Monday, September 15, 2014

The Business of Others

MONDAY: READ // ROMANS 13:8-14
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”
So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.


TUESDAY: THOUGHTS // THE BUSINESS OF OTHERS
We have no business concerning ourselves with the conscience of others. We are neither in a place to choose another’s convictions nor suffer the ramifications, thus, why do we spend so much time judging, critiquing and attempting to control the decisions of our peers? We so often assume we know the intent of our neighbor by the manner of his or her actions. As finite creatures, however, we can never know the true intent or the history that led to those decisions. It is this arrogance and pride that robs us of our peace in Christ and, ultimately, hinders our ability to be generous in him. We cannot be generous and of pure heart when we secretly condemn our neighbors for their choices.

On the one hand, it is natural to disagree with our friends from time to time. But when those times occur, we must recognize and differentiate those decisions and convictions which are ours to make from those which are not. If we venture too far into policing the values and morals and choices of others, we lose sight of the generous love of Christ. These are not our responsibility, and thinking too long on them steals away our energy for personal growth in our lives. We may regret the choices of our friends, and we can certainly tell them if we disagree, but, when that conversation is finished we must let it rest. We can be generous in love if judge our friends to be inferior—our hearts become tinged with pride and a little less open for the changing work of Jesus Christ. We can change no one. We can “save” no one. We can only love with a generous and powerful love of Christ that chooses to listen and acknowledge that others are in different places than we are. If we can be this malleable for God, we can see a bit more about what is driving our neighbor’s convictions and, in the process, about what drives ours. This is the refining fire of God in our minds and God’s invitation to be generous in love and acceptance toward our neighbors. This is how we grow together, thought by thought, learning to love as Christ loved.

WEDNESDAY: CHALLENGE // RELATIONSHIPS
We throw around the concept of “speaking the truth in love”—we have diluted this practice from what God intended and wrapped it in our personal agendas and incessant desire to be right. In love, we can have a conversation with our brothers and sisters and we can express our own values and convictions, but we cannot, “in love,” change others’ opinions. The very nature of attempting to do so is rooted in pride, in the belief that our way of thinking is more right than theirs. It may have more wisdom, it may be more logical, it may be obvious to us that something in our brothers’ and sisters’ thinking is terribly wrong. If we enter into the conversation, however, with the intent to change them, we have diluted the love of God and tainted it with pride and ignorance. Furthermore, when our agenda is to change the convictions of our friends, we can no longer listen—not to what they are saying, nor to what we may learn.

Only Christ has the power to say, “Go and sin no more,” and actually influence a life to do so. Our task is to show our friends that we will stand beside them, whether we agree with them or not. And that is the most difficult thing about relationships, because it is a unique story we must figure out for each and every person. That is a generous love barred of strings attached and personal agendas.

How often do you enter a conversation for the purpose of changing someone else’s beliefs, convictions or opinions?

Is it more effective to point out all the reasons someone else is wrong or the reasons we are right?
Can either be effective, or are we better served to have the conversation then let the relationship refine the answer out of us all?

Think back to a time you tried to change someone’s opinion about a belief or conviction—what happened?

Can we change others’ beliefs?

What is our role in our relationships? What does God want of us?

How do you respond when someone close to you makes a choice you disagree with? How does that change depending on the choice or the person?

THURSDAY: REFLECT



FRIDAY: THINK
Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25).

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for his Highest
September 14

PRAY
Father, teach us to value the lives, thoughts and convictions of our friends. Teach us to be generous in life toward our neighbors, even those we may vehemently disagree with. It is through listening to what others have to say that we find what you want us to learn. Help us to find purpose in our disagreements with others and to see these differences not as opportunities to change someone else but as opportunities to refine who we are, to grow in who you made us to be. Lord, work in our hearts to see the good in our neighbors, despite their choices. Move in us a desire to support and stand beside our peers even if we disagree with their choices; teach us to recognize they are in a very different place on this journey and their beliefs are simply a product of where you have them, from where they have come and to where they are going. Likewise, help us to understand our beliefs are the same and to seek out your wisdom to refine our thoughts. Jesus, the root of all of this is acceptance and value. We want to prioritize these things.

amen


Monday, September 8, 2014

Love in Value

MONDAY
READ // ROMANS 13:8-14
Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.


