Certainty is something we like to have and depend on. We are simply never promised or even given certainty every day.
The Bible reveals to me that I must learn to love people. I am not always very good at loving others. God has loved me not at all because I am worthy of it or that I am lovable in any way, but because it is His very nature to love. How can I actually love in a way that is GOD's nature? To love someone as God has loved me!?
God will likely bring people purposely into my life who I do not like much. He will bring people who are not at all easy for me to love.
God: the great patronizer? No, it is His love. That is His kind of love, which I am called to.
My problem is I most often try to force it and make this kind of love happen. I do not think this kind of love is going to happen within me overnight, but I also do not think God is forcing me into it. Yes, he has called me to it. He has demanded it of me, but I do not think he expects it so promptly that he pushes me forcibly into it either.
In fact, 2 Peter 3:9 tells me that "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." I cannot overlook Jesus' ability to wait for me. I cannot forget that Jesus knows I am incapable of loving as He does, and yet he patiently waits as I learn.
But it is that patience which should compel and drive me to be better. It is that patience, which should drive me to love more. I have to go to the hard to love and not only love them more, but love them as Jesus has loved me, which as I have revealed, is PATIENTLY!! There will always be irritating people who are very difficult for me to love, but the call still remains. Love others as Jesus has loved me. Love with patience!
But it all must be nurtured. It is not an overnight change. I must learn to grow that kind of love within me. I have to learn that kind of love as I daily learn to accept that kind of love.
I need a more concentrated sense of my sin. We need to understand our sin in a more detailed manner. Only through knowing our sin in its detail can we really experience grace and salvation to its fullest within us. Ozzie Chambers writes, "There is never any vague sense of sin [in the presence of God], but the concentration of sin in some personal particular."
This concentrated understanding of our sin is important because then there is real freedom in realizing what grace has saved you from. It is easy for us to claim we are sinners. OF course we are sinners! We all know that and can claim it very simply. We do not experience real grace in that though.
It is just as easy for us to claim we are sinners, but we have been saved. Yes, that is true, but that kind of understanding is not concentrated enough to really understand what grace really means. A more concentrated understanding of our sin allows us to feel and answer the real question:
"SAVED FROM WHAT??!!"
If we are only claiming the unconcentrated and ambiguous claim of being a sinner, we are no different than anyone else. In this manner, we only know grace and salvation as a concept, which does no one any good.
We have to break ourselves down and embrace our sin that we may sincerely embrace grace offered to all of us. When I begin to quit calling myself only a sinner, but a selfish man with too much desire to please myself through my time, my words and my actions, I can THEN feel a distinct sting of my sin. When I feel that distinct sin, I am able to realize what I am actually saved FROM! Salvation and grace become that much more real to me. With each sin exposed, the embrace of grace grows that much more sincere and real.
Ozzie writes, "The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated." When we allow ourselves to concentrate our sin instead of leaving it vague and general, we begin to know real cleansing. In Isaiah 6, verse 5, Isaiah concentrates his sin. He does not say, "Woe is me! For I am a sinner." We all know he is a sinner. We all know ourselves to be sinners. No! Isaiah repents, "Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." Isaiah concentrated his idea of his sin.
The Seraph touches the cleansing coal not to Isaiah's entire life either. He touches the cleansing coal to Isaiah's lips; the very concentrated part he had repented of.
When we can concentrate our sin into the detailed sins, we can answer the question,
"SAVED FROM WHAT?!"
This question has ravished me this morning. My intimacy with God has been on my mind and heart heavily the last few days. I spend time nearly every morning in the WORD, but come to realize last night that my intimacy is none the better for it. Now why and how could that be?
My intimacy is flourished in times of communion with God, and I could only study my Bible every day for hours at a time and be no closer to the heart of God...not because of the Bible, of course, but because I have only studied the Bible. When he Bible becomes a source for study alone, it is only a textbook and it will not contribute much to communion with the Father. To intimacy!
My intimacy with Christ has been moved around like a puzzle, and has eventually taken a back-burner to my Biblical study.
I desire intimacy with my Father and Abba. That happens when I come to God as the child I am.
I am reminded of Christ as a child becoming a man in Luke, Chapter 2. Jesus is in the temple talking to the elders. Mary and Joseph are freaking out looking for Jesus. Mary finally comes across Jesus in the temple. She remembers her worry, fear, and terror only seconds ago. "I lost the Son of God. God gives me one thing and I lose him. What am I going to do about this? My child is gone! I am going to spank that Savior so badly for leaving my side (or put Him in time out for a while...depending upon your particular parenting style...I am sure the Bible supports whatever your style in some way if you make it.)
