CQ…Clark Here

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Archive for the tag “Oswald Chambers”

So Here I Am

I’ve been really weary for a while. I’ve not strayed from devotional times in the Bible, but I have had little energy to step beyond the basics of getting through each day.

But my devotional time this morning was particularly fulfilling, and I want to share that with you.

I first read in Isaiah, chapters 34-36, and was reminded that God is in control, of the just and the unjust.

I next read Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening for this morning, and I share that here:

Morning

The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron.2 Samuel 15:23

David passed that gloomy brook when flying with his mourning company from his traitor son. The man after God’s own heart was not exempt from trouble, nay, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord’s Anointed, and the Lord’s Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow’s gates the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads, wherefore then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us?

The KING of kings himself was not favoured with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are. What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us. In all our afflictions he was afflicted. The idea of strangeness in our trials must be banished at once and for ever, for he who is the Head of all saints, knows by experience the grief which we think so peculiar. All the citizens of Zion must be free of the Honourable Company of Mourners, of which the Prince Immanuel is Head and Captain.

Notwithstanding the abasement of David, he yet returned in triumph to his city, and David’s Lord arose victorious from the grave; let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation, though now for a season we have to pass by the noxious streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so shall you.

 

I next read Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost His Highest:

 

May 31

Put God First

By Oswald Chambers

Jesus did not commit Himself to them…for He knew what was in man. —John 2:24-25

Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.

Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).

A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. The rallying cry today is, “We must get to work! The heathen are dying without God. We must go and tell them about Him.” But we must first make sure that God’s “needs” and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, “…tarry…until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. Once God’s “needs” in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His “needs” elsewhere.

Put God’s Son First. “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).

God came as a baby, giving and entrusting Himself to me. He expects my personal life to be a “Bethlehem.” Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.

 

I also subscribe to a couple “Verse of the Day” apps, and here are those two verses:

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians, 15:57

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

 

Beth also shared with me the devotional Jesus Calling for May 31:

Joy Each Day

May 31 – “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young

The Peace that I give you transcends your intellect. When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see thoughts spinning round and round: going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. All the while, My Peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land.

Be still in My Presence, inviting Me to control your thoughts. Let My Light soak into your mind and heart, until you are aglow with My very Being. This is the most effective way to receive My Peace.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
—2 Thessalonians 3:16

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
—Job 22:21

 

It was kind of cool how everything this morning seemed to flow from one aspect of my devotional time to the next, but I was particularly struck by Spurgeon’s words, and here’s what I wrote in response to “Morning and Evening.”

I needed this today! Life has objectively been difficult since around the year 2000 (Yeah, I know, “Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.”  But still…). My parents are both gone, my bio mom died, my only sister growing up is gone as well. I am the first “orphan” I know. Both of our beautiful daughters have turned from God. We love them with all of our being, but it is wrenching to see them in this place. I found my dream job after twenty years as a city cop, but within five years I was forced into a position of having to choose between my integrity and doing a boss’s will. I chose integrity and was fired for it. I’m currently working at a job that is less than optimal, finding no fulfillment in it, little satisfaction, and no “significance,” I find each day a trial. My boss is great, and my “big” boss is awesome, especially with this past year.  I have really come to love and appreciate her, but the everyday aspects of my job are difficult. My relationship with my wife is, and has been great, and I discovered that our marriage was the only thing in life with which I was content.  But Beth was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer last year, and we spent the entire year of 2017 fighting that horrid and unexpected disease.  Much of the time I thought I was going to lose her; this whole “C-word adventure” has proven to be extremely difficult for a number of reasons. For one thing, being a cop for nearly four decades, I pretty much got accustomed early in my career to the idea that “today may be my last shift. Today I may not come home.” But it was never even on my radar that I might lose Beth. I understood that accidents can happen, we all die, but I never had to face Beth’s “imminent departure.”  God was gracious, Beth is in remission and currently in a clinical trial to push back any re-occurrence, but I have been shaken to my core. Our younger daughter has been terrific, but our elder daughter has broken all contact with us, even in the midst of this.

I am pretty much an introvert, and I find I just want to hole up in my home and have no contact with people at all.

Finally, I have recently started my journey with Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program with emphasis on Jesus. I have thrown away an addictive behavior that has plagued me for some time, so I don’t even have the sinful, guilt-ridden “pleasure” of turning to that. It takes time to re-wire one’s brain. It can be done, it is being done in me, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

So I have nothing; I AM nothing. Except for two words: “But God…”

My heroes of the Bible have, for some time, been Moses, Abraham, Joseph. All of them spent years, decades, in difficult circumstances before God used them, before it became apparent to them what God had in mind. How often, I wonder, did they cry out to God in their pain and humiliation.

