Posts Tagged Psalm 46: 10

Whom Shall I Serve?

Habakkuk 1: 11

But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their God.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote this sometime around 607 B.C. That means this passage is over 2600 years old. It might have been written yesterday for how appropriate it is to our everyday existence.

I have been writing over the last couple of years about partnership with God. This is the singular message of our time. God sent Jesus to save us from destruction. Having accomplished his task, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion and helper. We are supposed to learn to work with Him the way the Father did when He created the earth, and indeed, the whole universe. We are called to walk with him the way Jesus did when he worked miracles in the earth. These two persons of the Trinity that we know well, did everything through and by the Holy Spirit. This was God’s plan for us, that the third person of the Trinity would come live with us, actually be in us and that we would rely on His strength rather than our own.

How many of us have learned this way of living though? Don’t most of us look to our “God given” abilities rather than to the Holy Spirit? Don’t we strive and labor? You would be shocked to learn how much of the Bible speaks specifically against our strength, our labor and striving to succeed. Here is just one little taste, straight from the lips of Father God on knowing Him, “Cease striving and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). Maybe you will like this one, “It is the Lord’s blessing that makes a person rich, and hard work adds nothing to it,” (Proverb 10: 22 GW). Hey, that’s Bible guys and I don’t mean the Bible according to Ivey. That’s the gospel. And don’t look at me like I am any better at this than anyone else but at least I know where the bull’s eye is painted these days. The target is: complete, 100% cooperation with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus said the Spirit is to be the leader (John 16: 13), so not only are we to partner with the Spirit, but we are to listen to him and get our directions, our plans from him.

I think of it this way, imagine every morning that you have a partner meeting (and in truth I advise you to actually do this). In that meeting you lay out what you perceive as the day’s priorities and tasks. You and the Spirit can look at the schedule for the day, the appointments, etc. but then comes the critical piece. Let him show you which are the really important items. He may add some tasks that he identifies as more important than those on your list. He does that with me. Sometimes what he thinks is most important is for me to read or to journal. Sometimes he will move one project in front of another. That’s good. That is what you want him to do because he knows the future and which actions get us to our goals. Talk through everything for that day but, and here is a key, when you leave the conference room table or the kitchen table, don’t forget to keep him right beside you. Listen to him all day.

Another key part of this is that it is his strength, his power that works for us. Look to him. Tell him he has mail. Let him be the miracle worker. You will be surprised what he can accomplish while you are having your lunch, that is, if you will give him the reins.

Look, this takes practice, I grant you. It also takes intentionality. In other words, you have to intend to live and work this way. You must purpose in your heart and in your mind to pay attention to the voice of the Spirit which is speaking within you. You will need to prioritize spending quiet, contemplative time with him. I know you don’t want to. You think you are too busy to sit and meditate but as I pointed out, this is God speaking. This is what the Bible tells us to do.

Sooner or later we have to decide if we are truly disciples of Christ. If so, then it is about doing what he says and following in his footsteps. Sooner or later, you have to decide if you are foremost a Christian or a lawyer, a Christian or a school teacher, a Christian or a banker. I kept making the wrong choice. I was a lawyer first and a Christian second. Don’t be like I was. Learn and practice making God supreme. Don’t let your strength, intelligence, or hard work be your God. Don’t serve your calendar but serve God and humble yourself before Him and His wisdom. Be a great success in Christ, your Lord.

Don’t Do It Now

Joshua 1: 8

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

You’ve heard the popular saying, “Do it Now.” It was a great message and helped a lot of us in our everyday life. In fact, that saying has become part of the cultural jargon of our age. So, why am I telling you not to do it now? There is a time to be still and that is the subject of this Word of the Day.

Have you ever sat down to meditate and your mind been flooded with the myriad of things you need to do? Of course. Me too. We run at such a fast pace at times that it is challenging, no, very challenging to slow down physically, much less mentally, long enough to meditate.

Today’s verse is one of my favorites because it is so poignant. Moses has just died and Joshua is about to take over for him. Yahweh Father spoke with him regarding this huge task and God gave Him the best advice He had. Today’s verse is that advice. Now, to my way of thinking, if meditation is the single piece of advice God gave the one who was to lead His people, Israel, then it must be really important. Note that God didn’t say, “Pray Joshua, make sure you pray every day.” No, He told him to meditate. So, I took that to say that meditation is really important stuff. So, I set a goal to meditate daily.