Anyway, side track aside, Mary gets pretty pissed.
She says, "Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior," (because a mother's anger is expressed best by addressing you by your full name), "Why do you do this to me? Your father has been worried sick about you. We've been looking all over for you?"
Of course Jesus is....well.....Jesus, so he's always pulling THAT card. He says to Mary, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?"
Even Jesus knew what it was like to be a child. A child always wants to be with his Father, and we are reminded that Joseph was not Jesus' Father. To Jesus, only God was his Father, and Jesus was with God in child-like communion.
How much do I come face-to-face with my Father? I desire to be with God like a child. To be in such union with my Father that my prayers are coming from Jesus within me. I want Jesus within me to pray and act through me as the child who just longs to be in his Father's house all the time. I want the child Jesus within me to pray for me to our Abba who wants great intimacy and tender loving connection with us.
I want to be so identified with the Lord's life that I am simply a child of God. I want the SON of God within me.
Ozzie Chambers has me chewing on his words today. These words of Ozzie’s are a gristly answer to the question, “Why do we pray?”
As Christians, we have accepted Jesus into our hearts. Cliché aside, the Spirit of Jesus now resides within us. That Spirit is now a part of our spirit. The Son always desires a connection with the Father. This is the part of us, which desires a huge connection with the Spirit of Abba. Prayer brings the connection the Son pangs for.
Lacking prayer does not affect us nearly as much as it does the Spirit of Jesus within us. It feels horribly disconnecting to us, but that is only because the Spirit of Jesus is so overwhelming within our heart. The Spirit of Jesus has overwhelmed our spirit, and when the Son has disconnection with Abba, it pangs and twinges for the reconnection…for the intimacy. And since the Spirit of the Son has so overwhelmed us, we also feel that pang. This is why we pray!
Prayer nourishes the relationship of Son to Abba and Abba to Son. This is why we pray! We understand that relationship is alive within our spirit, and we can either nourish it or allow it to slowly die away. What is our choice? This is why we pray; that the life of the Son within us may be nourished in intimacy with Daddy. When we nourish that connection within us, we know intimacy because the Spirit of the Son has so overwhelmed our spirit that the web grows more intertwined...and strong. This is why we pray!
“Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished.”
There is no desire within me to seek God's will in my life. You will very rarely find me looking or asking, "What is God's will in this situation?" Even in the hardest decisions, I will rarely ever ask God for His will to be revealed to me. Seeking God's will is a waste of time!
To seek God's will is a focus on the wrong thing. It is a preoccupation with the wrong element of the equation. It all comes back to the passage which tells us:
"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
"So PC, are you saying you don't seek God's will and instead you just ask God for stuff and He gives it to you...whatever you desire?"
Kind of....but not at all...
This passage tells me this:
Don't seek God's will; seek God, and His will will happen.
This passage tells me that if I quit worrying about seeking God's will and start seeking GOD in personal intimate relationship, His will will happen. This passage tells me, first, to delight myself in the Lord. SO I need to be with God and enjoy my time with him. I have to spend time at the heart of God...relating to Him intimately.
Then this passage tells me if I fulfill the first part, He will give me the desires of my heart. God will give us desire. We do not create our own desire. Our desire will not be our own...IF...we maintain the first part of the passage. If we can say we have followed the first part of delighting ourselves in the heart of relating to God intimately, God will instill desire within us. This means if we maintain intimacy with the heart of God, whatever desire we have can be followed.
Ozzie Chambers writes, "To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of FAITH. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight...and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you..."
I was hanging out with Ozzie (Oswald Chambers) yesterday, and he said to me, "No matter where God places us or what the inner desolations are, we can praise God that all is well. That is faith being worked out in actualities." Well, Ozzie and I debated for a little bit. I came right back... "Ozzie, you have no idea what kind of things I've been through. Moreover, you have no idea what sorts of things other people have gone through. How could you say to just have faith in situations that you know nothing about?"
"PC, you're an idiot. I wrote one of the most timeless devotionals ever written. I have thought on these things for a long long time."
"You're side-stepping my question, Ozzie."
"Fine! Are you prepared to let God do as He likes with [you]--prepared to be separated from conscious blessings?"
I began getting a bit frustrated with Ozzie. I asked whether he actually wanted me to believe that God would give me times of desolation and darkness--on purpose. He said, "Yes!" as though I were an idiot for asking. He said, "PC, it is not that we choose it, but that God engineers our circumstances so that we are brought there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is bolstered up by feelings and by blessings."
