Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Change I Needed - part two

If you haven't read the previous post on this subject of Personal Worship, maybe you should.

On Saturday morning, Mrs. Down proceeded to prove to us how important God's Word was, how we needed to read it faithfully in order to have the kind of Christian life we all want to live.

Her first point was a bit of a shocker.  She said we should never put service to God, ahead of Personal Worship. Both are important, of course.  You don't have to pick between them.  However, the Personal Worship must come first, and then the daily obedience afterward. By "service to God," she means daily acts of general obedience, from church work, work in our home and family, or our vocation.  She's not talking about mercy acts to the poor and needy. What she is talking about is the daily, simple victorious living that we all long for -- patience with our children, putting others first, loving our spouse even when we're not in the mood to do so.  In other words, sacrificing ourselves in the little ways that no one would notice, if we didn't do it. But added all together, day after day, the accumulated sacrificial living is HUGE.  Conversely, the accumulated selfishness of quietly putting ourselves first each day, is immensely destructive to our souls.

(This was a painful reminder that my many daily failures at being loving and Christ-like,  could probably be alleviated if I spent time daily in God's Word. I felt ashamed of myself.)

The key, is Personal Worship.  I must say, I always hated it when Mrs. Drown would come back to that.  She'd be describing all this wonderful Christian living that sounded so appealing, and then she'd say, "You can't do it, without Personal Worship."  Sigh. Sigh!

"When we fail to have God's Word influence us, it then cannot influence others through us."  II Cor. 3:3

"Spending time in God's Word will then cause us to do-- to become effectual doers, not just lazy hearers." James 1:25

So, how does God use His Word to make us effective?  (In other words, does this Personal Worship stuff really work?)

1."It powerfully motivates us to serve.  Frequent time in the Word reminds us of God's frequent acts toward us, sacrificing Himself. This motivates us to imitate Him."  This is so true -- if you're reading the Bible, you just can't get away from story after story after story of What God Did. And the things He did are almost always for His people.

2. "It makes us effective FIRST in our own families. It is a better testimony to others, when it's seen first in our children and our marriages. " Ouch!! She slices straight to the bone, doesn't she? Unfortunately, some Christians are intent on their "testimony" being seen everywhere else first, for the sake of reputation, and rarely in their own family relationships. Deut. 18:19

When children see parents in personal worship, and see the character results, it convinces the kids.  No amount of service work will convince kids, if they don't also first see the personal worship.  (I don't know if this is a quote from her, or just my own musings as I listened to her. But statements like this are so stark, so absolute, and yet ring so true, that I give them consideration. Kids observe character.  They look for inconsistencies. They want to know where the motivation comes from.)

3. "It shows us the path we're on, and how to travel on it.  Who does God want us to be? He directs our paths."  And how in the world will He do this, if I don't read His Word? How foolish can I be, to want to walk on His roadmap, and then refuse to read the directions?

4. "It equips us adequately to face hardships and suffering, making them a joy and a privilege."
     -- "Regular meditating makes us willing to be a living sacrifice, gives us calm in the middle of trial. It makes loss easier to bear because the sacrifice has meaning." It gives us a consistent willingness to accept suffering, an understanding that it's normal in the Christian life.  (I'll say here, if you basically reject this concept regarding suffering, then none of this teaching is probably for you. Sorry.)
     -- "It gives us joy in suffering."  Personal Worship sustains us with joy in the middle of trial.
     -- "It causes us to accept and even choose service that will include suffering."  It takes away the fear or dread that would normally dissuade us from such service. (Her missionary father and his friends made this choice.)

In part three, I'll give some practical advice on the logistics of making a devotional time work for you. This was the most useful part to me.

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