It’s Thursday already! That’s what happens when you have two days off at the beginning of the week. Today is Thursday, May 31, 2012. One day closer to whatever’s next. Today is “Speak in Complete Sentences Day.” There’s an entire generation out there who will never understand what that means. (It just started raining outside.) On this date in 1930, Clint Eastwood was born. Go ahead…make my day. Do you feel lucky? On this date in 1819, Walt Whitman was born. It was Whitman who wrote “Oh Captain, My Captain,” mourning the assassination of Lincoln. I wonder if he was standing on a desk… And on this date in 1997, Ila Borders became the first woman to pitch in a minor league baseball game, pitching for the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League.
Yesterday was Stephanie’s last day of homebound school. As stated yesterday, we should be picking up her diploma next Monday. We plan a celebration the following Sunday after church.
21-8, Rangers?? REALLY???
Father, I pray for some revelation of truth today, either something fresh or a good, solid reminder of something that I’ve already known. I want to see you this morning, clear and strong.
My Utmost For His Highest
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them…for he himself knew what was in man. John 2:24-25
Today’s reading is called “God First.” Although it is said that Jesus did not trust any man, he was also “never suspicious, never bitter, never in despair about any man, because He put God first in trust.” There was complete trust in what the grace of God could do for any man. If we put our trust in humans first, we will wind up in total despair. We will become bitter (I can attest to this from experience). “Never trust anything but the grace of God in yourself or in anyone else.” That means I don’t even trust ME! And, believe me, I don’t! So we should put God first in trust.
We should also put God’s needs first. Wait…God has needs? Once again, I’m not comfortable with Chambers’s choice of words, but I think I get what he means. God doesn’t “need” anything! He is completely and utterly self-sufficient. However, he has desires and he has his will. There is much hue and cry today that we must go and tell the dying world about Jesus. While it is true that we need to be about the business of spreading the gospel, there are personal needs that must be met first. Chambers taught at a college. These readings are part of talks that he gave at this college, and in this reading, he states, “The purpose of this College is to get us rightly related to the needs of God.” You see, the purpose was NOT to teach these men how to preach or evangelize, although that certainly happened, as well. It was to get people rightly related to God’s will in their lives. Once that had been accomplished, then God would open doors to realize his will in other places.
I have said for many years now that worship is the ultimate priority of the church. There are many pastor/teachers who agree with this thought, which is based on Jesus’s statements concerning what is the greatest command. John Piper says that missions exists because worship doesn’t! The purpose of missions is to create worshipers! When we get our relationship with God right within our own selves, then we can properly seek out his will in the world, or in other people. It’s kind of like that parable Jesus told about trying to remove a spot of dust from someone else’s eye when you’ve got a log sticking in your own eye. Or, in more modern terms…what is it was used to say? “Clean up your own back yard first.” Or something like that.
Finally, Chambers says we need to “Put God’s Trust First.” In this case, I believe the word “trust” to be something that is given to us, as in a “trust fund.” God gives us himself in Jesus. This is his trust to us. “Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transfigured by the indwelling life of the Son of God?” I hope so. That is my heart’s desire. But this natural life is surely afflicted from all sides by the desires of the flesh and the “stuff of earth.” “God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be manifested in my mortal flesh.” THAT is what I’m after.
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20
As discussed yesterday, when we were united with Christ, we were also united with each other by the Spirit. It is also true that each of us has been placed in the body of Christ for a specific purpose. “Our place in God’s kingdom depends on His electing grace and our personal faith, but we are not brought into heaven alone.” And we are brought into this relationship to be put to work. Each of us has specific gifts that are for the good of the body. We tend to get off course here, thinking, somehow, that these gifts are for own own edification or glory. But the gifts that we have received are for the good of the body. And we should never think of the pastors, administrators, and worship leaders as being more important than the people who watch babies, or the others who work behind the scenes. (Don’t tick off the guy running the lights, right?) “Our gifts and talents are all necessary for a well-functioning church.”
