Back in 2003 after having spent the year before reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's book "Simple Abundance" I took her suggestion to heart and wrote my own daily devotional. Each day I took a line or two from one of the various spiritual authors from the last three centuries I was reading and wrote my own thoughts on the subject. I then looked for a scripture that illustrated the truth that had been revealed to me. What follows is the result.

"Our greatest bondage is to have our own way; our greatest freedom is to let God have His way." Warren Wiersbe

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30

We are to ‘grieve not the Spirit whereby ye are sealed...’  God knows those who have been sealed by His Spirit.  Our questions concern our willingness to keep ourselves from opening our ‘gardens’ to any but the Lord Jesus Himself!  We are to choose and our choice is to be toward Him and His lovely purpose in our lives.”  Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 9/21

Sometimes I feel as though I have a leaky seal.  I make the problem worse by attempting to patch the seal.  This is not my job.  God tells us that it is the Spirit who seals us.  Instead my job is to stop inviting others into my “garden”.  The seal cannot be broken, so the only way into my garden is over the wall.  I facilitate these “others” by providing a ladder.  Sometimes I even use the ladder to climb to the top of that wall and lend a hand to these intruders as they hoist themselves up and over.  I love the story of the “Secret Garden” where the young orphaned Mary discovers the door to the long-locked garden.  Once inside the hidden garden’s walls she finally feels she belongs somewhere.  She eventually does share the garden with her invalid cousin, but it is by way of the door.  This is a good reminder that it is God who holds the key and lets those He desires into our gardens for His purposes.  We must look only to Him for all of our companionships for only then can we be sure we have chosen wisely.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;” John 10:1

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29

“Those souls who abandon the self-life and give themselves up to the Lord to be fully possessed by him do find that he takes possession of the inner springs of their being and works there to will and to do his good pleasure.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 9/18

As I read Hannah’s words I suddenly envisioned what it means  “to be fully possessed by him”.  In that moment I understood that in order to be “possessed by him” one must have already abandoned the self-life.  I realized in that moment that what I’ve been trying to do is to “abandon” after being “possessed”. This is not faith.  I can see myself inching my way along a balance beam with my arm outstretched, reaching for God’s Hand. Faith would be to do a cartwheel on that balance beam!  This is why faith is absolutely necessary in order to be possessed.  No person in his or her right mind would abandon something that’s seemingly working for them.  That’s also why you see so many people not abandoning their self-life until they’ve hit rock bottom because it’s only then that it’s no longer working for them.  I wonder if it would make a difference if people understood that faith was actually courage.  Too often people think faith is the same thing as hope, as in wishing for something to happen.  What would happen if, instead, we saw faith as courage?  Then when we read in scripture that we’re to encourage others we would know that we are to help people have courage--courage in the Lord and His ability to meet our every need.

“So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are of good courage...2 Corinthians 5:6, 7a

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28

“The ‘old self’ must be put off if the new self is to reign.  But both the putting off and the putting on must be done by faith.....I believe faith is the creative force of the universe.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 9/17

As I pondered Hannah’s words I imagined what would happen if every preacher in the world began preaching about faith until their congregations “got it”.  Every Sunday would be on the subject of faith---how to acquire it and how to use it. Every Bible study would be on putting off the old self and putting on the new self by faith.  Many churches do emphasize that salvation is by faith but then go on with works as their emphasis.  Why is this?  I think it’s because we still want some control over our lives and this is a way to have it and still look spiritual.  I say this not in judgment, but with compassion because this is my greatest struggle.  Mankind is so steeped in this it cannot see it even for a moment.  Every religion other than Christianity preaches man’s part in his salvation.  His righteousness is up to himself--he will be judged by his works.  Jesus Christ preached freedom from all this, yet so many of us reject this in the name of “doing good”.  Besides the need to be in control I think another element of this for some people is their need to fit in and to be liked.  We are so insecure because we have not traded in our old selves for the new self.  But glory be to God!  By faith alone we can experience the freedom that Jesus paid for with His life.  Are you ready to accept it?

