all must be done by Him

God does not share His glory with us; therefore He is obliged to bring us from failure to failure – not however to end in discouragement, but that we may come to condemn and abhor ourselves. Then when we have found there is no more anything to hope for in ourselves, we learn to come in a new way – perhaps after a long career of Christian profession – as undone ones at His feet; ready now, on the ground of our dreadful experience, to be introduced into the Divine simplicity of a life like Christ by the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to work even when we are halting at the first steps of Christ’s redemption. He introduces us, through the Holy Scriptures, into the simplicity of Divine secrets when we are yielded up to Him in full despair about ourselves and in despair of bringing forth anything worthy of Christ and of God. Then we learn how all must be done by Him in us and that the Holy Ghost waits to show His power to transform us into the image of Christ, even through our very failures.”—Otto Stockmayer

This sums it up…God must bring us to see that there is “no good thing, residing in my flesh” and that I can not make myself grow the fruits of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh. No, it’s by death that God comes and takes His place and lives in us. His fruit comes from His abiding in us. When flesh is ruling, He’s not abiding. 1 John and Romans talk about this. It’s a moment by moment thing. I can’t feed my flesh and expect to be living in Christ’s light or joy. Lord, give light and open our hearts to You.

An encouragement to all of us when we face trials of any shape or sort, remember, these are some of our Lord’s greatest mercies to us:

“The deepest death to self lies in the motives and intentions, hence this all-consuming motive to want to be nothing but a capacity for Christ to live in lies at the foundation of the death of self and the highest life of Christ. With this pure motive fixed in the heart, we are to habitually and willingly accept of every occasion for humiliation and self-abasement which God’s providence brings to us. While on the one hand we are neither to make or seek a cross, on the other hand we are to sweetly and willingly accept of every blow, or mortification, or inconvenience, or painful annoyance which comes to us in the order of God’s providential will. Humiliation is the very quintessence of the Christ-life, and we must appreciate every opportunity of sinking into humility. Hence when reproaches, unkind treatment, poverty, loneliness, persecution, mental distresses, seeming failure in our work, disappointments, deep perplexities, or any disagreeable thing comes to us, if we are in a state of divine recollection, we are to calmly face these things as appropriate occasions for losing our own will and letting the omnipotence of God take charge of them. We can thereby in these humiliations be more delicately and firmly knit to the will of God.”—G. D. Watson

power of godliness

“I used to be looking for a series of experiences … of dying with the Lord, hoping that I would have done with that lesson and pass on to the next, that I would be able to appreciate I had risen with Christ and then pass on to know what it is to reign with the Lord. These are true together, they are always true and they are only true as they are held together in one complete identification of the sinner with the Saviour. Only as we die daily do we reign. We are never more reigning on the throne than we are dying on the cross. Daily we, too, are invited to save ourselves and come down. Whenever we do, we cease to reign and we cease to bless. Some small trial of daily routine, a crossing of personal preference in a very little thing, an accumulation of duties, unexpected interruptions, unwelcome distractions. Yesterday these things merely fretted you, and internally at least, ‘upset’ you. Today on the contrary, you take them up, and stretch your hands out upon them, and let them be the occasion of new disgrace and deeper death for that old self-spirit. You take them up in loving, worshipping acceptance. You carry them to their Calvary in thankful submission. And tomorrow you will do the same. These things naturally fret us and upset us. Let them be a call to deeper death. The cross never grows easier, but is inseparably linked with spiritual power.”—Fred Mitchel, a former Director of the China Inland Mission

More excellent quotes on this subject here

our ministry

“Serve and work wholeheartedly, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for men.” Eph. 6:7 God brought this verse to mind this afternoon while I was rushing around trying to figure out what to cook for the next few days. I was starting to want to complain that I didn’t have enough meat in the freezer and couldn’t decide what to cook. I realized I was starting to think victim mentality instead of seeing the privilege I have to SERVE my family for Christ. We as mothers are so blessed to have this opportunity. We lose out on the ministry we are called to the our closest neighbors! We are called to bless those in our household. To be a river of refreshing water of Christ’s goodness to them. The next time you serve a meal, wipe a nose, read a book or give a bath remember you are serving the living God and you are ministering to His beloved treasures. Your ministry is more important than any other one you can do right now because it’s the one YOU are called to. Today I’d been praying and asking God where He wants me to minister and that He would bring the poeple He wanted for me to encourage to me when He reminded me that He already has and I overlook them too frequently. These precious family members need Jesus’ love. Let us not forsake providing what our families need.

 

Here’s what I’m asking myself today: Does my family see me working hard with joy or frustration during the day? Do they feel like treasures or burdens?

Jesus–only in You can I do these things!

“Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

 

“Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet especially your family. Be holy – let us pray.” ~Mother Teresa

Christian Hedonism: seek true happiness

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. CS Lewis

I’m re reading John Piper’s book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (it’s free online) and it’s reminding me how our hearts need to be awakened to JOY. So much of the church is deadened by the world. It’s desperately looking for joy and fulfillment in people, places and things not in the Only One who gives joy and true happiness. God doesn’t tell us our desires for happiness are too big, He tells us they are too little. We think that this world can satisfy but it was never meant too. How can we follow Christ half heartedly? We can’t! We must have an undivided heart. We must decide to seek God as our happiness. His joy must be our highest pleasure and goal. We must give up our life to Him and be amazed at how much beauty He forms from the ashes of our sacrifice. We cringe at the words die to self and the world but when we have we can’t imagine ever going back to the misery of seeking this world or our own way. Oh Lord, that YOU might capture our hearts and never let us go. Captivate us. Lord, may You satisfy our hearts in the morning and fill us with Your goodness. Our joy doesn’t depend on any circumstance our joy depends on enjoying YOU. We were created to ENJOY you. To find our happiness in You. Open our eyes, may we taste and see You are good. Blessed are all who seek You!

