Many approach the thought of 'Christianity' with particular ideas about what it means. Those both inside and outside the church may think that it is synonymous with sacrifice. Thinking, 'I can't do that because I'm a Christian.' Or, 'I can't be a Christian. I don't want to quit...(fill in the blank.)'
It's not what we give up, but what we give.
It is our love that God desires - not the sacrifice.
The old habits and behaviors that we forsake may indeed feel like sacrifice if we have not surrendered to the Holy Spirit. When we allow the Holy Spirit sanctify our hearts, He fills us with the desire to please Him.
We no longer think about our lives as a list of things we have, can, or will give up. We keep adding to the list of the things we want to do for Him - not keep a record of the things we have given up because of Him.
It is fair to say that I am a loner. My circle of close friends is small but even when I'm in a crowd, I am still the loner. I don't enjoy loneliness yet I am not entirely uncomfortable being alone at times.
The truth is I don't feel completely alone because I can feel Jesus' presence with me. He hears me, he comforts me when I feel especially lonely or sad. The time, I have spent in prayer and in His word, has given me that sense of intimacy one has with a close friend. He has calmed my anxious heart, silenced my anger, and He has dried my tears.
Mr. Chambers explains today that one who is intimate with Jesus never leaves impressions of himself. 'The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.' When we are intimate with Jesus and allow Him to reign in our life, He is what people should see when they look at us.
John 14:9 (Voice) "I have lived with you all this time, and you still don’t know who I am? "
I thank God for the strong calm sanity from my Lord and I pray people see it when they look at me. If you have not experienced it yet, I pray the Lord will give you the desire to spend time developing an intimate relationship with Him so that you have the opportunity to truly know His character and His love.
As I read today's devotion, I had to smile at the continuity with my pastor's sermon this past Sunday. He spoke of offering our blessings back to God in worship. It always makes me smile when I realized God is trying to drive home a message to me. - And my smile is even brighter when I am walking in obedience.
In today's reading Oswald states, 'The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.' He tells us not to rush - that there is always plenty of time for worship. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like it. When we're overwhelmed with work to do, or when we're exhausted and running late. It is a lie.
He continues, 'We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.'
When I began reading 'My Utmost...', it became a staple of my daily devotions. Years later I begin again because every day it adds to my spiritual maturity. I read the notes I've penned in the margins and see how his message touched me on that particular day in years past. Each year there are new highlights and notes.
Today I am thankful that God has helped me to remain faithful in my worship. I am thankful that I am compelled to make the time for my devotions. I am deeply grateful that he gave me this desire to write and that he blessed me with the opportunity to write for The Bottom Line in addition to sharing my journey with you here on my site.
I pray that He will bless this act of worship by allowing these words to reach the one who needs them - just like Oswald's book found it's way into my hands
Perhaps many of us begin our journey of faith as Peter did - easily. After a fruitless night of fishing left him tired and frustrated, Jesus told him to drop his net one more time. This time the catch was more than his net could hold. When Peter, now fascinated by Jesus, heard Him say 'Follow Me,' it was easy to follow.
Maybe Peter thought life would be would be easy now. Jesus would take care of everything. It would be full nets from here on out. Perhaps many of us first come to faith tired and exhausted, ready to follow because our 'nets' are empty and we're about ready to give up. We are filled with hope when we meet Jesus.
We remain happy in our faith, contented with where we are. Life is good. Jesus, however, knows we need a deeper walk with him if we are to withstand the harder trials. Our desire to follow Him may be genuine, but He knows that to this point it has been an 'easy' faith. Our faith will need to be strengthened, tested, and proven.
We may not outwardly deny him to others as Peter did. But in our everyday life we can find ourselves denying Him time and devotion. - If we're not careful. We may not even think about Him until Sunday. We're busy, or tired, or sick, or... whatever. We are not following because we are not filled with His Spirit.
John 13:36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
He will get our attention again. When we allow Him to fill us with His Spirit, following is no longer for our purpose but for His. That is the difference. We no longer follow because He makes our life 'better.'
We follow because He is all.
Today is a warning. I am to wait for God's divine guidance and not rush out ahead of Him. If I have any doubt about the path I am considering, I should wait.
Over the past 4 1/2 years, I have experienced both. I have felt the Holy Spirit clearly telling me to (or not do) what others were advising me to do. The voice was clear and I have never regretted following His leading. I have also been in the position of doubting my next step. Though I knew what I wanted to do, the Holy Spirit did not speak, so I waited. At times, I find myself waiting... and waiting... and waiting.
In John 13:37, Peter questions why he cannot follow Jesus right now. He wanted what he wanted and didn't understand why it couldn't happen. Jesus knew better. He knew Peter better than Peter himself. Jesus knew that Peter needed a bit more time of spiritual growth in order to fulfill his purpose. Jesus knew that Peter's devotion was not deep enough to withstand what he would face. Jesus knew Peter would deny him three times before the third crow of the rooster. He knew that time of waiting was necessary.
Jesus knows me too. He knows the right amount of time I need to grow into the devoted servant I want to be. He also knows why sometimes we find ourselves waiting for the sake of someone else's growth. As we experience spiritual growth, it becomes easier to listen and trust in the Lord Jesus... and when necessary - just wait.
In 1936 Richard C. Halverson, Former Chaplain of the US Senate, received a copy of My Utmost for His Highest. He was given this treasure as a Christmas gift and began reading it Jan 1, 1937. The copyright was renewed in 1963 and is the ‘most popular book of daily devotions ever published.’ In his introduction to the devotional Mr. Halverson states, “No book except the Bible has influenced my walk with Christ at such deep and maturing levels.”
I couldn’t agree more. I received my copy in June 2010 - a very traumatic year in my life. This book, along with the Bible, helped to strengthen my faith during a time of vulnerability. In doing so, it renewed my hope when life seemed very dark.
Though I am occasionally edified by other very good devotionals, My Utmost... is the one that remains a constant. As I begin another year’s journey through this devotional, this time I will share my journey.
Melinda started her fifth year of her devotions reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest. In 2015 she has made the commitment to share what this year's journey. Taking a detour, she began living Every Day With Jesus