Archive for April, 2014

Spontaneous Love

April 30th, 2014

Love suffers long and is kind . . . —1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is not premeditated—it is spontaneous; that is, it bursts forth in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of precise certainty in Paul’s description of love. We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” No, the characteristic of love is spontaneity.
We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it. And when we look back, we are amazed at how unconcerned we have been over our emotions, which is the very evidence that real spontaneous love was there. The nature of everything involved in the life of God in us is only discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past.
The fountains from which love flows are in God, not in us. It is absurd to think that the love of God is naturally in our hearts, as a result of our own nature. His love is there only because it “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit . . .” (Romans 5:5).If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we really don’t love Him.
The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God exhibits itself in this spontaneous way because the fountains of His love are in the Holy Spirit.



Prayer for Today-JD

Lord, thank you for Chambers’ reminder about love, and how You can and will spontaneously fill us up and pour us out when we are connected to Jesus. My prayer this morning is that I can be connected to Jesus, throughout this day, allowing You to demonstrate Your love through me. Please remove the roadblocks to my connection today Lord. And please help me walk in faith, not in sight, connected to You. Lord I believe, but please help me in my unbelief, and make me a man after Your own heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Gracious Uncertainty

April 29th, 2014

. . . it has not yet been revealed what we shall be . . . —1 John 3:2

Our natural inclination is to be so precise—trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next—that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God—it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3).
The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in—but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

Prayer for Today- Lord, help me to be able to wait on You. I want to know what is ahead Lord, so I can trust but I know that real faith means trusting You when I have no idea what is ahead.  Lord help me simply trust you and not to seek answers because I am uncertain and afraid of my circumstances. Lord, I pray that You will give me the strength to surrender my “need to know” and to simply trust You this day. In Jesus name…Amen.


What You Will Get

April 28th, 2014

I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go —Jeremiah 45:5

This is the firm and immovable secret of the Lord to those who trust Him— “I will give your life to you . . . .” What more does a man want than his life? It is the essential thing. “. . . your life . . . as a prize . . .” means that wherever you may go, even if it is into hell, you will come out with your life and nothing can harm it. So many of us are caught up in exhibiting things for others to see, not showing off property and possessions, but our blessings. All these things that we so proudly show have to go. But there is something greater that can never go— the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, “I will give your life to you as a prize . . . .” The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything— they have not been given their life “as a prize.” The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. God will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough.__________________________________________________________________

April 28, 2014

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, I often seek accolades and praise from others…..I want others to see how diligent and faithful I am; …all the while knowing deep down that I am not diligent and faithful as I could be. I still chase my own idea of “good” and when I do good things, good spiritual things… I want everyone to know it. When I chase my own selfish goals and opportunities, I do not want anyone to know it. When I am fearful, afraid of my circumstances, looming circumstances and pending situations, I do not often share my fear, keeping it bottled up inside wondering if I am good enough to receive your forgiveness and blessings.  I wonder who can save me from this predicament. And then realize that You already have saved me from this predicament; even from myself, and have provided the grace and love necessary to carry me.

And God says…”When you are prepared to abandon yourself to Me, you will become the most delighted person on earth. As Oswald Chambers says in this devotional; ….”Once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. God will have you absolutely, without any limitations.” Seek first the kingdom of God, which is Jesus …and everything else you need will be provided. Seek first Jesus, and observe how your life unfolds in an interesting and fulfilling way. When you are totally surrendered, there is no fear, anxiety, or pursuit of your own selfish desires. And you start by asking Me to help you with your surrender. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and you will be transformed and made whole. And when you are not quite there, this side of heaven, My grace will be sufficient for you. You can fall into My grace and everlasting love.”

The Warning Against Desiring Spiritual Success

April 24th, 2014

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you . . . —Luke 10:20

Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). In Luke 10:20 , Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God. One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God, we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and those lives will be God’s testimony to us as His workers. God brings us up to a standard of life through His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that same standard in others.

Unless the worker lives a life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), he is apt to become an irritating dictator to others, instead of an active, living disciple. Many of us are dictators, dictating our desires to individuals and to groups. But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an “if,” never with the forceful or dogmatic statement— “You must.” Discipleship carries with it an option.

Journal DJR
Good morning Lord,
For over a year, we have been talking about changing the source of our daily devotional. But, even though we have been using My Utmost For His Highest for over 4 years… You always seem to bring something new for us. One of the places we’ve looked is the works of Henri Nouwen. I thought it would be interesting to look at them side by side. Here is his daily devotional for today:

Fulfilling a Mission

When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return. We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time. When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labours.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years “on a mission.”

