Posts Tagged ‘discipline’
A Meditation in Personal Devotion [14NOV2010]
Consolations and desolations; these are the ebb and flow of the spiritual journey. These “Seasons of the Soul” are the growing pains experienced as we follow the path of growing in maturity of God’s grace and knowledge. Recognizing these seasons and learning to discern God’s shaping and leading through them is imperative to our following the path and Will of God in our life, or so I believe.
It is part of the core foundation of my faith that God speaks to us, God is always with us, God has a destiny for us (here on this earth and not only ultimate), and God wants us to be fully conformed to the image of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Real belief in these tenets and not just lip service affirmation has significant, life-changing impact on a person; I know it has on me and my family. I have learned to trust the leading of God… and continue to be tested so I learn to trust Him even more. I have learned how to discern the “Voice” of God to me… I have learned with humility how to test my discernment and I have learned (and continue to learn) that humility is purified and further refined through the testing of our obedience to God as we learn to discern His Will for us and follow Him with complete trust.
I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. (Psalm 16:8)
The past several years have been an incredible exercise navigating the labyrinth of consolations and desolations. It seems that praise, ridicule, doubt, and faith are some of the typical mainstays of the spiritual diet through this faith maze of life. While it is not for the faint of heart, I am convinced it is the ultimate path of every true believer… at some level and measure, to forsake their safety in the security of their own making and completely abandon themselves to the ownership and leadership of their God in whom they profess to believe, follow, and obey. A large number of “believers” never do this… at least “believers” that I have known do not. At the risk of beginning a soap box rant, I’ll toss out my theory of why this is so for the people in my own backyard, the good ole USA. Many American Christians equate pursuit of the American Dream (the pursuit and right to life, liberty, and happiness on earth) with the Will of God for their lives. Personally, I believe this is a false presumption; and I’ll stop there.
No one, has a call simply to a particular place, as good as it may be. The call of God is to the Will of God. Consequently, though every institution mediates the call of God for us, every vocation transcends any particular institution. The question is always: is this group, this place calling out the best in me? Is this where I fit? Is this the place where I can most become what God created me to be? Is this the path on which I see the footsteps of God most clearly in front of me? It is not a matter of one place being better than another. It is a matter of finding our way through life with an eye for turns in the road. It is a matter of always taking the right turn when settling for less would be so much easier. It is a matter of seeing change as a creative possibility in life. –Joan Chittister; The Rule of Benedict: Insights For the Ages
It seems not many days escape me that I do not hear one or more of a number of questions spoken by God (in the Bible) to my own soul. Hearing them makes me fidgety and uncomfortable; I think they are meant to make me feel that way as I consider my truthful responses to them. The questions number more than these, but a few that I seem to hear more often follow:
- Don’t you understand even yet? (Matthew 16:9)
- Do you love me more than these? (John 21:15)
- Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)
The way we respond with our words, and subsequent actions, speak volumes to these questions. Sometimes the response can lead to consolations and other times desolations. I was consoled with the words of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest as I considered some of these this morning.
I being in the way, the Lord led me… (Genesis 24:27)
We have to be so one with God that we do not continually need to ask for guidance. Sanctification means that we are made the children of God, and the natural life of a child is obedience – until he wishes to be disobedient, then instantly there is the intuitive jar. In the spiritual domain the intuitive jar is the monition of the Spirit of God. When He gives the check, we have to stop at once and be renewed in the spirit of our mind in order to make out what God’s will is. If we are born again of the Spirit of God, it is the abortion of piety to ask God to guide us here and there. “The Lord led me,” and on looking back we see the presence of an amazing design, which, if we are born of God, we will credit to God.
We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Never allow that the haphazard is anything less than God’s appointed order, and be ready to discover the Divine designs any where.
Beware of making a fetish of consistency to your convictions instead of being devoted to God. I shall never do that – in all probability you will have to, if you are a saint. There never was a more inconsistent Being on this earth than Our Lord, but He was never inconsistent to His Father. The one consistency of the saint is not to a principle, but to the Divine life. It is the Divine life which continually makes more and more discoveries about the Divine mind. It is easier to be a fanatic than a faithful soul, because there is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God. –Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest
“There is a meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler…” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I think this is a great thought to help us remember why it is so important to “pay attention” to how we “pay attention.” The Spirit draws and the Spirit teaches to those who have ears to hear. There is much that goes on in our life that we just breeze past and never pay attention to… many of which are whispers and nudges of the Spirit drawing us closer to His path for our life.
And finally, a few closing “one-liner thoughts” from my journal and recent Scripture reading:
–Matthew 16:23-26 :::::: Beware of thinking with the mind of man… Reformation of the soul cannot come without repentance.
–Nehemiah 13:1-30 :::::: Radical reformation follows repentance.
–Revelation 20:1-6 :::::: There is a second death…and it is forever.
Dear Jesus… My name is Jeff and I’m a recovering sinner; I WILL FOLLOW YOU.