Monday, December 21, 2009

Devotional 211209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Today’s weather calls for Sabbath at home. But there is so much work to do in preparing for my up coming trips to Urbana, Oregon and Southeast Asia. It is surely important to focus on God in order to receive strength from above. This is how I was re-charged after a busy weekend. Praise the Lord! He is always faithful to His children.

"We have received . . . the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). Reality is Redemption, not my experience of Redemption; but Redemption has no meaning for me until it speaks the language of my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left with my experiences, my experiences have not been produced by Redemption. The proof that they are produced by Redemption is that I am led out of myself all the time, I no longer pay any attention to my experiences as the ground of Reality, but only to the Reality which produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source, Jesus Christ.

If you try to block up the Holy Spirit in you to produce subjective experiences, you will find that He will burst all bounds and take you back again to the historic Christ. Never nourish an experience which has not God as its Source and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions you may have had. Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you try to lord it over Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? He must be Lord over you, and you must not pay attention to any experience over which He is not Lord. There comes a time when God will make you impatient with your own experience - I do not care what I experience; I am sure of Him.

Be merciless with yourself if you are given to talking about the experiences you have had. Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.

We are living in a culture that emphasizes so much on experience. That’s why book like “Experiencing God” could become such a best seller, which even surprised the author. The bottom line question is “unless I experience God, He is not real to me.” Unless God continuously entertains your experience on a daily basis, He cannot be your God. In another word, God has to serve your curiosity and desire for extraordinary experiences. It reminds me what our Lord said to the Pharisees who asked for miracle, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:39-40). God has performed the greatest miracle in human history through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is because of His death and resurrection that we receive this new life in Christ. We never experience his resurrection like the disciples did. But we are benefit by this miracle.

When Jesus knew that Thomas had doubt about his companion’s testimony about the risen Lord, He said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe…Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:27-29). It takes faith to produce experience. It is by faith we are saved, not by experience. Once we focus so much on “our experience,” we are still self-centered. When we are still self-centered we disconnect ourselves with God; we don’t expect to experience Him at all because, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE” (James 4:6). Humble yourself to the Lord by faith. Ask not how He should satisfy your expectation, but ask how you should satisfy His expectation. By doing so, God will surprise you with His very presence just as He did to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds. At His perfect timing, God entered into human history so that people could encounter Him on a very personal experience. Later, many disciples testified their faith in Christ by martyrdom, without personal experiences with Him. Will you stand up for your faith today like those in the early church? Something for you and I to meditate…

Love you because of His act of redemption,

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