Well, parts of those two fit together well. Henri brings that we are on a short term mission (70 years or so) And Oswald clarifies that the mission is more to make disciples who are totally sold out and walking with You than to merely get them in the front door. And the only way we can do that is to be that. We will only create what we are. So our message must be our lives.

The other thing that speaks to me today is that you are not a dictator and we shouldn’t be either …
“But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an “if,” never with the forceful or dogmatic statement— “You must.” Discipleship carries with it an option.”

But what about the 10 Commandments? The word Commandments sounds like dictating. Saying the 10 Options or the 10 Suggestions sounds sacrilegious.

It is sacrilegious, meaning against religion. But I have no problem with those perspectives. There are many perspectives, like in your story about the 4 blind men experiencing an elephant for the first time. They were all legitimate perspectives.

Seeing from other perspectives beside your comfortable religious one, will be helpful. When all those blind guys put their perspectives on an elephant together … they were pretty close to the real thing. A lot closer than if they had just clung to their own first impressions.

So consider 10 Options or 10 Suggestions. Remember, I am a loving Father who wants the best for his children but I dont want robots. I want my kids to choose to love me back. So I suggest the best ways for them to live. But, as you can see, from this perspective they are suggestions for your good … but you have options to follow them or not.

Do You Worship The Work?

April 23rd, 2014

We are God’s fellow workers . . . —1 Corinthians 3:9

Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.But the opposite case is equally true–once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing–to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).__________________________________________________

April 23, 2014

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, it seems the lesson is always the same; rest in You: do not be distracted by Christian work or my tent making kind of work; I am to be connected to You. I understand, but Lord, I am so easily distracted, so easily consumed by life’s issues and concerns. Please help me be connected to you as a little child this day Lord.

And God says…”You will find distractions and reasons to not be connected to be all day long.  However, if you want to live the abundant life, you will find ways to be connected and rest…in Me. It is not found in your “busyness” regardless of the quality of your work or activity. Rest in Me, pray and focus on Me, be connected to Jesus, and then at the end of the day look back and see what was accomplished. in every area of your life and day.  Seek first the kingdom of God, which is Jesus, and everything else you require will be provided. Acknowledge Me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight. Seek, rest in Me and live the full and abundant life I have provided.”

The Light That Never Fails

April 22nd, 2014

We all, with unveiled face, beholding . . . the glory of the Lord . . . —2 Corinthians 3:18

A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come— people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “. . . no one stood with me, but all forsook me . . . . But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me . . .” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do— to look into the face of God for ourselves.

Allow nothing to keep you from looking with strong determination into the face of God regarding yourself and your doctrine. And every time you preach make sure you look God in the face about the message first, then the glory will remain through all of it. A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware— “. . . Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” (Exodus 34:29).

We are never called on to display our doubts openly or to express the hidden joys and delights of our life with God. The secret of the servant’s life is that he stays in tune with God all the time.

Journal DJR

Good Morning Lord,
Thanks for that last concept. That the “secret stuff” is just for you and me. I’ve seen people sharing great joy and great anguish and struggles … it didn’t seem right. The emotions were right … it was just the wrong venue. But how about a small group? Like an accountability group? Or a real small group, like me and JD in our CO2?

Those groups are there for your growth. The rules are different than for a large celebration or public sharing or evangelism. You dont see Billy Graham sharing his sexual temptations from the platform. But all great saints have a small circle around them where they share that type of thing. Those relationships are one of the main things lacking in my church in America today.
You understand that because you have seen the benefits. Share as you see me directing and you will be a blessing.

Don’t Hurt the Lord

April 21st, 2014

Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? —John 14:9

Our Lord must be repeatedly astounded at us-astounded at how “un-simple” we are. It is our own opinions that make us dense and slow to understand, but when we are simple we are never dense; we have discernment all the time. Philip expected the future revelation of a tremendous mystery, but not in Jesus, the Person he thought he already knew. The mystery of God is not in what is going to be-it is now, though we look for it to be revealed in the future in some overwhelming, momentous event. We have no reluctance to obey Jesus, but it is highly probable that we are hurting Him by what we ask-”Lord, show us the Father . . .” (John 14:8). His response immediately comes back to us as He says, “Can’t you see Him? He is always right here or He is nowhere to be found.” We look for God to exhibit Himself to His children, but God only exhibits Himself in His children. And while others see the evidence, the child of God does not. We want to be fully aware of what God is doing in us, but we cannot have complete awareness and expect to remain reasonable or balanced in our expectations of Him. If all we are asking God to give us is experiences, and the awareness of those experiences is blocking our way, we hurt the Lord. The very questions we ask hurt Jesus, because they are not the questions of a child.“Let not your heart be troubled . . .” (14:1, 27). Am I then hurting Jesus by allowing my heart to be troubled? . If I believe in Jesus and His attributes, am I living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to disturb my heart, or am I allowing any questions to come in which are unsound or unbalanced? I have to get to the point of the absolute and unquestionable relationship that takes everything exactly as it comes from Him. God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.

