Devotional Notes

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 31, 2012

Do you jot down what the Holy Spirit makes real to your heart so you can refer to it later? Aren’t we glad David wrote down his devotional notes, which we now identify as Psalms? He did not write his Psalms because he wanted to add to the Old Testament canon. These flowed from his heart through his pen for his own benefit. Little did he know that his notes would comfort, convict, instruct and encourage fellow believers for generations to come.

None of our notes will be added to Scripture like David’s, but they can be quite useful to help keep us on track about what the Lord is revealing and speaking to our heart. I do not write something down every day, or even every week, but I do when a fresh word from the Lord grips my heart, or when I express my inner being to the Lord and want to remember my verbalized longing. As you do this you will develop your own personal and intimate worship notebook. In time it will become a devotional treasure that you cherish. Other saints through the centuries kept journals and their honest notes enrich us decades later.

An illustration from my own worship notes is a prayer that bubbled up like a spring early one morning:

My dear loving Father,

I recognize that I am just an infinitesimal creature that fits into Your universal plan. You created me and placed me uniquely in Your overall scheme of things for an ordained purpose. Because of Your goodness and love for me, the precise place You have placed me is the most fulfilling, and if I am faithful in it You will be glorified to the maximum with my life. I want to know when I come to the end of my life on earth that I have run my race, finished my course and You have found great pleasure in me. Can there be any greater satisfaction when I come to the end than to know that I have loved You with all my being and brought glory and honor to Your holy Name because I have done precisely what You created me to do? I trust Your sovereign hand to guide me and Your Word and Spirit to transform me so that I become everything You created, redeemed, and live in me to be. Surely as my faithful loving Father You will keep me and grant me this deep longing of my soul. AMEN!

JRW




A Savior Born

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 27, 2012

Let the stable still astonish:

Straw—dirt floor, dull eyes,

Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;

Crumbling, crooked walls;

No bed to carry that pain,

And then, the child,

Rag-wrapped, laid to cry

In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said, “Yes,

Let the God of all the heavens

And earth

Be born here, in this place?”

Who but the same God

Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms

Of our hearts and says, “Yes, let the God

Of Heaven and Earth be born here—

In this place.”

Leslie Leyland Fields

~~~

That the Creator Himself would be born as a creature in a stable is astonishing, but that He would actually come to live inside His followers by His Spirit is incomprehensible. That the Lord Jesus is all the fullness of God in a body is unfathomable, but that we as His believers have this very same fullness in Him is staggering (Colossians 2:9-10). What difference would it make to us if we really believed that we have all of His fullness in our very selves—that we are literally the temple of His Holy Spirit—that He is truly closer to us than our own breath—that we are as one with the Lord Jesus as He is with His Father? For this miraculous Gift I praise you, O God! I receive it with deep thankfulness. I marvel at how You love me!




The Humble One Exalted

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 24, 2012

“See the different state of Christ on earth and in heaven. Oh how is the scene altered!

When he was on earth, he lay in a manger; now he sits on a throne.

Then he was hated and scorned of men; now he is adored by angels.

Then his name was reproached; now ‘God hath given him a name above every name.’

Then he came in the form of a servant, and as a servant, stood with his basin and towel, and washed his disciples’ feet; now he is clad in his princes’ robe, and kings of the earth cast their crowns before him.

On earth he was a man of sorrows; now he is anointed with the oil of gladness.

On earth was his crucifixion; now his coronation.

Then his Father frowned upon him in desertion; now he has set him at His right hand.

Before, he seemed to have no form or beauty in him; now he is in the brightness of his Father’s glory.

Oh what a change is here! ‘Him hath God highly exalted.’”

Thomas Watson (1620 – 1686)

Body of Divinity

~~~

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV)

~~~

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory, and honor and power.

Revelation 4:11, ESV




Humiliation

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 20, 2012

“The word became flesh! God became human! The invisible became visible! The untouchable became touchable! Eternal life experienced temporal death! The transcendent one descended and drew near! The unlimited became limited! The infinite became finite! The immutable became mutable! The unbreakable became fragile! Spirit became matter! Eternity entered time! The independent became dependent! The almighty became weak! The loved became the hated! The exalted was humbled! Glory was subjected to shame! Fame turned into obscurity! From inexpressible joy to tears of unimaginable grief! From a throne to a cross! From ruler to being ruled! From power to weakness!”

Sam Storms

Pleasures Evermore, p. 154

~~~

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

~~~

Someone has said that man aspires but God condescends. The eternal Son of God could have come in any way He chose, but He chose the lowest way, which expresses His pure humble character. Who were the first to be told about the Savior’s birth? Angels announced the Christ child’s birth to lowly shepherds, not proud aristocracy, world leaders, or even religious leaders. Shepherds were the first ones directed to go see the baby who was the Savior. God reveals Himself and His truth to those who are like “little children,” not to the wise and understanding. This is His gracious will (Matthew 11:25-26). If we want to experience the Lord Jesus and His truth revealed to our heart, He has made known the way. The way is to come before the Humble One with all humility. To the humble He dispenses grace.




Posted in Humility

Sent Like Him

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 16, 2012

As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.

John 20:21 (ESV)

~~~

“To be like Him [Jesus] is our best contribution to the extension of the Kingdom of God upon earth, and our highest service to humanity. For he most surely blesses and helps his fellows who translates the promises of God into actual holiness of life, and manifests His reality before them in such a way as to make Him desirable. As it is only by the use of a prism of glass that the primary colors which compose the sunlight can be seen, so it is only by means of the lives of His people that the world can ever discern His beauty and saving power….

