you cannot ask if you are not asking for a right thing. When you draw near to God, you cease from asking for things. "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." Then why ask? That you may get to know Him.
Are you seeking great things for yourself? "O Lord, baptize me with the Holy Ghost." If God does not, it is because you are not abandoned enough to Him, there is something you will not do. Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God and why you want it? God always ignores the present perfection for the ultimate perfection. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy just now; He is working out His ultimate perfection all the time – "that they may be one even as We are."
So, why don't we get things from God? Why doesn't he "answer" our prayers (he does…just not the way we always want)? Simply because we are asking for the wrong things. We are asking for things for us: a new car, bigger house, more money, etc…. In reality, we should be asking God to reveal Himself to us, to draw us closer to Him, to use us for His will.
How often do we see people start off with a bang serving God only to see them fizzle like a flash-in-the-pan? Today's My Utmost for His Highest reading offers an insight into the kind of attitude we need to have to avoid this. The scripture reference is 2 Corinthians 3:18:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Here is a quote from the devotion:
A servant of God must stand so much alone that he never knows he is alone. In the first phases of Christian life disheartenments come, people who used to be lights flicker out, and those who used to stand with us pass away. We have to get so used to it that we never know we are standing alone…. We must build our faith, not on the fading light, but on the light that never fails. When "big" men go we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, the one thing that remains is looking in the face of God for ourselves.
We are never called on to parade our doubts or to express the hidden ecstasies of our life with God. The secret of the worker's life is that he keeps in tune with God all the time.
In short, Oswald Chambers is suggesting we–prepare to be shocked here–keep our eyes focused on God. What a novel idea! Just as the Bible teaches, we shouldn't follow after men or what men believe. We should keep our eyes focused on God and what He wants us to do. That will see us through the valley.
There is a passage somewhere in The Pilgrim's Progress where Christian goes through a valley. I don't have the book infront of me right now, but I should have it posted in my online store soon (it is public domain and will be available for free download).