Archive for February, 2015

Our Misgivings About Jesus

February 26th, 2015

The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw [water] with, and the well is deep.” —John 4:11

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!” When it comes to confronting Jesus Christ on the basis of His qualities and abilities, our attitudes reflect religious superiority. We think His ideals are lofty and they impress us, but we believe He is not in touch with reality— that what He says cannot actually be done. Each of us thinks this about Jesus in one area of our life or another. These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ‘Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.” And beware of exhibiting religious deceit by saying, “Oh, I have no misgivings about Jesus, only misgivings about myself.” If we are honest, we will admit that we never have misgivings or doubts about ourselves, because we know exactly what we are capable or incapable of doing. But we do have misgivings about Jesus. And our pride is hurt even at the thought that He can do what we can’t.My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— “Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”


Journal JDV & DJR
Good Morning, Lord,
Lord, I understand why Chambers would write a devotional like this for his students, trying to help them with their fears and worries about how they will live as missionaries. And I think I understand how many of us would erroneously wait to see how You were going to take care of us before we step out into faith. But God, I have stepped out into the unknown, full of faith and hope only to fall flat on my face. Was I really following your leading? Or was it a figment of my imagination, or? It has on occasion seemed like a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy pulls the football away just as Charlie Brown runs to kick it…and Charlie Brown falls on his face. How can I continue to step out in faith, seek waters that will end my thirst, or step out of the boat when I have fallen on my face so often?

And God says…”Seek first the Kingdom of God, which is Jesus, and I will supply everything else you need. The scripture does not say that I will supply everything else you THINK you need. Your faith cannot depend on your experience of My delivery system or the outcomes of your requests. My ways are not your ways. You must have faith in Me and My judgment about what it is you need to have an abundant and fruitful life. Step one is to put aside your own notions of what you need, and ask and allow Me to guide your hopes and thoughts about your needs and the outcomes of your requests.

When you come to me with pre conceived notions about what the answers are, you are setting yourself up for the Charlie Brown – Lucy scenario. There are many ways to disappoint yourself and you’ve tried a lot of them. Just know that I love you. I am good. I want the best for you. My timing is not your timing. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. My plans for you are good (Jer 29:11) As you can see, none of this depends on your expected result. So keep on knocking and seeking me and my kingdom but just stay curious as to how the answers to your prayers will be delivered and what they will look like. Remember Daniel was answered immediately but had Angelic warfare added into the mix, so it took a little longer. Those things still happen you know…

But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Dan 10:13

None of my men got everything they wanted, exactly when they wanted it. Paul asked 3 times about that thorn. In the end, My Grace delivered the answer for him as it will for you too.

The Destitution of Service

February 25th, 2015

…though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. —2 Corinthians 12:15

Natural human love expects something in return. But Paul is saying, “It doesn’t really matter to me whether you love me or not. I am willing to be completely destitute anyway; willing to be poverty-stricken, not just for your sakes, but also that I may be able to get you to God.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…” (2 Corinthians 8:9). And Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s. He did not care how high the cost was to himself— he would gladly pay it. It was a joyful thing to Paul.The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually “out-socialized” the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.



February 25 2015

Journal Entry for Today

Father God, thank you for this devotional and the introspection it provides. You guided us to the lesson that all service is good as long as you are in it. And you spoke to us about “making a difference”….a statement and a question about our priorities. In addition to our lives, families, careers and personal goals, are we committed to making a difference as well?

Thank You for this reminder. Please help us be connected with Jesus, and directed by You to make a difference in the lives of others this day. Help us make this a part of our daily hour by hour, minute by minute living.  Help us stay aware of the homeless, a stranded motorist, or someone that just needs a smile. Help us be a difference today and every day as we understand that serving others is just one more part of living a transformed life of abundance.


The Delight of Sacrifice

February 24th, 2015

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls… —2 Corinthians 12:15

Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).When someone thinks that to develop a holy life he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others. This is like putting himself on a pedestal and isolating himself from the rest of society. Paul was a holy person, but wherever he went Jesus Christ was always allowed to help Himself to his life. Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a “doormat” without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. We tend to be devoted, not to Jesus Christ, but to the things which allow us more spiritual freedom than total surrender to Him would allow. Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” Romans 9:3. Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.


Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord,
One thing I’ve become convinced of is that I can’t serve well in 27 different capacities. I become too diluted and then do them all poorly and then go on a guilt trip because I’m not doing them well. So it seems that I need to hear you well through our connection and focus on the service that you have for me and learn to say no, thank you, to the other opportunities … without feeling guilty.

