October 21, 2016

A calm strength

Chambers’ devotional for today is about the folly of living by impulse. He says an impulsive person must learn to live by “intuition” which is refusing the distraction of impulsive thoughts and listening to the Holy Spirit who puts the thoughts of God into our minds. He calls this the way to build our faith.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 20–21)

Chambers says this ‘building up’ comes by discipline. However, in my experience it comes by obedience. Perhaps these words are interchangeable, but for me they have different connotations. To me, “discipline” comes across as “I must do this” and it requires much self-effort. Living that way brings frustration because my self-effort is drawing on me rather than the power of God.

However, obedience is hearing God say, “You must do this.” I know my weaknesses ask Him for the grace and power to do what He says. The more I live that way, the more my faith grows as I trust Him, not my self-efforts.

Jesus lived that way. He never got in a flap nor was He distracted. I’m to be like Him and the Bible says I can because the Holy Spirit changes me into His image by using life’s circumstances and by keeping my eyes on Him. In other words, His calm strength does not become mind by training and discipline, but by seeing Jesus, and being given the grace to obey His Word. His faithfulness builds my faith because that calm strength comes from knowing that He is in control.

Chambers says spiritual growth is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God, not on impulse. Peter walked on water with an impulsive desire to be with Jesus, but as Chambers also says, walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Humans often stand firm in a crisis for all sorts of reasons including a rush of adrenalin, but every one of us requires the grace of God “to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.”

Immature Christians want to do exceptional things for God; but He wants me to be exceptional in the ordinary things. I’m to be holy and devoted to Him when no one is looking, when my to-do list is mere housework, when ordinary people make ordinary requests, even when the telephone interrupts my work or my nap. As Chambers says, this is not learned in five minutes.

But it is learned by obedience. I need to obey that still small voice in all things, such as: “no TV tonight” and “check your email later” and “be kind to this telemarketer” and “get your groceries at the other store today” and “finish that project later, do this instead.”
As I listen and do, based often only on discerning where these intuitive thoughts come from, the Lord often shows me the ‘why’ of them later. It is in seeing His rationale that my spirit becomes more and more settled on Him with a calm strength.

To Him be the glory!


Darrell said...

“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.” – Chambers

Is it not a little (or a lot) ridiculous, to attempt to please God in doing “exceptional things?” After all, He is the One Who created the universe! However, to give ourselves to becoming an “exceptional person,” and that we can ONLY do through His marvelous mercy and grace in Christ—this is what pleases Him. Our “exceptionalism,” is not created through high claims, and the expression of prolific gifts and abilities, but rather in the day-to-day living of a humble and ready heart. God doesn’t make saints, He grows them, and we all know that the healthy growing of good things is a process of patience and faithfulness.

Darrell said...

Elsie, I got to thinking. You have been doing "Utmost" for a long time! What are your plans for 2017?

Elsie Montgomery said...

Hi Darrell,
Actually, I've used "Utmost" this year and maybe 1-2 other years, but not continually. This is the first year I've noticed how much he focuses on our performance, perhaps because God has finally got through my heart that anything I do right is only because of His grace!

Anyway, I've been thinking about 2017 and devotional guides. I really like Selwyn Hughes who does "Every Day with Jesus" and see that his devotionals are now online. In the past, he had a theme in each booklet (two months) and I have a bunch of those that I could use. I've also several options in Logos (my Bible software) but not yet had a look. For me, most of time the Lord uses the verses from the guides to speak to me rather than the person's thoughts who wrote it. Either way, I'm looking for "rhema" (Matt 4:4) that speaks to me in practical ways suited the situations of daily life!

Elsie Montgomery said...

I just found a great devotional resource and will definitely take a deeper look at all of these: