The Joy of Total Abandonment  

"I don't think there's ever been an article that I've written that has been more than 95 percent for the Lord. There's always some bit of self in it," a Christian writer confessed.

It's that 5 percent of self that prevents us from having the joy that accompanies total abandonment to God. Frances Ridley Havergal wrote a consecration song with these words:

"Take my life, and let it beConsecrated, Lord, to Thee."
One verse has this prayer:
"Take my lips and let them beFilled with messages from Thee;Take my silver and my gold,Not a mite would I withhold."

Was Frances's prayer sincere? She later wrote to a friend: "The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight. 'Take my silver and my gold,' now means shipping off all my ornaments to the Church Missionary House (including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess), where all will be accepted and disposed of for me...I don't think I ever packed a box with such pleasure."
Thank You, Lord, that You purify our hearts so we can joyfully offer You anything You ask without needing praise from others.

"He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the pleasant unto the Lord" (Malachi 3:3, 4).

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For His Pleasure

We tend to think of our enjoying God's communion as simply His gift to us. But, amazingly, He says our time with Him is first of all for His pleasure! Before the priests could eat the shewbread, it was to be offered to God for six days. "Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times," God instructed Moses in Exodus 25:30.

In Revelation 3:20 when God promises to eat with all those who invite Him into their hearts, He says, "I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." He mentions His eating first as though His communing with us was of first importance to Him!

"For the Lord's portion is His people" (Deuteronomy 32:9). In so many ways God has told us He finds His joy in our fellowship. It is an astounding truth that we are desirable to God.

How amazing to be an object of joy to God! A few weeks after Jon's son left home to attend college, Jon told God how much he missed his son. God replied, "There are some of My people I will never get to be with."

It is a joy to Jesus when we take time for precious fellowship with Him. 

Dear Lord, I'm in awe that You desire my fellowship and that it gives You pleasure.

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things" (Philippians 3:8)."The Lord your God is with you...He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

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Early Morning Praying

Through the centuries many have found great value in seeking God in the early morning. One of those is the late T. M. Anderson. One January, Dr. Anderson was suddenly awakened at Midnight. He felt he should sleep a few more hours, but at that moment Jesus asked if he could remain awake long enough to give Him time to talk with him in the quiet hours of the morning. He reminded him that there is a fast in denying ourselves sleep just as there is a fast in abstaining from food.

For five hours Dr. Anderson waited before the Savior in worship and communion. He later felt no weariness from the loss of sleep.

After that nighttime awakening, Dr. Anderson entered into a covenant of prayer with Jesus. The words of Psalm 5:3 formed a part of his covenant: "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord: in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."

Dr. Anderson said, "The hours between midnight and six o'clock in the morning are the most peaceful hours of the entire day...If one has retired at a reasonable time; and the body has rested for a few hours, and the mind has been cleared and relieved of the confusions of the day, then he can prevail with God in prayer, as at no other time. I find the most practical time of the morning is from three o'clock to five.

β€œIn the morning, rising up a great while before day, he [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35).

Dear Jesus, teach us to pray when You most want to meet with us. You know our schedules and needs. We are confident that the results of spending the mornings with you will exceed our expectations. Amen.

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God Uses the Humble

Commissioner Brengle became one of the most beloved and effective preachers in The Salvation Army. On one occasion Brengle was introduced as "the great Dr. Brengle." In his diary he wrote: "If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He use me and that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside; it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this."

Proverbs 27:21 says we are tested by the praise we receive. Brengle passed this test.
It seems that often those most used of God are those who are most aware of their limitations, but in humble obedience move in the direction they sense God leading. Moses, shrinking back from the awesome task of leading Israel, exclaimed, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent....send someone else" (Ex 4:10,13). Solomon pleaded, "But I am only a child, and do not know how to carry out my duties" (1 King 3:7). Their words expressed humility, and humility is always a sign of usefulness to God.

Thank You, Lord, for working through our weaknesses to bring You glory.

"My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9 NLT)."Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them," (Jer. 45:5). 

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Gwen's Spiritual Problem

Gwen came to my home one day and shared her recent encounter with God. She had became aware of a spiritual problem. Her feelings of resentment, hostility, guilt, and regrets had become a habit and seemed normal. After all she was human, she decided!

But that excuse quit working. She noticed such feelings hindered her fellowship with the Lord. She would confess her sin and fellowship would be restored temporarily.

She tried hard to change but failed. She grew disgusted with herself and decided to wait in an attitude of prayer expecting God to answer. Her heart was very heavy for some time. Notes in her journal read, "Time after time, Lord, I react the same way to the hurts, disappointments, and failures that I experience so regularly. Please, help me." Another day says, "I'm tormented by my failures, shortcomings, and ignorance. Lord, I do want to have a victorious life."

One day she thought of the Israelites wandering in the desert. She felt as if she were in a desert, too. She remembered how they grumbled and complained and she became very aware that she was doing exactly the same thing. She felt sober and ashamed.

Gwen realized her problem was her rebellion against God's will. The hardships and difficulties she had resented were His opportunities to reveal more of Himself and make her more like Him.

She humbly remembered Christ's words while hanging on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Her heart broke and she earnestly determined to accept all that came her way as His will.

As these truths washed over Gwen's soul, she felt cleansed, strengthened and dearly loved. She gave thanksgiving and praise. Now Gwen says, "I can truly say I have been crucified with Christ."

Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us so that we also can live a crucified life.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live" (Galatians 2:20). 

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