But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

TUESDAY
THOUGHTS // LOVE IN VALUE
Everything in the Law culminates in love. Paul’s message to the Church in Rome is rather straightforward: if you value the lives of others, if you truly love them, you will be fulfilling the Law. It is this love Jesus was speaking of when he spoke of the two greatest commandments: Love God. And love others. There is no differentiation between this neighbor and that. Jesus never gave us a caveat or condition. It was one command: love others.

And this love is unlike any other. It is neither ignorant nor na├»ve; it is neither romantic nor emotional. This love Jesus directs is more simple, yet it painfully and persistently reaches into the depths of who we are when we choose to follow him. It is a love built upon value and acceptance of our neighbors when and where they are. This is a love that chooses to see the positive and good—the light in our neighbors as it floods through the dark. This love does not ignore the harmful and hurtful actions; it does not masquerade as foolishness. It is neither feel-good nor whimsical.

Instead, it is difficult and dangerous, intentional and generous. Rather than ignoring hurt, it learns from its experiences but choose to value good. It is the willful laying down of our pride and judgment to find the value in those around us. It is the choice to see through someone’s shortcomings at their intent, at their heart, at their goal. To see into someone and find the child God created, choosing to know that person, rather the weak and scarred shell our culture has formed. 

WEDNESDAY
Challenge // DISCOMFORT & LOVE
This love is a generous love. It constitutes the giving of ourselves, giving over of our pride, and giving into God’s desire for wholeness. It is our action-point as followers of Jesus: we must do nothing to earn God’s love, as it is given through grace and mercy. It is, however, what we must do to make that love complete in our lives and the lives of others—to take it for all it is worth. Generosity, then, is as much a part of us as it is those around us. The Great Generosity of Jesus is noted in his sacrifice—it is not that he came to offer grace, but that he took on the consequences of our sins and suffered that we might freely accept his gift. No strings attached. Our generosity, likewise, is most meaningful when we give not out of abundance, but out of need; it is most pointed when we sacrifice something, whether from our hands or from our hearts. It is in our discomfort that our hearts are most accessible to God’s leading.

When was the last time you gave when it was uncomfortable?

What were the circumstances?
Why was it hard?

What is most uncomfortable to give—time? Money? Attention? Belongings?

How do you decide what to give, how much to give?

Are your decisions rooted in an intentional and generous love—value—or is it out of expectation or tradition?

THURSDAY
REFLECT





FRIDAY
THINK & PRAY
We are to be centres through which Jesus can flow as rivers of living water in blessing to every one. Some of us are like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out, because we are not rightly related to the Lord Jesus. As surely as we receive from Him, He will pour out through us, and in the measure He is not pouring out, there is a defect in our relationship to Him. Is there anything between you and Jesus Christ? Is there anything that hinders your belief in Him? If not, Jesus says, out of you will flow rivers of living water. It is not a blessing passed on, not an experience stated, but a river continually flowing. Keep at the Source, guard well your belief in Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him, and there will be a steady flow for other lives, no dryness and no deadness.

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for his Highest
September 7

PRAY
Father, we thank you for your grace and generous love, poured out through Jesus into us, that we might know you better. You have shown us sacrificial love at great cost; we want to show that love to others. Refine in us a desire and love for our neighbors—teach us to value each and every person we meet. Teach us to care for them, to see you in them. Teach us to see the child you created them to be, past the brokenness. We want to give of ourselves and those belongings you have entrusted us to steward, to bring your Kingdom to our community.

amen

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Hard Following of God

MONDAY
Joshua 24 [14-22]
“So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods. God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.

“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”

Then Joshua told the people: “You can’t do it; you’re not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t put up with your fooling around and sinning. When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he’ll turn right around and come down on you hard. He’ll put an end to you—and after all the good he has done for you!”

But the people told Joshua: “No! No! We worship  God!”

And so Joshua addressed the people: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen God for yourselves—to worship him.”

Romans 12:9-21


Tuesday
The hard following of god
“As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

Israel had a long history of ebbing and flowing in their devotion to God. Their on-again off-again commitment was pervasive throughout their generations. Love. Wander. Return. Repeat. Yet, here they are, having inherited the land God promised to them—his love for these people not deterred by their weakness of heart. Joshua, then, sets before them a choice:

“Choose whom you will serve. Make a choice. Plant your feet. Decide. Act. Commit. God or not God. Another god. Other gods. Just make a choice. As for me—I’ll worship God.”