Wow, what a challenge that turned out to be. First, I couldn’t sit still. I used Dr. Jim Richard’s guided meditations to help me learn to calm my physiology. Then, I found my mind was running rampant. Dr. Mark Virkler taught me Psalm 46: 10, “Be still and know that I am God, (KJV).” Well, easier said than done but I knew this stillness was important. The NASB says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Wow, that is loud. It goes along with some of our recent Words of the Day about letting God work in your life. I needed to master this skill, and I finally did. One of the things I had to learn, though, is “Do not do it now.” I had to discipline myself to let things wait. I had a to do list with each item prioritized. I knew the most important things to get done but I actually treated them all as if they were “A” priorities. If something came off of my master list and onto my daily list, then it felt to me like an imperative. Those things haunted me when I tried to meditate. Additionally, when I slowed down a tick, all sorts of other to do’s and ideas came to mind. Finally, I learned to put my to do list or even just a pad of paper and a pen beside me when I sat down to meditate. As those things came to mind, I wrote them down and went back to meditation. Sometimes it was more of a mind purge than meditation but then again, that turned out to be one of the benefits of meditation. Some of the things God had been trying to show me for ages freely flowed out of my sub-consciousness as soon as I got still for a moment.

Whatever your “A” priority is, and I am hoping meditation is one of them, you may have to learn, as I did, not to do everything else which comes to your mind. We have to learn to calm ourselves down and stick to our task. Writing down those other things is one way to help you stay on task. You cannot always do everything now and get the priority items done. Those are usually the more involved tasks, the ones which take a bit of time and concentration. It is so easy to do the little minute tasks instead of sticking to the big, important item. You will feel like you got a lot done but you will not be accomplishing the important, life altering tasks. Put these on your schedule, block out time for them on your calendar. Close your office door, turn off you cell phone and focus. Breathe deeply and settle your physiology. Breathe and relax your mind. Turn your eyes on Jesus. You will see that he is there with you and that he is already paying attention to you. Then ask him to help you with your task. Invite the Holy Spirit to be the leader. Put your mind on them and let them guide and support you. I promise you, this is a better way to work than the haphazard way I did.

Trumpet Blast

Hebrews 12: 19             New Living Translation

For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.

The Word of the Day for December 19th, 2018 characterized the voice of the Lord. The excerpts I used from Psalm 29: 3 – 9 read, “The voice of the Lord . . . is powerful, . . . is majestic, . . . breaks the cedars, . . . hews out flames of fire, . . . shakes the wilderness, . . .makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare.” We see clearly that His voice is powerful, but that is not the end of the story.

This passage refers to the Israelites who were led out of captivity and sojourned many years in route to the promised land. In Deuteronomy 5: 25 their reaction to God’s voice was recorded thus, “Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, then we will die.” Is this the God you know? What was in the hearts and minds of the people that they heard Yahweh’s voice as terrible, a voice so strong and dreadful that they thought the mere sound of it would consume them? I imagine to Moses God’s voice was anything but terrible. I imagine it was like the purr of a kitten, like sweet nectar dripping from a new spring blossom.

God’s image is very often a reflection of the canvas of our heart. That which is written upon our hearts, we project as the image of God. We find this to be dangerous, though, for we have not allowed our hearts to be perfected in His love. So, we hear His voice as thunderous and angry because we know we deserve no kindness or gentleness. In other words, we remake Him and even His voice in the image of our self-esteem and self-image. He is to us as we allow Him to be.

God called David a friend. What??!! Think on that literally for a moment. God Himself says of David, “He’s my friend.” What do you imagine God says of your relationship with Him? Do you imagine Him calling you friend? Well, if you don’t, perhaps you should. Again, I say, He is to us as we allow Him to be, so we need to change the image within us. He will be to us as we allow Him to be and He wants to be our friend too.

The Bible tells us He is kind, gentle, patient, forgiving and loving but is that how He interacts with you? Are those the words you use to describe your relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the true character of God but just because that is who God truly is does not mean those are the filters through which we allow ourselves to interact with Him. Our internal person may be telling us that we only deserve anger and reproach. Therefore, we put that image onto God even though it is not His nature.

Who do you want God to be in your life? He is love. He is the most kind and gentle of all persons or entities you will ever know. He is actually sweeter than the little kitten and more faithful and forgiving than a puppy. But, will we allow Him to express His true personality in our lives? Will we paint Him as merciless and vengeful because we know that is what we deserve?

Kenneth Hagin used to say that if you listen to a person speak long enough, he will tell you exactly where he is. The image we hold of God reveals more about who we are than about who He is. When you encounter people who know an angry God, one bent on damnation and criticism, then you know they have not allowed the love of God to wash through their souls. They have not received the divine love of the Father. They may have touched it long enough to receive salvation, but it has not penetrated their hearts and washed their conscience clean. They have not been bathed in the love of God or else they would know He is gentle and caring. If they are judgmental, it is because they know they are deserving of judgment. If they condemn others, it is because in their hearts they know they are worthy of condemnation. They reflect their hearts, not God’s. Now ask yourself, who is your God. Is He kind or vengeful? Is He loving or angry? Is He here to judge or to rescue? The answers to these questions reveal the condition of your heart.

