LESSONS FROM A BROKEN MIRROR

“There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s.”   -Oswald Chambers

When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see a ‘good person,’ or a man or woman living a ‘good life?’ We’d probably say so, but we shouldn’t see these things! Rather, we should see a life of repair. A life broken. We should see the ugliness inside ourselves, and the beauty of Christ through His never-ending work in us. We should be in a pursuit to see less of us and more of Him, and as we begin to see Christ, and accept His gift and love given to us, we can begin to see His plan for us and His purpose for us. And that purpose is ultimately to restore us to beauty – a beauty we cannot achieve on our own – because as we are restored by Christ, it becomes more and more obvious to the world who is doing the restoring, and our lives begin to accomplish the ultimate purpose: to bring Him glory!

The greatest amount of beauty in us can only be found by reflecting Him throughout our lives and towards others, and our life purpose should be pursuing that beauty in total disregard of the world’s opinion or persuasion.We are to live life thankfully broken, knowing the only One who can use our brokenness! A shattered mirror is only as useful as what the person looking into it sees. Do you see a purpose behind your brokenness, and a pursuit towards repair? Or are you too busy praying for God to repair the mirror, unable to notice what God can use it for?

“. . . what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?”

But for this purpose I came to this hour.

“Father, glorify Your name.”     -John 12:27-28

Through our sorrow, and the moments we need repair, let us not ask God to fix us. Rather, ask Him to use us to glorify His name!

THE ‘MAGIC’ PRAYER (and why it often doesn’t work)

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”   – John 14:13-14

This a verse that, when we look, we immediately think of the things we’ve asked for and haven’t received, and almost feel cheated by this verse and what it says.

But that is only because we aren’t really hearing what it says!

“Ask and you’ll receive.” This is what we hear when we read this verse. What it actually says, however, is “ask for anything that brings glory to God, and you will receive.”

This verse is a promise to us, but it is a promise given by a God who is much more wise than us! We can ask for anything, and we might believe it is for God’s glory, but only He truly knows. Only He truly knows the end result, and the true motives of our hearts in everything we ask.

Remember this next time you ask and don’t receive, and praise God for knowing your true needs and desires! Praise Him for His wisdom, and your foolishness in the midst of Him! Don’t hold a grudge against God for not giing what you’ve asked; for holding a grudge against God is simply pride and selfishness. It is you telling God you know better than Him, and that is never the case!

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”  -Proverbs 16:1-3

It isn’t until we are one with God that we can truly ask for anything in His name, and when we are at that point, the things we ask will be of Him, and undoubtedly bring glory to Him because of His presence in every essence of our lives. “Ask in my name” isn’t a magic trick to get what we want, but simply an example of what can be done when we live completely in the Holy Spirit rather than under our own ambition. Ask in the Holy Spirit, in unity with God, and you will receive. And if you ask out of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, that which you receive will undoubtedly bring God glory!

ABIDE AND LET IT BE!

“Look at the birds of the air . . .consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.”      – Matthew 6:26, 28

. . . They simply are!

So often we fret about our usefulness to God, yet in this passage (among others) He simply reminds us of our usefulness in the areas we don’t recognize. Our focus can not be on doing things for Christ, but rather being in Him! For when our focus is on doing for Christ, it is on the action rather than the reason. When our focus is on the reason rather than the action, we can have an influence for Him which is greater than we will ever recognize, and the reason we’ll fail to recognize it is because our focus will not turn away from Him long enough for us to look around at the rest of our lives.

We were created to be focused on God to the point of tunnel vision – unable to recognize ourselves and our lives outside of His purpose and direction.

“Let love be genuine.”   – Romans 12:9

Notice the simplicity again in this passage. We are not to “make” our love be genuine, or “force” it to be, but to simply “let” it be! WE were created to love, and through the recapturing of the Holy Spirit in us, we are to simply let love happen. With the transforming of our hearts comes the transforming of our very natures, and we no longer need to try to be godly, we simply need to abide in Him, and let His qualities shine through!

Have you recognized His transformation and let Him overcome our old nature and make His nature our own? Abide in Him, and let it happen!

