Replenish My Devotion

Isaiah 53:10

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

In order to discard the theological errors of his day, Oswald Chambers wrote (as recorded in My Utmost for His Highest for today, December 2), “If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son, why shouldn’t He bruise you?” Some Christians back then, just like today, saw faith in Christ as a magical procedure for eliminating pain and maximizing pleasure in life. “God would never make me sick. God would never make me have a bad day. God wants me to have what I think is the best always.” This kind of thinking reduces God to a vending machine. It also removes God from the arena of worship. If God is my spiritual employee, my Director of Acquisitions, how then do I come around to worshipping Him?

My family and I are going through a difficult time. Many families are, for one reason or another. We are overwhelmed. We are not immune to this. We are not entitled to better. God, instead, gives us many good things through Christ’s Cross to help us when we need real help. Let’s remember some together…

  1. The Cross begins with the manger. The physical hardship of life was the first thing Jesus wanted us to see Him experiencing. He knows this stuff I’m going through. He knows the stuff you’re going through. He wants us, through the story of His birth, to know that He gets it and that He gets us. We struggle. We’re sore. We need protection. Our resources are less than adequate.
  2. Life is noble. If today must be a good day and I must be happy, then I am missing out on life’s nobility. I am then reduced to a sub-human, soulless organism fleeing pain out of fear and chasing pleasure out of greed. Christ’s birth, as well as His death, shows me that He lived for more than “having a good day.” He enjoyed good things in His human life, but He did not serve or worship them; He would not be tempted by the Devil to sell His Cross or His Crown for them.
  3. Life between Genesis and Revelation is bound to death. I cannot live a death-free life. It is not God’s will for any of us, not even His One and Only Son. Because Jesus died too, I believe I will one day live without death. That day is not today, but He has not abandoned me to today; He is with me always, through everything. Shannon and I are praying – just stopping everything and praying – a lot more these days. Prayer is always God’s will, I think.

Suffering is not a virtue in itself. No one I know is buying that it is. Suffering can, however, bring a spiritual fertility to our lives that would otherwise be out of reach. I don’t seek suffering, but I don’t want to cower in its wake either. My only recourse is to turn it into devotion. Faith makes pain replenish my devotion. The Advent and Christmas story we find in the Bible, besides being true history, is an illustration of how this works. It is not a pretty story, but it is the greatest story. And now it changes my story. How about yours?

 

 

4 Replies to “Replenish My Devotion”

  1. Jesus and Mary traveled humbly, and they could not find a high or fancy place to stay. There were no maternity wards, and no bed and breakfasts serving them marmalade and scones, with grassfed butter, or Earl Grey tea. There wasn’t even room at an inn. Wealthy and influential kings might not have known the King they sought was lying in a little cradle of hay, quietly resting; as his mom and dad slept near him, and watched over Him, by the animals, those days. Yet, this quiet, humble little setting was the birthplace for the King of Kings!

    Why did the wise men not come and drape the baby Jesus in ermine and fur? Why did the world’s loud bands not play Him a serenade? Why were there not strobe lights, as there are for big grand openings, and attention drawn to Jesus as He came into the world? The Father would not have one vaunted moment for this child; still, His life would pierce the realm of darkness, forever, to reclaim lives and souls for Him, for those who believe.

    Jesus was born into a life of relative poverty and obscurity. Everyday He asks us to carry our cross, yet place our weariness on Him. We hang our very lives on Him. Over time, we learn what this means.

    This was a good devotional, thank you for them. When it shares that life is noble it is true. With every person made in God’s image, a nod to a higher calling is evident, it is seen. As such, they have within them a wonderful, humbling gift; the ability to choose Him for salvation, and live life for Him.

    Jesus’ presence makes that humble scene in a manger hopeful and grand, glorious and lovely. He redeems and honors our devotion to Him, and bearing up in life’s painful times does not mean our trust in Him is vain; or that He won’t bring out of that time some greater good. God’s Word says this, though we may not always see or perceive this immediately. Such is living with hope in Jesus, through eyes of faith.

    We are truly sorry for the overwhelming trying time your family is facing, and will keep praying for you.

    A beautiful Christian song once asked an important question:

    “ And what if trials of this life The rain, the storms, the hardest nights Are Your mercies in disguise?”

    Below are some books that have been helpful in hard times. There are others. You might be blessed by them.

    http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Waste-Your-Sorrows-Adversities/dp/0875080073

    peace

  2. Just one more thing I wanted to add about Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

    It’s true, the bed and breakfast did not want them, and there was no room at the inn. But Jesus’ life is also guided by the Lord’s hand, by way of closed doors, or open ones; these, divinely chosen for Him.

    Jesus life begins, and an edict is in the land, which causes his family to flee. A closed door causes Jesus’ family go to a region which is more welcoming.

    Even there, the Lord’s hand uses rejection to close doors, til Jesus and His family stay where they are wanted.

    There may’ve been livestock there, at the humble dwelling, but a peace came to Joseph and Mary from knowing they were in a safe place where their presence was welcome.

    All these things the Lord used to guide those who needed to be there too.

    I think about the heart of Jesus and His humility, and love.
    I think about how the scripture verse prophesied about Him:

    Isaiah 53
    53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

    2
    He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

    3
    He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

    I think about Jesus Himself saying:

    “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place
    to lay his head.”

    Even then, even then, so hard for Him to find a place..

    Some mistrusted Him, or they questioned His heart; some even thought He had a demon..

    God’s Word also shares “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

    He shared with his disciples if they were rejected:

    “10And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11″Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12They went out and preached that men should repent.…”

    I think it’s so providentially wonderful how God works.

    What we may think are closed doors, or ambivalence from people, or in situations, can often be the Lord guiding us another way, so to protect us.

    Our Lord Jesus was not pushy about His presence or his message. In His perfect wisdom and love He taught us, by His life, which way we should go, and what might not be best for us. Closed doors led to real open ones, where Christ’s message was truly received with love, and thankfulness for Him and what He was sharing.

    I hope these reflections help someone reading. God is yes and amen, and there’s no shadow of turning with Him!

    All this from thinking today about the, then, baby Jesus and whether, or not, He was welcomed by others, and what a gift lie in His being rejected of men, in one sense. I really thank God for his voice!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s