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

Way out of emptiness

We live in a world of self-interest, committed to feeling better about ourselves or experiences that take our eyes off the state of our lives. How do we let go this futile thinking that only reinforces inner darkness? (Eph 4:17-19)

I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. (Psalm 34:1 msg)

When I take my eyes off myself and lift them to the Father, as I worship Him, then life expands as I see His love and am inspired by His purposes.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. (Psalm 34:5)

This worship comes with integrity. It smiles when seeing a twist in life with His mark on it, it calls for mercy when confronted with failure.

Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God. (Psalm 34:9-10)

Worship opens to His goodness. This opening, represented by opening our mouths, leaves us vulnerable for open doors let in as well as out. True worship is on His terms and receive what He declares to be good.

When in need I am tempted to be the prowling lion looking to devour something, even God! And after devouring, I am still hungry. When I come to God in surrender not focussing on what I want from the encounter but to worship Him, He fills me with Himself. I may not have what I wanted but am satisfied by His presence.

 

The full study on this Psalm is found in What is worship?

Trustworthy to Jesus?

The Lord loves us but he does not entrust himself to us.

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. John 2:24 (NIV)

We see this in Jesus’ relationship with his disciples. They were with him wherever they went, yet he did not entrust himself even to his closest disciples. Consider James and John, two of the closest. There is the time they want to call down fire on a village for not having received Jesus or the time they ask for a place on His left and right in heaven. Though they had asked,

We want you to do for us whatever we ask, Mark 10:35

Jesus had not entrusted himself to them. He was free to do what was right.

When people are being emotionally abusive we need to keep our emotional distance. This is hard when they are friends or family. When Jesus would not entrust himself he was protecting himself from those he was closest to, and yet could not trust to act honourably.

This principle extends to the Lord’s relationship with us. I too can be abusive in the way I relate to Him. I call myself His friend but then presume on him with demands that do not reflect His love. The Lord will of course be gracious to me, but will not entrust himself to me while he knows this is in me. I am challenged to relate to my Father in love, respecting and trusting Him, so that He can extend deeper friendship to me.

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

Overcoming anger

I was overcome by fear and anger.  Someone had made a threatening comment and I was churned up inside. My mind would turn on this person and fight mental arguments.

I know that when I am in such a state, it would be unwise for me to open my mouth – bile would come out. The Lord’s approach is instructive. He does not enter the argument but calls me to His side.

Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

He asks me to sit with Him in His presence and allow Him to deal with the issue. When I can contain myself to sit with Him, meditating on His Word and surrendering in prayer, He changes my perspective. He shows me that He is able to handle this person who would threaten His son. When I fail to sit with Him I enter the fray and descend to my opponent’s level.

I am reminded of a cat fight. Our cat had been chased in-doors through the cat-flap and was now facing the threatening cat with the flap between them. There was hissing and scratching at plastic. Neither understood that the cat-flap was programmed to admit only our cat so she was safe. Knowing our cat was upset and fearful, I picked her up and held her. While the other cat continued to hiss and paw at the cat-flap, ours looked into my face and quietly settled in my arms.

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.

Reward with God

What a privilege to participate in Jesus’ ministry. Paul and Barnabas were directed into ministry through Isaiah 49:6:

“… I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,  that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

This verse is not stand alone. How does Isaiah leads into this promise?

First the Lord polishes His arrow and conceals it.

2 .. he made me into a polished arrow  and concealed me in his quiver.

This arrow has to fly true first time and so it receives special attention. Other arrows enjoy their successes in the hunt, this one is polished. It seems a humiliating waste of time.

The Lord seeing the discouragement, speaks tenderly.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,  Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”

The Lord gives hope that He will use this servant to display His splendour, however these seem vain words.

4 But I said, “I have laboured in vain;  I have spent my strength for nothing at all.

Polishing is hard work, requiring labour for little visible result.

This frustration finally bears fruit through a change in attitude-

Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,  and my reward is with my God.”

The surrender of desire to see the outcome. When content that his reward is with God, there is freedom to be used by the Lord without playing to the audience and wrecking the show.

Now the Lord begins to use His polished arrow!

 

The full Bible study can be found at Biblebase2adaringfaith

 

What do you want?

The Lord has been asking me, ‘What is it that you want?’ I am left struggling. In the past I have known clearly what I want, but those wants were focused on me. Even when they were focused on His kingdom, they reflected how I wanted His kingdom to come. Most of my desires and dreams are those my culture wants me to have. When I indulge them they give gratification, but emptiness in the soul. So I am left questioning, ‘What are the true desires of my heart?’

In my last blog I saw ‘the kings of the earth’ taking their stand against the Lord to free themselves from Him in order to gain what they want (Psalm 2). This way of independence from the source of life is folly.

Margaret Silf in ‘Landmarks’ makes the observation that the desires of our hearts were implanted by the Lord. As we walk with Him stilling our hearts from the clamour of what we think we want, we see things from His perspective. The desires of our hearts begin to surface. So a good start point is to ‘Kiss the Son’ and ‘take refuge in Him’ (Psalm 2) for these unite us with Him.

After years of walking with Him why have these desires of the heart not surfaced earlier? Because I have allowed myself to want what others want – ranging from ‘The advance of the Kingdom through ministry’ to the latest gadget, with its life expectancy of two years.

Rest in God’s shelter

When I choose to ‘rest in the shadow of the almighty’, waiting for Him to intervene, then I am ‘dwelling in the shelter of the Most High’. (Psalm 91) This is not passive; it is a call to urgent prayer.  I had always thought these words meant, Stay close to God and you will feel safe. Now I am being trained to understand a deeper significance.

Lately the Lord has been teaching me not to intervene but to pray and wait for Him. It began with situations where I had no right to intervene yet the suffering I observed made the temptation overwhelming; still the Lord restrained. As the situations have come closer to home I have felt the right to intervene, yet when I have done so it has gone horribly wrong – such is the training.

Today I felt a duty to intervene, yet as I did I was restrained by Psalm 91. I realised that to ‘rest in the shadow of the almighty’ is not a consequence of ‘dwelling in the shelter of the Most High’ but a choice. When I see injustice I have to choose between my intervention which brings pain and defensiveness or waiting for Jesus who transforms not only the situation but the abuser. If I jump in I deny Him the opportunity.

Occasionally, in this place of waiting on God, He creates the opportunity to speak in His time. The hearer is receptive, violent words unnecessary and I become part of His intervention.