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Active and Passive

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – July 31, 2012

For today’s staff devotional, we discussed “Being versus Doing”.
Key take away: He is the initiator and we are the responders.
Our role is to say “yes” and follow. His role is to lead and do what
only He can do . . . in us, through us and around us.

Active and Passive by Ray Stedman
Read the Scripture: John 15:4-11

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4).

Notice that our Lord divides this passage into two sections. There is an activity that is to be done, and a passivity that is to be acknowledged. We are to remain in Him (that is active, something we do), and we are to let Him remain in us (that is passive, something we allow Him to do). Both these relationships are essential, not one as opposed to the other, but both together.

When our Lord says Remain in me, He is talking about the will, and the decisions we make. We must decide to do things that keep ourselves in contact with Him. The Holy Spirit has placed us into Christ. Now we must maintain that relationship by the decisions we make, such as exposing ourselves to His Word and having a prayer relationship with Him. We remain in Him when we bear one another’s burdens and confess our faults and share in fellowship with one another. All of this is designed to relate to Him: Remain in me. If we do that, we are fulfilling this active, necessary decision of the will to obey His Word.

This is what Bible study and prayer are all about. They are not mere mechanical practices that every Christian ought to do in order to get brownie points with God! No, they are means by which we know Him. If you open your Bible and begin to read it without the conscious expectation that it is going to tell you something about Him, you will read in vain. If you try to pray as though it were some exercise in which you chalk off fifteen minutes’ worth, mechanically going through a list, it is a valueless experience. But if you pray because you are talking with One whom you love and want to know more of, sharing with Him out of the fullness of your heart, then prayer becomes a beautiful experience. That is remaining in Him.

But that is only part of it. Jesus says, Remain in me, and I in you. There is also the other side–Let me remain in you. That has to do with empowerment, enablement. You can make choices, but you cannot fulfill them. And though you are responsible to make choices, you are not responsible for the power to carry them out. There you are to depend on Him, to let Him abide in you. You are to rest upon His ability to see you through. As you venture out on that basis, you expect Him to carry you through.

Both of these are absolutely essential. Making decisions and then trying to do the whole thing yourself is going to produce intense activity, but no results. On the other hand, letting Him take all the responsibility and making no choices at all will also produce a fruitless life. We must determine to expose ourselves to Him; we must seek His face in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with others. And then we must count on Him to see us through, to supply that enabling power that makes us able to love and forgive and rejoice and give thanks. When we do, we are remaining in Him and letting Him remain in us.

Father, teach me the proper balance between making hard choices to remain in You and resting in You to do in me what only You can do.

Life Application: What is the tremendous difference between our will power and our activity power – between our power to choose and our power to do?

Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/john-13to17/active-and-passive


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True Sabbath Rest

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – July 24, 2012

Key take aways from today:

– What do you do to find rest? Have you found it?

– The secret of life is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity and to rest in dependence upon the activity of HIM who dwells within. There is no true rest apart from this.

“True Sabbath Rest” from Ray Stedman.
Read the Scripture: Genesis 2:1-3

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).

We must recognize that the weekly Sabbath is not the real Sabbath. It is a picture or a reminder of the real Sabbath. The true Sabbath is a rest; the Jewish Sabbath is a shadow, a picture of that rest. All the Old Testament shadows pointed to Christ. When the work of Jesus Christ was finished, the shadows were no longer needed.

Some years ago when I was serving in the military in Hawaii, I found myself engaged to a lovely girl who lived in Montana and whom I hadn’t seen for three or four years. We were writing back and forth in those lonely days, and she sent me her picture. It was all I had to remind me of her, and it served moderately well for that purpose. But one wonderful day she arrived in Hawaii, and I saw her face to face. When the real thing came, there was no longer any need for the picture.

This is what happened with these Old Testament shadows, including the Sabbath. When the Lord came and His work was ended, the picture was no longer needed. The weekly Sabbath ended at the cross. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul confirms it to us. He says, Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

The shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross. The next day was the day of resurrection, the day when the Lord Jesus came from the tomb. That was the beginning of a new day–the Lord’s Day. Christians immediately began to observe the Lord’s Day on the first day of the week. They ceased observing the Sabbath because it was ended by the fulfillment of its reality in the cross, and they began to observe the first day of the week.

