Life in trials

Life circumstances push faith to the limit. We wonder why our ‘faithful God’ has abandoned us. Such trials expose the extent of our faithfulness to God’s word.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (Ps 119:92)

We can be so angry with God for allowing affliction that spiritual death takes hold. Affliction exposes how much we learned to delight in the Lord and His law in the easy times.

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. (Ps 119:93)

Those who have been through trials with God can testify that His Word preserved their lives. Through His Word they had an inner strength to face impossible odds.

Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. (Ps 119:94)

From this place of having proved God’s Word, God’s servant calls out for salvation to the only one worth calling to.

The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes. (Ps 119:95)

The fruit of this proving ground is that there is a confident hope of God’s salvation, and so sufficient peace to ponder God’s work while most at this point would struggle with anxiety.
96 To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

Perfection is limited in that it is predictable. God’s Word is boundless because when the Lord fulfils His Word we are always surprised by the twists with which He does it.

 

The original Bible study is found at this link – Faithful Word

Finding peace in anxiety

How can we move from the anxious tossing on a bed, to a place of peace? from

when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.  (Psalm 4:4)

To,

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

David seems to find his way through sacrifice –

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5)

This is not, ‘Give up something to manipulate God into what we want’, but the sacrifice of that which is so important it drives to anxiety.  Anxiety is an early warning system showing us our inappropriate affections. In sacrificing our demands we come to a place of peace.

When I give up my demands I entrust myself to God and His love, knowing that the Lord is both good and sovereign. This surrender of what I am convinced will be good is faith indeed. When I exercise such faith, my heart shifts from a desire for personal prosperity to a desire for God Himself. We cannot purse both at the same time.

Many, Lord, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’ Let the light of your face shine on us. Psalm 4:6

In letting go, David has gained the greater perspective, that the Lord himself is our reward.  Everything else is a trinket compared to the Lord who is our true treasure. In knowing that He is safe with God, he can lie down at peace in safety.

 

A more detailed study on Psalm 4 is found in BibleBase2ADaringFaith

One thing I ask …

Psalm 27:4 both inspires and challenges.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

First – In praying this I have seen the Lord bear fruit, however I then go on to ask the Lord to give ministry success as well, missing the point that He is sufficient in Himself.

The Lord has been challenging me to be content with ‘one thing’!  Only when willing to be open, that my ‘one’ ministry was to dwell in His house, experiencing the ‘humiliation’ of ‘not doing anything’ did He open the door to further ministry.

Second is the context – I had imagined it as the longings of one far from worries. In fact it is written in conflict. V12 –

Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me,  spouting malicious accusations.

David the general has confidence not in his skill, but in the Lord. This confidence comes not from his history of success but from the core of his soul. He has encountered the Lord and seen His goodness in both success and failure. So David is at peace confident of God’s goodness, whatever that may look like. He prays, ‘One thing’ not out of sentimentality but because the outer situation reinforces the need for his core relationship with God to be developed.

The study from which this was derived is found in BibleBase2ADaringFaith

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

Shades of grey

I was shocked by an exercise of going through the events from Gethsemane to the cross taking the perspective of those who were condemning Jesus. I found it all too easy to understand some in the Sanhedrin voting for His death. The exercise exposed the weakness of my shades of grey, big picture mentality.

Whereas I could not understand those adamantly against Jesus, I found myself understanding those who thought they saw the big picture. I began to understand those who, with reluctance, cast their lot against Jesus thinking that what He was doing could lead to rebellion and suppression by the Romans

At times like that I need the perspective of those who, seeing black and white, stand and say, ‘This is wrong!’ They more than I can see the line in the sand that should never be crossed.

This comes as I struggle while not easily able to delegate.  My shades of grey mentality sees the perspective of busy people doing good things and allows them to walk away while I live on the borders of an unsustainable lifestyle.

Thankfully, my Lord stands and tells me, ‘This is wrong! You have to change!’ The fault lies not with others, but with me for permitting the situation to persist. I need God’s grace to rescue both me and the organisation. I need the voice of others who can come up with imaginative suggestions about who can take over tasks. I need courage to accept the tough decision that some things should be left undone.

Rest in stress

There are times when I am stressed out by the urgent and yet it seems every road I take to resolve the situation ends in frustration. It seems I am battling against God.

The real surprise shown in Isaiah 30 is that this may well be the case!

16 You said, “No, we will flee on horses.” Therefore you will flee! You said, “We will ride off on swift horses.”  Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

When I am stressed my mind drives towards a solution. In my drivenness I push aside every consideration towards love. When I scheme I make myself the answer, I try to become my own salvation, supplanting Jesus. The Lord is looking for a very different attitude.

15 In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.

The Lord’s counsel: In repentance and rest I find salvation, repentance of the drivenness that suggests all depends on me. Can I hold this attitude of being at rest? Faith is not demonstrated through inactivity but attitude. It is possible to work hard, and be at rest in the soul, confident the Lord will bring to fruition His work. When I wait for Him I receive far more than I either deserve or imagine!

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!

 

For a fuller look at Isaiah 30 HERE is the study.