Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walking By Faith

This is a devotional from "Streams in the Desert." I thought it was quite good, and one that I'm sure many can relate to.

"We walk by faith, not by appearance." (2 Cor. 5:7, R.V)

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. but God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him.

God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise.

Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God's facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God's facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

(Author unknown)

Monday, September 14, 2009

For The Least of These..............

I gave twenty dollars to a stranger today. He was standing at a busy intersection, holding a cardboard sign that said "broke and hungry." This is a common practice in my city. Sometimes it is a young woman, sometimes a young man, or maybe both. The fellow today looked fairly down and out. He wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a skull motif, and had many tatoos. A heavy backpack completed his outfit.

These folks make me uncomfortable when I come across them. My first impulse is usually to open my wallet to give them some money. If my husband is with me, I don't do this. He is convinced that they are all drug addicts or alcoholics looking for a fix. Or people with jobs who are making extra money. So, knowing this, I hesitate. Lots of times I just drive by. But today, even though I am going through some financial hardship myself, I decided to stop and talk to the guy. I knew I had the twenty dollar bill in my wallet, and some small change. I thought that even though things were tight for myself, at least I had a home and food in the fridge.

I asked him what was going on with him. He told me a story about being injured on the job, coming from Kingston, waiting for Worker's Compensation, thinking about going out west to find a job. Of course, I had no way of knowing if he was lying to me or not. So I handed him the twenty dollar bill and said "God bless you." He thanked me, said "God bless you too." Then he walked away.

As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him walk over to a bicycle, hop on it and ride away. A little dog ran alongside him. For all I know, he could have been heading for the Beer Store, which was just across the street. I didn't bother to "tail" him, however. If that is where he went, I didn't want to know.

I wonder if it is our pride that makes us hesitate to give money to these people. We don't want to be taken advantage of, or be "taken in" by some kind of scam. Or perhaps we don't want to risk being an "enabler" to someone's addiction. I only know that there must be some truly desperate, needy people out there, among the "fakers". I only know that I have been so incredibly blessed in my life, and that it might have been me, or my son, or my daughter, out there on some street corner, trying to survive in desperate circumstances.

Of course, I always have to ask myself, "what does God want me to do?" I think He would want me to share what I have been blessed with, and leave the results up to Him. What about you? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Finished Yet.............

I received some very disappointing news the other day. Not totally unexpected, but I really was hoping for a different outcome. It has threatened to plunge me into an abyss of hopelessness. But I keep clawing my way back up. I don't want to go there.

I read this verse from a daily devotional this morning:

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." (Psalm 138:8)

The reading was about how God uses suffering to bring us into a place of peaceful submission to His will, after which He will do a great work in us. To quote:

"Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus."

Sounds glorious, doesn't it? I can read those types of quotes on a good day and agree with them. But when I am in the midst of a struggle, I say to myself "just wake me up when it's over!" Do you ever feel that way?

Still, we are in His hands, no matter what the circumstance is. We are in process. Just like the young cardinal above, who has a long way to go before he is a glorious red color, we are growing in Christ-likeness. God is doing a work; not outwardly to make us a brilliant crimson against a blue sky, but to perfect in us a sweet smelling savor that will draw the lost, and an inward brightness to be lights in a dark world.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thou Remainest (Heb. 1:11)

I love getting together with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We meet on Sunday mornings, and it seems we are lingering later and later each week. No one really wants to leave. As I have heard said, being with each other to remember Christ and worship Him is the closest thing to heaven that we can experience here on earth.

Yesterday was no exception. We all shared; our struggles, our convictions, our joy in knowing that God's grace is there for each of us, every moment. We shared words of life and encouragement, and sat in awe of how God is working amongst us, giving us such a love for each other, and a desire to know Him more and more.

Every week I am challenged. Every week I am edified. Every week I come away with a renewed confidence in God's promises, with my heart stirred up afresh. Oh how I want to stay in that place of happy submission and dependence on Him! But the world, my flesh, and the devil so soon creep in, threatening to wash it all away, like a sand castle at the beach is slowly dissolved by the approaching tide.

Yesterday I read from my daily devotional, "Streams in the Desert". It spoke of the difference between "realizing" Christ's presence and "recognizing" it. I will quote some of it here:

"Realizing is blessed, but rare. It belongs to the mood, to the feelings. It is dependent on weather conditions and bodily conditions. The rain, the heavy fog outside, the poor sleep, the twinging pain, these make on's mood so much, they seem to blur out the realizing. But there is something a little higher up than relaizing. It is yet more blessed. It is independent of these outer conditions, it is something that abides. It is this: recognizing that presence unseen, so wondrous and quieting, so soothing and calming and warming. Recognize His presence, the Master's own. He is here, close by; His presence is real. Recognizing will help realizing too, but it never depends on it. - S.D. Gordon (Streams in the Desert, September 6th)

I was so encouraged by these words. I hope they encourage you today, to remember that no matter how we are feeling, or what circumstances we are in at the moment, He is there. Never to leave nor forsake. When our thoughts stray from Him, still His remain on us, and His care of us never wavers. Be certain of it today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When Things are Right

Can anything be more precious in life,
Than a heart that is right with the LORD?

Could money obtain, secure, or regain,
The rest only grace can afford?

An apple, so shiny, and bright red, with candy,
Can sparkle and catch the eye

But hidden within, are bruises, like sin,
That fester unseen, and defile.

O joy of knowing His forgiving embrace,
Of meeting His gaze without shame.

Much dearer and priceless, more lovely by far,
Than all idols your heart longed to claim.

O LORD grant us grace, these lessons to learn,
Us who are dull, fickle, and vain.

We long to be like you, our heart next to yours,
With nary a blemish or stain.

Teach us our weakness, our proneness to fail,
So daily we might look to You,

For strength and discernment, and grace, to prevail,
In striving to be, like You, true.

Reward here and now, in knowing You near,
So rich, undeserved, and so sweet;

To think that there waits, in heaven, for us,
Delights that we have yet to meet.

But may we look forward, in all of our hope,
Most often, most deeply, with love,

To the moment, and moments, forever to come,
Seeing You, face to face, at last Home.