Monday, April 2, 2012

The Vital Connection

No steam coming from it in this picture, as I took this in the dead of winter, but there was today when I drove by!

It was exciting to see steam coming from our neighbor, Mike's, sugar house this noon when I went home for lunchbreak. The maple buds were swelling but it turned off very cold again, even only in the low 30s during the day, but today is 42 degrees and those who still have taps in are evidently getting some sap. The lifeline is still open from those large maple branches to the feet, planted in the wet earth. What a blessing that the leaves (that later become beautiful and showy, especially in Autumn) have not yet come out to steal the 'food' that makes our delicious maple syrup!

I was reading from a devotional by Oswald Chambers this morning. The passage was John 3:29-30. The entire text (vs. 22-36) concerned John Baptist's ministry and relationship to his Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing God has been giving me through these months in the gospels. The life of Jesus on earth was the "express image" of our Father in Heaven. His ministry was so perfect and His relationship to people and circumstances was always secondary to the maintenance of the vital and constant relationship with his Father. In studying the epistles; the life of Paul, Peter and many other apostles and early church leaders are enduring testimonies of faithfulness but none could match that of the Spotless Lamb of God. In daily study, the epistles have always been my "books of choice" but now I pray that the Lord will lead me through the gospels at least once every year. As the 'friend of the bridegroom", John the Baptist fulfilled his ministry of preparing the way for Christ's message. As John's disciples approached him about Jesus' baptizing, John replied that, "a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven." He reminded them that he was not that Christ but was sent on before Him. He let them know that he rejoiced greatly at the bridegroom's voice and, upon hearing it, his joy was fulfilled. John had taken his ministry exactly as given him by God. He did not exalt himself but sought to only bring glory to the Christ whom he was sent to declare! "He must increase, but I must decrease". John's ministry had nothing to do with him, but pointed only to Jesus Christ's glory.

On the Lord's day our pastor reminded us that when we have a particular job to do, we needn't ask HOW we are to fulfill it, but we are just supposed to DO it. Day by day we walk by faith. Will we make mistakes? yes! The important part is that we simply maintain our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ above all else. In the short devotional piece this morning it was brought to my mind afresh when it said, "In order to maintain this friendship and loyalty to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful of our vital and moral relationship to Him than of any other thing, even of obedience." I had to chew on that for a bit, but I think he may be referring to how God felt when he said, "away with your sacrifices..." (without maintaining our oneness with Him). I concluded that perhaps Chambers meant that He does not want sacrifice over relationship...just a little more of Chamber's quote: "the greater part of the life is not conscious obedience but the maintenance of this relationship" (we all know that obedience will naturally spring from this)"- the friend of the Bridegroom. Christian work may be a means of evading the soul's concentration on Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, we may become amateur providences, and may work against Him whilst we use His weapons".

As our pastor said this Lord's day, we ought to be "boasting up the Lord Jesus Christ" on every hand. My life and ministry has NOTHING to do with me, and everything to do with Him! There is a vital connection, a life-cord that feeds us, straight from God the Father. How important that it is always open and free-flowing. I pray that my "showy leaves" do not come out and take away from the rivers of living water that could be flowing out from my belly, by God's grace.

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