Never Seek to be Satisfied

I was angry at the world. I cried out and it did not listen. I was in need and no one helped me. I wanted someone to love me; I longed to find someone who could make me believe that I was precious and special, but I only saw cold indifference around me.

No one cared. No one helped. I could throw tantrums, sulk here and there, and I could be miserable… and still the world would continue to go on it’s merry way to hell at a breakneck speed. I was being swept along by it.

I did not understand how I–a believer in God, a so-called Christian–could be so wretchedly unhappy, so lonely.

God… WHY???

I was so blind.

BLIND.

Around me were people who were going through greater pain and loneliness, who had no hope, and who were in a desperate situation. And I–so foolish and so selfish–was too blind to see that. When I was placed in a situation to comfort the needy, I had nothing to offer them. Maybe some sympathy, but no comfort except that which could be found when our misery found company…which was precious little.

* * *

Every experience in life is preparation for ministry. My loneliness taught me to feel how a human being could be driven to feeling that death is preferable than to continue living an empty life. I learned to be merciful to those who did not succeed because I found myself in the same position. I can also understand how people are driven to do crazy things and put aside their personal dignity in their futile search of love and acceptance away from God. I understand now.

But things don’t end with simply understanding others.

I need my self to be broken beyond repair–a broken vessel that is continually filled and is continually giving out from the blessings received; a container that is cracked and broken and and yet pass on God’s blessings to others.

God, may I be a container filled with your love, and may my self be broken enough for me to act upon the understanding that the dark times in my life have taught me. Fill me with wisdom and gentleness to do the right thing and speak words that will be like a balm to those who are hurting.

“He that believeth in Me out of him shall flow rivers of living water”–hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. It is time now to break the life, to cease craving for satisfaction, and to spill out…God spilt the life of His Son that the world might be saved; are we prepared to spill out our lives for him? –Oswald Chambers

Look to Jesus

The Israelites were traveling through a barren land. It has a really bad time. They’d just failed to get permission from the Edomite king to peacefully take the direct route to Canaan through Edom, and now they were forced to continue the long southern dessert road to go around Edom to reach the Promised Land. Just when they thought they had seen the last of the dessert they were forced back into it. To make matters worse they had even been attacked by a bunch of Arads. Granted, the Lord had helped them and the Israelites had defeated their foes, but still…

“And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’ (Numbers 21:4-5)

And so, because of their sin of unbelief God withdrew the protection he’d placed over them, and allowed fiery snakes to approach the people and bite them, “so that many people of Israel died.” (21:6)

The people were soon sorry for what they’d done, and begged Moses to intercede on their behalf. “So Moses prayed for the people and the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” (21:7-9)

* * *

Note to Self: STOP LOOKING AT YOURSELF! LOOK TO JESUS ONLY!!!!!!

That’s all.

* * *

More? Ok. Here’s a tough lesson I’ve just learned.

When I pray, I cannot look at my self.
When I read the Bible, I cannot look at my self.
When I tell others about God, I cannot look at my self.

In short; whenever I’m the weakest and whenever I should be looking for God the most I cannot waste time or energy to look at my self.

Looking at my self is a simple and rather tasteless exercise; but it’s one we do often enough when we’re at the end of our rope. When we feel the weakest, we reach back into the recess of consciousness and drag out the trembling likeness of the internal self. The one we (sometimes) hate so much, but love to use as our excuse. For me it is that neurotic girl with all her psychoses, and doubts, fears, obsessions, insecurities, phobias and the like.

When I look to my self, I’m overwhelmed with the feeling that I’ll never in a million years measure up. I become so discouraged at the work in process that I begin to doubt in the almighty God who is at work in me. And it is at that exact moment when I should be drawing strength from God, that I am only feeling sorry for myself, focusing on my deficiencies, and placing myself in the spot where Satan, that old serpent, wants me at.

* * *

It took forty years of desert wilderness before the Israelites could go into the Promised Land, and even at the threshold of paradise they still had much to answer for. Their faith was not as it should have been. They were still a mess—a work in progress, just like you and me. They looked into themselves and became discouraged, even impatient, and so doubted God.

The fiery snakes had always been in that desert, and for the past 40 years had never bothered the Israelites, for God’s protection was always with his people. When the people doubted God and eschew his blessings, they placed themselves away from his protection–right where the enemy wanted them. But what they needed to bring them back to life was Jesus.

They only had to look to the serpent in the pole which represented Jesus’ life-giving work for humanity.

So when the serpent comes after you, and you’re feeling weak, look at Jesus. Don’t look to yourself, your current circumstances, your shortages, etc. There is no merit in you at all.

Look to Jesus.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-16)

Mountain of Intercession, Valley of Interaction

So Joshua…fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17:10 ESV)

When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites camp in Exodus 17, Moses bid Joshua take men to battle with the assurance that he would be praying for him. Thus, the battle took place on two fields that day: In the valley of interaction with Joshua, and in the mountain of intercession, with Moses. Both battlefields are important.

