Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Am Not Skilled To Understand"1 (Lyrics)
Job 11:13-15 – Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, if you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, you'll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. (MSG)
During the spring and summer seasons, the livestock are able to emerge from their corral each morning and graze upon the land. How they love their new freedom and the moist green shoots and foliage — such delicious fare, compared to months of dry hay. As I was watching them feast one morning, I noticed that the goats enjoyed more than the easy pickings, such as the grass and wild flowers. They would gracefully rise up on their hind legs, standing as straight and tall as possible, and partake of the tender aspen leaves as well.
Watching this spectacle caused me to consider my relationship with God and how easy it is sometimes to become complacent as a Christian. I enjoy the easy stuff: watching a church service on television or attending when able, reading a devotional or a Christian book, saying grace at meals — all good spiritual practices — no doubt about that. But am I willing to reach higher, to set my heart totally on God and to reach out to Him in deeper ways that require much more of my body, mind, will, and spirit? Do I consciously stretch each day to keep all my thoughts in check, according to His truth? Do I make time to search and study the Scriptures, mining for the deeper things of God rather than being satisfied with just scratching the surface or reading something already prepared? Do I care for my body as His temple, or have my service and prayers become rote, tumbling from my hands and lips without thought instead of being heartfelt and Spirit-led?
I ask myself these things because I am more and more aware of the difficult times in which we live. We are faced with moral issues such as assisted suicide, alternative lifestyles, and the legalization of clinics for supervised addictive narcotics use. The shrinkage of the church in North America and the growing lack of faith and knowledge of God are also of great concern. Amidst it all, I must ask myself, we must ask ourselves as God's people, how we are to come to wise and godly decisions concerning such things and the best way to proceed if we are not willing to reach higher and dig deeper into the words and ways of God through concentrated study and conversation with Him through prayer and, yes, perhaps even fasting. Such spiritual disciplines do not grant us salvation — only Christ's work on the cross is able to do that. But they do have a very important purpose: they help us to centre ourselves upon Him and His will and way, which in turn places us in a spot where the Holy Spirit's power is most effective in our lives as He seeks to guide and direct us into all truth. His truth grants us the wisdom that we need in this day and age to live lives fully centred on Christ, lives that make a difference for the kingdom — something the church and the world need desperately.
How far am I, how far are you, willing to go in our reach for more of Jesus in our relationship with Him today?
Prayer: Grant us this day, O Lord, renewed zest within our Christian lives that all of us may be reaching for You, as You are reaching down to us, that Your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.