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Monday, July 18, 2016

Not I, But Christ (and other devotionals)

[not I But Christ. I have this on two of my blogs this morning. I think that this should be spread throughout the internet! Worthy is our Lord!!]

Not I, But Christ

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ in every thought and word.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord!
Oh, to be lost in Thee!
Oh, that it might be no more “I”,
But Christ that lives in me!

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Christ, only Christ! No idle words e'er falling,
Christ, only Christ; no needless bustling sounds;
Christ, only Christ; no self important bearing,
Christ, only Christ, no trace of “I” be found.

Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Not I, but Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, here and eternally.

Christ, only Christ ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I'll see
Christ, only Christ my every wish fulfilling
Christ, only Christ my all and all to be.

~Frances E. Bolton~

[Oh, halleluah!!! Most beautiful expression I have ever seen of our Lord and Saviour!! Not I - no, never "I", but always, always  Christ!]

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

(16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
New King James Version   
Paul addresses I Thessalonians 5:16-18 directly to us, and its commands can greatly affect our attitudes during trials so that we make the best use of them without getting down on life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in ChristJesus for you.” These are quite challenging! But since God commands them of us, they are things that He will enable us to accomplish. Therefore, they are not impossible tasks.
These are attitudes and actions that we can control. Other scriptures reveal that God permits us to be saddened or disappointed about what is happening. For example, the gospels say that Jesus sorrowed about various things. Here, Paul's concern is that, in our relationship with God—as the mention of prayer establishes—we will not remain depressed for an extended time because of our contact with God. We should be able to come out of our funks. If we do not, it is because we are too focused on ourselves.
These commands guard against allowing ourselves to sink from an upbeat, positive, and hopeful attitude of a child of God to a discouraged and self-centered one. How? By doing spiritual work directly in relation to God, holding onto God in the midst of all circumstances in life. Peter writes that if God is our hope, He will lift us up (I Peter 5:6-7).
I Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us of an important reality: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” This passage's central issue concerns wealth. Great discontentment and discouragement are generated through coveting wealth. However, the attitude of a reasoned, faith-based contentment, regardless of economic circumstances, causes great spiritual gain.
Within a relationship with God, this faith-based attitude greatly assists in enabling a Christian to live an “over the sun” life. In a converted person's mind, because he is living such a life, God is the Central Figure, and he accepts whatever life throws his way. A Christian with that focus works his way through his trials, overcoming the pulls toward self-centeredness because he knows God is with him.
Without God being the beacon that provides guidance and encouragement, a person can much more easily drift into an easily discouraged, discontented, covetous, “life is down on me,” self-centered existence. When that happens, spiritual progress grinds to a halt.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

None of you can be My disciples unless you give up everything. (Luke 14:33 GW) 

Nothing is truly established until it has been yielded up and has received the brand of the Cross upon it. Have you got that? Even though that may have been given to you from God, there is still always the danger of something in ourselves impinging upon something that God has given us. We insinuate ourselves into it, and make it ours somehow. This Self! This flesh! Oh, yes, God gives us a ministry and then we get hold of it and become jealous about our ministry and afraid of other people getting in our way and taking our ministry away from us; interfering with our ministry, you see. The flesh comes up in that way and in so many other directions and connections. God does something, and then we come into it. We get into the picture.
Somehow or other this flesh cannot keep itself out of even the things that God does by a miracle. We turn them to the glorification or the gratification of this flesh of ours, and even a thing which God may give – and you are thinking perhaps of different things which God may give – will never be established and confirmed until it has been yielded up and knows the mark of death to ourselves and that is only alive for and unto God, and we are only alive for and unto God in that connection, whatever it may be. The Cross is the way of Life in everything and immediately the Cross is nullified by this thing upon which the Cross says, "No, No!" Immediately anything of that comes up again, we counter the life of that thing, we strangle its life, we limit its life. We not only arrest the progress, but we bring into smallness God’s intention of multiplication. Why cannot God increase? And the answer is clearly and definitely this: that somehow or other man has come into this business of God and turned it to himself. The Cross has not been kept in its place to give God a clear, full, free way.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15

Elisha was well-known for boldly following and serving God and the many mighty works he did in God's name and through His strength. So when the king of Syria falls ill, he reaches out to "the man of God," for guidance and direction, rather than turning to the god of the Syrians. Elisha's demeanor and how Elisha interacts with Hazael and responds to Ben-hadad, got me thinking about ministry and the varying situations, demands and opportunities that come with it. Elisha is in a country that follows a foreign god, and when he is approached by the king through Hazael, he represents God fully and well. He willingly conversed with Hazael, he wasn't arrogant or condescending in his actions or words, he was straightforward and spoke openly and with truth.
There's a temptation as we read passages and accounts about people like Elisha, Elijah, Moses, or one of the disciples to think of their examples as being primarily for those who have chosen full-time ministry as an occupation. But the fact of the matter is that as a follower of Christ, we are all in full-time ministry, whether or not it generates our paycheck.

As a follower of Christ, do you consider yourself as being in full-time ministry? Think back over the past week, how did you represent God to others through your actions and words? What does you representing God well look like? 


Galatians 2:20
The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what He did as a great public representative person, and His dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all His people. Then all His saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ's chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ's death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, "I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ." But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ's death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself in causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, "I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them." Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, "Nevertheless I live." He is fully alive unto God. The Christian's life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. O for more enjoyment of them!

~Charles Spurgeon~

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