Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This Morning With the Lord in Prayer - A Ballad of the Soul


This poem tells the story of a bit of digging that the Lord did in my soul recently. First, a brief history. It is important but should also bring a bit of a smile to your face, as it did mine:

Some weeks ago, my dear husband and I were working in the yard together. I did not like an idea he had concerning an element that we were changing there. So what did I do? I defaulted to the flesh and criticized him. It was so unkind of me. 

Convicted of this immediately, I confessed it. But as I sat the next morning in prayer, the incident came back to my mind. I confessed it again, but what the Lord wanted was for me to see the depth of that "little" sin. So the digging began. 

He revealed that my harsh reaction indicated that the garden was way too important to me. My heart was still tied up with earthly things. Had this not been so, I would have responded kindly to Robert. After all, when things are not important to us, we have no problem letting go of them to prioritize what is eternal.

God opened my eyes to see that I had not yet counted all things loss as Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:8: Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ...

The word that Paul used for "rubbish" actually means "dung". I had not yet considered all things to be "dung" in comparison to knowing Jesus. And to show you how appropriate and timely it was for the Lord to convict me of this, I'll let you in on the fact that it was the compost bin that I criticized Robert about - the housing for the compost, which is just a pile, mostly of chicken dung (we keep chickens)! The Lord wanted me to count our garden dung as "dung" (as well as every other created thing) so that I would be freed up to have more intimacy with Christ, one result of which will be to display Him more authentically in my living. 

The Lord not only convicts us, but He does it in such creative ways! 



This Morning With the Lord in Prayer - A Ballad of the Soul


This morning with the Lord in prayer,
My soul was laid before Him there.
His tenderness brought to my mind
Some words I'd spoken - so unkind.

So I confessed my need for grace
And asked the Savior to replace
My harshness with His tender ways
So Christ would reign and Him be praised

With sin confessed, God then revealed
A problem that had been concealed
From my poor dull and careless heart.
"Please show me, Lord. Your light impart."

Then light He gave and to me showed
My treasure was still here below,
In this dark realm with things unworthy;
Not Christ above and His great mercy.

Just then Paul's words came to my head.
He yearned for Christ and this he said,
"The loss of all things I've sustained
So more of Christ will be my gain,"

On this I thought with new conviction.
And then I saw a ghastly vision - 
A life the opposite of Paul's:
No sacrifice for Christ at all!

No sacrifice for Him, I fear
Is not more earthly things revered.
But less of Christ and more of me...
If "things" I crave and to them cling. 

Oh dreadful thought, from me depart! 
Not more of my poor wondering heart.
No! Less of me, so often failing.
More of Christ, His grace availing.

More of Christ, my refuge here.
More of Christ, my heart to cheer. 
More of Jesus, precious friend;
More of Him to apprehend.

More of Christ, who loves the rebel;
Less of me, may I not wrestle
Against His grace so full and free.
Just give me Christ, my heart's one plea.

He is my joy, my strength, my song.
He paid my ransom. I belong
To Him, the One who loves my soul.
The Lamb, who died to make me whole.

If not for Jesus, life would be
Hopeless, heartless, dismal, bleak.
Sin would reign in days so grim.
My heart would follow every whim.

But give me Christ! His mind within;
And I will be much more like Him.
For He transforms my heart's desire.
His love is my consuming fire.

So let it all be sacrificed,
Since this will gain me more of Christ.
Yes, loss of all things, just like Paul;
My soul, with Jesus, be enthralled!

Yet this, my sacrifice is naught,
Compared to Christ's, with blood He bought
My forgiveness on the Cross.
Yes, it is nil, what I count loss.

So! Idols from my soul depart!
Please, more of Thee, Oh, Christ impart.
It's You I want, You are my life.
And death is gain, much more of Christ!


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Friday, May 3, 2013

The Living Water

The Story in Brief

This morning I read, again, the account of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well when she came to draw water (John 4:3-42). You know the story (if you don't read it now). She was a Samaritan. The Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. They were the result of intermarriage between the Hebrew people and Gentiles. And now, centuries later, they were still considered impure, to put it mildly.

So hated were the Samaritans that normally Jews would not go through Samaria to get to Galilee. Though it was out of the way, they would go around Samaria to avoid these people, which made for a much longer trip. So it was unusual to see a Jew in Samaria.