“And without faith it is impossible to please him.  For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27

“The New Testament teaches that our lives are temples because Christ abides in us.  We cannot assume by this that our lives are pleasing to Him.  Like Solomon, we must thoroughly prepare ourselves so that God will choose to reveal His presence in our lives.”  H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 9/17

Solomon prepared the Temple to receive the glory of God by sacrificing animals as payment for his and the people’s sins.  2 Chronicles 7:1 tells us that fire came down from Heaven and consumed the sacrifices on the altar.  For us, Jesus laid Himself on the altar, bearing our sins for us.  In doing so, our sins were “consumed with fire” and we were made fit for God’s Holy Spirit to inhabit us.  This was done once for all time.  Yet we act as though we have to keep going to the altar and perform this act all over again each time we become aware of our sin.  We think it is somehow spiritual.  But all it serves to do is keep us in chains.  Instead God wants us to confess our sins and with thanksgiving acknowledge His Goodness for having freed us from having to pay for them ourselves.  It is this gratefulness that will keep our hearts purified and therefore pleasing to Him.  It’s in exercising the faith that God has given us that we are freed from the guilt of sin.  As children of God we will experience His presence because His glory shall fill us.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion (KJV: lust), and become partakers of the divine nature.”  2 Peter 1:3, 4

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26

“We should ask ourselves, [Henri Nouwen] suggests, ‘whether our lavish ways of sharing are not more compulsive than virtuous; that instead of creating community they tend to flatten out our life together.  Often we come home from a sharing session with a feeling that something precious has been taken away from us...or holy ground...trodden upon.’  Perhaps we need to learn when to be reticent, when to keep silent and to tend the fire silently, and then there may be a word to share.”  Christopher Holdsworth, 1985, Daily Readings From Quaker Writings, 9/16

I know this feeling for I’ve often shared too much in groups.  It is compulsive--driven by some need to express myself. After one of these “sharing marathons” I’d feel as though I’d left a piece of myself there.  It would take awhile for me to feel whole again. Since I’ve started writing this devotional and because I don’t have a group in which to share I’m discovering what Holdsworth suggests; that is, to tend the fire silently.   It’s as though I’m being built up with God’s truth into a complete dwelling for God’s Spirit.  Once completed I can open my home to others.  It can be a place for hungry and thirsty travelers to stop and receive refreshment.  I can feed and clothe them, then send them on their way, never running out of provisions.  I’ll have more than enough to care for myself and anyone who should grace my doorstep. 

“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”  Matthew 25:34-36

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"An Earthen Vessel"

"An Earthen Vessel"

The Master stood in His garden,
Among His lilies fair,
Which His own right hand had planted
And trained with tenderest care.

He looked at their snowy blossoms
And marked with observant eye
That His lilies were sadly drooping
For their leaves were parched and dry.

My lilies need to be watered,”
The Heavenly master said.
“Wherein shall I draw it for them
And raise each drooping head?”

Close to His feet in the pathway
Empty and frail and small,
An earthen vessel was lying
That seemed of no use at all.

But the Master saw and raised it
From the dust in which it lay,
And smiled as He gently whispered,
“This shall do My work today.

“’Tis only an earthen vessel
But it lay so close to me.
It is small, but it is empty;
That is all it needs to be.”

So to the fountain He took it
And filled it full to the brim.
How glad was the earthen vessel
To be of some use to Him!

He poured forth the living water
Over His lilies fair,
Until the vessel was empty,
And again he filled it there.

He watered His drooping lilies
Until they revived again,
And the Master saw with pleasure
That His labor had not been vain.

His own hand had drawn the water
That refreshed the thirsty flowers,
But He used the earthen vessel
To carry the living showers.

And to itself it whispered
As He laid it aside once more,
“Still will I keep to the pathway
Just as I was before.

“Close will I keep to the Master.
Empty will I remain;
And someday He may use me
To water His lilies again.”
            --author unknown

September 25

“One absolutely necessary characteristic of a tool is its pliableness.  The moment resistance is felt in any tool, the moment it refuses to move just as the master wants, that moment it becomes unfit for use.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 9/17

Hannah says if she were writing with a fine gold pen and it began to move with difficulty she’d gladly switch to an old lead pencil.  Because I feel more like an old lead pencil than a fine gold pen I found this very encouraging.  Years ago I set to music a poem I’d found in a newsletter that told about an earthen vessel lying along side the road that the Master used to water His parched lilies.  The vessel was lying close to His feet, but even more important was that it was empty.  This was the only requirement necessary for it to be useful so that He could fill it with His living water.  That “author unknown” poem had a profound effect on me then.  It moved me so greatly that I stepped outside my comfort zone and asked to sing it at an area women’s retreat I attended.  Now, after all these years, I look back and realize I was singing about something I had not yet experienced.  I was in a very useful phase of my life, not only within my family, but also in the church.  This usefulness, however, was in my own strength.  I am only beginning to understand what it means to lie contentedly at the Master’s feet--empty of self--waiting until He is ready to use me. 

