Tuesday, July 19, 2011

His lovingkindness and light...

It's...interesting...how many times lately I've started to write a post, only to end up tongue-tied (or maybe finger-tied) part way through. I've been reading a lot of Psalms, though...and I keep finding such precious little nuggets of wisdom and blessing and soul-food in them. I think I'm going to just share some of them.


Psalm 147

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
8 Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
9 He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry.
10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.
Verse 7 is the start of this stanza or paragraph, and it's basically saying, "Let's praise Him and thank Him and sing to Him with music, because..."

Verses 8 and 9 sum up how the entire length of the food chain--from grass, to herbivorous, to scavengers--get what they need for life from Him. According to these verses, even the water cycle--one of the most basic and necessary things upon with all life relies--doesn't function without Him.

Furthermore, it doesn't say, "He set all these things in motion and then stepped back to let the universe exist without His interference." No, it's all in present tense, because this is something He is doing and will always be doing until writes "The End." Colossians 1 confirms this, when it not only says that all things were created by Him and for Him, but then it goes on to make sure we know that "in Him all things hold together."

So without God being who He is and doing what He does, life would completely fall apart.

Then verses 10 and 11 move on to you and I. I think that both "the strength of the horse" and "the legs of man" refer to us working and doing things in our own power. And what does God say about it? He does not delight in it! Instead, "He favors those who fear Him and wait on His lovingkindness." This reminds me of all the lessons learned in that little book, Waiting on God, that I told you about. I am coming to see more and more how much God really does want to supply all our needs...how He wants us to spend our energy and time in seeking Him and in obeying what He's asking us to do, then He supplies perfect balance of supernatural provision and supernatural grace and strength to do the work that He lays in front of us. It's all Him! (At least, He wants it to be.)

Psalm 36
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
This is this morning's find. It kind of talks about the same thing, doesn't it? We "drink our fill of abundance" and "of the river of His delights."

Lest we get an unbalanced idea of how God wants to bless us, though... This drinking of abundance and delights takes place when we take refuge in Him. All too often, our pride gets in the way, and for some strange reason, it is sometimes hard to take refuge in Him. We want to dwell in the misery and rage and re-hash over and over again what others have done to us. I don't think there's any way to drink of His abundance if our mouths are busy complaining about life's trials!

It also promises the river of God's delights, not the river of fleshly delights, or the river of what we think God's delights will look like. We've got to trust Him in what's really a delight and a blessing.

Finally, that last line is just full of meaning and possibility, isn't it? In Your light we see light. Where is His light? How do we get in His light?

Psalm 104:2 says He is clothed in light. Psalm 119:130 says that "the unfolding of Your words brings light." Isaiah 2:5 talks about the light of the LORD, and Isaiah 60:20 says we will have the LORD for an everlasting light. James 1:17 says He is the Father of Lights. I don't see any other way to get "in His light" than to enter His presence.

So this verse is saying the same thing I found in Psalm 73, the other day. That it is only in His presence that things will make sense...that we can see the truth...that the darkness disappears from our eyes. We need His light to see clearly.

And that means that any time I don't understand...any time I don't know what to do, or where to go...instead of spending time and energy trying to figure things out, it would be far better to spend that  energy and time waiting on Him in His presence, where His light will cast all shadows away.

He is so good!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rock and truth and being spat out...

It was pointed out last week that I hadn’t posted in two weeks. ::grins:: So here I am.

These last four weeks have been full for me, though. Full spiritually. I even sat down and wrote out a post two weeks ago (I think it was), but I didn’t feel released to actually post it. Maybe there was some error in it, or maybe the timing wasn’t right…I don’t know. So it joined the small collection of other un-posted posts.

Most of what these weeks have been full of, though, has been learning…having many beliefs strengthened and others challenged and some blown clear out of the water. The result of all of this is two deeper convictions that might, at first glance, seem contradictory.

The first is how vital it is that every single thing be tested against the Word of God. In John 17:17, Jesus said to the Father, "Your word is truth." If I do not hold fast to the Word of God as the only truth, then I am inviting myself to fall into error. And the biggest errors start with the smallest twists. I have discovered quite a few things recently that are taught as truths, that there is absolutely no support for in the Bible (that I or other preachers I respect can find). Some of them have come from twisted verses, and others have come as the result of man's if-that-then-this reasoning...even though the result of that reasoning is contradictory to other verses. And trying to stand on a false truth isn't going to get me anywhere.