We may fail time and again, but every time we make that choice to get back up, a choice is made to win. And with the right support, the right heart, we can do it. Failure is but one more stone down the path to growth, because it creates experience from which to build. Everything starts with a choice.

God’s grace is sufficient for us, his power made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Joshua tells the people they can’t do it—they can’t serve God. Their foolishness won’t allow it. Their history would agree. Yet they insist they can, they will. So Joshua charges them as witnesses against themselves. And we know from history they couldn’t, they didn’t. They fell away, they failed, they broke down. Again and again. Yet God was not deterred by their weakness of heart. He watched and waited for them to stand back up, to continue on the path one step further along. We are no different even today—we try, we commit, we fail. It is in the choice to not stand up, however, that we find death—death of our spirit. Weakness is good, because at the end of our self-sufficiency we are most useful. We must choose to commit.


WEDNESDAY
Challenge // Self-sufficiency
How often do your find yourself fully confident in your abilities to accomplish a task or handle a problem? We, as a culture, highly value self-sufficiency. The American Dream, right? Home-ownership. Vehicle maintenance. Money management. We ought to be dependent on no one, but self-sufficient in everything.

But where did this idea come from? Certainly not from God—self-sufficiency leaves no room for God. If we are confident we have everything under control, we don’t need God. We don’t need to choose him, thus our faith becomes fake and shallow. We are taught to rely on no one, when, in fact, the Kingdom of God is about reliance on everyone. A community of one is weak and useless. You need not be so strong you cannot ask for help; likewise, in your strengths you ought to be ready to give of yourself freely and humbly.


In what ways are you strong?
What about weak?

Do you honestly view your strength as your own
accomplishment or the power of God made perfect in your weaknesses?

For what purposes do your strengths exist?

How do you use those strengths for Kingdom work?

When was the last time you intentionally chose to commit to God?



THURSDAY

 


FRIDAY
THINK
Ask, and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room, and no man will ever do this unless he is at his wits’ end. When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits’ end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for his Highest
August 28 

PRAY
Lord, teach us to choose you in our strengths and our weaknesses. Teach us to recognize our strength is nothing more than your power made perfect in our weaknesses. We want to be dependent on you—not self-sufficient in our daily lives. We might fall down each and every day, and many times a day, but we want to learn how to get back up, how to commit to you again, how to learn from our falls and press on into you.

Jesus, teach us to use our strengths for Kingdom work. And teach us to embrace our weaknesses as opportunities to grow in you. To learn from you. To refine in us who you created us to be. We belong to you, Lord, and we choose you. We remain marveled at your love for us in our weakness—in those darkest times where we drift away. Grow our spirits, Father, to wholly and intentionally choose you this day and every day.
amen

Monday, August 25, 2014

Commanding the Everyday

Monday
Joshua 23 [4-8, 11-13]
“Stay alert: I have assigned to you by lot these nations that remain as an inheritance to your tribes—these in addition to the nations I have already cut down—from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. God, your God, will drive them out of your path until there’s nothing left of them and you’ll take over their land just as God, your God, promised you.

“Now, stay strong and steady. Obediently do everything written in the Book of The Revelation of Moses—don’t miss a detail. Don’t get mixed up with the nations that are still around. Don’t so much as speak the names of their gods or swear by them. And by all means don’t worship or pray to them. Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.

“Now, vigilantly guard your souls: Love God, your God. Because if you wander off and start taking up with these remaining nations still among you (intermarry, say, and have other dealings with them), know for certain that God, your God, will not get rid of these nations for you. They’ll be nothing but trouble to you—horsewhips on your backs and sand in your eyes—until you’re the ones who will be driven out of this good land that God, your God, has given you.”

Romans 12:1-8 [1-2]
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Tuesday
THOUGHTS // Commanding the Everyday
As Joshua nears the end of his life, and we near the end of our journey with him, he calls together the leaders of Israel for one last conversation. This is not a conversation of conquest, of logistics, of strategy. No, this is conversation of life-guidance and direction. This is a conversation of purity and wisdom and hope. And in this conversation, Joshua does not plead with the leaders or request their obedience to God—he demands it. He commands of them three things: stay alert, stay strong, and guard your souls.

