In my morning devotions, Oswald Chambers said what we know but do not say: When we obey God, it will cost other people more than it will cost us. The obedience of Jesus to go to the cross cost Simon having to carry his cross when Jesus could no longer carry it (Luke 23:26). I’ve made a number of decisions this past year that were costly to those around me. I don’t like it, yet I have no regrets. I’ve had to trust God to take care of those who bear the cost of my obedience.
I’ve been sensing God wanted to change my devotional habits so I’ve been trying to pay attention to his leading. What am I doing now? I’m reading the Daily Bible in Chronological Order which I’ve never done before. I have also returned to reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest while listening to the audio of it in contemporary language. That’s fascinating to watch what wording was updated and what fresh phrases were used to replace them. Lastly, I struggle with a good prayer life, so I have chosen a different prayer focus for each day of the week.
I don’t often think about what simply delights God. I want to please Him, but what I assume pleases him is not always the primary things that brings delight to Him. According to Psalm 147:10-11 it is not in the strength of a horse or in the legs of a man that God delights. Accomplishment is a good and necessary thing, but God doesn’t delight in it. God delights in those who fear him and put their hope in his unfailing love. God delights in a holy respect and awe for him mixed with trust in God’s unfailing love.
Haggai, the prophet, was charged with inspiring people to rebuild the temple out of the rubble left from Solomon’s grand temple. Inspiring people is a challenge even when the resources are present and good. But Haggai was inspiring people to take ruins and build something that wasn’t going to match up to their past memories. How did he do it? In Haggai 2:4 he tells them to be strong because God was with them. When we know God is with us we can face the greatest challenges. And that’s the message of Christmas—Emmanuel—God is with us.
I’m seeing a common theme in the Minor Prophets: seek God with all our heart. Hosea 10:12 instructs us to seek the Lord until he showers righteousness on us. We tend to substitute fake self-righteousness for the righteousness of God. Joel 2:15 commands us to rend our hearts and not our garments. It is so much easier on us to rend our garments! Amos 5:5 tells us to seek the Lord and live; don’t seek Bethel or Gilgal because they will perish. We may comfort ourselves with our church and our traditions instead of satisfying ourselves in Jesus.
The beloved disciple John wrote the Gospel of John, the three epistles I, II, and III John and Revelation. Reading I John again it is clear that his commitment to Jesus never got lukewarm. I John 2:22-23 says the liar denies that Jesus is the Christ. I John 4:2-3 says the Spirit of God acknowledges that Jesus came in the flesh, but a false spirit will not. I John 5:11-12 says life is in God’s Son. If one doesn’t have the Son, one doesn’t have life. The key to not becoming lukewarm is to keep one’s focus on Jesus.
I want to be self-sufficient. God never wants that for me. He has something so much better—trust in Him to be my sufficiency. So I Peter 1:3 says God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. I will never find it in myself. II Corinthians 9:8 says God is our sufficiency—He will provide what we need (not always what we want). The context of a life where God becomes our sufficiency is a life where we share with others, sow generously, and practice good stewardship of what God provides for us.