April 21, 2014

Lord, whatever is in the way of connecting with You, please help me see it and will you remove it from me?  It is clear to me that the real issue is being connected to You. Not how I can follow or do not follow the rules, or how many times I go to church or pray…or do the “Christian thing (although all are good indicators of my connection with you).   When I am not connected to You am I hurting You Lord?

I believe in being connected to You, help me in my unbelief.

And God says…”You are doing the right thing by getting started with your brother David every morning. You can also take a few minutes each hour of the day to check your connection with Me. Ask yourself how close are you to Me? If you do not “feel” close it is not because I am not there with you, it is because you have chosen to focus on something else.  You are not hurting Me, when you are not connected, although being close to you is wonderful; what I want from you is a loving relationship based on faith. Knock and I will answer the door. Seek and you will find. Ask and it shall be given you. Acknowledge Me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight.”

All or Nothing?

April 17th, 2014

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment . . . and plunged into the sea —John 21:7

Can You Come Down From the Mountain?

April 16th, 2014

While you have the light, believe in the light . . . —John 12:36

We all have moments when we feel better than ever before, and we say, “I feel fit for anything; if only I could always be like this!” We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight which we have to live up to even when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for the everyday world when we are not on the mountaintop. Yet we must bring our everyday life up to the standard revealed to us on the mountaintop when we were there.

Never allow a feeling that was awakened in you on the mountaintop to evaporate. Don’t place yourself on the shelf by thinking, “How great to be in such a wonderful state of mind!” Act immediately— do something, even if your only reason to act is that you would rather not. If, during a prayer meeting, God shows you something to do, don’t say, “I’ll do it”— just doit! Pick yourself up by the back of the neck and shake off your fleshly laziness. Laziness can always be seen in our cravings for a mountaintop experience; all we talk about is our planning for our time on the mountain. We must learn to live in the ordinary “gray” day according to what we saw on the mountain.

Don’t give up because you have been blocked and confused once— go after it again. Burn your bridges behind you, and stand committed to God by an act of your own will. Never change your decisions, but be sure to make your decisions in the light of what you saw and learned on the mountain.



April 16, 2014-JDV

Lord thank You for those mountaintop experiences, and please help me carry the mountaintop with me day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute in my daily living. Help me see you clearly in the valley, as well. Let me see You in everything Lord.

And God says…”The day by day lesson you have been learning; start and live the day connected to Jesus will serve you always. This is the way to live on the mountaintop, and the valleys. This is how you celebrate life and deal with difficult circumstances. Acknowledge Me in all your ways and walks and I will make your paths straight. Delight yourself in the Lord and I will give you the desires of your heart. Seek first the Kingdom of God which is Jesus and everything else you need  for the mountaintop and valleys will be provided.”

The Failure To Pay Close Attention

April 15th, 2014

The high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days —2 Chronicles 15:17

Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.

Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.

Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord,
We found this prescription hard to argue with. But also found in it the possibility of getting Pharisaical and creating a checklist to make sure we were rooting out all the imperfections in our lives. Just thinking about that makes us tired, … Not to mention the facts that we’ve had such dismal results with the will power and organized methods like that … and that you didn’t have much good to say about those Pharisaical methods when you were here either. Then a phrase from The Message translation came to mind… “the unforced rhythms of grace” Here it is in context.

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

That seems so much more inviting than ramping up my diligence to keep myself spiritually fit. Obviously you ensured that both verses made it into the canon that we read. So are they just two sides of the same coin? What is the middle way that you would have us to walk?

You brought to JD’s mind Psalm 37:4 (NLT)
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

and Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Maybe if we just focus on those two in the “unforced rhythms of grace” we’ll be safe from running off the road into either Phariseeism, or License for Whatever Feels Good. How does that sound to you? Sorry about doing all the talking today.

It sounds great to me. Now just go out and do it. It may seem that you’re doing all the talking … but you invited me into your conversation at the beginning. I heard that and I came. So I was there the whole time. Who do you think brought those thoughts to your minds? I will work with my kids, especially when I’m invited.