Rise and Shine?

Utmost

 

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Ephesians 5:14 ESV

‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ Jesus said. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ said Paul. Jesus was reminding sinners, like us, that, apart from Himself, we would be forever unfruitful. Paul was reminding sinners, like himself, but in whom Christ Himself now lived, that anything God willed, they could do, overcoming every obstacle and bearing much fruit. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers writes…  “All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you – ‘Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!’ That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, ‘Buck up,’ we find that the initiative is inspired. We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say – ‘Arise from the dead.’

When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the ‘bucking up.’

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.

When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, ‘Arise from the dead,’ we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand – ‘Stretch forth thy hand,’ and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

No one ever told me?

A Grief Observed
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve
as others do who have no hope.
1 Thess 4:13 ESV

Paul knew that we Christians are not exempt from grief.
After affirming our hope in Christ; that we will surely be reunited with all the others who know Christ too, he reminds us that we are able to comfort one another in  our grief until then, so he concludes in 1 Thess 4:18:
‘Therefore encourage one another with these words.’

That isn’t to say that grief won’t be a struggle. Otherwise, why would we need comfort?
This second brief post on the theme of grief comes from C S Lewis who shares his own struggle through grief to faith after the death of his wife, in his book A Grief Observed.

‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called ‘resources.’ People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this ‘common sense’ vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.’

From C S Lewis in A Grief Observed

More special than I know?

Mere cover
I wonder, if we each were able to choose one thing; a gift, a talent, a quality in which we might excel, in which we might be Truly Special, what would we choose? And how long would it be before we wished we had chosen differently?
But what if we are already Truly Special, in fact more special than we know?
This is the second of three short posts on the idea of our specialness. It comes from C S Lewis.

 

‘Niceness’—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing.
We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls.
A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature.

Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance.

From C S Lewis Mere Christianity

Will God…..?

UtmostFirst published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins. On that basis alone it keeps its place in my library.

Here are some excerpts from June1’s reading titled ‘The Staggering Question’ (‘Can these bones live?’ Ezekiel 37:3).

 

‘It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration.That is why there are so few fellow-workers with God and so many workers for Him.’

‘We would far rather work for God than believe in Him.’

‘Am I quite sure that God will do what I cannot do?’

I despair of men in the degree in which I have never realised that God has done anything for me. Is my experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never despair of anyone I see? Have I had any spiritual work done in me at all? The degree of panic is the degree of the lack of personal spiritual experience.’

‘When God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He only does it when His Spirit is at work), you know that there is no criminal who is halfso bad in actuality as you know yourself to be in possibility.’

‘God’s Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace.’

From Oswald Chambers ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ June 1st.