Empty Lamps

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God’s Thoughts to Me

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord (Proverbs 20:27, NKJV).

Religious To-Do Lists

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The world commends busy people. Being without a to-do list as long as your arm at least, brands you as a failure, disqualifying you quickly from climbing the ladder of success.

To have a fulfilled life and to experience the satisfaction of a job well done, you need to be able to tick off the last item on your list by the end of the day or run faster tomorrow!

A list to help you organize your day is good, but our Lord advised us not to be worldly-minded as far as His Kingdom is concerned.

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I have observed this peculiar ladder-climbing phenomenon in the Christian world as well. And it just gets progressively worse with all the new programs entering the Christian scene left, right and center.

Every true believer often experience a spiritual dryness or winter season. It is necessary for the deep inner growth, which cannot happen during times of prosperity.

Do we suffer the germination process of new seeds in our lives gladly while we allow our roots to grow deeper into the life of our Lord?

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Do we eagerly look forwards to the lush new growth or do we mumble and grumble, if not complaining bitterly, when we experience suffering?

The only result we get from complaining and resisting the discipline of our Pappa is harming and stunting the growth of the fragile new sprouts!

The colder the winter and more severe the drought, the more we are sorely tempted to revert back to a “religious to-do list”. We hope that being especially good will make Pappa smile at us again.

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It seems as if we believe that our God’s presence is a bartering commodity with which we can earn His love and blessings by submitting to a few religious exercises!

We suffer from this life-threatening disease that makes us susceptible to thinking God needs anything from us before He would look at us with love and favor or rejoice over us with singing.

Yet, Solomon tells us that mans’ spirit is the lamp of our Lord. In the same way Jesus told us to let our lights shine before others so that it will bring all the glory to our Pappa and not ourselves in a crooked world and perverse society.

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Paul told the Corinthians,”But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV).

We need to do stock-taking of all the items on our religious to-do lists to keep our Lord happy and to fill up the empty lamps of our hearts.

A long repertoire of things to do can effortlessly cause us to stand out like sore thumbs by our weird expressions and programs of piety.

It is so easy to become a social nuisance when our lamps burn with the religious oil of the world.

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Our evangelical zeal and our insistence that others do things our way, have caused so much spiritual abuse that people don’t want to have much to do with that god.

Does the fruit of our lives bear the stamp of Jesus or do we strive in our own strength to be a light in the darkness or salt to give flavor to those around us?

Do the lamps of our hearts burn with the oil of church attendance every Sunday as well as a few times during the week and serving in a ministry? Can our lamps even begin to burn on that fuel?

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Do we rely on good things like Bible reading, having long quiet times, praying for a certain amount of time per day, being kind to the poor, tithing, attending all the new conferences, memorizing scripture, etc. to enable us to bring glory to our God?

It is so crucial not just to know of,  but also to experience our Lord Jesus living His life and godly character in and through us.

Only as we come to Him with empty hands and He draws us ever closer, are our feeble hearts readied and opened to be filled with the oil of His Spirit.

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Only as we empty our hearts of the oil of our own efforts, can we shine as godly lights in the world and be a pinch of salt that adds a flavor to a tasteless existence.

Much love and sweet blessings.

Mia

Linking-up with

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57 thoughts on “Empty Lamps

  1. You write so beautifully and intertwine it with those beautiful pictures. This goes along so well with what I am studying and thinking about. Thanks for linking up with me over at WholeHearted Home this week.

    • Dear Judith
      It is always a joy to link-up at your place. You are such a gracious hostess! Thanks for returning my visit!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  2. Dear Renee
    Yes, the whole Bible is so intimately intertwined to tell the story of Jesus! Glad I discovered your linky.
    Much love XX
    Mia

  3. “Yet, Solomon tells us that mans’ spirit is the lamp of our Lord. In the same way Jesus told us to let our lights shine before others so that it will bring all the glory to our Pappa and not ourselves in a crooked world and perverse society.” Nice connection between those verses! Thanks for linking up at Thrilling Thursday!

  4. “The colder the winter and more severe the drought, the more we are sorely tempted to revert back to a “religious to-do list”. We hope that being especially good will make Pappa smile at us again.” Wow, Mia, this is such a convicting post! I am so grateful for your words today–and the images are such powerful illustrations of your points. . . . I just don’t want anything to get in the way of Him . . of Him. No matter what season, His strength, His vision, His hope, His way, is what I need. (I surrender again.) Thank you, sister.

    • Dear Jennifer
      We humans, dear friend, are so fickle! We often need to ask Pappa to create in us a clean heart and to uproot all the fleshly things that have taken root again!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  5. Oh, Mia! This is spot-on. My husband and I were just talking of this very topic … just last night. He is reading Bonhoeffer’s “LIfe Together”. It is about Christian community.
    A great post and one of reminder for me too.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • Dear Linda
      Yes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the religion of his day which was enamored with Adolph Hitler and was put in a concentration camp where he died! But he did not keep quiet for His Pappa God!
      Much love xx
      Mia

  6. To-do-lists and productivity are so deeply ingrained in us that they are very hard to escape from even when so much of that productivity is contrived. I am housebound and unable to work yet I still often feel a self-imposed pressure to constantly achieve something that others will consider of value and feel like a failure when I don’t. I get so stressed if fail to achieve the tasks that I set for myself in the timescale that I’ve set for them but what do these activities really achieve and how many of them offer God any glory? How much more could God achieve through me if only I would let him?

