Sunday, October 18, 2015

God's Work Not Ours

I started to write this earlier, before the first time I went to bed tonight. At the time I was writing on paper because I wasn't in the mood to be at the keyboard. Also, because being online connects me so quickly with many others, there can be a sense of not being fully present with the one(s) I'm with physically. Then there's also the possibility of being distracted from my quiet time or tempted by the wide world that's so very accessible on screen. But the fact is that, in my case anyway, the sense of community online normally inspires more than it distracts -- as long as I am writing with prayer and honesty.

After Toni and I got back from her choir concert, I saw a paragraph written (or quoted?) online by Bryan Lowe that reminded me of a subject I've been wanting to address here for quite some time. In the paragraph the word "discipline" is mentioned. Here's the sentence:
"...Believers are holy through their union with Christ and are called to live holy lives and to discipline themselves for the purpose of godliness."
You can read the entire paragraph by clicking <here>. The paragraph is written in the second person plural ("we"). That's why I think Bryan may be quoting rather than writing originally but I don't know. I responded in a comment:
What you wrote here inspired a blog post that I'm writing now. Through our union with Christ, and only through that union, we are inspired and driven by a power that does not come from us. In fact, it's God dwelling in us who drives us toward holy lives and discipline in spite of any "natural" tendency that would stop us. God uses our weaknesses and honest vulnerabilities like a valve on a tire, filling us and making us strong in spite of ourselves.
Many spiritual leaders and teachers use the word "discipline" or the words "should" or "must" as they encourage Jesus' disciples. 

Here's an example I saw in Oswald Chambers (O.C.) yesterday:
"...We must learn to work according to God’s direction..."
Here's a <link> to the context for that quote.

O.C.'s My Utmost for His Highest is full of "musts." I don't know enough about O.C's teaching to know exactly what he means by that, but I know what God says to me in this regard: We are NOT to think of ourselves as in charge of somehow drumming up the discipline or the desire to what God calls us to do.

ALL the work of the Christian life, including any discipline or desire to do what God directs us to is something that comes from Him working within us. And if we find ourselves lacking the desire to discipline ourselves in any area of life, the solution is NOT to try. The solution is to admit our weakness and to cry out to the Lord.

As we read in James 1:5
"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you."
Whenever I read or hear "shoulds" or "musts" in what a Christian teacher writes or says, it's always good for me to hear that as a call to ask God, not to do anything on my own.

So, today, or tonight, whenever you seem to lack the discipline or the wisdom to act in a way that is helpful and good, don't try. Humble yourself before God. Pray. Ask others to pray for you! (Asking for the prayer of fellow believers is one of the keys to true humility before the Lord! Ask them to pray WITH you!) And then wait. You will receive what you need.

I'm sure Bryan Lowe and Oswald Chambers would agree.

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