Though this shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross, the true Sabbath, the rest of God, continues today. That Sabbath is defined for us in Hebrews 4, There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God [it is available to us now]; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

That is what the true Sabbath is: to cease from your own efforts and your own works. Well, you say, if I did that I would be nothing but a blob. But the implication is that you cease from your own efforts and depend on the work of Another. This is why Paul cries, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). This was also the secret of the life of Jesus, as we have seen. He Himself said, It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work (John 14:10). This is the secret of the Christian who learns it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). So the secret of true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity and to rest in dependence upon the activity of another who dwells within. That is fulfilling the Sabbath.

Lord, teach me to enter into Your true Sabbath rest by ceasing my efforts to please You and serve You in my own strength.

Life Application: Jesus can do much more through us than we can ever do for Him. How do we cease from our own efforts and our own works? Have we found true Sabbath rest in Christ?

Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/genesis-1to11/true-sabbath-rest


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From Sorrow to Joy

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – July 17, 2012

A key take away – In this passage Jesus doesn’t just promise to take away our sorrow, but to turn our sorrow into joy. He can take the very thing that causes us heartache and turn it into joy. And He will do this if we let Him!

“From Sorrow to Joy” by Ray Stedman
Read the Scripture: John 16:16-24

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy (John 16:20).

The concern of the disciples is how long Jesus’ absence is going to last. Jesus had said, In a little while you will see me no more, and his disciples had immediately picked up on that phrase a little while. Their hearts clutched with fear, they said to themselves, How long does He mean? Their attention is on that as well as on His words, because I am going to the Father. They said, Why does this have to happen? What does He mean, ‘because I am going to the Father’? You can see that the focus of their concern is on when and why.

If you and I had been there, that is exactly what we would have asked! We are always concerned about how long a trial is going to last and wondering why we have to go through it. Are these not the questions we inevitably ask whenever we have trouble–Why? and How long? But when Jesus answers the troubled disciples, He ignores the whole matter of time. His answer stresses the process and the result that is certain to follow. Jesus isn’t concerned with the Why? and How long? but with the How? and the What? He makes clear to them that a period of sorrow is inevitable. He cannot spare them from it. There will be a time when they will weep and lament and be in sorrow and when the world around will be rejoicing. But, He says, your sorrow will be turned into joy. How long it takes is not significant; the inevitable result is the important thing.

That is a very important lesson to learn. I’ve been saying to the Lord, How long do I have to go through this? And the Lord’s emphasis is strictly upon what is coming at the end, the joy that is certain. To illustrate this, our Lord used the beautiful figure of childbirth. When a baby is being dedicated, the face of the mother is a picture of joy. What causes the joy? The baby. Yet a few weeks earlier that same mother was in anguish and pain. And what was causing the pain? The baby. In other words, the same thing that caused the sorrow would later be the cause of the joy.

That is different from what we usually think. Most of us assume that our sorrow is going to be replaced by joy. But the promise of Jesus is that the very thing that caused sorrow is also going to be the cause of joy. That is a revelation of one of the great principles that marks authentic Christianity, one of the ways by which our Lord works in our life. He takes the very thing that causes us heartache and sorrow and turns it into a cause of joy.

You work in such wonderful ways, Lord. I trust that You will take that which brings sorrow in my life and make it a source of joy.
Life Application: In times of difficulty, do we focus on how long our trial will last? How can our very sorrow produce joy?

From your friends at
http://www.RayStedman.org

Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/john-13to17/from-sorrow-to-joy


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The Spiritually Lazy Saint

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – July 10, 2012

This morning’s study was from Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” (link featured below).

Key take aways:
– Work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. In other words, work for God can be a
counterfeit of the work of God.
– Are we willing to let Jesus take us where we would not naturally go? Are we willing to be made willing?
– Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement.

What do you think? Post a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Find the devotional we used here:
“The Spiritually Lazy Saint” http://utmost.org/the-spiritually-lazy-saint