It is still early in the New Year. Many people make - and then break - resolutions for the new year. How are your's going? I think Jesus told us the one resolution we need to make DAILY - Matthew 6: 33 - Seek first HIM---and His will for our lives! If that is not done, then I believe we are probably doomed to fail at any resolve me make.
This morning I began a devotional by A. W. Tozer designed for pastors/ministry leaders. The title was "Personal Life: Let God Alone." Immediately I was reminded of the old cliche, "let go and let God." The scripture it used was James 1: 4 - "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." You guys know me, I love to go to the Amplified Bible and meditate on the words they use . The verse reads this way there, "But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." A few additional words to emphasize the assurance.
Tozer tells us that through this verse God is saying, "I stand ready to pour a little liquid fire into your heart, into your spiritual being!" However, we respond: "No, Lord, please excuse me. That sounds like fanaticism—and I would have to give up some things!"
So, what are we doing? We refuse His desire for us, even though we want all the benefits of His cross. That cannot be! We must resolve to seek first Him---and allow Him to do His work in us.
The devotional goes on to say: "There is this thoughtful phrase in The Cloud of Unknowing: "He wills thou do but look on Him and let Him alone." We are being challenged to "Let God alone." Let Him do His work in us. Do not try to stop Him. Do not stand in His way. Do not "prevent Him from kindling your heart, from blessing you and leading you out of a common state into that of special longing after Him."
You and I do not have to "coax" God. He is not waiting for us to beg Him for His blessings. The blessings are His to give and He waits for us to let Him work.
Again the devotional says, "Look on Him and let Him work, let Him alone." Get your hands down to your side and stop trying to tell God where to cut. Stop trying to make the diagnosis for God. Stop trying to tell God what to give you. He is the Physician! You are the patient...." I guess it is our human nature to try to reverse the roles and manipulate things along, but we really need to heed what Tozer is saying. As we are admonished in the Psalms - be still and KNOW God. Our constant efforts to "reverse roles" and manipulate things to "help the process" stands in the way of God accomplishing His full and complete work in us.
Today, I challenge you (and myself) to let Him work in you (us). As we do, our spiritual lives will begin to "blaze like the rising sun." It will be visible to those around us. We will be better able to withstand the snares of the enemy!
Here is the prayer they ended the devotional with: "Lord, I know there is a work You want to do in my life today. I'll try to stay out of the way, take my hands off, and let You work! I'll put my hands to my side even now as a sign that I'm going to let You alone today to do Your work in me. Amen."
The LORD came, stood there, and called as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel responded, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10, HCSB
Sometimes as a husband I am accused of "seeming to pay attention" as my wife speaks to me but, not really listening to anything being said. Though I do not concur with that assessment (LOL), there is a lesson learned from that illustration we need to learn.
In order to really listen, the husband who is guilty of such action, must focus his attention on what his wife is saying. Sometimes, this simple act requires a great deal of effort to accomplish.
In the scripture above, Samuel could not remotely imagine that one night God was calling him. Samuel thought it was Eli the priest who called his name since the voice was so personal. Eli helped young Samuel understand God was speaking. We need to understand that God IS speaking to us these days as well! Just as intimately as the personal call on young Samuel. I pray we will hear Him!
Samuel took Eli’s advice and promptly answered God correctly. There is a LOT in that statement. Samuel LISTENED to the sagely advice being afforded him. We need to be open to the counsel of God's people (and even those that might not be walking as they should currently) as they remind us that God IS talking and we should listen to Him/for Him.
Some of us may have never heard the voice of God in such a personal manner. Although we may never hear Him audibly, we must develop an attitude of careful listening if we are to hear God calling our name speaking to us. We must learn to focus all of our attention on God. Then, in the stillness of our souls, we will recognize His voice. At times, we must be willing to seek guidance from our spiritual leaders in order for this personal encounter to take place.
My prayer this day (as I prepare to head out for worship with my church family) is this -- Father, focus my attention so I can listen to You. Perhaps I will add---Father, touch my heart so I WILL listen to You!
"A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1, HCSB
Think for a few minutes of the culture we live in as Americans. In our “postmodern society” (which I often call a pagan culture), it is “cool” to be “bad.” People with little regard for biblical principles – in fact almost “blaspheme” - are held in high regard by many, including professing Christians. A type of “glorification” of a bad, promiscuous, profane lifestyle/reputation has become the norm in our society. All one has to do is look at our commercials, listen to our popular songs, and observe the t-shirts we are wearing to church. With this “bad is good” culture that has invaded our culture (including the fringe of the church), what is a Christ-follower to do?
