Feeling like living in a nonsense?
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)
“The Christian life is more than difficult; it is humanly impossible to live. Only Jesus Christ can live it through you as He dwells within you.” - Bill Bright
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NIV)
Christ is Enough (Hillsong)
A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God’s warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, “I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get me the victory,” defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength.
He who reckons on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armor stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve him in his own way, and in his strength, or he will never accept their service.
That which man does, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth he casts away; he will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that you have before he will put his own into you; he will first clean out your granaries before he will fill them with the finest of the wheat.
The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which he himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give you victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.
Adapted from Morning and Evening.
Topics: The Unwasted Life
Acts of love don’t just happen.
At times we may experience the power of the Spirit in such a way that some good deed seems to flow naturally from our heart, through our hands, to the benefit of others. But plucking a ripe raspberry from the bush in a moment doesn’t mean that it just appeared. Weeks and months of sunlight and rain, proper nutrients and right conditions, went into the slow daily growth of good fruit. And so it is with our acts of love for the good of others.
There is a process to the production of love, as the apostle Paul counsels his protégé Titus: “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Good works don’t just happen. Meeting the needs of others doesn’t appear out of thin air. There is a process — a learning — to devote ourselves to good.
And one significant “spiritual discipline” is learning to manage our time in the mission of love, both in terms of proactive scheduling and planned flexibility. Previously, we suggested “fairly rigid blocks for our proactive labors, along with generous margin and planned flexibility to regularly meet the unplanned needs of others.” Now to the tune of making that more specific, here are four lessons in fruitful time-management, for the mission of love.
God has gifted each of us for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). He empowers a variety of gifts, services, and activities among his people (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). In terms of our professional “calling,” often we find it easier to identify what it is God might be moving us toward in the future, rather than what he has presently called us to today. For instance, it can be difficult for the business student, sensing a “call” to one day do business for the glory of God, to realize that his present calling is that of a student, even as he moves toward his perceived future call in business.
Our professional calling — that regular endeavor for which God has designed our head, heart, and hands for some particular season of life — flows not only from our own aspirations and the affirmations of others, but also from a tangible opportunity. One of us might feel the call to some new profession, and have the happy approval of those who know us best, but until some specific door swings open, and we have the live opportunity to begin operating in that field, that calling remains future — and we neglect our previous charge to the detriment of our joy and the good of others.
Next, in light of God’s calling on us today, identify the key priorities that make up that calling. Typically, these priorities will be considerably compromised, if not abandoned altogether, if we don’t plan for them with some intentionality.
Some have called these “the big stones” (Manage Your Day-to-Day, 197). Our little pebbles are the smaller things to which we regularly give time but don’t contribute directly to the main priorities of our calling. If we put the big stones first into the jar of our schedule, we’ll be able to fill the cracks with a good many pebbles. But if we put the pebbles in first, the big stones likely will not fit.
Learn a lesson from the psalmists (Psalm 5:3; 30:5; 46:5; 59:16; 88:13; 90:5–6, 14; 92:2; 143:8), and from Jesus himself (Mark 1:35), and from that often quoted section in George Muller’s autobiography, and make the most of your mornings.
Study after study confirms the importance of the first hours of the day for fulfilling the most important (and often most intensive) aspects of our calling. In the morning, we’re typically our sharpest, and have the largest store of energy to work creatively and proactively. Also, in the mornings, we’re less likely to be sidelined by interruptions and the urgencies that arise as the day wears on.
How we regularly invest our mornings can be telling. How many of us have found it true that where our morning is, there our heart will be also? When our top priority each day is reorienting toward Jesus and hearing his voice in the Scriptures, we’ll be more likely to create space for that early, and less likely to leave it to chance that something won’t drown it out later in the day.
Then, vocationally, how we spend those first few hours on the clock can be critical. As difficult as it can be to resist procrastinating on our most intensive and demanding tasks (“the big stones”), the most strategic time to tackle them is first thing in the morning. As to how guarding our mornings like this might be driven by love, think of it this way: In defending the light of our early mornings from trifles, we free ourselves to go on the offensive to beat back the darkness with flexibility for unscheduled acts of love. Which leads to a fourth and final lesson.
So far, we’ve been mostly implicit about how these broad time-management lessons function in the service of love. Now let’s get explicit.
On the one hand, all our careful consideration of calling, and planning in light of key priorities, and making the most of the day’s first hours — all these function in the service of love as the proactive output of our vocation to serve and bless others. This is, after all, what our calling is in its truest and deepest sense: how God has prepared for us, with our particular abilities, in a certain season of life, to regularly expend time and energy for the good of others. That’s the proactive dimension to our calling.