“If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.  So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.”  2 Timothy 2:21, 22

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24

“The Lord never promised that I should feel He accepted the sacrifice; He only told me to make it.  So I know He will receive it, and has received it.  Even if He leaves me without any evidence of acceptance for years or always, I will not withdraw my sacrifice from the altar; nor will I doubt that He accepts it.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 9/15

Hannah wrote this in her diary in 1859.  She concluded, “If it be more for His glory that I should always live a life of simple faith, He will give me strength to do it, and I will trust Him.”  It would be another 26 years before her enduring book, “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” would be published.  It was probably because she had lived in simple faith for those 26 years that she was able to write such a powerful book.  God had used her faith to grow her up into a maturity that few Christians attain.  In the process she was richly rewarded--not by having her book published, but by experiencing the fullness of Christ within.  The peace that she had during the hardships that were to come into her life far outweighed any fame she attained here on earth.  I need to remember this as I seek to publish my writings.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of wanting recognition for the gifts God has given us.  If I feel compelled to write, then I should write for God’s sake, not my own.  And if I do, He will grow me up into the example He desires me to be whether I’m ever published or not.  This should always be the fruit that we desire from our relationship with Christ because in that God will be glorified.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”  John 15:8

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23

“When God said in the beginning, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’ we cannot for a moment suppose that he meant we were to be made in the image and likeness of his body.  He must have meant that we were to be made in the image and likeness of his nature and character.  Neither could he have meant that we were to be created full-fledged in this image, but that we were to be begun, as all adult life is begun, in helpless and ignorant infancy.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 9/14

As a child I could not wait to grow up.  As an adult I could not wait to be wise.  It seems I’ve always wanted things to happen as soon as I think of them.  Even years of having to wait haven’t changed my mindset about this.  Now that I’m nearing the end of my parenting years I have a better understanding of this whole process called life.  We enter it helpless and as we subject ourselves to our loving parents we are formed into productive members of society.  My role as a parent will never end though.  My adult children still call upon me from time to time to answer questions or lend a hand.  My spiritual life isn’t any different.  God, who made me and knows even better what I need than I knew for my children, raises me in His love to become a productive member of His family.  But unlike my parenting skills, God knows exactly what I need and when I should receive it.  As I look to Him only to receive my needs, trusting His timing, I can be assured that I will indeed be conformed to his likeness.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Colossians 3:10

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22

“If we want to walk where Christ walks, we must have on His yoke, and if we will not take it on lovingly and gladly, He will be compelled to put it on us with chastisements and severity.  To take the yoke of Christ on us means that we give our freedom of will to Him and consent to be guided by His voice in all things.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 9/16

Hannah says His voice will be made known to us in three ways:  “through Scripture, through providential circumstances, and through a divine conviction produced in the soul by the Holy Spirit.”  This seems so clear cut, but for a person like me it does not address all my “what if” scenarios.  I always had a hard time with word problems in math because I was always allowing for “what if” situations that might affect the answer.  Math is supposed to be a fixed-in-concrete sort of thing!  No wonder I have a problem with real life.  It has all sorts of mitigating circumstances--all sorts of situations that change according to the weather or hormones!   This confirms all the more for me that I am not capable of following Christ unless I am totally given over to the Holy Spirit within me.  My mind wants to analyze every little detail and try to figure out what the best course of action is.  Christ says, “Just put on my Yoke...it is easy and my burden is light.”    That is why beholding God’s glory is key to living the Christ life.   Our work is to behold God.  Christ’s work was finished on the cross.  The Holy Spirit’s work is to bring us safely into the awaiting arms of God.  Freedom in Christ is giving up the work of figuring things out.

“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  John 10:2, 3

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21

“Prayer does not give you spiritual power.  Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you.  The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God’s activity.”  H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 9/13

I started a prayer group in a church once--at least, I tried to.  The people’s idea of a group and my idea of a group was not the same thing.  A whole bunch of people signed up to receive the prayer requests, but no one wanted to get together to pray as a group.  After a year, I did have two people who I met with alternately, and I believed God when He said “where two or three are gathered together” He would be there.  Eventually I left that church because of other reasons.  But as I look back I can see the mindset of the church was that the purpose of prayer was to convince God to change their circumstances, and I did little to change that view because I, myself, did not fully understand the purpose of prayer.  Now, years later I’m convinced that “traditional” prayer meetings may not be the way to go.  Instead I believe “prayer meetings” should be the Holy Spirit-driven response to a desire to seek God’s will in a matter.  We, individually, should be in constant prayer with God, in that we are seeking His will for our lives all the time. And we may be called to “pray over” a sick person in order that God’s will be done.   Collectively, however, we should always approach God with an attitude of seeking His will for the Body rather than telling God how He should run His House.   