I am enjoying a new appreciation for messages filled with Scripture that backs up every single thing spoken, for it definitely saves me from wondering where so-and-so got got such-and-such from the Bible. I beg your forgiveness as well, for I have not always done this myself, on this blog. I am also going to hold myself to a higher standard from now on. If I can find no scriptural support for something I long to share, then I will not share it until the Lord shows me support in His word for it! I'm talking nitty-gritty details, too. I do not believe it is safe to take a Scriptural truth and then teach implications from that truth unless even those implications can be backed up with Scripture. I've got to test everything I think God is telling me, too. It's not enough to read a truth, have a well-known Bible story come to mind, and take that as an example. I need to test even that by looking up and re-reading the story. (If you think that's extreme, keep reading...I demonstrated my own point while writing this.)

If you catch me breaking this standard from here on out, please point it out to me!

Second, I am discovering that our actions matter just as much as our theology. They almost matter more, for as James says, faith without actions is dead. And according to that verse, there's a lot of Christians walking around on dead faith!

There's a new link over there on the left called, "I think everyone should listen to..." Right now, the messages on there are YouTube videos from Francis Chan, but I'll be adding more from other places on different subjects. You know those verses in Revelation about the church of Laodicea? The church that is neither hot nor cold and whom God said He would spit out of His mouth? Almost every Christian I know believes that the American church is part of that church...yet Francis Chan is the first person I've ever listened to with the guts to actually help us face what that means.  He does it in some of those messages with so much love, and he does it in his book which I just read. (And just in case the devil just whispered to you that it's a money-making thing to sell the book...I'll tell you that all author royalties of the book--which is a bestseller--go to the Isaiah 58 fund which is a ministry that reaches to those in poverty. And no, it's not Francis Chan's ministry. He gives the proceeds to someone else's ministry.)

The paradox in this is that our theology matters for us because it puts the truth inside us. If what comes out of us is based on what is inside us, then it matters very much how much truth is in there.  I will not be judged according to whether or not so-and-so's theology is off...it only matters to me how much truth is inside me. Because whatever amount of truth I have been given, that is what I have to act upon.

And what am I doing with it? Am I hiding it under a bushel? (Luke 8:16) Am I burying it in a field? (Luke 19:11-27) Am I waiting to be spat out? I'm afraid that, for years, that's exactly what I was doing, and I praise and thank God that His mercy is shoving me off that lukewarm burner to a place where I must choose to either jump into the boiling pot or slip into the freezer.

I wrote a post awhile back about living a life poured out. God's really been impressing me that this is only the beginning. I don't know where He's leading me, but He's not letting me sit still! He's not even letting me remain in what used to be a new step of faith. To remain where I am and only do what I am doing would be direct disobedience...while to obey is to open my arms to blessings and gifts beyond my comprehension. I see many others that He's leading in the same way.

How about the parable Jesus told of the house on the rock? He said...

Okay. I was about to equate the rock to truth, and why we need to get into the Bible to know His truth, for I'm pretty sure that's how I've always heard that parable used. But I thought of my new resolution and went to look it up. And thank goodness I did (illustrating that point I made earlier), for that's not what Jesus said! Here it is, from Matthew 7:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Did the same thing jump out at you, that jumped out at me just now?  Here it is again:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
You know what that means? It means that, until recently, I was that foolish man. And all the doctrine I knew wasn't benefiting me in the slightest.

Do you think I am interpreting it right if I say this means that, when the storms of life come, it is not our doctrine that enables us to stand upon His grace through those storms? That it is whether or not we have acted upon His words that enables us to stand? I'm not sure how else to interpret that parable.

It goes right along with James's statements that faith without works is dead, doesn't it? Here are verses 14-17 of James 2:
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
I like what Francis Chan pointed out here. These verses are not discussing the differences between faith and works.They are discussing the differences between faith that results in works, and faith with no works. The difference between a living faith, and a dead faith. Kind-of like how Jesus didn't talk about someone who found a rock and builds no house on it. He spoke the parable as though we don't have a choice about whether or not to build a house...just by living, we're building. And that sounds quite a bit like another parable He told, doesn't it?

Thus, you see what my life has been like lately. A question, which leads to looking up a scripture, which leads to having some beliefs strengthened and connected with half-a-dozen others, while other beliefs are found to be without any Truth behind them.

I pray that this is a season of correction and re-alignment, and that when the seasons change, I will be closer to my Lord and that much more willing and able to be His handmaiden.
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