And how quick are men to recognize this Christlikeness where it exists! I once passed a group of work-girls in a crowded London street and was surprised at the sweet perfumes which exhaled from them. On enquiry I found that they were employed in a perfume factory, and had just come from their work of bottling the sweet essences. The odors in which they had all day been laboring clung to their garments, and all unconsciously to themselves, they came out to shed abroad a sweet fragrance in the dusty highway and to remind at least one passer-by of far distant fields and gardens of beauty and delight and to make him desire them exceedingly. And it seemed to me that in that simple incident I found an interpretation of this His word. For as He came forth from the Father’s presence fragrant with His love, we too must go forth into the world characterized always by such a sweet savor of Christ as shall induce men to seek closer acquaintance with Him Who is its Divine Source.”

J. Stuart Holden

The Price of Power, 56-58 (1908, reprinted 2012)

~~~

When our daughter’s second son was dying of cancer at the age of five, she always wore the same perfume for his comfort and security. Her fragrance reminded him of her nearness. If we are like Christ then His fragrance saturating us will remind others of His nearness and love. Do you want others who pass by you to brush against Him?




Wholehearted Disciples

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 13, 2012

“When the Lord Jesus was here upon the earth, what was it that distinguished His disciples from other people? He took them away from their fishing nets and their homes, He gathered them about Himself and they knew Jesus. He was their Master; He guarded them, and they followed Him.

And what is to make a difference between Christ’s disciples—not those who are just hoping to get to heaven, but Christ’s wholehearted disciples—what is to make a difference between them and other people? It is this: They are in fellowship with Jesus every hour of the day. And just as Christ upon earth was able to keep those people with Him for three years, day by day, so Christ is able in heaven now to do what He could not do when he was on earth—to keep in the closest fellowship with every believer throughout the whole world.

Glory be to God! ‘He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things’ (Ephesians 4:10). Why was my Lord Jesus taken up to heaven away from the life of earth? Because the life of earth is a life confined to localities, but the life in heaven is a life in which there is no limit and no bound and no locality. Christ was taken up to heaven so that, in the power of the omnipresent God, He might be able to fill and be with every individual here.

That is what my heart wants to realize by faith; that is a possibility, that is a promise, that is my birthright, and I want to have it. I want by the grace of God to say, ‘Jesus, I will not rest until Thou hast revealed Thyself fully to my soul.”

Andrew Murray

Jesus Himself: A Call to Spiritual Intimacy, 12-13 (1996)

~~~

The saints I met through many years who displayed authentic Christian living were those who discovered how to live with an every moment consciousness of Christ’s presence with them and in them. To them He was not a distant figure, or an occasional thought, but rather He was a living reality as much as if He were physically present. These believers took literally His promise of being with them always, and they lived out its implications in their daily walk. Their complete surrender to Christ and simple trust in Him brought an obvious love, joy, and peace to their lives that other professing Christians do not know.




The Supreme Mystery

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 10, 2012

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

John 1:14 (ESV)

~~~

“It [the supreme mystery of the Gospel] lies, not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man—that the second person of the Godhead became the ‘second man’ (1 Cor. 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that He took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as He was human. Here are two mysteries for the price of one—the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. ‘The Word was made flesh’ (John 1:14); God became man; the divine son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.”

J. I. Packer

Knowing God, 45-46 (1973 edition)

~~~

Dear reader,

In this technological age when most of us are overloaded with information, it is quite easy for us to read over some Biblical truth and not take time to ponder its implication and application. Mere acquaintance with Bible truth changes no one. The Bible speaks repeatedly about meditation on God’s Word. God designed us to be changed by meditation on His truth, which allows the Holy Spirit to make it vivid in our hearts.

Without time for quiet meditation the truth remains only mental. The incarnation truth of God’s Son made real in your heart will lead you to wonder, reverence, and worship.




Mary’s Prayer

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 6, 2012

“You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:12 (ESV)

~~~

“God, O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

To touch a leper’s open wound,

To wipe a widow’s weary tear,

To claw the ground of Gethsemane.

Your hands, so tiny tender, so white—clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.

You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.

You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.

O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince…sleep, please sleep; while sleep you can….”

Max Lucado

God Came Near, 35-36




God’s Sovereign Will

Posted by Jerry White on Dec 2, 2012

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9, (ESV)

~~~

When one considers the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth it becomes quite clear that God’s ways are not what any human would naturally choose. Humans always desire what is comfortable, convenient, and explainable. We often think God should act in ways that make sense to us without leaving unanswered questions. God is not concerned with our comfort, convenience, and unanswered questions about what and why His will is what it is. A significant part of death to self in order for Christ to rule in your life is to lay down any hope of understanding God’s infinite, all-wise ways. Who can grasp the expanse of the heavens or count the grains of sand on the oceans’ shores plus the world’s deserts. That would be easier than understanding God’s sovereign ways. He accomplishes His will by His Spirit for His glory with infinite love, and He answers to no one for the way He chooses. Peace comes when we leave it all quietly in His loving hands with complete trust. He is working all things together in the best possible way for His purpose.

Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth (Chapter 2) illustrates this vividly.

Was God not concerned about Mary’s reputation when His Spirit impregnated this unmarried teenage girl? What about Joseph’s reputation as her husband to be?

Why would God arrange for a census to be taken at the end of Mary’s pregnancy so that she would have to travel in her last week on a three-day difficult journey to Bethlehem?

Why would God not reserve Mary and Joseph space in the inn instead of having them go to an animal shelter with animal droppings, insects, and a feeding trough for His baby Son to rest in? Why did God not provide a midwife to assist Mary in childbirth instead of only Joseph to help her?

Why would God announce the birth of the Savior to a few lowly shepherds in a field rather than to religious and / or world leaders in Jerusalem?

With far less than ideal circumstances, God accomplished His decreed will. He still works this way, and says, “Trust Me even though you do not understand.”

JRW




Posted in Sovereign God