 I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord.  The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord;  but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.  George Muller

Cry out to the Lord Jesus to fill the dry beds of your rivers until they overflow, and then empty the channels that have until now been filled with your own self-sufficiency. Ask Him to fill these also with His superabundant grace. If your heavy trials cause you to sink deeper in the flood of His consolations, be glad of them.. CH Spurgeon

Abiding: position or condition?

I found an article that explains what God’s been showing my heart lately. For years I had wondered at the references to “Abiding in Christ”. I’d prayed and desired that in my life however the concept never seemed to realize in me for very long. I just kept going back to relying on myself to have patience and even though I’d ask God for it. I guess I didn’t really believe He’d give it to me. I think I kept getting out of the abiding also by saying I sure don’t “feel like I’m abiding” or take how I felt that moment as proof I was or wasn’t abiding. Trusting my feelings is a huge mistake I’m realizing. My feelings are easily swayed as my husband says by even what we ate the night before. I need to bank my mind set on what the word says. This is what grounds us. Since I’ve gotten married and had children especially I’ve seen that my flesh cannot give the fruits of the Spirit. I can’t live relying on my self. Now, God is showing me that believing the promises of Christ and walking trusting God for His life to flow through me is the way we can walk in patience, joy, love and hope. I am by no means saying I am walking without sin because I stumble but these stumblings work as reminders to return to abiding in Jesus’s strength and power. Right away I have to fight the enemies accusations but those are silenced by looking to the cross and then reminding myself of my position in Christ. I want to live in my position not on the day to day “condition” of whether I’ve messed up or not. What a joy to walk in our position as holy and blameless in Christ! His fellowship is sweeter than any thing on earth. A godly lady told me that her fellowship with God is what she looks forward to more than anything else day or night. It is her greatest delight. When our hearts come to that we can know that the Spirit is abiding and we will walk in His joy and peace even if we are in a concentration camp like Corrie Ten Boom, or beaten and shipwrecked like Paul, or a mother with little sleep and cranky children! The Lord is our helper, we shall not be put to shame as we trust in Him!

For more on condition and position read The Green Letters. I have the hard copy at home but it’s all available online. It is a life changing book. I’ve been reading it the past year and bit by bit it’s been growing my view of myself and who I am because of the Gospel.

who do I love?

 If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-7

and again here:

 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. John 14:18-9

These Scriptures used to send shivers down my spine. Now I am just encouraged to remember that He is weeding out all the other so called “good”  firsts till He alone is FIRST. Are we willing to risk the rejection of all others and follow Christ? How can I love my family anyways if I am not loving Christ first. If I am not walking in the Spirit, then flesh is dominating and last time I checked flesh doesn’t have true love.  The mind set on the flesh is death, the mind set on the Spirit is life, joy and peace! These passages look like death to the flesh because they are death to the flesh. But oh, there is greater life there when we have died! Oh to be filled with the life of the Spirit and to walk in deadness to our flesh.

Jesus mentions the cross; If we cannot accept and have joy in the trials He gives us in love to grow us closer to Himself for our greatest joy, than we are again walking in the deadness of the flesh. We must remember that every moment, there are no accidents and each cross is given in wisdom and supreme love. We have the choice: walk in the flesh and have our minds set on misery or walk in the Spirit and have Christ’s joy and peace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen. -Saint Frances

Thank you Lord, continue to work this in us!

steps in the Spirit

But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” Ps. 70:4

What joy is found in being filled with God’s Spirit. The idols that my heart worshiped far too long “good ones” the world and might I even add much of Christendom chorused! Ones like a “clean house” “quiet and rest”, “folded laundry” and oh my the epitomy of goodness “the children and husband” stole both my joy and my energy. “We are wives, we must keep up with ‘the standards’.” I whispered to myself hourly, it had the ‘semblance of wisdom’. Oh yes, Satan often allows the appearance of godliness and wisdom to his most innocent sounding lies. These pretty faced lies however, as idols do they left me drained of inner strength and bitter. When my husband came home at the end of the day my circumstances determined my joy, my outlook. That’s the test you know: If you can’t rejoice right now with great and exceeding joy in your heart and shout God’s goodness to your children and husband at the end of the day then an idol has stolen your joy. I had forgotten what joy was. I thought it was something that people had once their children were over the age of 10, and had a clean house and well the list goes on.  Praise God, He didn’t allow me to go on in my Baal worship.

When Christ in His grace awakened me again to the beauty and the sweetness of His loving fellowship I couldn’t bear to part with Him for a clean house and “perfect” children any day. Suddenly the Bible that had echoed hollow in my heart came new to me. God’s promises, His truth awoke afresh in me. Believing His Truth for each moment; whether a trial of feeling or circumstance.  Today, I thirst that each step I take be one of a firm hope in God’s power to do what He’s promised. I want to take every word of God and bank all on it. Where else can I bank my joy? No other place. I’ve been far too miserable for far too long to ever bank my hope on anything else. God help me.

 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you might abound in hope,through the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13

God sees, El Roi

Those days when we have hurts that we can’t share with others. Where do we go? Those moments where bitterness threatens to overwhelm us. Those times when we feel like we will crumble under the sorrow of lack of understanding in relationships or when we feel so tired and beyond the reach of pleasing the people who matter most to us. Where do we take the frustration and pain? I am reminded again that these issues must be taken to the God who sees and who perfectly understands. I’m starting to see I need to ask Him to make me aware of His presence clearly in those days and moments. I need to see Him tangibly at work in those moments. Those are the moments I need His touch and His comfort. He will give it. He upholds the weak. He gives comfort to the down cast. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us so that we can comfort other with the comfort we have received.