Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Devotional 160609

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. A grey sky cannot cover the glory of God for this day. We are the workmanship of God, and He wants to glorify Himself through this workmanship in us. Thus, let God freely work in and through your life today. Let Him have full control of your whole being simply because He is the Lover and Author of your soul.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends… I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13, 15). Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said - "I will lay down my life for your sake" and he meant it; his sense of the heroic was magnificent. It would be a bad thing to be incapable of making such a declaration as Peter made; the sense of our duty is only realized by our sense of the heroic. Has the Lord ever asked you - "Wilt you lay down your life for My sake?" It is far easier to die than to lay down the life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling. We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways. There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father, and, John says, "We ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." It is contrary to human nature to do it.

If I am a friend of Jesus, I have deliberately and carefully to lay down my life for Him. It is difficult, and thank God it is difficult. Salvation is easy because it cost God so much, but the manifestation of it in my life is difficult. God saves a man and endues him with the Holy Spirit, and then says in effect - "Now work it out, be loyal to Me, while the nature of things around you would make you disloyal." "I have called you friends." Stand loyal to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.

It is hard to “lay down” my life on a daily basis. It means yielding my personal rights, ego, preferences and opinions to God each day. We too used to do whatever we think is right. But I now learn to do whatever the Word of God said in the Bible. God did not force us to do what He wants. He wants us to exercise our “free will” to yield our “free will” to become His slave with joy and thanksgiving. It sounds ridiculous and paradoxical. But this is exactly our spiritual warfare from within: “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b).

Our “every thought” used to revolve around our ego because we were all born to be narcissistic. In another word, we were born to think that the whole world exists to serve us but not the other way around. That’s why babies cry when they are hungry, thirsty and sleepy… They will not consider the needs of their parents and yield their rights to them. They demand their needs to be met right away, no matter how tired or busy their parents may be. Spiritual babies behave in similar ways. But as we mature in Christ (experience and treasure our friendship with Christ), we gradually change our attitudes and exercise self-control; we learn to yield our rights and submit to Christ on a voluntary basis.

Once we are in control of our desires and thoughts and submit them to Christ, we can have better control of our tongues in speaking words of edification and appreciation. Early church fathers recognized the significant need to control our tongues and make it submit to Christ: “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell… no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:4-9); “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). It is not easy to control our tongues if we do not also control our thoughts and inner desires. And we will not control our thoughts and submit them to Christ if we do not enjoy and treasure our friendship with Christ. We don’t yield our free will out of fear of being punished; we don’t mind to even die for our liberty. But we are willing to die for those whom we love and treasure. That’s why you need to nourish this intimate relationship with Christ by enjoying His love and companionship each day.

Love you because we share this common Lover,

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