Predicaments

Psalm 3 is a beautiful picture of peace in the middle of a predicament.  The first two verses describe this predicament. Verses 5 & 6 pictures the writer as sleeping peacefully. So, what sits in the middle of predicament and peace? The truths of verses 3 & 4 are key.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.

Lord…you…the one…the Lord…he…his

Once again, I am faced with a decision: when difficult, unpleasant times come, where will my focus be? What will grab my attention? The truth that ultimate victory comes from the Lord alone is to be my focus through these times.

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Lord, you alone are my rescuer and Victor. May I be disciplined to look to you when the unexpected comes.

A call to praise my Lord

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. (Ps 103:1–5)

Too often, my attention has been drawn to what my Lord does for me. Verse 2 encourages me to not forget a single blessing. However, this time, my heart is drawn to the repetitive He. He alone does these things for me because it is his nature.

He forgives because he is the forgiver. He heals because he is the healer. He redeems because he is the redeemer. He crowns because he is royalty himself. He wraps me around with goodness because he is good. He renews because he is the renewer.

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In short, I am longing more for him than even what he does for me. I dare not forget his unceasing blessings because they turn my eyes upon the one who blesses.

Lord, all good things come from you alone. Thank you. But, even more than that, thank you for revealing your heart through those things. Forgive me for complaining or ever believing you hold out on me.

Self talk

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer. Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?” Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. (Ps 42:5–11)

Self-examination quickly gets to the heart of an issue. No sugar coating. Just honesty. This is why I love these verses. The writer questions himself and points his heart to great truths. God puts a smile on my face, He’s my God. God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!

These truths confront all my fears and answer my questions. The writer feels down, crushed, let down, unprotected and abandoned. As real as these things feel, they are not true. And, left unattended, they can fester into an infection. So, what can I do when afraid or down? Simply said, I will fix my eyes upon my Lord. Focus on him.

Lord, I trust and surrender to you. Like the writer of this psalm, take my anxiety away. Point me to the truth about you. May all my worries be fashioned into prayers.

Thirsty

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it—arrive and drink in God’s presence?” I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, pestering, “Where is this God of yours?” (Ps 42:1–3)

IMG_4220I have learned that obeying the Lord does not always lead me alongside bubbling brooks and quiet pastures. It most often leads me to depletion. Drought leads me to need him – only him. In this life, a diet of tears. In the life to come, unending joy. But, between here and now, there and then, is life. There are times that I am filled with the sustaining depths of God – heaven on earth – a taste of what is to come. Quickly, I return to the reality of drought all around me. I am not yet ready for there and then.

Dear Sustainer, you alone give me life and promise. My rebellious world cannot do it. I cannot even help myself. As much as I dislike the journey in the desert, thank you for these drought times. You uniquely reveal yourself every time I call to you.

Seeking him

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you—God’s Decree—bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it. Jeremiah 29:12-14

God has promised to listen to me and respond. When I…He will. He listens, he makes himself easy to find, he guards against disappointment, he turns things around, he brings me home. These are marvelous promises, Completely undeserved. He simply waits for me to seek him.

Lord, what can I say when your promises are before me? I seek you today and trust you to do what only you can do.

Live this way

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God wants me to live this way…that grabs my attention. Simple, straightforward instruction.

Be cheerful no matter what – how? By praying all the time. Regardless of the situation in front of me, I can pray, “Come Lord Jesus into this.”

Pray all the time – how? By thanking God. I can be filled with gratitude because he remains the Constant One. I can trust him. I can relinquish what is in my heart and hands into his care. He is more than enough for this day. Keeping these truths in mind, I can be continually thankful.

So, my life is not driven by circumstances but by my responses to them. That’s the bottom line regarding how my Lord wants me to live. Life happens to me like everyone else. How I process life is the issue.

Lord, it’s all yours. Every part of this day I give to you to direct and guide and provide. Thank you for being consistent and steady and faithful.

Waiting in the shadows

Who out there fears GOD, actually listens to the voice of his servant? For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, Here’s what: Trust in GOD. Lean on your God! Isaiah 50:10-11

God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand”. The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision Never try to help God fulfill His word. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. – Oswald Chambers

IMG_4199Two voices – one truth. God has often revealed his will to me in stages. Little glimpses. Most of his will-revealing for me requires waiting in the shadows. And, though never easy, it is easiest when I remember I am waiting for him not for a certain thing to happen. My Lord’s timing is perfect – remember! Therefore, there is no fear of losing out as I wait in the shadows. His delay is his process of preserving me for his best and protecting me from that which is less than his best.

Lord, help me wait patiently and remember that you are perfect in all you do. What you do is rightly done.

Safe and nourishing

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13

Regardless how earnestly a child might ask for something, if it will harm or weaken him, a wise parent will not give what is requested. This parental love is certainly found in the prayer relationship between me and my Father. I often ask amiss, not knowing. But my Father knows what will keep me safe and nourish my soul. So, prayer becomes an entrusting of my need to the only one who will be trustworthy with it. He knows what will keep me safe and cared for.

Father, thank you for your answers to my prayers. Thank you for being so trustworthy with my life and needs.

God’s designs

“Even then God had designs on me…” Galatians 1:13-16

I wish I could say that I have always loved God’s designs for my life. In fact, there have been times I thought I had a much better plan. Even now, I look back and wonder if my plan had been better. What pride!

Many times, my Lord has spoken to my heart with, “Is it all right if I take care of this for you?” You are more than enough also impacts my submitting to his desires and plans. In fact, when I question him, I question whether or not he is more than enough for me. This has to stop.

IMG_4155God’s desires for me express His nature and what is suited to my nature. Only he knows how to blend the two.

Lord, reorder my life through simplicity. I surrender to you and acknowledge you are more than enough for today and every day to come.

Childlike 

“At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?” For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”‭‭ Matthew‬ ‭18:1-5‬ ‭

What an amazing question! What type of person thinks that heaven has a ranking system? And, who is this who would assume preferential treatment? Jesus answered the question by focusing on becoming a child of God as a requirement for entrance. I will be in my Father’s home because of his grace…nothing more.

 

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Core dominance by Rosa Say

 

Lord, you are my Father and I love you today. Thank you for making me your own, adopting me into your family. Only your love for me compelled you to do that. So, as your child, with all I have, I trust you. Help me remain childlike before you and our world. At the same time, free me from childishness, which is so unattractive and opposite your desire that I mature.