If you are doing anything “for me” out of guilt, it is not really for me. It is to assuage your guilt feelings. Know that guilt is not how I motivate my children. Love is my key in your heart. Follow me and follow love and you can leave guilt behind.

I’ve been fighting this guilt monster and the overload monster, saying yes to every offer, for a long time. I think I’ve got it down to a couple of large service areas plus any spontaneous thing that you show me, like a stranded motorist etc. I hope I’m not missing anything, but I’m learning to say no, unless you make it clear to me that you want me involved in an opportunity.
I like the way Eugene concludes it here:

1 Corinthians 9:22The Message

19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.

Help me, Lord to do that this day and every day

The Determination to Serve

February 23rd, 2015

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… —Matthew 20:28

Jesus also said, “Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s— “…ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a “doormat” for others— called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…” (1 Timothy 1:13). In other words, no matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ. Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake.



February 23 2015

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, I believe that we are called to serve others. And I believe I am called to reach out to others in Your name.  But what service, which one? At church yesterday there were eleven or twelve different groups and organizations set up in the Narthex; set up to communicate their particular mission/service and to engage people of our church. But none of them spoke to me. How do we decide which service, or how we are to engage and help others?

And God says…”When you have been engaged to help others in the past, you have simply been available and looking for opportunities to serve. When you are connected to Me and keep your eyes open for the service opportunities I have for you, you will see them clearly. It may be one of the opportunities put in front of you at your church or your service may be to reach out and help one family or one person on one particular day.  Seek Me, hear my voice and respond. Seek first the kingdom of God, which is Jesus, and I will provide everything else you need or require, including opportunities for service. Simply be connected and aware. My sheep hear my voice. When you are engaged serving others, your spirit joins with Mine and you know you are living life abundantly.”

Taking the Initiative Against Daydreaming

February 20th, 2015

Arise, let us go from here. —John 14:31

Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. In this passage, after having said these wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected our Lord to tell them to go away and meditate over them all. But Jesus never allowed idle daydreaming. When our purpose is to seek God and to discover His will for us, daydreaming is right and acceptable. But when our inclination is to spend time daydreaming over what we have already been told to do, it is unacceptable and God’s blessing is never on it. God will take the initiative against this kind of daydreaming by prodding us to action. His instructions to us will be along the lines of this: “Don’t sit or stand there, just go!”If we are quietly waiting before God after He has said to us, “Come aside by yourselves…” then that is meditation before Him to seek His will (Mark 6:31). Beware, however, of giving in to mere daydreaming once God has spoken. Allow Him to be the source of all your dreams, joys, and delights, and be careful to go and obey what He has said. If you are in love with someone, you don’t sit and daydream about that person all the time— you go and do something for him. That is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Daydreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.

February 20 2015

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, this devotional hits home. Of course when we hear You or know the direction You have given, it is easy…or easier to get up and get going. But when I think I hear my own voice, or I am not certain…that is when the indecision and daydreaming can start for me. Or when I know I hear Your voice, and I take off in that direction, but things don’t turn out the way I thought they were supposed to turn out. How can I follow You when I am not certain it is Your voice or when I have obeyed only to find that the way and outcomes are all wrong?

And God says…”You cannot judge the right way by the outcomes. If I give a church or elders in a church or an individual specific direction regarding next actions or activities, you cannot measure the rightness or wrongness of the direction based on greater attendance, larger buildings or increased offerings.  You cannot look back at my direction and gauge the validity of hearing my voice based on the notion of human success. My ways are not your ways. Very often you will not understand the outcomes, just know that you are to hear my voice, be connected and obedient. Let Me take care of the outcomes. If God is good all the time, and all the time God is good, the outcomes have nothing to do with your being connected and obedient. My sheep know my voice. Acknowledge Me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight. Just because you have been obedient does not mean that the uncertainty of life, and death, will be removed. If you are to live in faith, your certainty is Jesus, not your circumstances or the outcomes of your obedience. Trust in Me with all your heart, hear my voice, live connected and let Me take care of everything else.”

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

February 19th, 2015

Arise, shine… —Isaiah 60:1

When it comes to taking the initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God. There is no point in waiting for God to help us— He will not. But once we arise, immediately we find He is there. Whenever God gives us His inspiration, suddenly taking the initiative becomes a moral issue— a matter of obedience. Then we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).