These three commands to the leaders of Israel remain vital for us and possess wisdom in which we ought to direct our own lives.

Joshua commands them to stay alert. The work is not done, nor is it ever really finished. We don’t write the story, thus we cannot call it complete. We ebb and flow through seasons of rest and chaos as God moves us in and out of the steps of his beautiful ideas. We become entranced with progress and tasks and productivity, when God has only ever wanted us to be involved. We cannot become idle.

Joshua commands them to stay strong. They must remain wholly committed unto God, not wandering about with other gods and beliefs. So we ought to also and yet, in a world driven by instant gratification, it becomes blurry where our commitments often lie. We can quickly become committed to things which are not good for us. We overcommit our lives and, whether good or bad, are shaped by those with which we fill our minds and our time. We must stay strong in our commitment to God.

Lastly, Joshua commands them to vigilantly guard their souls. Our faith must be organic—built wholly and naturally; pure and true. We cannot fabricate this running after Jesus. We cannot sacrifice our souls to take up the morality of others. We are God’s and God’s alone. When our hearts begin to be shaped by things contrary to the nature of God, we are no longer guarding our souls. When we stop questioning the world around us and accept anything as truth, we surrender our choice. Our choice is what makes unique—it is our choice to love that makes that our love powerful. That we must guard to the end of the earth.

Wednesday
CHALLENGE // Are we conversing?
Paul writes in Romans 12 that we ought to take our everyday life and offer it God for his purpose, his benefit, his joy. He goes on to say,
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
The same conversation Joshua had with the Israelites so many generations before, Paul has with these new followers of Jesus in Rome. The same conversation we must have today. That would suggest either we do not get it, or sin is so powerful and compelling that we must continuously return to the conversation. Perhaps it is a bit of both. God is interested in maturing us through his wisdom and our life-experiences. We must remain alert, strong and vigilant to guard our souls. This world will always bring us down if we allow it—it will always strip us of our maturity and the work God is doing in us. This is the divergence of goals: God-seeking versus self-seeking.
How do you stay alert to God in your life?
What do you picture this kind of strength to be? Do you feel strong?
Are you guarding your soul from that which would bring you down, separate you from God?
Alert, strength, guard—all words associated with conflict. What conflicts do you battle?
Does your life lean more toward God-seeking or self-seeking? Does it look that way to someone watching?

Thursday
REFLECT



Friday
THINK // Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, August 2
God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy? He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain. And once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the first step. Then God will give you nourishment— “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life . . .” (Revelation 2:7). If you completely give of yourself physically, you become exhausted. But when you give of yourself spiritually, you get more strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment.

PRAY // Teach us to resist

Lord, teach us to take heart in our everyday situation. Give us strength for the troubles at hand and refine us to resist those things which threaten the maturity you work in us. Compel us to make our everyday lives a sweet and beautiful offering to you, growing each and every day in your love. Equip us, Jesus, to resist the temptations of culture to become lax. Give us wisdom and discernment to recognize those things which are not good for us and surrender them to you. We desire to stay alert, strong and vigilant in our relationship with you and in our love for others. Guide us down that path.

Monday, August 18, 2014

We are the Altar // The Week of August 18

Monday: Readings
“He knows and he’ll let Israel know if this is a rebellious betrayal of God. And if it is, don’t bother saving us. If we built ourselves an altar in rebellion against God, if we did it to present on it Whole-Burnt-Offerings or Grain-Offerings or to enact there sacrificial Peace-Offerings, let God decide.

 “But that’s not it. We did it because we cared. We were anxious lest someday your children should say to our children, ‘You’re not connected with God, the God of Israel! God made the Jordan a boundary between us and you. You Reubenites and Gadites have no part in God.’ And then your children might cause our children to quit worshiping God.

“So we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s do something. Let’s build an altar—but not for Whole-Burnt-Offerings, not for sacrifices.’ “We built this altar as a witness between us and you and our children coming after us, a witness to the Altar where we worship God in his Sacred Dwelling with our Whole-Burnt-Offerings and our sacrifices and our Peace-Offerings.

“This way, your children won’t be able to say to our children in the future, ‘You have no part in God.’ “We said to ourselves, ‘If anyone speaks disparagingly to us or to our children in the future, we’ll say: Look at this model of God’s Altar which our ancestors made. It’s not for Whole-Burnt-Offerings, not for sacrifices. It’s a witness connecting us with you.’