We all need to soak in His love until we know the love of God which saves our immortal souls. He is love. Taste it, breathe it, know Him and the gentleness of His ways. Then you will hear His voice as a whisper upon a cool breeze. You will feel His gentle touch upon your fevered brow. His voice will be a sweet song rather than trumpet blast. When you receive this truth, you will be able to hear His voice more easily and sense His presence because you will allow that truth to manifest in you. Be still, He says, be still and know I am God (paraphrase of Psalm 46: 10). Breathe His calming presence and still the thunderous blast of your conscience.

Renewed Strength

Isaiah 57: 10

You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint.”

Tuesday I sent you Galatians 6: 9 which reads, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Today there is good news for your tired body and mind. God will provide the strength you need to carry on. There is a reward for you if you do not faint and there is a way to maintain your faith and your strength to continue. The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8: 10). You do not have to be wearied with your many labors. You needn’t feel weighed down or trod upon God is your righteous right hand. He is your strength.

The thing we need to understand about this idea is that the found new strength, that which prevents us from fainting even under a heavy load, is not a passive joy. Notice above that it says, “You found renewed strength.” Why did the hearer find the new strength? Because she looked for it. She sought it. Now we understand that God is our strength so in these times of weariness, we must seek the Lord, our God. You see, just because you are a Christian does not mean you will experience this renewed strength. That strength is found in communion with the Lord. Again, this is not a passive trait. We must actively pursue God. However, don’t let this resound in your head like another to do when you are already tired. The best way to find the Lord is to relax. “Be still and know I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). It is in the exhalation that you find God. You’ve been holding your breath. Now breathe. Exhale and let go. Breathe in God, exhale out stress and worry.

It is like going to the doctor when you are sick. There is something you have to do and that is to call upon the one who can make you better. That is your part. God, then, restores you to full strength, but don’t lay in bed doing nothing and think you are going to miraculously be restored. You must seek the help you need, then He will provide. Be still but be vigilant. Quietly but determinedly seek God. Call upon Him for help. He is standing by.

I can Hear

Isaiah 50: 5

The Lord God has opened my ear.

Do you know that you stand in the shoes of Jesus? That is what it means to be in him and in him is our goal and calling. This is the New Covenant. What does this have to do with today’s verse? You have been positioned to hear the voice of God exactly as Jesus did. Jesus didn’t speak or perform on his own initiative. Everything he did and said was at the direction of the Father. He heard God speaking to him and followed the Father’s instructions. This is the plan for us too! “But I cannot hear Him speak,” you say. I beg to differ. God has opened your ears as He did Jesus’.

Jesus went further. He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,” (John 10: 27). So, you can hear him. And that is the end of the debate. Jesus says you can hear him, so you can. He knows of what he speaks. The question, then, becomes why are we not following his voice as he said his sheep do? Why are we unaware of our ability to hear him?

When I had my law practice I learned something about this. Often, I would take a vacation to the mountains for a week or two of quiet and solitude. I took my Bibles and books and settled in for some quiet time with God. I noticed, though, that it usually took me a couple of days before I began to hear anything or even receive anything in my spirit. My world was so full of stimulation and noise that it took a couple of days to settle myself. I think of Psalm 46: 10, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The King James Version reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” My world was too chaotic, too full of being busy and on the go to ever hear God. I didn’t have the time in my regular day to slow down long enough to hear the Lord speak to my spirit. It took me several days of peace and quiet to be able to really be still in my spirit. I like how the God’s Word translation relates Psalm 46: 10. It says, “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.” Most of us don’t let go of our “stuff” long enough to know Him as God. Even when we go to bed at night we still turn things over in our minds. During the day, the TV is on, people are talking to us, we’re working, etc. How much quiet time do you have just to ponder? People don’t think any more. They don’t have time. There is no sitting on the porch in a rocking chair just contemplating the world.

So, even though God has opened our ears, we rarely have space for Him to speak into. It takes a quiet, calm spirit to hear the Lord. He doesn’t yell, He whispers. He speaks into the stillness. I bet if all televisions and cell phones went on the blink for a month two things would happen; you would read a lot more and you would hear God’s voice. What if you made a decision that you and your family would have one hour of quiet time when no electrical or electronic device could be used. Do you think it would impact your life? You might talk with your spouse, your kids. You might even get to know them. Best of all, you might get to know your heavenly Father better too. What about thirty minutes? Will anyone take me up on thirty minutes? Twenty? Even if you only did one hour one day a week it would make a difference. Maybe you could do it two or three days a week.