Of course I did not completely understand. "What's wrong with feelings and blessings?"
"Pay attention, PC! I just said 'bolstered up by' feelings and blessings. Is your faith based only on blessings and feelings? Do you still have faith when neither of those are present? If not, then you don't have a very solid faith at all."
"Alright Ozzie! Let me get this straight. You're saying that God gives me times of desolation and difficult circumstances...my God of love does this to me, and I need to be PREPARED for these things so that I can still trust that all is well even when it doesn't FEEL like it is? I have to have faith that is not DEPENDANT on good feelings and blessings, and in fact remains if I have neither one of them?"
"YES! That's exactly what I am saying!"
"ALRIGHT! You don't have to yell at me."
Ozzie's always yelling at me.
"Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life." - Ozzie (Oswald Chambers) We are certain of God: we are uncertain of what will happen next. There is much to be said of faith and the spiritual life as it applies to certainty.
We are so obsessed with certainty. Is it really all that necessary? Well, its not if you are living a life of faith...the spiritual life. The spiritual life is not one of certainty. The moments I am so uncertain of what would happen next are the moments my faith is stretched and made stronger.
When you stretch your muscles they grow. They do not necessarily grow stronger and bigger, but they do grow more flexible, which allows them the ability to grow stronger in time.
So here I am a man in need of flexibility. I am a man in need of faith...because I am certainly uncertain. These are now the times of becoming more flexible, and that flexibility makes strength more available. That ability ultimately leads to strength.
What do I build my life on? I have read the story about the wise man and the foolish man. I realize that the wise man will build his life on God, the Rock. I have to realize, then, that the foolish man builds his life on the sand. The question is: "What is the sand?" I mean we know the Rock is God, but what is the sand upon which we should NOT build our life? Upon some reflection, the answer is simple. Anything that is not God! Everything that is not God! The sand is anything, anyone that is not God. This means even good things are sand. That means even good people are sand. If I am not building my life on THE Rock, I am building it on the sand. That means everything other than God will wash away.
Does that mean to stay away from everything and everyone? No! The question is what do you BUILD YOUR LIFE ON? The question is what is your foundation? The practical way of looking at this is: "What or who do I attach myself to?"
To heal, recover, and move forward in my life, I have to replace everything and everyone with GOD as my primary attachment. When I attach myself to anything or anyone other than God, I give them power and control...they control me...I attach...I build a foundation. I...we choose people, places, and things that will not interfere with, but will likely SUPPORT our addictive personalities and behaviors and defense mechanisms.
I have to quit attaching myself to these things and people and re-attach myself to God...to, as Ozzie Chambers would say, "be THRILLED WITH GOD", to be defined by my relationship with God. Once I do that, I can make sandcastles with all the rest instead of building myself...my foundation with them.
Ozzie Chambers writes, "Have you ever heard the Master say a hard word? If you have not, I question whether you have heard Him say anything." I am reminded today of how destructive and abrasive the words of Jesus should be to our lives. Most of Jesus' words and commands should be wrecking our lives. We are to obey a drastic call to be counter-cultural.
We in America are rich young rulers (Luke 18), and we are being called to many things that are going to be very hard for us to obey. They are difficult because these are not things we are used to and comfortable with. Many of the pursuits...MOST of the pursuits of our culture are not as Jesus has called us to live. Jesus intends to wreck our lives...as they are.
Most of the time, I am a rich young ruler, and I walk away sorrowful because I cannot bring myself to fully follow Jesus. Jesus never comes running after me begging and pleading. Another day my desire will bring me back to Jesus; he will challenge me to something that will require a sacrifice on my part, and I will be faced with a difficult decision as to whether or not to do it.
Some days I follow Jesus; other days I walk away from Him and His command on my life with my head hung low because, once again, I am unable (unwilling) to fully obey and follow.
Jesus has not quite wrecked my life, but He's always trying.
Consistently thorughout scripture is reference to people being blameless before God. A few years ago I read an Oswald Chambers footnote that changed the way I read that word from then on. It simply said "blameless; not faultless". This is humbling on one hand and encouraging on the other.
It is humbling to know that you are still not without fault. It is humbling to remember that you still live on earth short of perfection. It is good to have this humble reminder once you have been called 'blameless'.
It is encouraging to know because of Jesus and as you consistently walk with God, you are blameless before Christ even though your life is still not without faults.
It is encouraging to know even though your life is bent toward destructive choices (faults) you can still be seen as blameless if you will be entangled with Christ and walk with God.
May I learn to live blameless though not always faultless.