Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Devotional 091209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The work of God is new everyday. We are indeed God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph 2:10a). God relentlessly makes us His masterpiece to bless the world. Every contact we encounter in life or at work is target of God’s blessing. We may disagree with God in terms of who deserves His blessing. But God’s intention is to use you and me to become channel of His blessings to all, even to those who do not seem to deserve God’s grace. Love your enemy…bless those who curse you. And Paul echoed, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom 12:14). I don’t think we can or want to do it. Only Christ can do it through us.

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24). The natural life is not sinful; we must totally resign from sin, have nothing to do with sin in any shape or form. Sin belongs to hell and the devil; I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural stand point that keep us back from God's best. To discern that natural virtues antagonize surrender to God is to bring our soul into the centre of its greatest battle. Very few of us debate with the disgusting evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good. It is the good that hates the best, and the higher up you get in the scale of the natural virtues, the more intense is the opposition to Jesus Christ. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh" - it is going to cost the natural in you everything, not something. Jesus said - "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself," i.e., his right to himself, and a man has to realize Who Jesus Christ is before he will do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can only be made spiritual by sacrifice. If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us. There is no royal road there; each of us has it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of performing.

This is not an easy road but definitely a road to spiritual formation. Our natural self needs to be under spiritual control than our own control. Yes, the process may involve our intentional denial of our right to do good, surrendering our soul and morality to the Holy Spirit in making us Christ like. That’s why spiritual formation is more than a list of dos and don’ts to follow. There is no agenda in terms of making ourselves a moralist. There is no intention to become a self-made saint. The road to spirituality is to crucify our own goodness and even desire to be super-saint to the cross. So that God can make us a new creation in Christ.

I don’t know how the Lord may want to shape or mold me. I only know that I need to constantly identify with the death of Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:6-7). I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrase this passage: “Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human” (Phil 2:3-7 Message). I hope this is the kind of lifestyle that you will adopt for your own daily walk with Christ. Let’s pray for one another along this line.

Love you as a slave of Christ,

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