I promise you – you can hear God, you can hear Jesus. You only need to give them an environment into which they can speak. If you will do that, you will hear them. Don’t forget to use your journaling skills too.

Targeted

2 Samuel 17: 2

And I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and will terrify him so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone.

What does this have to do with our present day existence, you may ask. I have found this to be an instructive verse for daily life.

Many of us live in cultures that are rushed and hectic. That can pose a problem. First, it is hard to hear the leading of God when hurried and stressed. God speaks to our inner quiet. He does not shout into the chaos. That is why He told us to be still and experience Him as God (Psalm 46: 10).

The other issue, of course, is that our chaotic lifestyle paints bull’s eye targets on our foreheads and hearts. I noticed many years ago that when I was tired, weary and exhausted I was susceptible to attacks. If you don’t think your enemy is looking for opportunities to bother you, you are deceived. The enemy is always looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). So, don’t volunteer to be his chow. When you are exhausted, you look like prey. And, you probably actually are. Your defenses go down.

The answer, of course, is to take time to rest your spirit, especially. Take that quiet walk with Jesus and let him give you the refreshing waters that he offered the Samaritan woman. Let him rejuvenate you in body, mind and spirit. He can restore you but only you can set the appointment with him. If “busy” is a word you use often to describe yourself, then you need a check-up from the neck up, as a friend of mine says. Change your priorities. Say no to some events or even to some people. Let’s be honest, as uncomfortable as that can be, we have none the less, grown very adept at saying “No,” to Christ. It makes me wonder, sometimes, why we call ourselves Christians since he seems to be rather low on our priority list. If you will put him back in first position, he will guide you in setting your priorities and he will give you strength for the things you need to do.

Please hear this with your heart. If you are too busy to slow down and spend some time with Jesus in the resting and restoration of your soul, then you are too busy, period. Shall we go so far as to say that busyness is a sin? I know it is a problem in my life and one I have to battle constantly. Sometimes I need to just kick back. Other times I have to get up an hour earlier so that I have time for things that need doing.

Don’t weary yourself with much doing and don’t train your children to do the same thing. Your spirit, your soul and your body need rest. Go to a yoga class, spend time sitting in your garden or take a walk along the water and pray. Make it a priority to care for your triune self. Guard against busyness and overworking yourself. Word hard when you work but then take time to allow Jesus to restore you. It is really important that you do. Otherwise, you become a target.

Ears that Hear

Psalm 85: 8           NIV

I will listen to what God the LORD says.

Okay, fine, I will listen to what God says. What do you think of this statement? Is this something which you might write or say? Why? Why do you want to hear what the Lord says? What is your expectation? Why do you think the psalmist made this statement? The second part of the verse reads, “he promises peace to his people, his saints.” I like how the NASB phrases this part of the verse, “For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.”

The writers of this psalm demonstrate confidence that they will hear God. I wonder how they receive the word from the Lord. Was it just a matter of being quiet and calm as we learn from Psalm 46: 10 or is there more going on here? Do they inquire of the Lord? What do you do when you want to hear from the Lord?

One method we all can use to hear the Lord is simply to read the Bible. Just by reading today’s verse you see for yourself that it is possible to hear what God says. That can be a mighty big revelation when it goes off in you? God’s voice can be heard in the pages of the Bible and this is a primary way you can hear God speak directly to you. You will see verses come alive right before your eyes.

Another way to hear God speak is through two-way journaling. This can be a valuable tool. I used it today so that I could sort out what was in my own head and what was actually from the Father.
You can also hear the Father speak to your own heart and mind. Sometimes I notice Him because I am involved in something different than what comes into my mind. If I am thinking about X and a thought comes in about Y, it is often because the Father is speaking to me.

He wants to speak to us all. In fact, He is speaking to us. The key is in the hearing. Many times the obstacles are too much noise or too constant a noise in our environment. In other words, we can go days and weeks with little quiet. At one time I had some kind of content playing all of the time. I would listen to preachers on TV while getting dressed in the morning. I listened to yet another in the car. I had constant stimulation at work, and then back into the car for praise music or a teaching CD. You get the point. Even though this was all good content, there was no space for Father to speak, no time when I could hear Him above the fray.

The best tool of all to hear the Father, if you really want to, is to just get still and quiet and ask Him. Talk with Him and let Him reply. You don’t need to talk much. He can carry a conversation. Frankly, He already knows what you are thinking so just give yourself the opportunity to hear Him and you will.