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  Matthew 26:39b

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20

“Our work is to ‘behold the glory of the Lord,’ and, as we behold, the Lord effects the marvelous transformation, and we are changed into his likeness....The real glory of the Lord is the glory of what he is and what he does, the glory of character.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 9/16

We are to behold God’s character--that is His glory. God is love.  He is faithful.  He is everything that is good and lovely.  In addition to being powerful and just He is merciful.   It’s interesting to me that we humans already know that what we “behold” has a huge effect on us.  We are continually cautioning ourselves about the movies/TV we watch or the magazines we look at.  We are well aware of the effects of advertising on people.  Yet when it comes to God we feel it’s our works that make us more like Christ.  To simply “behold God’s glory” doesn’t seem enough for most Christians--we always feel as though we should be doing things.  That is partially correct.  The problem is the order.  We are to be doing things, but not in order to be more spiritual or to look like Christ.  When people finally wake up to the fact that all their “doing” is motivated by their desire to maintain control over their lives then they will be able to see what beholding God is all about. 

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19

“We can abide by a principle.  But we can only abide in a person.  People will always be more important to people than principles will ever be.  God created us that way, and so it is no wonder at all that He invaded our world Himself as a human being who also cared much more about people than ethical concepts.”  Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 9/12

“Religion” is abiding by principles.  “Christianity,” that is to say, a personal commitment to Christ Himself, is abiding in a person.  Eugenia makes the statement that “people will always be more important to people than principles.”  I would agree that God meant it to be this way, but I can attest to the fact that it does not always play out this way.  I’ve far too often “stood on my principles” at the expense of my relationships.  It has been difficult because it is so foreign to me to abide in Christ because of my well-ingrained practice of abiding by principles.  I can see why God would have to remove from my life those practices and opportunities that promote my principles.  He is making it obvious to me, in my loneliness, that principles, while desirable, should not be the guiding light in our lives.  They are merely the outcome of our abiding in Christ and He in us.  If we make the principle the guiding light then we’ve made them into our idols.  Christ should always be Who we seek, then our relationship with people will be as it should.

“No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.”  1 John 4:12, 13

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18

“Christians often feel at liberty to murmur against other people when they would not dare to murmur against God.  Seeing God in all things, therefore, will make it impossible even to murmur.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 9/14

This message keeps showing up in my life.  I guess because I haven’t received it into my heart yet.  It’s like a special delivery package that can’t be left on the doorstep--I have to sign for it.  Well, Lord, I’m home this time.  I’ll open the door and sign for it because I really want this package.  I want to stop murmuring and I want to start rejoicing.  Because I can’t murmur and rejoice at the same time, I have to decide which I want.  Perhaps it’s taken me this long to realize I can’t control my world.  I can’t change it, but I can change how I view it.  But this is going to require that I stop listening to other people.  Very few people want to believe that God is in control.  There are scads of books written on the subject of why bad things happen to good people.  Hannah, on the other hand, is telling us that only good things happen to God’s loved ones.  What the rest of the world is missing is the fact that just because something looks bad and feels bad by it’s economy doesn’t make it bad in God’s economy.  The whole point of trusting God is to receive His gifts.  Some of his gifts come wrapped in rough paper--like the one that keeps coming to my door that I’ve kept refusing to receive.  I must look past the paper--even to the point of not seeing it--and see the gift.  This is the only way I’m going to open that door.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Genesis 50:20

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17

“Sometimes in our fear of lack we forget our plenty, or our believing that only one other person or thing is our only source of what we believe we need, we may become dependent upon that particular person or thing and lose sight of the real Source.”  Sylvia Messner, 1980, Daily Readings from Quaker Writings, 9/12

Fear is a powerful force.  I liken it to a bomb blast that you survive, but blinds you.  The horrendous sound deafens you.  The shock wave knocks you off your feet. Fear, then, is actually the aftermath.  If a bomb hits you directly, it’s over for you in that second.  In our day-to-day lives we can be too busy getting our needs met to notice our lack.  It’s in those quiet moments that we notice our neediness and become fearful.  They say that is what’s behind workaholism.  We keep ourselves super busy so that we don’t have to deal with that fear.  That’s why people like that can appear to be quite happy, but are slowly dying on the inside.  On the other hand, there are people who ARE quite happy in their busyness.  That’s because they are “busy in the Lord”.  They’re dependent on the real Source for their needs and they’ve been given meaningful work to do that not only satisfies their physical needs but also their spiritual needs.  When these two needs are met is when I believe our emotional and mental needs are then met.  When we try to meet our emotional and mental needs first, we will always go to the wrong Source.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”  1 John 4:18