  1. “Divine strength is to be combined with human effort— There is a saying in Spanish that says A Dios orando y con el maso dando. Literally it means “Praying to God as you strike with the hammer” God blesses human efforts, and his blessing come in proportion to how much energy and effort you put in.
  2. The success you get while in the valley of interaction will be dependent on whether you are winning or losing ground in the mountain of intercession. It was noted that whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed (Exodus 17:11).

Those are the “obvious” lessons. They deal with success in the valley of interaction. But there is one more that I’m driving at, and it deals with success in the mountain of intercession. It is a much more complex thing.

* * *

One of the things I’ve just now come to understand is that though the purposes of God are incredibly mysterious to us, they resolve beautifully in the end. That chain of events when life seemed to get out of control made perfect sense once I was able to look back, connect the dots, and see how God made much good come out of it. Oswald Chambers put it like this:

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all…bringing you into places and among people and into conditions in order that the intercession of the Spirit in you may take a particular line…to bring them before God’s throne and give the Spirit in you a chance to intercede for them.

So for the past two weeks I took this to heart. I made a list in a paper of the people in my life—family, friends, and other people I interact with and I prayed over them daily. My prayer time increased by as much as fifteen minutes. It was a short list, you see.

But each day as I prayed I thought of a new name, and added it to the list so that it grew and grew. It came to include people I love, and people I cannot stand. People I wish I could help, people I want to avoid. People I admire and people I secretly envy. People who have hurt me and people who have brought me joy. People that inadvertently make my life miserable, and people whom I have hurt. People I need to forgive, and people whom I need forgiveness from. People who are poor and sick and in great need. People who seem to have it all.

As you may imagine, my prayer time increased dramatically the longer my list grew. Praying more is, indeed, a benefit. However, I never imagined that after my first week or so I would have to encounter some people whom I could not face. People I literally hid from. They had been in my mind as I prayed, and in my heart of hearts I begged God to make them go away from my life.

The answer to this prayer came the next week. I was forced to encounter them, and yet it was so sudden and unexpected that I didn’t even have time to be embarrassed or nervous. Instead I was empowered to face the situation with grace, and I parted amicably with them.

It took a few minutes for me to realize that in reality, while I had been praying for other people, God had been at work in me, preparing me to go down to battle.

* * *

It is a tendency we all have to seek the Lord when we are in the greatest need. The truth, however, is that the victory in the battlefield is won in part by how we pray up in the mountain of intercession.

Why? Maybe it is because that is where we get out of ourselves. Instead of looking at our lives from the angle of our needs, our complaints, and our particular point of view, we begin to see it as part of a vast, living network. Each of us precious and important to God. Or maybe it is because we realize that there are others who are in greater need, in more pain, and whose troubles are greater than ours–Yet how awesome is it when we are reminded of God’s power when we see the answers of our prayers in other people’s lives? Super awesome. I just think that when we pray for others we empty ourselves and begin grow more and become more conscious of God’s work on Earth.

Sooner or later we all have to go down into battle, but until the next battle rages, are you preparing yourself in the mountain of intercession?

How to Find Treasure

When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight (Jer 15:16)

Shortly after Jack Thomas graduated from college as a Mining Engineer, gold was discovered at Devil’s Head Lake, Montana. So Jack headed West.

Three years later the death of his father left him with $20,000 in cash to which he added another $20,000 collected from relatives and friends. With the $40,000 he headed back to Devil’s Head Lake and staked out his claim on a formation he had been studying and was convinced gave promise.

With machinery bought, a crew hired, he started to drill. But at the end of two years he was worn out . . .  discouraged . . . and broke. All he had left was the battered drilling machinery and an assortment of tools and supplies. Utterly disillusioned and disgusted, he sold the entire outfit to a junk man for $1,500.

But before carting the machinery away the junk man looked over the ground. He had a hunch that Jack’s mining knowledge might have been good . . . but that he might have been a bit short on grit and determination.

So, instead of dismantling the machinery, he decided to do a little drilling on his own.

Thirty days later . . . exactly two feet below where Jack [had] stopped . . . the junk man hit one of the most valuable gold streaks in the region. [1]

“As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the word of God as for hid treasure find truths of the greatest value, which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker.” [2]

* * *

Oftentimes I find that it is all too-easy to miss out on God’s message to me because I don’t focus on what I am reading. I read a Psalm, or a chapter of Proverbs and I consider that as enough, when that is barely scratching the surface of a treasure mine.

Sometimes I am too busy to dwell on what I read, to seek out more information, or to pray about it. I suspect most of us are like that. But how great would it be if we daily devoted an hour just to seek God’s messages for us in the Bible?

