Covenant with God

With God, what we declare on earth is declared in heaven. He fulfils what we commit to in union with Him.

Psalm 132 is a tale of two parallel oaths.

1 David … 2 swore an oath to the Lord, … 3 ‘I will not enter my house or go to my bed,… 5 till I find …, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’

David would not rest till he found a dwelling for the Lord. An oath carried out passionately, even after Nathan told him that he was not the one to build a temple for the Lord.

Most would say, ‘Oops!’ and revoke their vow. David dedicated his vast wealth to the construction of the temple.

In v11 we see a parallel oath. There is nothing to indicate which came first.

11 The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: ‘One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.

As David kept his oath, so the Lord would not revoke His. When David failed, the Lord redeemed! David’s oath came from his heart; the Lord swears with all of His being – and we see that oath fulfilled in Jesus who reigns for ever.

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, 14 ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever; …, for I have desired it.

David chooses Jerusalem and wants the Lord’s presence with Him. The Lord chooses Zion for his dwelling; apparently independent yet together.

 

For the more complete thinking behind this follow this link

Recognise kindness

The Lord initiates with me by showing kindness when He rescues me from my disaster. What catches my attention is when He does it without my even thinking to ask. My seeking God in independence is humbled.

It is through the Lord rescuing me from trouble that I become aware of both His power and His kindness; His ability and His character.

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:8)

This is critical to my spiritual journey. I am tempted to brush off His intervention. I say, ‘it was inevitable’, whilst ignoring that earlier I saw no way out. When I fail to think about His kindness then I won’t trust Him next time, I will give in to desires and crave what I hope will fulfil them taking them at any opportunity, but experiencing only emptiness of the soul.

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them. (Psalm 106:13-15)

What I need to do is reflect on the Lord’s kindness and power to intervene. As I reflect on Him I become aware of how generous He is in His love towards me. I am challenged to show that same generosity towards others, trusting that He will continue His generosity to cover the cost.

 

The Bible study from which this came is found here

Hope for the hopeless

My struggle with hope is an indication of how hard I find it to keep my focus on Jesus without being overwhelmed by our spiritual climate.

I look upon our situation in the Church and it seems to be without hope. Everywhere churches are closing and congregations shrinking. Yes there are notable exceptions, the mega churches that grow and grow, but these exceptions hide the big picture of the thousands of shrinking churches. However, there is hope. The only way we lose hope is when we fail to recognise that we are needy and must look to God and call out to Him for mercy. As Psalm 9 says,

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” (Psalm 9v18),

God watches over us; Jesus is our eternal hope. He is ready to save from whatever mess we find ourselves in – often because of our own failure. This is a great hope.

Psalm 9 also gives me an encouragement.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9v10

My observation is that the Church is seeking Him. We may frequently be off beam in this search but there is a sincerity in our desire for Him. I find this encouraging. We may be harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, but the Lord will never forsake those who seek Him.

We hope because Jesus is the One we hope in.

The original study – http://biblebase2adaringfaith.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/hope-for-the-hopeless-study/

Freedom from whom?

Many think of freedom as ‘Free from’; free from those who limit us; free from the rules that stop us having what we want. So we blame those who rule over us for keeping us from our desires. In our age however there is such freedom that when we can’t get what we want, the only one we have left to rage against is God. In Psalm 2 we read, “Let us break off their chains.” One would imagine such a cry coming from people who are oppressed, but these words come from ‘The kings of the earth,’ those who are the freest to do as they choose!

In reality, our lack of freedom comes not from the Lord, but from ourselves. We lack the courage to look into our own hearts and acknowledge our failure, our lack of courage to do what is right, or the way we ensnare ourselves through our evil desires. These are the real origins of our chains.

The Lord’s response to the kings is to present them with truth: “I have installed my king on Zion.” Jesus has been installed as my King. If my life is lined up with the Lord and His King then this statement brings joy, peace and freedom for together we can do anything. If however, I am living for my own will, then I respond as the kings do with terror at the Lord’s rebuke. I am terrified by what the Lord might take from me.

Sacred Trust

Few realise that they have been entrusted with anything special. I hear Christians frustrated when others seem unable to grasp things that seem obvious to them. These Christians fail to realise that their understanding is a mystery entrusted to them. Paul identifies himself as a servant of Christ in 1 Corinthians 4:1 and most Christians would understand that, however he then continues to describe himself as ‘… one entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed’.

Those who grasp that they have been given a sacred trust to pass on often think only in terms of words. Paul, by contrast, sends his letter and Timothy, his loved and faithful son in the Lord. He sends his message by words and a life that people can imitate. (4v16-17).

If our message is with words only, then people struggle to accept the application to life. I see people look at their leaders and the extent to which they themselves live out their message, then they follow suit. On the other hand, if the message is only with life, people come to their own conclusions about why the messenger’s life is so different. They usually get it completely wrong. When I lived in the states people were convinced my life was different because I am English. Words are needed to explain the principles and power behind the lifestyle.

So, we need to live out, and be ready to explain what the Lord entrusts to us.