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16

“Before, I might be able to say at any given moment, ‘I am the Lord’s now, altogether and unreservedly.’  But my will always took comfort in the thought of a future, when perhaps I would not be entirely His; secretly and almost unconsciously, I made a future provision for the flesh, to fulfill the desires thereof.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 9/13

Hannah wrote the above in her diary in 1868 when she was 36 years old, ten years after giving her life to Christ. I think many of us are still waiting for this revelation of how our wills secretly take comfort in knowing it can take control back.  This is why we give it up so freely at times.  But if we look carefully I’m sure that those times were only when it was convenient or to our advantage in some way.  The cleverer we are the more adept we are at giving up our wills in a way that looks “godly”.  God warns us that our hearts are capable of even deceiving ourselves!  Hannah finally dealt with this sin in her life by seeing the future as belonging to God.  She does not go on to explain, but I can because I know what she’s talking about because I, too, continually make future provisions for the flesh.  I understand now that when I worry I am making this future provision for the flesh.  When I worry I am not seeing my future as belonging to God.  Lord, when I am tempted to “make provisions for my future” I will take comfort instead in the fact that my future belongs to You just as much as right now does.

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind.  For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well.”   Luke 12:29-31

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15

“Anyone who has ever lived his own life knows that he does not really mean himself well.  We destroy ourselves by grabbing, because we cannot give.  The love of God is a totally giving love.”  Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 9/10

It’s the same thing that happens when we spoil a child.  We claim we are loving them by giving them everything they want, or not pointing out their faults to them.  Some parents think they are building up their children and encouraging them by never offering criticism.  But anyone who has ever been around a spoiled child knows just how awful the effect of such parenting has on everyone else!  This is why we must “take up our cross” and “deny ourselves”.  If we give in to our every whim and desire we are spoiling ourselves.  We are making ourselves unfit for the kingdom of God.  We will throw tantrums every time things don’t go our way.  As parents it is our job to teach our children self-discipline.  We do this by setting limits and giving guidance.  If this isn’t done with love, however, rebellious children are driven further into rebellion.  God has provided a way for us to have self-discipline and has done it with the utmost love--Jesus Christ.  Because of His sacrifice we now have the Holy Spirit to guide us and enable us to live a self-sacrificing life--a life that gives and receives and never takes.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  Luke 6:37, 38

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14

“No one knows how to help you in your times of failure as Jesus does!  He will not overlook your shortcoming or simply encourage you to do better the next time.  He will give you victory in the midst of your failure.”  H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 9/9

How many times do we run to our friends when we experience a failure looking to be comforted or encouraged?  Or the times we talk about our failures to others so that we can feel vindicated when they overlook it as though it never happened?  Neither of these do anything to turn our failures into something useful.  It merely allows us to feel sorry for ourselves or shift the blame.  Someone has said that we should see our failures as stepping-stones.  I like this imagery, but we can get lost even on that path if the stones do not lead us to God.  We must think of failures as opportunities to learn more about ourselves, but more importantly, to learn more about our God.  It is in our failures that God’s power and strength can come forth and when it does we are guaranteed victory.  Blackaby concludes his devotional with these encouraging words:  “If you have recently experienced failure, you may be on the brink of receiving a profound revelation from God!”  This is why we can “count it all joy!” because if God never fails, how can we then be failures?

“It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13

“Could [Job] have seen that this was to be the outcome, he would not have uttered a single complaint, but would have given triumphant thanks for the trials which were to bring him such glorious blessing.  And could we but see, in our heaviest trials, the end from the beginning, I am sure that thanksgiving would take the place of complaining in every case.”  Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 9/9

But what if what we’ve lost is not going to be restored many times over as it was for Job?  Would we still not complain?  I think because this is man’s nature God won’t let us see.  He promises to bring good out of our difficulties, but He can only do this if we love Him.  This requires us to live by faith and not by sight.  I can think of several instances where I am content now even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to.  If I’d seen that from the start, however, my unhappiness about it would have prevented me from looking to God through it.  I would have been too focused on myself.  God uses our circumstances to build our characters--to conform us to His image.  If we knew in advance what was to be we would not have the benefit of all the little incidents that require us to turn to Him.  How much better that God keeps us in the dark and only trusts us with sight when He knows we are capable of handling it according to His ways. We must look to God with thanksgiving, trusting the outcome will be right.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5