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."
Philippians 4: 4 reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” Not a bad verse to reflect upon at the beginning of each day! There is reason for believers to REJOICE regardless of the circumstances that prevail in our lives. We have REASON to rejoice in and through Christ Jesus, and – under His light, it is INDEED, “all good!”
When I recall these words, I am always reminded of the verses before it where Paul urges people in the church to help some women that are not living in harmony. He admonishes the church members to “help these women” see the error of their ways and live/work/serve in harmony. THEN he says, REJOICE in the LORD always. There is an imperative in his words!
There’s a familiar hymn we sing, "Count Your Blessings.” In part, it reads:
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
There's wisdom for all of us in that old hymn! Sometimes life becomes so hectic. Trials and troubles push their way into our lives and we become overwhelmed with the “stuff of life.” Our focus becomes the circumstance and not the God who has promised to walk with us and sustain us in and through EVERY circumstance. When we focus on our problems, we lose sight of the good things in our lives. We “miss” God’s hand at work in the midst of our circumstance.
It is as though we are under a gigantic cloud that blocks out the sun. We get irritable, depressed, and worst of all, we lose all perspective. At times like this, we need to MAKE time to “count our blessings,” review all the reasons God has given us for rejoicing.
For me, I have discovered I start playing my “poor, pitiful me” collection at times when I should NOT be discouraged at all – right after a “spiritual high.” That’s why my life needs the spiritual constant of time alone with God DAILY!
If you are under the cloud today and about ready to pull out your “poor, pitiful me” collection, instead make the deliberate choice to COUNT your blessings! It WILL surprise (astonish, amaze, astound, blow you away) what the LORD has done! Try not to grumble and complain. Count your blessings instead. Below is a list to get you started – just reflect upon these truths and allow them to spark other reasons to praise Him this day:
God has indeed blessed us! It IS ALL good, because Jesus IS LORD!
“But Naomi replied, "Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons in my womb who could become your husbands?” Ruth 1:11 HCSB
The account of Ruth and Naomi used to be quoted often in Christian wedding ceremonies. The scripture used in the actual ceremony is Ruth’s declaration to go wherever her mother-in-law went and experience the life that God had set before them together. Truth is, what both Naomi and her daughter-in-laws faced was a hopeless situation in the times they lived. Orpah chose to heed her mother-in-law’s counsel, wept, kissed her goodbye, and returned to her people. Ruth determined to stay with her mother-in-law. What Ruth and Naomi faced together offered very little hope, returning to Naomi’s people – in their circumstances – promised them the potential for very little provision.
In 21st Century North America, we do not understand the circumstances of this account because it is foreign to our way of life. Naomi and Ruth both faced a hopeless situation, but at least Naomi was returning to her people. Ruth was placing herself in foreign territory and the consequences could have been far different from the story we know. What did she face?
With that, Naomi said no more and she returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law from Moab. Perhaps there was some degree of “protection” for Ruth in the presence of her mother-in-law as long as she was alive. But we do not understand the consequences of a foreigner with no provision in the culture of that day.
Henry Blackaby would describe what was before Ruth as a “crisis of belief.” Have you described your crisis of belief to God? Do you have faith to go even when the prospects look dim and darker? Today, each of us needs to listen to that inner voice and be obedient to God, no matter the circumstances of our lives.
I love the “rest of the story.” We know the immediate provision as Ruth gleaned the fields and encountered, and found that kinsmen redeemer in Boaz. But through that provision in her life, we have the provision of our own kinsmen redeemer in the person of Jesus. If you are not familiar with the full account, simply understand this – Ruth (this woman of another race and culture) and significantly placed her in His redemptive story. She was the wife of Boaz, mother to Obed, grandmother to Jesse who was the father of King David. From the house and lineage of David, we have our redeemer, Jesus the Christ.
What seemed like a bleak and hopeless future was in God’s plan from the beginning. Her love, faithfulness, and obedience “paid off.” We need to learn from the lessons of her life and take our circumstances, our “crisis of belief” to God, and TRUST Him to provide ALL that we need.
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!