Good morning everyone!
Well, what to do? It seems odd to get up and not have my 40-days disciplines waiting on me. One thing I know, I don’t want to go back to the way I was living before January 19, 2011 (Day 1/40). I want to stay focused on the new normal. Isaiah 26:3 says, “God will keep us in perfect peace if we keep our minds focused on Him.” Furthermore it reminds us that the only way to do that is to “trust Him.” That’s my goal and I pray that it will be your goal as well. Let’s get off to a good start on phase two of our 40-days of prayer and fasting. Let’s stay focused on the lessons learned.
Bless you as you head out today.
P.S. The following is a story that I read in my devotions this morning. It was a good reminder to me and perhaps it will be for you also.
“The Gift of Rebuke” _Gordon MacDonald, Mid-Course Correction
Some years ago I had the opportunity to share a hotel room in Thailand for seven days with the late Dr. Christy Wilson. I believe that anyone who has ever known Dr. Wilson will attest that he was a man of supreme Christlike character. And I saw that in action during the days I spent with him.
We were attending a conference on world evangelism where men and women from virtually every nation were gathered at the same hotel. Having arrives at the hotel late at night, we had gone straight to bed. Only in the morning when the sun had risen did we learn what sort of a view we had outside our hotel room windows.
The hotel was situated on the Gulf of Siam, and if the room was on the right side of the hotel, you had a magnificent view of the ocean. If the room was on the other side of the hotel, you had a view of an ugly dump and a parking lot.
I was the first riser in the morning, and when I opened the drapes, I looked out on the ugly dump and the parking lot. Without any thought, I said (this is character speaking), “Oh, no, we got the terrible view.”
Dr. Wilson, just awakening from his sleep, was just as quick. And his words were both a declaration of praise to God and a rebuke to me: “Isn’t that wonderful! It means that some of the brothers and sisters from the Third World who have so little will get a chance to enjoy a beautiful sight this morning.”
A well-delivered rebuke lasts a lifetime and deals continuously with a part of character not made of God. So it has been for me. Almost never do I forget Dr. Wilson’s words and his attitude when I feel the temptation to complain about something that does not seem in alignment with my best interests.
I imagine Jesus sitting down with the red-hot, highly insulted pair of brothers, James and John. They have been treated contemptuously by Samaritans who they’ve been raised to believe are their religious and cultural inferiors. I wonder what the Lord said? Did John have this moment in mind when he would later write, “He came to that which was his own, but his own [refused him hospitality]” (John 1:11)? How far had John come in the building of his own hidden life by that time?
Not long ago a young businessman included me on an E-mail distribution list when he sent a humorous “top-twenty” list to his friends. When I read through it, I could see why some would think it amusing. But significant portions of the humor had to do with sexual matters, excessive drinking, and (as far as I was concerned) general disrespect of women.
For a couple of days I wondered what to do with the E-mail. The sender was a man who has long expressed a desire to be a mature Christ-follower, a leader among biblical people. The easiest thing would be to ignore the E-mail, not to respond to it. Which is what I have done in similar situations on more than a few occasions.
On this occasion I couldn’t do that. Somehow I feared that my silence would signal approval. What’s more I cared for this man, and I believe in his future as a spiritual leader. Finally, I wrote, “I need to tell you that I don’t think a man who wants to be in alignment with God’s Spirit would send out a thing like that to his friends.”
How would he respond? The answer came within a day.
His return E-mail read in part: “I’m sorry…rebuke joyfully accepted.” A most suitable response.
If we cannot accept the rebukes that come from the community of biblical people around us, we can never hope to enlarge the hidden life. Character cannot be reshaped apart from the gift of rebuke.
I am not suggesting that we go about criticizing everything we see and hear in our brothers and sisters in faith, nor am I proposing that we heap ourselves a weltering amount of self-criticism. But I am convinced that we should open ourselves, even ask each day, that the Spirit would send the occasional strategic rebuke into our hidden lives that corrects and enlarges.