But on the other hand, knowing our giftings and attending to our priorities and tackling them first thing in the morning also unleashes us to be reactive as the day unfolds, able to respond to the unplanned needs of others, whether big or small, obvious or subtle. Love both plans for fixed blocks to push forward our proactive labors of love as well as margin and flexibility to attend to others’ unplanned needs as they arise.
It’s a Christian Hedonistic way to parcel your time for those who remember the words of Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The greatest joys come not from time squandered, hoarded, or selfishly spent, but from self-sacrificial love for others to the glory of God, when we pour out our time and energy for the good of others, and find our joy in theirs.
After all, acts of love don’t just happen.
For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philem. 1:7)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccles. 4:9-12)
Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t imagine how storms can be navigated, burdens borne, and hardships handled without the company of a few good friends. I praise you today for the gift of friendship—for the joy, encouragement, and refreshment you give me through good friends.
When we walk through difficult seasons we’re sometimes inclined to think, “No one can possibly understand what I’m going through; no one can begin to relate to my feelings and confusion; no one’s a mess like me.” Those are the times when it’s easy to withdraw into isolation, fall into the pit of condemnation, and reach for some ill-chosen medication. That’s when the gift of long-standing friends becomes especially precious.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for the gift of hearing friends say these two words, “Me too.” I praise you for friends who know how to “refresh the hearts of the saints”—including this saint. I praise you for friends who help me tap into the sufficiency of your grace, the steadfastness of your love, and the bigger story you’re always writing.
I praise you for friends who share their lives and not just their gospel. I praise you for friends who offer tears and not just their answers. I praise you for friends who give life-giving wisdom and not mess-fixing formulas.
Lord Jesus, good friends turn my heart heavenward. They remind me that the foundation and fountain of all good friendship is found in you. I praise you for befriending us in the gospel. How humbling it is to hear you say to us, “I no longer call you servants… I call you friends” (John 15:15). What wondrous love is this, indeed? “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). So very Amen I pray, in your most glorious and gracious name.
Jesus, Friends Of Sinners (Casting Crowns)
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours
Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did
You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet
'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
Hold On to Jesus - Erin O’Donnell
You’re a little piece of heaven, you’re a golden ray of light
And I wish I could protect you, from the worries of this life
But if there’s one thing I could tell you, it’s no matter what you do
Hold to Jesus, He’s holding on to you
The world will try to tell you, that might is more than right
That beauty’s on the outside, and being good’s a losing fight
But remember what I’ve told you, because the world will make you choose
Hold to Jesus, He’s holding on to you
Hold on to Jesus, cling to His love
Rest deep in His mercy, whenever things get rough
Don’t lose sight of His goodness, and don’t ever doubt this truth
That when you hold on to Jesus, He’s holding on to you
Hear me dear Jesus, rock this little one to sleep
Keep her close when she’s scared and give her grace when she is weak
I know she’ll stumble, but I know she’ll make it through
If you hold to her just like You said You’d do
Hold her Jesus and she’ll hold on tight to You
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) - Hillsong United
You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Dear Lord Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or something is going to seize the passion and preoccupation of my heart. Some entity will be the “boss of me,” the ruler of the manor, the fascination of my imagination.
It could be my bitterness, pettiness, or cowardice. It could be shame from the past or fear in the present. It could be overbearing people or aggravating co-workers; my greed to have a little more, or my “need” to be criticized less; the lusts of my flesh or the longings of my soul; old regrets or new fantasies; my pet poodle or pet peeves—any of a number of things will clamor for the best of me.
But right now, in submission to Paul’s admonition, I choose your peace as the ruler of my heart—as the centering and focusing power for this moment and day. No one is better at giving peace than you, Lord Jesus, for you are the Prince of Peace.
On the cross you secured God’s peace with us and our peace with God. The enmity and hostility between us have been obliterated and eradicated; now there is no condemnation and a full and permanent acceptance. How can I not overflow with gratitude as this day begins, and continues?
May your peace override the fears and stress, disappointments and irritants, which will vie for my energy today. No matter what news I receive today—personally or internationally, may your peace be more obvious than my anxieties and uncertainty. May your peace especially rule in my relationships.
Because you have forgiven me, I will choose to forgive others. Because you have forgiven me, I will choose to ask forgiveness from others. Because you are at peace with me, I will do everything within my power to live at peace with others. So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and mighty name.