The writer of Proverbs gives us some tried and true advice. His piercing “one-liners” have withstood the test of time. Our reputation is a reflection of character. As believers, it is a reflection of who we are in Christ.
LISTEN (hear in a biblical sense) to what Proverbs continues to teach us in the 21st Century. Riches, or lack thereof, still try our prejudice. Prudence is still the mark of a successful person. Humility still trumps pride. The fear of the Lord is still the starting place for the most wonderful journey any human can take. Thorns and snares are still on the daily route for all.
You and I are wise to pay attention to the advice of the ancient sage. If we are to confront—with the truths of Proverbs—the upside-down, downward-moving, immoral, mainstream culture we inhabit, we must possess courage. In so doing we mirror (reflect, copy, emulate, imitate) and exalt the life of Jesus.
Take some time today to reflect upon where you are in Christ. Pray that God will help us in our daily efforts to reflect the life of Christ in our culture. Pray that others will see Jesus in us and come to know Him as their personal savior and Lord of all.
Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13, HCSB
In recent weeks, God has shown me His presence through various scripture passages. Among them was the book of Nehemiah. Rebuilding the walls and securing the gates has taken new life in my mind as I seek God’s Will. Each year I choose a theme for the life and work of Tar River Baptist Association. A time will come--or may have come already--when you find yourself facing intense temptation. As I shared my struggle with several this year, I often joked that it should be “Whatever It Takes To Be Acts 1: 8.” What did NAMB choose for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering but “Whatever It Takes.”
In reading Nehemiah, I began to sense what Nehemiah had determined to do when God called him to the task. Whatever it would take to accomplish the task, he would not be distracted by his enemies and neglect his responsibility. In Nehemiah 6: 3 he sent the message that he should not leave the important work he’d been called to do to respond to their distraction- their overall purpose was to destroy him.
In the end, I determined the 2012 theme would be based on Nehemiah 6: 3. The theme is “This ONE Thing: Whatever It Takes To BE Acts 1: 8.” TRBA must do all that we can to assist the local church, to strengthen it and help it impact the lostness of THIS generation. The “all caps” is not by accident. “ONE thing implies the singular priority of Christ. The necessity of being obedient to the commands of God to do the work that He has called us to do.
Then the emphasis becomes the word “BE.” Whatever it takes, we must be faithful to the call/obedient to the command to BE the church. What does it mean to BE the church? It means we are to ABIDE in Him and from our abiding in Him, the NATURAL result will be the production of fruit that remains.
The scripture I listed at the beginning should be our prayer as we seek to be obedient to the commands of Christ. Deliverance from the evil one may not always be a “dramatic escape.” Instead, it could be a subtle nudge of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful instead of yielding to temptation or compromising biblical principles to do “good thing” as opposed to the “God things” He has commanded.
Even when we do not deliberately go out looking for it, the powerful voice of temptation can still call you and lure you to be disobedient to God’s call upon your life. We are OFTEN asked to compromise in the area of sex, lying, or stealing. People may pressure us to get into alcohol, drugs, or gambling. It could be anything and if we are not careful, the enemy will simply lure us “off track.” We can quickly come to the edge of giving in, so we must ABIDE in Him.
Sin is a serious thing. We must never forget that. It is the goal of the enemy to destroy us, our witness. It is Satan’s desire to completely destroy us, but if that is not possible he is content for us to simply drift away a little and “miss the mark.” I was taught the definition of sin is “missing the mark.” Sin, whether it is “big” or “small” is SIN. And SIN keeps us from being all that God would have us to BE in Him.
Too often, we “play with sin.” Too often, we like to get as close to temptation as we can. We justify our actions because “after all, it isn’t________________ like real sinners do.” Sin is sin—we don’t need to “flirt” with it. Often times, our “innocent flirtations” bring disastrous results as we do not pull back at the last minute and fall into deeper sin. We are NOT strong enough to pull back at the last minute. Then to our dismay, we discover that temptation is not as easily resisted as we thought. Sin is a much more powerful foe than we realize. WE have to ABIDE in Him!
Don't walk blindly through life, spiritually weak and unprepared for the temptations you'll meet. Every day when you pray, look to the Model prayer of Jesus:
For background, I encourage you to read and meditate on Matthew 6: 9 – 15, Nehemiah 6: 1 – 14 (maybe at least the first 6 chapters of Nehemiah for full context), Psalm 27: 1 – 3, John 15, and Ephesians 6: 10 – end of chapter.
Associational Missions Strategist at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!