 

Letting go

I can feel the burden of ministry and a responsibility to serve. Yet ‘He says, “I removed the burden from their shoulders, their hands were set free from the basket.’ (Psalm 81:6) It is the Lord I serve. If He removes the burden and asks me to walk away from something then why stubbornly refuse? If He wants to have it then so be it.  His people, His work and I myself are all in His good hands.

Real situations make this bite – After months of working on the www.beingrecreated.org website to give it a face lift, I was unable to put it on line. In my attempts I wrecked what was already there. I was frustrated that people would find a mess. Yet it is God’s site and He knows. When He called on me to walk away from it, I had to stop and learn to be at peace in the presence of an irritating mess.

The crisis tests my heart as the Lord tested Israel: ‘I tested you at the waters of Meribah.’ (Psalm 81:7) So, why am I working on the site? Is it for God, or the satisfaction of being useful? When I allow myself to ask the question, the Lord responds, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.’ (Psalm 81:10) The Lord is my provision; He is the one who brings satisfaction.  When I have found satisfaction from Him in the presence of this irritation He reveals the solution and allows it on line.

God’s persistent training

Our amazing God is faithful where I am unfaithful.

Having grown up in a culture concerned about right and wrong, it is easy to become caught up with a list of dos and don’ts. In Psalm 78 Israel’s failure is put differently. Rather than speaking of breaking laws, the psalmist speaks of disloyalty and unfaithfulness; terms important to relationship. Reading the Psalm in this light I see a pattern: Israel failed to grasp the greatness of God and were unwilling to entrust themselves completely to His care. They broke faith with Him creating their own solutions and even their own gods. It also speaks of our Lord’s persistence in pursuing Israel to draw them back to Himself.

When I put my life against this bar I do not come out well. For instance there have been times when words have come to mind that could challenge someone’s headlong drive towards folly that was later regretted. To my shame I have kept them to myself. It is a bit like “the men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle.” (v9). Seen through the relational covenant lens, I betrayed God when I failed to deliver and give this child of His an opportunity to hear another perspective.

I look at my failures and wonder how God could trust me again. What I actually see Him doing though is training me in less challenging situations. Seeing these lessons gives hope that He can teach and change me.

 

False Generosity

I see a need; my heart goes out to fulfil it, but sometimes I fail to stop and ask the big question: What is God doing here? Why is the Lord of the universe allowing the need to arise? Is it a means of sharpening this person’s character and his dependence on God? If that is the case, then He actually wants the person to be squirming and my assistance would short circuit His purpose.

A friend is in trouble and I desire to help. There is a need for money; can I cover it? I call it generosity, but Psalm 50 questions my faith and motivation –

“I am God, your God. … I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”

God is sufficient for the need, so why am I so desperate to help? Am I using money to gain favour? If so, then I am guilty of getting in the way of God’s purpose and of seeking to usurp his place as the answer to all needs! The Lord’s reminder that He has everything in hand calms me and helps me walk in the light.

At other times I am prompted to give generously, yet usually at a higher personal cost and for an unknown benefit. That way I am protected from seeing myself as the source.

Limited Vision

“Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm  16:6), yet I am encouraged to hanker after more under the guise of having a big vision from a big God. At times I wonder if I am if I am being distracted by spiritual greed.

This verse begins, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Boundary lines are a significant factor in the Bible. Israel had geographical boundaries and Paul had boundaries to the scope of his ministry. The very nature of boundary lines runs contrary to the vision casting that is prevalent today. Many visions cannot be satisfied till they encapsulate the whole earth. Such a vision drives me beyond the boundaries God has set. I cannot focus on what God has given, let alone enjoy it, while hankering after the world.

What inheritance has God given? For each it will be different, but in my case I see Him fulfilling the prayer of my 20s: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

This does not stunt God’s vision for the world. When C.T. Studd was given the vision to start a world mission people expected him to run around the world initiating projects. However, he remained with the people of the Congo where he had been sent while watching God spread WEC into the world.

Whose intervention?

Can I accept the place of the weak and be the alien and the fatherless, rejecting the temptation to act in wickedness creating my own salvation? When things go bad the temptation to intervene and ‘make them better’ can become immeasurable. Yet the Lord councils me not to put my trust in people, and ‘people’ has to include myself. My hope is the Lord himself. I see people suffering; can I trust Him to fulfil Ps 146:7

‘He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.’

Normally I would intervene but in a current situation the Lord has challenged me to be silent, and this silence frustrates me. I know that the Lord draws out faith through such times, yet the furnace is becoming unbearable.

I believe the Lord wishes me to see my own helplessness and learn to depend on Him alone, both for myself and for those I see in need. I see oppression and hunger and want to have pity and make it better. I fail to see that the Lord may be doing a work in the lives of the oppressed as well. If I were to act it would kill His process. So, my intervention would be wickedness. This stanza finishes,

‘The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.’ (Ps 146:9).

Can I accept the place of the weak, rejecting the temptation to create my own salvation?

Time will tell.