Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Spirit’

The Lamp of the Lord

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.  ~~  Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God’s “let there be light.” it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we’ve hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins – of omission or commission – that we’ve left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God’s love we can see them for what they are – temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we’ve suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we’ve not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God’s light can help us to see the offender through His eyes – as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God’s investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn’t search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First Published 19 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.

Empty Worship

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:  ~~  Isaiah 29:13   (KJV)

Many people in this country attend church regularly. If the door is open, they are there. We tend to assume that people who are actively working in church are somehow super spiritual.

That isn’t necessarily the case. This verse should bring us to examine our motives and our hearts.

These people come near to me with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
    is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (NIV)

What constitutes a heart of worship? Where does God rate in our schedules and our scheme of things? Is He, in fact, first? Or is He just an afterthought?

When do we seek Him? Daily? Hourly? Moment by moment? Or do we just call upon him when we have come to the end of our selves and need emergency intervention?

God tells us specifically that He doesn’t care about the trappings of worship, that worship is an attitude of the heart. Only when our hearts long for Him above all else can we worship in spirit and in truth.

Father, God,

Fan the flames of hunger for You in our hearts. Show us that seeking You, Your face and heart, not just Your helping hand, is the way to eternal contentment.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

First published in Garment of Praise  6 July 2009.

Goodness Fruit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)

Goodness is like kindness, a word defined by its root. It is the quality of being good.  Good meaning “of a favorable character or tendency.”     Then there is a whole list of synonyms that includes such words as

bountiful, fertile,  handsome, attractive,  suitable, fit, profitable, advantageous, agreeable, pleasant, salutary, wholesome,  amusing, clever, considerable, full, well-founded, cogent,  true,  honorable, adequate, satisfactory, choice, discriminating…

Whoa!  How in the world are we to fulfill all these qualities?  Look at all the things goodness calls us to be.  And we simply cannot be all these things.

Romans 12: 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

Check out Psalm 14:1-3,  Psalm 53:1-3, and Ecclesiastes 7:20.

But God fixed this for us. He gave us the Holy Spirit as guide, director, and companion.  If we listen to the Paraclete, we can exhibit those qualities as they are needed by those around us. This is not of ourselves. We have ample evidence that we are insufficient when it comes to goodness. All that is good comes from God. We are privileged that sometimes it comes through us.  Not from us, but from God through us.

As I have gotten older, I have a noise in my ears. It sounds like the constant buzz of the cicada on a summer evening, except there is no pause in the buzz. When I’m in a group of people with several conversations going on in the room, it is difficult to hear the person who is speaking to me. It all becomes one conglomerate noise. In order to converse, I must see my companion face to face. I see as much as hear what he/she is saying.

Goodness requires that we listen to the Holy Spirit and move in obedience to His prompting.  It assumes we know His voice and can recognize it above the cacophony of the world around us.  If we are to recognize that voice amidst the din, we must have spent time with Him. Quiet time, intimate time. We must be so familiar with that voice that it is immediately obvious when He is speaking.

Then and only then can we be come a conduit of God’s grace to others.

Father, God,

Help us to learn to hear the voice of the Paraclete. Still our hearts and teach us your love. Help us to be instantaneously obedient to Your voice that we might be channels of Your love to this hurting world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

The Balance

Romans 12:1-3        I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.       And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.      For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Most people vacillate between thinking too little of themselves and thinking too much of themselves. We need to realize that our only value is the value God placed upon us.  He purchased us at the price of Jesus’ blood.  He bought us – he owns us.  But only if we believe on him and acknowledge his lordship over us.

There is no dichotomy between flesh and spirit in us. Where one goes, the other follows. So we must choose which will lead, flesh or spirit.  We can not worship God with our spirits and not with our bodies. We are a unit, body and spirit. Integrity comes from being the same at all times and in all circumstances. Either we belong to Christ or we don’t. We worship him with our bodies as well as our spirits — or we don’t really worship him at all.  There is no middle ground.

So how do we, then, think of ourselves. We can gauge our worth only by our fidelity to God’s purposes – not by standards of wealth or power or anything else on earth.

Our faith in God determines our perceptions of ourselves.  The greater we grow our faith, the more clearly we can see how we fit into God’s plans for our lives.

Father, God,

Grant us your perspective of our lives. Let us see your plans for us and what we need to do to fit into them properly, effectively. Help us to grow in faith.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.