Thursday, December 24, 2009

A right view of salvation

Instead of starting with a quote that will not encapsulate the fullness of the devotion for 21 November, I will link to it.

There is just so much truth in this passage.

Does God love His children? Yes. However, our forgiveness did not come about because we are loved. There is nothing great about us that earns merit with God. God is holy and cannot stand sin. Christ had to become our sin for us and die for us to be forgiven because the result of sin is death.

Jesus did not come to die a martyr for a cause or to be a good example or to spread love and then death sort of surprised Him. He came to die. He came to glorify the Father by showing God's mercy.

It is also not mean Old Testament God vs. Christ who came to save us. They were not fighting over how to save the humans. God had this plan from before the beginning and Christ submitted to the Father in perfect love. Our entire purpose is to glorify God.

Basically, I think all Christians should read this day of Chamber's devotional to be reminded of what salvation really is.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

peace from obedience

As long as we try to serve two ends, ourselves and God, there is perplexity. The attitude must be one of complete reliance on God...Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an unfathomable peace, which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry till it does or findout the reason why it does not.
- 14 December, My Utmost for His Highest

I had trouble picking a quote from this day, because it really progresses through the whole passage.

If you disobey God to serve yourself, this causes you to lose sight of God and His peace that passes all understanding but when we obey God, regardless of what problems face us, we shall not worry.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Worth, poverty, Kingdom of Heaven

At the basis of Jesus Christ's Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. The thing I am blessed in is my poverty.
--August 21st, My Utmost for His Highest

We do not enter the kingdom of heaven on our own merit, but on the fact that we have nothing to offer so Christ makes the way for us.

Once we are part of the kingdom, we are to praise God in everything we do . I think that is why I like this quote. I love the phrase "loveliness of the commonplace." It makes me think of Curdie in The Princess and the Curdie by George MacDonald who was scolded for taking what is common for granted. He needed to learn to love what was common around him andto take pleasure in the love of his parents, the breakfast he ate, and the ability to work.

It is good to take pleasure in God's good gifts to us, but first we need the realize the poverty in our spiritual lives to know that we need Christ.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the still quiet place I have yet to find...

Jesus did not say--Dream about thy Father in secret, but pray to your Father in secret... The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental woolgathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer.
-- August 23, My Utmost for His Highest

Prayer has often been a struggle for me. I started reading the Bible when I was ten, I enjoyed singing praise and worship songs, loved church and learning about God, but prayer was always hard. When I did try to pray, I would either give God a wish list or I would distract myself. Disciplining myself to pray is hard, and a good reminder that I am not able to reach God without His grace.

Having a secret place, not just a closet or the front seat of my car (though both of those are very useful for praying), what I need is a secret place inside myself--A part of my soul, dedicated to communing with God from when I awake till I sleep. Sometimes more of my soul can focus on prayer, but that is something I need to cultivate.

Last night, I got to a Christmas party about ten minutes early, so instead of going inside, I prayed for about 15 minutes, out loud in my car. It was a sweet time, lifting up prayer requests, praising God for His forethought and His mercy and His creation.

Goal: To learn to better cultivate prayer.

What I have going for me: Church directory to pray through (tangibility), the Bible and other books full of encouragement, examples, and descriptions of what I need to praise God for. And the Holy Spirit can guide my prayers, and can give me the focus to remember to pray.

Friday, December 18, 2009

That Little Judgmental Voice inside...

If I see a mote in your eye. it means I have a beam in my own. Every wrong thing that I see in you, God locates in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself.
-June 17th, My Utmost for His Highest

There are times where I find it easy to judge other people. The awful thing is, I judge the people who are most like me. As a Christian, I do not find it hard, generally, to respect the people I disagree with.

People I have met at university who have differing views on morality, religion, or politics who are not Christians, or who come from a very different background than me, I find easy to respect and love as part of the human race. I have had very fruitful conversations with people that support sex before marriage, abortion, or the idea that religious plurality will get you to heaven. I disagree with all these positions, but I can respect the people that hold them. I do not expect people without Christ to agree with me on issues like these.

The people I have trouble loving are the people almost like me. Sometimes I will meet someone who was sheltered homeschooler (like me), and I have this desire to open their minds, and I quickly judge them as ignorant for believing what I would have believed.

For example, I am not a Marxist. I have read Marx a couple times for class, and I see the value in some of his ideas and I see how some of his assessments of capitalism have merit, but I don't think his ideas will work. I have had conversations with non-christian friends about why I am not a Marxist. But if someone from my high school said that they hated Marxism or that socialism was stupid or something, I would start defending these ideas. I would not say that they were correct, but I would say how Marx did point out problems in capitalism and how his ideas are enlightening to understand a very influential worldview.

I have the same reaction when Christians try to say that some discovery disproved evolution or people try to define how Christian must view homosexuality. Now, I may actually agree with them on some of their points, but I almost don't want to agree with them. Part of me wants to be liberal, because it seems more open-minded, to separate myself from the person I would be if I never went to public school or a liberal university.

I am quick to judge fellow followers of Christ for their often correct beliefs, when I need to love them. I judge them for holding to seven day creation and the young earth theory (which I believe are possible) or other issues that are just not as important.

We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and conservative Christians are also our neighbors.

I judge them for their beliefs, when they may actually judge people who disagree with them less than I judge them. So that is a plank in my eye...

Goal: Love as God loves me, especially those who are what I would be.

Follow-up from Saturday, 19 Dec.: Last night at the Christmas party, there was a guy who epitomizes the Christian conservative beliefs that I struggle to love. He spoke like evolution was obviously dumb, Congress would be perfected if we only elected believers and could reprove Senate with Bible verses, and all my professors must obviously be trying to convert me to liberalism anti-Christian viewpoints at school.

It was good to remember that he loves the Lord. I may have shown off opinions and knowledge developed in classes and from living in DC, but it was kind of the Lord to remind me that I need to love, even those who make me want to be a liberal.

A plan to actually blog

This past year, I have been reading Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. The days that I found most encouraging or powerful, I marked, and now that school is out, I intend to spend sometime over the next couple weeks looking at the days that moved me. This is also a test to see if I really can blog consistently for a while.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We have a weird but awesome friendship...

My roommate and I were talking about her emotional constipation (her emotions are constipated because she doesn't deal with things).

I said that she should start dealing with smaller things because when something really big happens, she won't be able to deal with it if she doesn't deal with smaller things first.

It is like yoga. People do yoga to stretch and so when they fall they don't get hurt as badly as if they didn't do yoga. Caring about people can hurt like stretching when you are not used to it, but it is worth it. By dealing with small things instead of just ignoring them, you are better able to deal with the large things that would rock your world otherwise.