Sunday, November 11, 2012

God's Love For My Skimpy Devotion

I would love to say I am one of those people who finds time each morning to read the bible and pray. I really would.

I know, I've heard it before - if you really thought it was important you would make time to do it. Ugh. While that may be true, motivation to get up any earlier than I have to (my alarm goes off around 6:00am most mornings) is just not there.

As a result, I find that I have not been reading my bible as much as I once did. And truth be told, there are many many days that go by without giving it a thought (cue gasp!).

When I do stop to consider it, I regret that my schedule seems too busy for personal bible reading.

I run from one thing to the next - usually spending a rushed couple of hours trying to complete the weekly lesson for a women's study I attend at my church.

It seems to be just one more task on my to do list these days.

In this season of of busyness I am easily tempted to believe that God is not pleased with me. I begin to attribute difficulties in my life with God's displeasure. While I know theologically this is not true, my heart always defaults to this kind of thinking. How could God be happy with me? I can't even read my bible with any kind of consistency! 

You can only imagine what I was thinking last Saturday morning when I decided to turn to the pages of scripture. What "convictions" would I find? What words of discipline and rebuke would I read? What admonishments would meet my disobedience? 

With a sigh I grabbed my study bible and a pen, prepared to meet God head on.

When I don't know what to read or where to turn in my bible, I usually head for the reading plan in the back. As I turned to November 3rd I remember being thankful that the Psalm passages are listed first. Still, I braced myself for what God would speak, and...

this is what God did.

When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul. 
Psalm 94:18-19

When I'd lost my way,

God called...

As I considered all the thousands of ways my heart gets carried away with other things, the Lord consoled me. And still, I held my breath a bit and waited for the hammer of discipline to come. I wrote:

Where can I see God's steadfast love?

I continued to write...the Sunday school answer. In the face of Jesus. I know it's true, but right now my heart needed to know.

Hesitating, I turned back to the bible reading plan. The New Testament passage listed was John 1:1-18. I gasped as I thought about all this passage speaks of. 

God loved...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

And from his fullness we have all received, grace  upon grace. 

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
John 1:16-18

What does God's steadfast love look like? God showed me when He said "It looks like my Son Jesus. It looks like grace." He was with God from the beginning, forming everything out of nothing, preparing for his rescue mission to save lost sinners like me. 

Called and calmed by God, assured of his steadfast love for me in Christ I continued as I wrote:

What should I learn from knowing Jesus is steadfast in love? 
What does this mean?

God spoke...

And he said, “Thus says the LORD, 
‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’ 

For thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, 
but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, 
you, your livestock, and your animals.’
2 Kings 3:16-17

He reminded me of his life giving fountain; "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb"  Rev 22:1.

Refreshment and life flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb - Jesus, carried by the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised. Jesus, the life giver, has promised eternal streams of living water and life sustaining love. His steadfast love will never cease. It is coming toward me with power and grace. It is one way in it's flow - gushing and rushing to rescue the dry and thirsty, the weary and the burdened. This love means I don't have to look anywhere else. My distracted and busy heart can cease from searching for what this world can never give. God's free gift of lavish love is mine - fully.  My heart was now consoled and loved by God's clear true voice. I anxiously wrote:

What difference does seeing Jesus and his love for me make? 

I turned to the final passage in the reading plan. I read from Zechariah and...

God compelled...

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 

They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.
Zechariah 7:9-12a

What difference does seeing God's love for me make? How does a heart warmed by the gospel truth of God's unconditional love respond? In the face of God and his love for me in the person of Jesus Christ I can come clean. I see the truth of who I am. I am just like the people I oppress. I am cold, unfeeling, unsympathetic, compassion-less, intolerant, judgmental, unforgiving, unmericful, stubborn and diamond-hard hearted. I see that I am unable to meet these demands for justice and mercy and love. I don't even particularly like having to admit it, but I am in a mess because I can't even meet the expectations I place on myself! In the face of my utter disobedience and stubbornness, Christ brings light. Into the darkness of my heart Christ shines. In the miry pit of despair and "me-dom" Christ descends.

Jesus rescues this sin sick soul not with curses but with consolations, 

not with rebuke but with restoration, 

and not with displeasure but with deliverance.

What of my skimpy devotion?

In Christ, the love of God.

God's gracious and steadfast love. 

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