Thinking about this once, I thought, “but I’m not Abraham! I’m not Joseph.” And I felt/heard/understood that God answered me and said, “No, you’re not. And yes you are.” They, too, had no clue as to God’s purpose when going through their trials, but “wholly leaned on (the promised Messiah’s) name.” And that’s my job right now.  I want to understand.  I want to be in a “good” place.  But God is directing me otherwise.  “But God…”

One time, long ago, I sincerely prayed, “God, make me like Jesus.” Looking back, I can almost hear God chuckling, and saying to me, “Ok, buckle up, son, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” I have said (mostly) in jest that I should have prayed, “Leave me the frick alone!”

But here we are.

I’m tired, I’m weary. I don’t understand, I am impatient, I am spent.

And all I have is, “But God…”

This is the Serenity Prayer in its entirety as written by Reinhold Niebuhr.  Good prayer!

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is;

not as I would have it;

trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”

Amen.

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Cross Reflections

The last couple of weeks have been such that, pretty much every day, I wanted to pull the covers over my head and hope the world just goes away.  I figuratively just curled up in a corner and waited for life to stop kicking me.  *Sigh*  The old saying goes, “Momma told me there’d be days like this, she just didn’t tell me there’d be this many in a row…”  I didn’t even really check in on the blog for a while. Woof, what a couple of weeks!

Bad couple of weeks not withstanding, Easter presents a good time of year for reflection.  And this is what I have done for about the past week.

It started with me reading Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” April 6th entry.  I quote it here:

Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. — 1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened – but the crash is on the heart of God.

I had never before entertained the notion that Christ on the Cross was not just a dreadful experience that should horrify.  It is God’s “superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.”  I have always looked at the cross in sorrow, which I think is appropriate, since I understand that it is my sin which necessitated Jesus’ sacrifice.  However, I never viewed it as the triumph that it is.  Sin and death crushed forever in one action!  I have for a long while prayed from time to time something like, “Father, I am so sorry that Jesus had to suffer for my actions, my sins, but thank you so much that He did.”  And again, I think that appropriate.  But I never before considered what a thunderous victory this was!  This was the cosmic equivalent of the climactic moments of the biggest event one can think of: one that I should be jumping in the air with my fists pumping screaming, “YEAH!!!!!” at the top of my lungs.  My team wins the Super Bowl (or the Steelers lose)?  That’s nothing.  You should see me hopping around the room, screaming with pure, unadulterated joy, whooping and dancing around with a savage ecstasy.  A Super Bowl?  That’s nothing compared to what Christ accomplished in one day on Calvary.  I should forever be celebrating at the top of my lungs at the victory accomplished by Jesus.  And that is an unbelievably cool thought to me.

At our church’s Good Friday service, our pastor, Bob Klecan, quoted Dwight L. Moody as saying, “Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now…”  Now that’s a very cool thought!  Again, I have for years believed in the afterlife, but I’m not sure I thought of it as it actually is.  At that final heartbeat when I leave this existence, at the split second that I “die,” at that exact moment I will be who I was meant to be from the beginning of time.  My entire life thus far has been in the shadow world.  It is only as I step into eternity that I will, for the first time, see reality.

We also at the same service reflected on the Cross of Christ, and what it meant to each of us; what did it mean to me on a  personal level, what did I see as the most significant gift that I received from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (at least that is my interpretation of Pastor Bob’s challenge).  We then had the opportunity to write down out thoughts and leave them at the foot of the cross.  I, however, wrote down my thoughts but did not leave them there.  I thought they would fit well into this post and brought them home.  Addressing my thoughts to God I wrote: “Thank you for giving me the ability, the possibility of living above my human-ness.  I can live outside of myself, through the grace of God.  I can be more than I could otherwise be.  I don’t have to live focused on my needs, but can live focused on God.”  And it is only through my dependence on God and his work in my life that I have any hope at all of living a life that is different from hedonism.  Apart from God’s love, I doubt that one person in a million (I’m being generous here)  can truly change their life to be a life that is sacrificial, others oriented, “good.”  I know that I have not come close to arriving at my goal, but I am so far from where I was.  My goal is to be like Christ.  And boy, does God have a lot of work to do…

I know that many would say to me that it’s good that I have this belief in God, since I need it.  However, they would likely say that they have no such need and/or doubt that God exists.  I would answer that by saying that this is not driven by a need of mine.  I could honestly live a self-focused life quite nicely, thank you very much.  I could live for pleasure now, and expect the oblivion of death when that time comes.  But I choose to not live that life.  I choose to believe the promises of God as presented in the Bible, giving myself freely to Him, and to seek to live a life based solely on the completed work of Jesus.  I live in gratitude to Him for accomplishing what I could not: my reconciliation to God, and a life that can change.  What a Gift!  What potential for my life here and now, and not just a potential for gain at the end of this life!  With all of this that God has done, how can I not be grateful?

So these have been the things upon which I have reflected the past week or so.  Huh!  I guess it wasn’t such a bad week after all…

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