February 19 2015

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, does this mean that we are to take on work and or service that is not suited to us?  That we are to “struggle on” when the work or service goes against our grain?  Are we to tackle those jobs and activities that just do not suit us? Chambers says that You will not help us until we take the first step in drudgery? But that hard menial dirty work, is that absolutely necessary to prove our worth and character?

And God says…”Seek first the kingdom of God and I will provide everything else you need; including your motivation and direction for work. Acknowledge Me in all your ways and I will make your paths straight. The key to this devotional is in the line…” If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.When you are connected to Me, and operating out of that connection, the Holy Spirit will guide you to and through the work and service you are to do. It is not necessary for you to DO anything except believe on Jesus. You cannot add one sliver of legitimacy to your character by doing things for Me or on my behalf.  However, you can transform your work as you give it to Me, and operate out of our connection.”

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Taking the Initiative Against Despair

February 18th, 2015

Rise, let us be going. —Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, “Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore.” If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.
February 18 2015Journal Entry for Today

Lord, is this the way it really works? You told the disciples that failed You to simply move on.  Why do we spend so much time in despair over our failures when You simply tell us to move on? Aren’t we supposed to worry, fret and be focused on our failures so that we will not fail in the same ways again? Your response and direction seems almost too easy.

And God says…”The grace and mercy afforded you is easy. It is supposed to be easy…My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Rest in the knowledge that Jesus provided for all your failures; past, present and future. His sacrifice was for all humankind and each individual. Remember that Jesus paid it all…there is no requirement for you to remember your failures, simply move on to the fresh new thing, the fresh new today and tomorrow. If there is a lesson or if I can mold you from a failure, let Me take that action.  Be connected to Me and move on.“



Taking the Initiative Against Depression

February 17th, 2015

Arise and eat. —1 Kings 19:5

The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive— only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things— things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.


Journal DJR
Good morning Lord,
Depression, it seems to be part of the human condition. Without it, we can’t appreciate non-depression? Is that all there is to it?

There is more than that, but that what you say is true. There are many varied types of depression. People fight it as if it is an evil, never to be experienced if possible. True, evil can lurk there and come out of it, but good can as well. Consider that things can be learned in periods of depression. Gratitude, Perspective and Empathy can be gained in ways unobtainable from textbooks and academic study. So stay curious in your times of depression. Suspecting that I’m in there somewhere. I won’t hide for long. Seek me and you will find me. Look especially in the mundane places and you will find clues that will lead you.

Proverbs 1:20
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square;


Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord, there have been times recently when I have been depressed, fighting, clawing and scratching…and reading the Bible and every self-help book I can find trying to get out from under it. Are you saying that depression is a part of life, and like trials I should not try so hard to get out from under it?

And God says…”Remember that I use everyday circumstances and situations to help shape you…all things work for the good of those that love the Lord. And recall in James….do not try to remove yourself from your trials too early, let them have their perfect result. You can find Me inside your trials, depression and persecutions. I do not just reveal myself in your rescue or miracles. When you are connected to Me, you can find Me in all areas of your life, and although you may be depressed, I will not let it harm you irreparably. I will simply use this like all other things to work for your good.”



February 16th, 2015

Arise from the dead… —Ephesians 5:14

Not all initiative, the willingness to take the first step, is inspired by God. Someone may say to you, “Get up and get going! Take your reluctance by the throat and throw it overboard— just do what needs to be done!” That is what we mean by ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes to us and says, in effect, “Get up and get going,” suddenly we find that the initiative is inspired.We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, “Arise from the dead….” When God sends His inspiration, it comes to us with such miraculous power that we are able to “arise from the dead” and do the impossible. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we “get up and get going.” God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, “Arise from the dead…,” we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.


February 16 2015

Journal Entry for Today-JDV

Lord you have shown me the very opposite of what Chambers says in this devotional; that I should NOT take action until I am connected and that taking any kind of action without being connected to You is wasted energy.  How do I reconcile what I have learned from You over these past weeks and months with this devotional?

And God says…”It is very simple…. Chambers does say that energy not from God is wasted….go re read the devotional… You can take the initiative when you are connected, and you can take the initiative to be connected before you take any action. You can seek first the kingdom of God. You can acknowledge Me in all your ways, and you can knock and know the door has been answered. And when you reach out to Me, reach out for My love, nothing else; not help guidance, direction or energy, simply seek My love. Our intimacy can be the first step as the Holy Spirit then leads you to action. “

Are You Listening to God?

February 12th, 2015

They said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” —Exodus 20:19

We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

“You speak with us,…but let not God speak with us….” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, “Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?” This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.