– – –

[1] Spangler, W. M.Trigonometry and Graphs, (Scranton: International Textbook Company, 1954) Jacket

[2] White, E. G. Steps to Christ, “A Knowledge of God”

Habitation

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:5-9 ESV)

When I think about God wanting to dwell in me, I think of a very private inner chamber–sort of like my bedroom, but jealously kept closed against intruders. That is where the real me can actually emerge. It is also where things can get the most cluttered, the most obtrusive, and where I often resist against change.

* * *

One of the most chilling passages that I have found in the Bible is one found in Matthew 12, and it has to do with how we are a habitation, either for good or evil.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first . . .” (Matthew 12:43-45)

If we give in to God, and we let him come in, he will free us from the evil things that lurked inside the inner chamber. Whoosh! They are gone. The gloom of evil cannot exist in the presence of God. But such a habitation cannot stand empty. If we don’t follow-up with filling ourselves with God’s word, and doing so continuously, the empty chamber becomes, once more, a habitation of demons, and our state is worse than before.

Every day counts in the battle for your soul. So if you don’t feel like studying the Bible, make yourself do it, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit to imbue his word with meaning for you. Not everyday is a lyrical day in which you’ll feel God inside you. But He is there, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Guard your inner self with everything you got.

Better yet, hand the key over to God so he can claim every nook and cranny inside the Habitation.

Abandoned to Him (Part 2)

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah . . . “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:  ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”’ “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.  And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’” (Jeremiah 45 NKJV)

So we drudge away in the Lord’s work. And feel unhappy, unrealized. We sigh and groan and mope as we wait for God to show up in an unmistakable manner. Like Baruch we go on, meekly doing the work and motions, hoping that one day our Great Work will begin.

Well stop that!

It is time to stop making suppositions about what you can do for God. Let God tell you. “Immediately you do abandon, you think no more about what God is going to do. Abandon means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking questions. If you do abandon yourself entirely to God, He says at once ‘Thy life will I give thee for a prey'” Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

When you do abandon yourself you have a great assurance that wherever you may go–even if it is into hell, as Chambers puts it–You will come out with your life. Nothing and no one can harm it.

* * *

I need faith. A greater faith. In the Bible there was a man who wanted a miracle, but begged Jesus to help him in his unbelief, and Jesus did help. I can’t ask for the proper abandoned state of being, but I can get there only by faith–and God will meet you where you are at.

If abandonment is letting the control of my life slip from my fingers, then fine. It’s time to admit that I wanted to use God as my free pass to fame–as a writer of “Christian Novels” or whatever. But I realize now that if I want to work for him, I must do it its own sake, not for seeking earthly or eternal glories or recognition. But most importantly, I want to have the greatest and biggest reward–Life. A life of dwelling for ever in the center of God’s will, fully trusting in Him, and knowing that He will never leave me, and never disappoint me.

Abandoned to Him (Part 1)

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah . . . “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:  ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”’ “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.  And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’” (Jeremiah 45 NKJV)

So I’ve been asking God to give me purpose. I came to believe that I needed God to tell me what is that which I need to do to bring glory to Him and draw many others to Him. I was sure He wanted to use me in whatever great big plans he has. I’d been asking for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, for Him to give me the wisdom I lack, and the clarity of mind to discern what my purpose is in this world. And yet, I was feeling Spiritually bleh. 

* * *

I am reading through the Bible from cover to cover. It’s taken me at least two years to get to Jeremiah. Today’s reading, though, I felt was rather dry (Jer 45-48), and I wondered what message God had for me among the messages of doom to the Nations of Egypt, Moab, et al. Sighing, I reached randomly in my bookshelf and got out my Oswald Chambers devotional, and opened at one of the sticky tabs I had inserted in. And I read it–It was based on Jeremiah 45.

Coincidence? Not really!!

“Are you seeking great things for yourself? Not seeking to be great but great things from God for yourself? God wants you in a closer relationship to Himself than receiving His gifts. He wants you to get to know Him. A great thing is accidental. It comes and goes. God never gives us something accidental . . . If you have only come the length of asking God for Things, you haven’t come to the first strand of abandonment. You have only become a Christian from a standpoint of your own.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Ouch. But true. Because I know that when I feel spiritually bleh you try to do Things to kindle that fire which no one but God can set ablaze. You pray and pray, read the word, do Bible studies, sacrifice yourself, you do anything that will Mortify your flesh, except surrender control of your life. Until you do so your heart isn’t in the right place–So it’s all for naught. Because you’re asking for God to use you in a powerful way–YOUR way. You aren’t abandoning yourself to let HIM do or use you in the manner he thinks is best.

In other words, Chamber says that you are not abandoned enough to God if you keep asking for Things, even if it is the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

WHAAAT?

Because prayer is aligning yourself to God’s will, not the other way around.