“Rebelling against or turning our backs on God is the last thing on our minds right now. We never dreamed of building an altar for Whole-Burnt-Offerings or Grain-Offerings to rival the Altar of our God in front of his Sacred Dwelling.”



Tuesday: We are the Altar
The Israelites built an altar--a model--after the Altar of God. It was not to replace the Altar of God, but to serve as a witness to it: a reminder of who God is and what he has done. A reminder of his salvation. We're not talking idols here, we're talking about a bridge. A means to get from point A to point B, from us to God. These particular Israelites were separated from the Promised Land, set across the Jordan and away from the boundaries marked out by God. They were aliens in a foreign world and they feared forgetting who God was or being excluded from the rest of the community.

This bridge allowed these Israelites to reach God, to worship and honor their Lord even being so distant from the Altar of God. It was not an act of rebellion, but of desire. God desires relationship with us, and in that time, relationship with God was symbolic in nature. The Altar was the place of atonement, of cleansing, of offering, of sacrifice, of redemption. It was the place to purify oneself through blood and fire, so that we could be presented to the Lord having fully expressed our desire for him. But it became legalism--a standard of motions and rules meant to bind the people and legislate spirituality. Not God's intent, but man's.

Instead, God rolls out the next part of his plan in response to our shortcomings: his son, Jesus. Sent to Earth, separate from God and his promised land, yet fully connected in Spirit. And Jesus became that bridge--that witness--to whom God is. He became that reminder and that means to reach God even when our lives seem so far away from righteousness. Christ's death, then, did not serve to replace the original Covenant, or requirement for blood and fire, but to fulfill that Covenant. To stand in the gap for us. This story is a preface to what God was doing: bridging the gap between himself and mankind through his son, expressed in love and delivered through the Spirit. The old ways are not negated, rather they set the stage for a beautiful understanding of the scope of God's grace.
Wednesday: Challenge Yourself
God's plans are far beyond our vision, understanding or even dreams. We cannot fathom the work God is doing because we are finite. It's like standing at the foot of a tower and trying to guess what lies on the other side. Until we go through it, we have only supposition. And until we have fully experienced the tower, we cannot imagine what lies beyond. Then, even if we could imagine or dream or guess, we have no foresight as to how the adventure will change us, thus altering our perspective of what lies beyond. God never hurries. And he knows the plans he has for us. Just as he painted little bits of his story for the Israelites, so he paints little bits for us. He hinted at the coming redemptive power of Jesus, and he hints at what he has for us. It doesn't matter, however, if we even see all of the hints. Until we walk the road and experience the story, we cannot understand how it will look because our perspective will continue to change.

Furthermore, through the work of the Spirit, we become the Altar of God, filled with his have and love and redemption. Full of his righteousness to bring his Kingdom to our communities. It is not by or hands that we serve our Lord but by his Spirit working in us.


What does it mean to be an ALTAR OF GOD?

Does God feel accessible to you? Why?

What in you compels you to do good? Would those traits exist without Jesus? How does God refine those?

HOW DOES YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS DRIVE YOUR DREAMS? HOW DOES IT DRIVE YOU TO BE PART OF GOD'S DREAM?

Thursday: Reflect
What feelings do these photographs draw?


Friday: Think & Pray
THINK
Have I ever come to a place in my experience where I can say – "I indeed – but He"? Until that moment does come, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Ghost means. I indeed am at an end, I cannot do a thing: but He begins just there – He does the things no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come as long as there is anything in the way either of goodness or badness. When He comes am I prepared for Him to drag into the light every wrong thing I have done? It is just there that He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean, He will put His feet; wherever I think I am clean, He will withdraw them.

Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am utterly helpless; I know all through me that I am not worthy even to bear His shoes. Have I repented like that? Or is there a lingering suggestion of standing up for myself? The reason God cannot come into my life is because I am not through into repentance.

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for his Highest
August 22

PRAY
Father, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, who has bridged the gap between our brokenness and your righteousness. Thank you for the life lessons you teach us that remind us you are here. Father, teach us to be patient for you, to learn that you never hurry and we are the servants of your master plan, which is always bigger than our own. We thank you for redemption and grace, for transforming us into your Altar through Jesus.

amen