“This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar—to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us. We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (J.B. Phillips)
Reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” this morning, Oswald says, “We have to form habits to express what God’s grace has done in us… it is the disagreeable things which make us exhibit whether or not we are manifesting His life. Do I manifest the essential sweetness of the Son of God, or the essential irritation of ‘myself’ apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy the disagreeable is the keen enthusiasm of letting the life of the Son of God manifest itself in me. No matter how disagreeable a thing may be, say–‘Lord I am delighted to obey You in this matter.’ There must be no debate! Our circumstances are the means of manifesting how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is. It is one thing to choose the disagreeable and another thing to go into the disagreeable by God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is sufficient!”
My circumstances have been less than desirable lately; in fact, you could say they are disagreeable things. I’ve given refuge in response to decisions that were made by one in an unhealthy situation, and for another, to recoup from a financial loss. These were decisions that needed to be made for a time. In light of that, what has been evidenced in me each day? Has it been the sweet spirit of a heart turned over to the Lord, or is it one of being inconvenienced and putout? Is it one of inward thinking that I am deserving of better or expecting more? Regardless of what shows on the outside, what is going on within? I don’t like the answers that come way too quickly.
Has the Life of the Son of God worked itself into my heart enough to show itself to others on the outside? Have I said “I am delighted to obey You in this matter?” I chose to help others and it was a good thing, the right thing. Has my delight evaporated with time and difficulty? Has the presence of others in my home overshadowed His presence? Have I forgotten that He is Sovereign in all things? Have I considered these disagreeable things are engineered by Him? He has put them and me in close proximity, and He is sufficient for even this. What habits have I allowed to overtake the joy of obedience in the Lord? Has a complaining and murmuring replaced singing of His mercies? Have I been putting into practice these habits:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Phil. 4:8,9 (The Message)
Lord, bring back the joy of full obedience and the delight in trusting You, the Sovereign One who is all-sufficient for me. Open my mouth with singing the praises of my great God!
Reflect and Respond:
What circumstance or situation in your own life is “disagreeable”? Has it manifested sweetness or irritation? Have you been holding a “debate” with God over it?
How does my personal relationship with the Lord reflect Him when I interact with others in a difficult situation or on a “bad day?”
Have I taken into account the Sovereignty of God in my everyday life? How does this fact square with my circumstances? (If He brought it to me, could He not take me through it?)
Am I developing a continuous habit of praise or have I spent more time complaining and murmuring? Spend some time now writing down your thoughts after reading Phil 4:8-9 (above), and decide to put these things into practice!