    • Dear Friend
      This is soooo true!! The world pressurizes us into performing, business and productivity to be of any value. It takes lots of grace from our Pappa to remove that stubborn root from our hearts. Next time, remind yourself that it is the enemy whispering lies to your heart!
      Much love XX
      Mia

    • Dear Emily
      Amen to that, dear friend!! Only Jesus plus nothing else is the cry of every heart! Such a pity that not everyone realizes that.
      Much love XX
      Mia

    • Dear Betty
      Oh, we are all like our first parents who thought they could decide for themselves what good and evil were!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  7. Very convicting, Mia. I especially like this: Do we eagerly look forwards to the lush new growth or do we mumble and grumble, if not complaining bitterly, when we experience suffering?
    I must admit I am not always good about embracing change and growth, which is probably why God has me write about it. . . 🙂

  8. It is so easy to overindulge in doing all of the “right” stuff. But, is that stuff the godly stuff that will truly give HIM glory? Beautiful post!

    • Dear Betty
      Yes, dear one, our religious to-do list should always only have one thing on and that is to have faith in our Lord Jesus to live His life in and through us!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  9. Wow! I think we were on the same wavelength this week, Mia! I love how you flesh this out and remind us of how it is in surrendering to the work God wants to do in and through us that our lamps can burn bright. Thanks for your incredible insight on this and for linking it up at Wedded Wed. Thanking God for you!

    • Dear Beth
      Thanks for your encouraging words!! In the beginning of our walk with Jesus, we are just like little chidren wanting to show our Pappa that we can do it ourselves, but the truth is, we cannot!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  10. Does the fruit of our lives bear the stamp of Jesus or do we strive in our own strength…? Such a good question to keep asking. Day by day. Moment by moment. Thank you for the reminder once again that our focus should be our relationship and connection to God himself, not any other human striving.

    • Dear Ashley
      Our Lord Jesus reminds us that it a daily cross-bearing kind of walk!! We do well to remember that.
      Much love XX
      Mia

    • Dear Starla
      Yes, we run and run as if chased by a lion, but we only succeed in going backwards!! Oh, us humans!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  11. I am reading through Proverbs right now — and I am trying to get some ‘discipline’ back into my spiritual routine. For a while I pitched these kinds of things == daily prayer, reading, etc. — becuase they seemed rote. But the familiarity and closeness they encouraged were needs in my life. So I’m doing these disciplines not to stair-step, but to nurture my desire.

    • Dear David
      Yes, you have it right! When it is our heart’s desire to do these things, we know that our Pappa has changed our hearts and it in not just another set of “thou-shallt’s”. He promises us in the book of Ezekiel that He will give us a new heart and write His laws on our hearts! I also love reading the Bible and I talk to our God all through the day, but I do this because I love Him; not because I have to or want to earn His love and approval. Thanks for reading!
      Sweet blessings.
      Mia

  12. We so tend to rely on our senses… It’s our default, our in born weakness, and the only way around it is truly experiencing our Father… even if that means we have to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death or persevere the drought. The peace we seek with our senses can’t be fulfilled, it can only be fulfilled with knowing Him… Painful but provocative post, Mia.

    • Dear Floyd
      With all due respect to my fellow women, but our senses are just as fickle as our desires! How does the saying go? No pain, no gain!!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  13. Dear Mia,
    Yes, it is only when we empty, and it can be a long and painful process at times, and let Him fill us, do we experience Him fully…what you write of reminds me of this book I am reading, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero…I think you would like it…Thanks, sweet friend, for encouraging us 🙂

    • Dear Dolly
      It definitely is a long and painful process, but not because of our Pappa trying to make things difficult for us, but because of our stubbornness!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  14. Religious to-do lists. Yep, I’ve made those. And even with good intentions. But still, they don’t work! God is what works. It’s him, not us. The works we do glorify what he’s already done in us, not vice versa. Thanks for another great post, Mia.

    • Dear Lisa
      We all have had these lists, dear friend, even when it was with good intentions! But our Pappa never allows our clever plans to succeed. He leads us to the end of ourselves and our plans!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  15. Dank je wel Mia. Prachtige gedachten. Ik wil opnieuw tot Jezus gaan met mijn lege handen. En mij laten vullen met Zijn Leven en Licht ( en olie ) Goede les.

    • Dear Jedidja
      Yes, dear one, only “lege handen” can be filled, don’t you think. In the same way only empty lamps and hearts can be filled with His oil and Life!
      Dank je wel
      Mia

  16. Mia –
    So many wonderful thoughts in this post. I was reminded of something that I read yesterday in Malachi, a study by Lisa Harper. She writes this, “A life devoted to Him will sometimes be cold, sometimes be uphill, and sometimes be not at all what we came prepared for. But with His help we’ll rise to the occasion and experience the most glorious adventure this side of Heaven!”
    He truly makes life so worth living!
    Blessings,
    Joanne

    • Dear Joanne
      Yes, my friend, just living in this world with all its limitations is an uphill battle, but we have the privilege of having hinds’ feet and He takes us to high places!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  17. So beautiful, Mia : “Only as we empty our hearts of the oil of our own efforts, can we shine as godly lights in the world ” – I am learning to let him create the list for my day – and He walks me through it. I do better with a to-do list for organization of family – but for His work – I do better when He creates the list:)

    • Yes, dear one, anything we do for our Pappa, no matter how good in our eyes, is just filthy rags in comparison to His goodness. Much better to let Him live His goodness through us!
      Much love XX
      Mia

  18. Great post , Mia – when you wrote the bit about the drought, I almost forgot that you aren’t in South Dakota 🙂

    Lots of good stuff here!

    • Dear Rick
      We in South Africa are also well aquinted with drought! But nothing is as terrible as a spiritual drought, don’t you think!
      Much love XX
      Mia

      • Absolutely – and the worst thing about those is often they start without our noticing because we’re busy with something else and don’t realize we’ve switched from His power to our own.

        Hugs,
        Rick

        P.S.: Adding your blog to my blogroll – good stuff here 🙂

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