Still reading Your God is too Safe and am up to the chapter about practicing the presence of God. It is not something done from duty. Have you noticed that sometimes we do the right things for the wrong reasons. One thing that I struggle with is the belief that God will love me more if I do……. Truth is God loves me as I am, as I was, and as I will be. The doing is not to get God to love me, the doing needs to be out of love for God. The focus is so different.
Buchanan talks about Mark 9:14-29 which is about the boy who was possessed with an evil spirit, and the disciples could not cast the him out. Later the disciples come up to Jesus and ask why they couldn’t cast the spirit out. Jesus tells them that this kind comes out by prayer and fasting.
Buchanan then points out the most glaring thing in the picture – that at that moment when He cast out the spirit Jesus did not drop down and pray, did not do any spiritual discipline, he just spoke and the spirit left. What we need to realize is that we need to be prayed up prior to situations, to have a discipline of prayer.
This paragraph on page 130 struck home and is something that disturbs me today about many Christian denominations:
“We often lack spiritual power. We’re so often helpless, hapless, speechless, bumbling in the face of the world’s evil, brokenness, and demon-infested sickness. We have nothing to say to the desperate father whose faith is almost spent, eroded by each doctor or pastor or psychologist that has come along straining with all his might to do something and done nothing. Often in response to our ineptitude and impotence, we get into arguments with the Pharisees. We squabble and bicker over theological fine points; we coin and bandy about big words like dispensensationalism. We find fault with the church down the street; They’re too liberal or too fundamentalist; they’ve gotten too preoccupied with the gifts of the Spirit or with the cessation of those gifts; they’ve reduced the gospel to good works or have forgotten that the gospel sends us out to do good works. Instead of praying, we fight. But secretly, when it’s just us and God, we have a different question: “Lord, why can’t we,Your disciples, do something here?”
He talks about holy habits – disciplines that keep us focused on Him. and says that often we have far more won’t power, than will power.
Page 132 “Holy Habits are not Legalism. We are not trying to earn anything from God by being disciplined. He doesn’t love us more if we practice holy habits or love us less if we don’t. They’re not about that. They are, rather, about experiencing more and more the kingdom presence and power of Jesus Christ that is available right here, right now.
Page 133 “But grace and effort are not opposites. Grace and earning are opposites. Working for your salvation is a heresy. Working out your salvation is basic Bible. Grace and effort are allies.
The most important point is that “You can only work out what you already have. You already have salvation through Jesus Christ. And with His salvation, we possess every last thing we need to live the full, joyful abundance of that life. But we still have to work it out. We still have to make every effort.” p. 133
Psalm 139 reminds us that god is everywhere, there is nowhere that we can go that God isn’t.
Pastor Don gave a Bible study that dovetails what I am reading here and I will share it with you tomorrow (provided I have access to this computer with the kids being home).
Hoping your weekend is good.
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