Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Daily Bread

We are used to praying “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) but we are not used to recognizing the answer and giving thanks for it. Most of us say grace at the table, perhaps, but daily bread includes all that we really need in this world. Do we believe God can and does provide that? Or are we like the Israelites who, when a “mixed company of strangers” came along, developed a whole new set of expectations? They were “greedy for better things” (Num 11:4).

Sometimes God wants to give us better things. Those who really have trusted Him receive His gifts with thanksgiving. The spirit of greed is not in them. Rather they ask for and accept “daily” bread ---in abundance, if God sees that to be good for them, or in sufficiency alone, according to His loving-kindness.

Help me, Lord, to take today’s portion of food, possessions, joys, pain, and Your presence, believing that it is enough for me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not By Mere Strength

The songs of both Hannah and Mary for the blessing of motherhood celebrate the sovereignty of a God who can put down the proud and raise the humble. Both recognize that it was not natural gifts or social position or worldly advantages that gained them such blessing and happiness, but the High God Himself, who, as Hannah said, “thunders out of heaven” (1 Sam. 2:10).

It was an unexpected lesson given me from this passage this morning. I was fretting about a disagreement with someone yesterday because, in the light of a new day, I still felt that “my way was best.”

The Lord seemed to be saying “So what? Granted, of two ways of doing a thing, yours is the more efficient. I am not nearly so concerned with efficiency as I am with your conformity to My Son. Holiness requires that you lay down your ‘excellence’ sometimes and learn what Hannah learned: not by mere strength shall a man prevail. You must be put down, silenced, immobilized ---but only in order to see how I can work. I will guard the footsteps of my saints (see 1 Sam. 2:9). Trust Me!”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

No Wagons Provided

For the transportation of the tabernacle in Old Testament times wagons and oxen were provided, to the Gershonites and the Merarites. But Moses gave none to the Kohathites, “because the service laid upon them was that of the holy things: these they had to carry themselves on their shoulders” (Num. 7:9).

It is well to remember that economy and efficiency are not necessarily important to God. We can hardly think in any other terms. “Get the job done with as little effort as possible. Don’t strain yourself!” Some jobs, it seems, require individual sacrifice. It is not because they are of less value to God that He does not provide “wagons” (any modern methods or means to facilitate things) but because the job is specially important. He wants people. He wants consecration. He wants shoulders willing to bend.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No Reservations

Obedience to the call of God must be wholehearted. That is, we can lay down no conditions, withhold no part of ourselves from Him.

“Show me the way that I must take; to thee I offer all my heart” (Ps. 143:8).

It is right and proper to ask for the Lord’s clear direction about what to do, but it does not make sense to ask it if we offer only some of our heart. God will open a way for us when we open our hearts to Him.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No Death Wish

The willingness to be “crucified with Christ” is nothing like the “death wish” that indicates a pathological condition. It is not the desire to be annihilated, but the desire to live ---to live, that is, as Christ lives. Far from a wish to escape from life, it is in fact the wish to escape into life, from the chained self. It is Christ I want, Christ who fills my life with His glorious vitality, Christ living in me, Christ before me, behind me, beside me. The strongest willing of which my will is capable is to align myself with God, as Christ, in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, finally aligned Himself with His Father. In doing so ----in willing His Father’s will---- Jesus saved the world. That victory, the “Not I but Christ,” conquers the self and conquers the world.

I do not often feel anything like a conqueror. I am a woman, full of womanly fears and concerns and hopes. But my Fortress is a mighty one, a Helper who prevails, “Amid the flood of mortal ills.” I trust Him, not myself. I live in Him, not in myself. In His name, not mine, I conquer.