But Jesus made a point of traveling through Samaria on His way to Galilee. He had an appointment there that only He knew about. So He and His disciples stopped on the outskirts of town by the well. The disciples left to go into town to find something to eat while Jesus remained at the well, waiting for the one He had come there to see.

As He sat, wearied from the journey, a woman approached the well. It was late in the day to be drawing water, but because of her tarnished reputation, she avoiding being there with other women from her city. Ashamed, she did not want to risk confrontation.

When she arrived at the well, Jesus asked her to give Him a drink. She was surprised that He talked to her, Him being a Jew and a man at that. It was unheard of for Jews to speak to Samaitans, but it was even more unheard of for a man to speak to a woman like He had just done.

The conversation continued and Jesus revealed Himself to her as the long-awaited Messiah. They talked about worship, "living water" and her life. Well, Jesus talked about her life. She was surprised again when he laid out her biography to her, having never met her before. She had been married five times and now lived with a man that she was not married to. He knew everything about her. He knows everything about all of us. He is omniscient. There is nothing that He does not know.

After Jesus revealed HImslef to her, she left Him to run into town to tell others that she had met the Messiah and invited them all to come and see for themselves.

Then the woman left her water jar and went away to the town. And she began telling the people, "Come see a Man Who has told me everything I ever did! Must not this be the Messiah, the Anointed One?" (John 4:28-29)


An Odd Message 

In proclaiming this message to the people of her village, this woman was basically saying, "Come see a man who knows what kind of woman I am, who knows how immoral I've been - five ruined marriages and now living with a man I am not married to. Come see this man who knows all about my lifestyle of sin!

This must have made the townspeople curious. For they immediately left everything they were doing and sprang up to go and see this man who had so graciously confronted her that she now happily announces all of this to those who have previously shunned her for those very sins.

Free, at Last!

She is not crushed that the Messiah knows all about her sin. She is not lingering over her guilt and berating herself, so ashamed and that she cannot get her eyes off of her wasted life. She is not paralyzed in knowing that this compassionate man is completely aware of her deepest, darkest secrets. No!

Rather, she is repentant and joyful. She is humbled and honest. She is ecstatic that she has come face to face with such a Savior as Jesus - kind, offering hope, calling her to be His own, finally quenching her thirst, confronting her with the fact that He knows all about her sin, yet so generous in grace that she does not feel destroyed.

Changed in a Moment

She has now been changed in a moment by Jesus. She no longer has self-conceived ideas about God; but suddenly she knows and believes The Word of God made flesh. Transformed, she is no longer a rebel, but has become the very worshiper Jesus told her that His Father was seeking. She will never again worship the Lord in a place - the mountain. Now worship springs forth from her innermost being - in spirit and in truth.

Her motivation for living has turned from self-gratification to glorifying Christ. She is back in relationship with the very people who have turned her away for what seems forever. In fact, without being told, she has begun a one-woman campaign of evangelism to these folks. She has witnessed to them of the Messiah.

She is brand new. She is joyful after having been downcast and derided by herself and others for as long as she can remember. She is free! A great burden has been removed from her. She is no longer thirsting for something illusive to her, working in vain for some created thing to quench her fierce longing. She is satisfied completely now in her Creator and Redeemer.

Drinking in the Living Water this woman has become a "spring of water welling up to eternal life"!

Who is Like You, Oh Lord?

Oh, who can do such wonders? Who else can quench the thirst of the sinner but the Living Water? Is it any mystery then why this woman so eagerly runs to the very people who had condemned her, to tell them of this wonderful and long-hoped for Messiah?

After this, Jesus graciously stayed with these despised people. The result was that they came to love and embrace Him also. How could they not since He had revealed Himself to them? They told the woman, Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.


My Longing and Prayer

Lord Jesus, You cannot be explained. I struggle to understand Your grace - it is so foreign to human experience. Your love is nothing any of us mortals could ever have imagined on our own. Your mercy is beyond describing.

Thank You for coming to me and revealing Yourself to me, just as You did for this woman so harassed by her sin. You are precious, dear Savior. Oh thank You, Living Water, for quenching my thirsty soul.

Please show me more and more of Yourself day by day. I yearn to have more of You, to love You with a greater heart of love; to serve You with a passion that is fueled by that love. Only You can do this in me. I want to overflow with joy in You so that each day I am renewed by that joy (that only You can give). It is Your joy which so energizes me to do what pleases You, kind Lord - to do Your magnificent will and love You in return.

May it be so, Oh Lord, for this is Your will for me and I thank You.

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