TAKING THE JUMP (embracing the gift)

“I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”  – Jeremiah 45:5

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will appear with Him in glory.”  – Colossians 3:3-4

The bible constantly tells us our life is simply a gift given to us by God. Christianity is constantly compared to death, and life, and we are constantly told to die in order to live. Yet how often do we see this gift of life as a prize given to us by God? How often do we live as if our life is a gift given by God? How easy it is to underestimate the value given to us in Jeremiah 45:5!

In order to truly recognize our value, we first must look at the meaning of a gift. A gift is something given, from one person to another, and is seen as new to the one receiving the gift. In order for your life to be given to you as a gift, it first belongs to Christ, because He is the one giving it, which means in order for you to receive this gift, you must first give the entirety of yourself over to Christ. Only then can He bestow upon you His gift of true life, and true freedom in His love. It requires reckless abandon – to give our life to something we don’t understand, and to realize that the questions we have for Him often cannot be answered without first surrendering our own doubt to Him and letting Him guide us through our questioning. This cannot be done until we surrender all control.

“Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.” – Oswald Chambers

Abandonment is refusing luxury. Have you abandoned your questioning and learned to rely and trust completely on Him? Our questioning is nothing other than a lack of trust. We must break ourselves of that habit, and embrace the knowledge He has given, telling us and assuring us that HE HAS EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL.

Think of it as a cliff jump into water below. If we continually question the safety of the jump, we will never jump, and we will never realize where the joy of the jump comes from – and that is in the rush of the unknown. In a sense of complete safety, there is no unknown, and all excitement is lost. Life cannot be lived in a place of complete safety, and neither can our spiritual lives, because we live in a world where unknowns will always be present. We control nothing, and He controls everything. He isn’t going to tell us what to expect, but He is continually inviting us to quit pretending we know what’s coming and simply embrace His control in the midst of the unknown. Only when we let go and embrace the beauty of His unknown can we truly see our destination, or not fear not knowing where exactly that destination is. Only when we let go can we truly be given our lives as a gift, and see them as such, living them according to the plan arranged by the only one who knows the map and hidden surprises better than ourselves.

See your life as a gift given to you, and recognize that the plan He has given in His gift is designed exactly how you need it to be – whether you know it or not. Trust His plan, embrace His unknown, and always remember, above all, that His gift is exactly that, and it is good.

GOD IS WITH US! (. . . and deserves introduction)

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . . .” – Matthew 11:29

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” – Psalm 55:22

“. . . To those who have no might He increases strength.” – Isaiah 40:24

“. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

God is with us always! One of the many phrases I live by is ‘Head Up, Pride Down,’ which I use to remind me to keep my eyes ahead, focused on God and away from myself, and to always remember that my success is not my own. But there’s a part of this that’s missing. It doesn’t recognize the fact that our God is not only a god of guidance, but also a god of counsel.

Basically, I’ve added onto my life-phrase. I’ve recognized that God is with us always – not only ahead, but also beside! I have recognized that no struggle will be overcome in solitude. I’ve recognized He is forever beside us, and one end of our burden can be placed on His shoulder. Not only does our God lead us into battle, He fights with us in the trenches!

Look ahead as He leads, and beside as He loves.

With Him beside, our entire life should be affected – including our interaction with others. We must get to the point where we can feel the presence of God so strongly in our lives that our natural instinct becomes to introduce Him to those who may not feel His presence in the same way. I haven’t gotten to that point yet – or I haven’t yet fully realized God’s presence at all times. We, including myself, need to always remember that not only is God ahead of us leading the way, but is also beside us, showing His love. Realize that God is beside you in everything you do, and as your realization of this improves, the need to introduce Him to those around you will become second nature.

God, I pray that You let us feel Your presence in all we do, and constantly give us an awareness of Your presence, so our natural instinct is to introduce you to those who don’t know you.

This post was inspired in part by Oswald Chambers and his book, “My Utmost for His Highest. I’d like to share what I read.

“Jesus asks us to get beside Him and take one end of the yoke, so that we can pull together. The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us, and to learn from Him.”

“Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think they have no burdens at all to bear. But we must see! The fact that God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lies, and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine, and not the burden.

No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of god living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.” – Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, April 14)