Once again, I can tie these two readings together. If we look at the idea of taking care of God’s “needs” first, this can be considered along with figuring out our place in the body. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to work quite as smoothly as the human body does. For example…what if the heart suddenly decided it wanted to be an eye? Or what if the foot decided it was tired of carrying the weight of the entire body and wanted to be a nose? (For one thing that would be one UGLY nose!) Funny, right? But isn’t that what happens when someone who has no musical talent insists that they want to sing a solo?? Or when someone who couldn’t administer their way out of a paper bag tries to be an administrator? (I’ll raise my hand on that one…I’m a horrible administrator!) We desperately need the guidance of the Spirit to know where our place is in the body of Christ, and then we need to follow that guidance. We need to not try to be something that we are not, but we also need to make sure that we be what we are! If we are taking care of God’s “needs” first, the body of Christ will be functioning properly and will be able to look outside of itself for the work that God intends for the entire body to do. But hear this, church leaders! You leaders who expect every member of the church to go out and verbally share the gospel door-to-door are violating the same principal. Because that is not everyone’s gift. That would be like the entire body deciding to try to be a mouth. And from my experience, one mouth is almost too many.
One more thing (I thought I was finished). It is entirely possible and probable that these gifts and talents can change over the course of a lifetime. So just because you have one gift when you are, say, sixteen or twenty, doesn’t mean that that will remain your main purpose when you are sixty. Remember, Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
Father, I pray that I will know my place in your kingdom and in the body of Christ. You have gifted me with certain gifts and talents, and I desire to use them for your glory. I confess that there are certain gifts that seem to be dormant right now, and this makes me uncomfortable. But I also acknowledge that part of the reason for this is my own fault. While I have tried to get someone to let me play or sing in the worship team at our church, it is also true that I have not practiced my gifts very much at home lately. So I pray that the Spirit might inspire me to get on that. If I am to use a gift for your glory, I truly must continue to hone that gift so that it will be excellent for you. I cannot expect to pick up a guitar tomorrow after having not played it for a few months and play like I always have. Give me the motivation to practice, Lord. Help me take care of your needs within myself first. Of course, I believe, too, that this is why I’m involved in the tech side of ministry at our church. You are showing me that sometimes, it is necessary to minister behind the scenes. It is not always necessary to be “up front.” All parts of the body are necessary for the body to function correctly.
These morning devotions serve to help me get rightly related to you through Christ. I thank you for the things that you have been showing me each day. But I pray that you would, by your Spirit, help me to remember them, too. I tend to forget what I read, to forget what you taught me, kind of like that guy in James that looks at his reflection and walks away, forgetting what he looks like.
May truly trust nothing else within me but the workings of your grace. I know that I don’t trust myself, Lord, because my “self” is still wrapped up in flesh. As long as that is true, my self will be less than trustworthy. But if I am relying on your Spirit, and allowing your Spirit to show forth, then I will be more trustworthy, because it will be your grace that is being trusted.
I pray that your Son would be manifested in my mortal flesh, Lord! By the power of the risen and ascended Christ, I pray that this would be so. Show forth Jesus in my life, especially when I am in places like where I work, workout, and shop. I pray that, as we all gather tonight at our lifehouse, we will all manifest the Spirit of Christ in our lives. May everything we say and do be shown to be coming from your Spirit within us. May the attitudes of our hearts and the words of our mouths reflect the Spirit of your Son.
I pray for this day, Lord. There are storms outside right now. I pray that these will abate by the time I leave for work, as Stephanie is afraid during thunderstorms. I pray for safe travel to work, for Christi and for me. I also pray that she will hear something from Supermedia today. It has been stated to her that the hiring request has been submitted. I pray that the salary offered will be commensurate with what she was making before. I pray that her day today will be less stressful. I also pray for a smooth day at my work. I pray that Stephanie has a restful day today, as she celebrates being through with her classes. I pray for wisdom as Christi and I try to work out her future.
I pray for the leadership of our church, Lord. Give them direction, showing them which way YOU want our church to proceed. I pray for the resources necessary to continue the ministries of the church.
Trust nothing but God’s grace in you or anyone else. Find your place in the body and serve with everything you’ve got.
Grace and peace, friends.