Contemplate His Majestic Personhood

Contemplate His Majestic Personhood

Chapter One

Contemplate His Majestic Personhood
Communing Moment By Moment With The Lord 8 Think! 16
Being In Christ Is First – 'Doing' For Christ Is Second 10 The Power And Glory Of Praise And Worship 18
Service – The Overflow Of Love For God! 12 Maintain The Spiritual Glow 20
Sitting Often At Jesus' Feet 14 Discussion Questions 22

Psalms 143:5-10; Colossians 1:27

Communing Moment By Moment With The Lord

The Psalmist says, "…Do not hide Thy face from me, lest I become like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear Thy loving kindness in the morning; for I trust in Thee; teach me the way in which I should walk…" (Psalms 143:7 b- Psalms 143:8, NASB) What does it say to those around us if our lives as Christians are like unbelievers' lives, or, in the dramatic words of the Psalm, like those who go down to the pit? What if we are not very much different from an ungodly culture generally? If the observer is a thinking person, it must be obvious: either our God does not exist, or He exists but we are not in touch with Him.

Is the evidence for the grace and power of God lacking in the lives of those who claim to be his people? Could this be the cause for much of the reluctance in our culture to take the claims of Christianity seriously? Let us consider these things in very practical terms: do we spend our resources (e.g., time, money, love, energy) in a manner significantly different from the unbelievers around us? Do we commit to and love our spouses in such a way that others take notice? Do our children reflect a style of parenting that might suggest hope and answers to an onlooker struggling with her own children? What do we do with our leisure time? Do our lives generally display a wholeness, a focus, a sense of purpose that is appealing to someone seeking truth and meaning?

If not, then perhaps we should not wonder that there is little motivation to listen to our earnest "witnessing" about the Lord. There is no evidence. There is nothing to cause the hearer to believe that what we say is anything more than a fairy tale of our own making.

It is not uncommon, following these uncomfortable observations, for the Christian to fall back on one or both of two responses: "I shared the message and have done my part, it is the fault of the other who has chosen to reject God." Perhaps, as painful as it is, the listener is simply rejecting us, because our lives do not demonstrate that we have an answer that is real.

The second response is often to say, "Then I must work harder. I must learn more so that my life will reflect an attractiveness to others. I must get up earlier, and study harder, and invest more, and surrender more completely." And how long will you sustain that effort? And what will be attractive about a life of exacting discipline, of unending incompleteness, of never being "good enough"?

No, instead let us return to our hypothetical observer in the first paragraph. Notice what he says. Either God does not exist or we are not in touch with Him. If God is as

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we claim Him to be, as we believe the Bible teaches us about Him, and if were in touch with Him, would that clear up the problem? Surely if we really knew and were in close communion with out God, our lives would reflect the meaning, purpose, order, peace, and wholesomeness that is found only in Him. Notice again what Paul writes: "…Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27, NIV) Let us then not work harder or strive more diligently, but let us commune moment by moment with the Lord, and then allow things to take their course: for surely as He fills us and indwells us, our lives must reflect some of His beauty and brightness.

"Lord, teach me and help me to be so in tune with you that those around me cannot help but be drawn to you as they see the way I live. Not through me, but through you living in me. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus Christ in me is all my hope and strength.

– Erik Ritschard –

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Luke 10:38-42, Matthew 11:28-30

Being In Christ Is First – 'Doing' For Christ Is Second

Perhaps there are some, who upon reflection on yesterday's devotion, will respond, "But surely we must do something. Surely we are meant for more than just a contemplative life of fellowship with God. Surely we must worship, and work, and put into action the things that we believe." And the answer, obviously, is of course we must Nevertheless the questions remain: What inspires our worship? What empowers our actions?

Are we as Christians pursuing good things because they are our duty, or because our church expects us to do them, or because we have some vague sense that they are somehow morally right? Where will be the difference or the attractiveness in that? Unbelievers strive for personal and social goals as well. They too often have a sense of duty that inspires discipline and work. They too can translate their beliefs into action and accomplish "great" things. What then is the difference, or ought to be the difference, between the lives of unbelievers and of Christians? What should it be that makes our lives an attractive witness to the saving grace and power of God?

When a person observes the life of an unbeliever who is accomplishing significant things in the world, he or she must observe, "What a great man!" Or perhaps, "What marvelous faculties she has!" Or again, "What drive, what ambition!" Yet in contrast, perhaps when the Christian is observed the comments should be, "How is this possible?" "What does this mean?" "If only 'my life were so ordered and at peace!"

It is not the things we do which will attract others to the Lord. It is who we are. Anyone can do. Doing can be comparatively easy, especially for a short time. Being is another matter. How many do you know who are at rest with themselves and the world? How many are deeply content, at peace, and whole? Do we not earnestly seek these things? Do we not long for them? Are they not precisely what Jesus offers to us? Why then do they often seem to be in short supply?

Perhaps we Christians often substitute Activity for Being, and in doing so, reduce or negate the meaning and the value of our activity. To be sure, the things we do are often "good" things, but are they keeping us from thinking of and investing in something better? What good is "witnessing" if we witness only of ourselves? What good is "serving" if we are motivated by our own need for affirmation and approval? What help will "giving" be if we do so only to receive something in return?

What then is needed? Perhaps we also should choose the part of Mary, who, sitting at the feet of Jesus, was commended as having "chosen what is better." If we were to sit at His feet and find "rest for our souls," we would become Whole, a real man or woman who would then be fully equipped to Do in a world desperately in need of genuine

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Christianity.

"Father, give me understanding as to how I can "sit at your feet" and be refreshed today. Show me how to make it my priority. Teach me how to delight myself in you. I give you my whole self to be yours forever. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today I am anticipating the answer to my prayer as God speaks to me and teaches me.

– Erik Ritschard –

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Luke 10:38-42; Matthew 11:28-30

Service – The Overflow Of Love For God!

We have still left the question of Doing partially unanswered. If Christians focus on sitting at Jesus' feet, how will the work get done? Someone in Mary and Martha's house probably asked the same question. Can you hear the muttering? "Terrific, so we all sit at Jesus' feet, and the food gets cold, and we all are hungry and tired. Why is Jesus so impractical?"

Review what Jesus says to Martha: "You are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed." One thing? Out of all the complexity of our lives we are to believe that only one thing is needed? What is this One, this Singleness, that is all we need? We must conclude, as we noted yesterday, that the One Thing we need is simply the Lord. So again, how does the work get done?

"The work" disappears. Perhaps Martha muttered, or someone else in the house muttered, as Jesus commended Mary. Sit at His feet a moment, though. What is food compared to this moment, this teaching, this authority, this love, this peace, this wholeness that just radiates from His being? What are the preparations in comparison? Why, they are nothing – if they must still be done they become only a fleeting moment, a joyful, brief outworking of what we have been hearing. "Love my neighbor? Why yes, I will, in the simple, wonderful act of laying out this table that they may be refreshed. Care for the needy? Why, there are needy right here in my household. No, Mary, please – you relax and let me take care of this."

What has happened? The burden of the work has been lifted, to be replaced by true work: work that is a reflection of our time spent at Jesus' feet, work that shines and radiates with love and joy and the best we have to offer because it is suddenly in perspective and focus. Our communion with Jesus and with our heavenly Father so changes our perspective and our attitude that what we previously thought of as "work," we now pursue naturally because it has become a consequence of our being. We become loving, thoughtful, kind, peaceful, whole men and women; and in becoming so, we begin to act accordingly. When we sit at Jesus' feet, when we commune moment by moment with the Father, then our lives will reflect His glory, then people will reflect His glory, then people will be attracted to the Father because of what they see in us, and then our witness will be genuine indeed.

"Lord, as my life proceeds today, Help me to ever see, That in all that I must do and say, I have need of only Thee. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The same God who saved me can live through me moment by moment and make me effective in all my roles in life.

– Erik Ritschard –

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Luke 19:38-42; Psalms 62:1-8

Sitting Often At Jesus' Feet

Someone may conclude, after yesterday's reading, that what has been said is all well and good, but that it is too simplistic, too idealistic, too unrealistic. After all, we live in a world of pain and sorrow, and suffering, and death. Do you tell the single young mother, struggling with life, "You need only sit at Jesus' feet?" Do you speak such words to the grieving widow who has just lost her husband? To the homeless man on the street? No.

Those words are for ourselves, and will be difficult enough at times. When the inevitable difficulties and tragedies of life crowd in, we will find it very challenging indeed to "let go" and "sit" at Jesus' feet. Yet this is exactly where faith enters in. What does Jesus say? "Only one thing is needed." Do we believe Him? When we are really busy, really hurting, really exhausted, really at our wit's end, do we believe Him? Do we trust Him? Will He help us?

The others around us we care for and love in very practical ways as a reflection of our being in Christ. Because we have been sitting at His feet, we find shelter for the homeless, comfort the grieving with out time and other resources, provide help for the helpless. For ourselves, we go back to Jesus. We sit at His feet again. We listen, and pour out our hears, and sometimes we weep. We take to Him all that is too big for us, and all that confuses, and all that distracts. The others we can lead to Jesus as they are ready and as He calls them. We must already be in His presence, being renewed daily, being filled, being again made whole in the midst of so much fragmentation.

Is your life filled with challenge now, with change, perhaps with grief? Is there suffering, or anger, or fear? Are you weary with "being a Christian," tired of life's injustices, ready to give up? "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." This is not idealism, this is how God has chosen to do genuine work among men. Come, sit at his feet in faith. Be renewed; be healed in spirit and soul. The circumstances around you may not change, but you will change, and then your life and lives of others can change as well. Will you believe the Lord? Come, let Him take your burden, come sit at His feet. "My soul finds rest in God alone…" (Psalms 62:1 , NIV)

"Lord, it is tempting to disbelieve, but I need and want you. Please take me into your arms just now. I turn again from trying to live by my own strength and my own will, and surrender it all again to you. Teach me how to be at your feet even as the moments of each day pass. Take this situation that is consuming me, and change me so that I may work out your will in the midst of this circumstance. Change me, Lord, change me. I want to be a true reflection of your glory, a real witness in the world. I want to see your power in my life. I want to be so filled with you that my life cannot help but be a witness

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: In the midst of the challenges of my day, I will remember who God is and what He has promised.

– Erik Ritschard –

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Proverbs 23:7; Philippians 4:8

Think!

First of all, draw seven perpendicular – parallel – equal lines. Next, add five lines to these, and when properly placed you have printed the word "THINK". You have no doubt been interrupted in conversation after using the word THINK, by a friend jovially saying, "That's a new experience, isn't it?" The remark – "His mouth is in gear but his mind isn't" is too often true.

The thought life is an integral part of us, this being verified both from personal experience and the Word of God. Proverbs (23:7) says that "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." What we are outwardly is a result or what we are inwardly.

Conveniences are ever present to assist us in thinking. The paperbacks on book stands lend themselves to "filth for thought," and the civil laws are the only prohibitive barriers corralling the thought from breaking forth into actions. Packaged diversion of all kinds beckon the individual to become a glutton on the garbage offered to the mind. Thousands of people live mentally in the gutter of life, though outwardly respectable.

Paul realized the value of the controlled thought life when he wrote: "Fill your minds with those things that are good and deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable" (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible) The sky is the limit and there are no fences here. Correct thinking is an old sound principle affording inner health. Carroll Simcox said: "The soul is dyed in the color of that which it habitually contemplates."

The following true account reveals the importance of developing a heart and mind that thinks upon things that edify. "When Hanns Lilje, the courageous German Evangelical pastor, was imprisoned by the Nazi, he kept not only his faith but his sanity alive by use of his inscape (defined as what you see with that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.) In his book of witness, The Valley of the Shadow, he relates:

I made a strictly ordered rule-of-life for each day, which included regular meditation and prolonged periods of prayer, followed by periods of thought on theological and ecclesiastical questions. The result of these reflections helps me in my work today. Since I had no paper to write down the result of my thinking I not only repeated it over and over again, in order to impress it upon my memory, but I frequently translated my thoughts into English, or French, or even into Latin, and this, in itself, did my memory a great deal of good. Under these circumstances, I could only repeat passages from the Bible, and verses from the hymn book, which I had retained in my memory. How grateful I am to all my teachers who had made me learn by heart hymns and

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poems, Greek -lyrics, Latin odes, or Hebrew psalms! They provided me with a treasure which in those hard days was literally priceless."

Think! Fill the mind with good things.

"Dear Lord, you give to us so many helps to enable the mind and heart to muse upon: the Bible, good books, music, nature. Thank you! Amen!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: In the midst of things-that direct our attention to things less valuable, I will think on noble things for spiritual edification.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Psalms 118:22-29

The Power And Glory Of Praise And Worship

Driving in the thick of early morning rush hour traffic is an incredible experience. Most drivers use it as a time to wake up. Some put on their make-up while others talk on their cellular phones. I found myself doing something quite unique and wonderful during my rush hour drive. I spent that time worshiping my God.

This experience is only different because normally I would spend that time in prayer for myself – what I need to do that day or some other personal concern. But this week I turned my focus on Jesus and simply, yet beautifully, started to praise His name. I spoke scriptures which I could remember and sang choruses and old hymns. For half an hour each day I was caught up in the wonder and majesty of my God.

What was significantly different about my week is that I could tell that God was always going before me. When I would spend time offering Him my personal worship, the opportunities of the day were opened wide. Those opportunities may have presented themselves any way, but I was acutely more aware of His presence. I had a confidence and a peace about me.

At one point, driving in a neighborhood which was unfamiliar to me, I was praising God in song and prayer while searching for an address where I had an appointment, After missing the turn I wanted to take, I turned on the next street, only to find the building right on that corner. Now, the building was always there – God didn't move it to accommodate my prayer, but he nudged me to drive one block further to find my destination. That was how my week proceeded because I continued to worship God each day.

God inhabits the praise of His people. In other words, when we worship Him, He will be there with us. By relinquishing my usual pattern of praying for myself and turning my full attention on my most awesome God, I found Him always close, leading me without having to ask it of Him.

If you want to be close to God, praise Him. Forget yourself and recognize you are in the presence of the great "I AM!" Not only will God be with you, but He will go ahead of you. There is nothing more exciting than knowing God is already at your next appointment.

"O God, I know there is no magic formula by which I will receive Your blessing. No phrase… no word… no incantation will cause You to turn Your ears to me. Nonetheless, I will worship and praise You all the days of my life, for You alone are God and are deserving of my worship. I praise Your name! To the glory of my Lord Jesus. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God does not want me to pretend to worship Him. He wants me to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Because the Lord is with me, I will praise Him.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Romans 12:11

Maintain The Spiritual Glow

Home from the hospital, the little guy cried much of the night. Walking the floor and offering warm milk were to no avail. Exhausted, my wife called our neighbor, a nurse, who came, added a blanket or two and he slept peacefully into the morning. He needed extra physical warmth which was not found earlier.

Olin Curtis in 'The Christian Faith', writing of the Christian exertion (activity) of the Holy Spirit, says: "1) The Holy Spirit does something for every man; 2) but He will do more for the moral person who, in anytime, or in any place, makes his best personal response to the initiative moral pressure; 3) and He will do still more for men in any situation where the Christian message is declared; 4) and He will do still more for men when the Christian message is declared in a situation which is quick with the faith and love and sacrifice belonging to actual Christian experience."

A definition of terms and reading through this statement will enable one to more fully comprehend what Curtis is saying. But, it is the fourth point now which is worth our consideration. And I want to place that statement in the context of the worship, and prayer, and Bible study services of the church.

The fourth statement above is involved with an atmosphere. "…and He (the Holy Spirit) will do still more for men when the Christian message is declared in a situation which is quick with the faith and love and sacrifice belonging to actual Christian experience." Is he not saying that the Christian in that situation is really alive when there is faith, love, and a sense of God's presence in his life?

A warm spiritual atmosphere prepared by our cooperation with the Holy Spirit, is essential. Consequently, the sinner will be convinced of his or her sin, or drawn to the Savior because of the atmosphere of God's presence. Consequently, the Christian at such a service will leave with strength and courage, ready to face problems which may be present. Depending on the individual's state, hope, love, positiveness, faith, etc., will be realized.

Lukewarmness in the heart will lower the 'temperature' in a service. With the heart's hearth ablaze with devotion to God, the 'temperature; rises. Paul exhorts us in Romans 12: 11 – "Be aglow with the Spirit." The same scripture paraphrased by others says: "Maintain the spiritual glow" (Moffatt). "Be aglow and burning with the Spirit" (ANT). "Keep the fire of the Spirit burning" (JBP).

The words of a recent song of affirmation fits well here –

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There's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, 
And I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord. 

When I speak of a warm spiritual atmosphere in a church service, you understand what I say, don't you? The atmosphere of love and grace and God's presence will fragrantize the places of worship, bringing healing, hope, courage, joy and uplift to those in attendance.

"O Lord, we covet the Holy Spirit to be present in every church service in order to minister to people in their needs."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I open the curtains of this day, I will keep the fires of the Spirit burning upon my heart's altar in order to bless others.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. What does it say to those around us if our lives as Christians are like unbelievers' lives (i.e., like those who go down to the 'pit' – Psalms 143:7-8)?

  2. Why is evidence for the grace and power of God so often lacking in the lives of those who claim to be Christians? If we (as believers) do not closely follow Christ (and consistently demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ in our lives), can we expect unbelievers to take the claims of Christ seriously? Why or why not? What makes you different from those around you who do not know God?

  3. Share ways in which following Christ should seriously make a difference in:

    1. The way you spend your money.

    2. The way you spend your time.

    3. The way you treat your spouse.

    4. The way you love and discipline your children.

    5. The way you use your leisure time.

  4. Give your personal response (or reaction) to the following statement: "Perhaps, as painful as it is, the listener (i.e., the unbeliever to whom we are witnessing) is simply rejecting us, because our lives do not demonstrate that we have an answer that is real"

  5. What is it that most challenges nonbelievers to seriously consider the claims of Christ, and that most attracts nonbelievers to the beautiful person of Christ? (Note Colossians 1:27)

  6. In terms of 'character' and 'motivations', how can you tell the difference between a morally-oriented and highly-disciplined and humanitarian-minded non-believer who accomplishes "great things" through his serious discipline and hard work, and a highly disciplined Christian who seeks seriously to commune with God and to fill his life with "good works"?

  7. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is not the things we 'Do' which will attract others to the Lord. It is who we 'Are'."

  8. Regardless of how many "great things" a nonbeliever does in the world, is it possible for such a person to be deeply and inwardly content, and at peace with himself, and genuinely 'whole', without his experiencing a personal conversion to God?

  9. Which should come First – 'Being' in Christ, or 'Doing' for' Christ? Why?

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  10. Out of the complexity of our lives (as believers), with our multitude of activities and plans and relationships, what is the one indispensable thing that is needed in our lives?

  11. Tell if you believe it is Biblically accurate to declare the following: "Christian Service in the world is simply. the overflow of deep love for God which is discovered and cultivated in the quiet and intimacy of personal communion with Almighty God. Our communion with Jesus and with our heavenly Father so changes our perspective and our attitude that what we previously thought of as 'work', we now pursue naturally because it has become a consequence of our Being. Because we have been sitting at His feet, we find shelter for the homeless, comfort the grieving with our time and other resources, provide help for the helpless."

  12. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "What we are outwardly is a result of what we are inwardly." (Note Proverbs 23:7)

  13. Give your personal explanation and illustration of the following statement: "The soul is dyed in the color of that which it habitually contemplates."

  14. Why is it so important for a Christian to fill his mind with "good thoughts", through memorization of Holy Scripture and through meditation on edifying thoughts in inspirational books?

  15. Do you make it a practice to spend at least a short time each day in offering personal worship and praise to your God, simply "bathing" in His presence and love? If so, when and where and how? What has been the result, in terms of spiritual and practical benefits, to yourself! Tell what the following statement means to you: "God inhabits the praise of His people."

  16. From your own personal life, share a time when you found the following to be "very true": "If you want to be close to God, praise Him. Forget yourself and recognize you are in the presence of the great 'I Am'!"

  17. As a believer, what can you personally do (in terms of disciplined responses) to help "keep the fires of the Spirit burning" on the altar of your heart, in order that your life may bless and encourage others (both fellow Christians and non- believers)? (Note Romans 12:11) As an earnest Christian, do you have a "wholesome fear" that you may "quench" or "grieve" or "embarrass" the blessed Holy Spirit who indwells your life? (Note Ephesians 4:30) How would such a "wholesome fear" be a deterrent to your yielding to temptation?

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