Monday, June 1, 2009

Devotional 010609

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for a wonderful weekend to celebrate a seminary graduation and a commissioning ceremony of one of our seminarians to serve God in Macau. There were many tears of joy and thanksgiving in those events. Yes, our Lord will continue to call new workers into His harvest field. But how many will respond to His call? Our common response is, “I am not ready.” What if the Lord said, “you are ready,” will you accept His challenge? It does not depend on whether you think you are ready or not. It depends on Him. He is always able to make you His chosen workers if you allow Him to do so.

He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord' " (Ezekiel 37:3). Can that sinner be turned into a saint? Can that twisted life be put right again? There is only one answer: "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know. I don't." Never trample in with religious common sense and say - "Oh, yes, with a little more Bible reading and devotion and prayer, I see how it can be done." This is our “self-help” religion.

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic (I got to do something about it) for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him. Am I quite sure that God will do what I cannot do? The degree I despair of men depends on my realization of how much God has done for me. Is my experience giving me a wonderful realization of God's power and might that I can never despair of anyone I see? Have I had any spiritual work done in me by God at all? The degree of panic or obsession is the degree of the lack of personal spiritual experience.

"Behold, O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them" (Ezekiel 37:12b). When God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it to you in your inner being. If the Spirit of God has given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He only does it when His Spirit is at work), you know there is no criminal in the world, who is half so bad in actuality as you know yourself could be in possibility. Therefore, I cannot criticize others as though I am better than what they did. God has opened my “grave” and "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out" (Rom 7:18). God's Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace.

Indeed, apart from Christ you can do nothing (John 15:5). The branches may think that they can bear fruits for the Vine. But in reality, all they did was to dwell in the vine, so that the nourishment and DNA of the vine will cause the branch to bear fruits. The Word of the Lord once again reminds us, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). Don’t get panic as though you disappoint God if you fail to do this or that. Learn to quietly remain in Christ. Trust that God is in control. Our well being, security and identity depend on Him alone. He knows our weaknesses and limitations. We may want to bear fruits now. But if God wants us to wait, then we learn to wait and watch Him do His work through us. Of course, we don’t procrastinate when the Holy Spirit prompts us to do our work, just as Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “Do not put out the Spirit's fire” (1 Thess 5:19). If the branch truly remains in the vine, it will surrender completely to the vine to do whatever the vine wants to do through it. Therefore, don’t think you can do anything FOR God. Instead, ask yourself whether you remain or dwell in Christ or not.

Two ways I use to evaluate whether I dwell in Christ or not: 1) Do I submit to the Word of God as my ultimate standard of behavior and value judgment? Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you…” (John 15:7). 2) Do I obey the Commandment of Christ in loving others as Christ loved me? Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love…My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:10, 12). These two questions represent the life of an “in and out” Christian: Internalize the word of God and express it out through loving relationship with one another. Let’s hold each other accountable to build up this kind of life each day.

Love you because Christ loved me,

No comments: