Abba, bread of life, children of God, God our Father, God's guidance, God's love, God's will, God’s presence, Jesus Christ, Michael Clark, Oswald Chambers, prayer, the Bible, thought life, worship in spirit and truth
Have you ever felt enlivened although you did not eat anything that gave your weak body some strength back again? I have and I really wondered… Two days ago I had been struggling with another attack of summer cholera (no details here). 😛 After prayer with Michael Clark, nausea left rather quickly and in the evening I could even get out of bed again which seemed to be impossible to me before. Well, after a precious time I could spend with God in silent prayer on one of our balconies as the sun was setting, I felt much stronger and thought I could write another blog post if He inspired me to do so. But God’s leading, you know… 😉 No blog post, yet the urge to do something for God in order to help someone out of a tricky situation. It was not easy for me to obey here, but as soon as I had done so, though, I felt so ALIVE as if I had not been sick before at all. Quite the contrary! 😊 This experience reminded me of two parts in the NT as follows. As Jesus would have this very deep talk with the woman at the well, his disciples who brought some food could not understand what Jesus had eaten as they told Him,
“Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (Jn 4:31-34 ESV)
The other part in Scripture was Jesus’ first temptation in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Mt 4:1-4 ESV)
What was wrong about the devil quoting Scripture? The Bible in itself cannot be wrong since it was God-breathed, however, these Bible verses had not been made alive by God, i.e., they had not come/proceeded out of His mouth at THAT particular time. But nonetheless, dear brothers and sisters, the devil spoke the truth! Yet it was not God’s timing to do so. Do you see the problem here? ‘Bible Christians’ who take the Bible as a manual apart from God’s speaking and leading can be as wrong as someone who claims, “The Bible is full of lies since God’s promises do not work for me! He does not hear all of my prayers [in my time, I would add].”
Rereading this story about the woman at the well and her encounter with the Lord, I wondered about the chronological order of how the Spirit of God works with and in us later. At first Jesus told her that she needed to drink spiritual water, that is, she had to receive the Spirit of God (1) so that she could worship the Father in Spirit and Truth (2). So many Christians have the truth of the Bible, call God their Father, but they have no witness in their own spirit that they are the children of God who may call Him tenderly ‘Abba’ or Daddy, too. From hence, real worship is not possible for them. They can sing hymns and songs to Him, but the label ‘Father’ remains empty for them. That is so sad! 😦
Without receiving the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can neither love God nor our neighbors with this particular love received from God before. We can do what is humanly possible, but not more than this. The third step after receiving the Spirit of God, through whom we may worship God in our own spirits, is to do the will of God (3), that is, we are enabled to eat the ‘bread’ that comes from God, the bread which nourishes our spirit like nothing else. How do we get there? Instead of trying to tell you more in my own words, I decided to offer you now another devotional by Oswald Chambers in which he, in my humble opinion, made an excellent job at describing how we may get closer and closer to God. Chambers wrote the following.
When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and pray to thy Father which is in secret. — Matthew 6:6
Jesus did not say — “Dream about thy Father in secret,” but “pray to thy Father in secret.” Prayer is an effort of will. After we have entered our secret place and have shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray; we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on wilful prayer.
We must have a selected place for prayer and when we get there the plague of flies begins — This must be done, and that. “Shut thy door.” A secret silence means to shut the door deliberately on emotions and remember God. God is in secret, and He sees us from the secret place; He does not see us as other people see us, or as we see ourselves. When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else. Your Father, Jesus says, is in secret and nowhere else. Enter the secret place, and right in the centre of the common round you find God there all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.