Peaceful Ease

Proverb 3: 23 – 24

Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

This is a picture of what Christian life should be. It is a life of peace, tranquility and security. The fully realized Christian is able to lie down and sleep in peace because there is no fear or worry. They enjoy sweet sleep. Good sleep alone is a reason this verse is attractive, but I really like the picture it paints of a whole life lived in peace.

One cannot help but think of the Hebrew word Shalom. It is perfect peace. Shalom is not the same as tranquility. We use peace to mean calmness, quiet and serenity. In the Hebrew mindset those are the result of Shalom. When you have God’s kind of peace, serenity and those other things are the byproducts.

The image this verse conjures for me is one of quiet confidence. The person in this verse walks with the Lord from the moment she awakens and continues through the day. Of course she can place her foot securely as she walks her daily path. She is walking hand in hand with God, led by Him.

This verse is about embracing wisdom and understanding. Peace, ultimate, unfathomable peace is the result. Embracing wisdom and understanding means we don’t walk in the light of our own brilliance but in the glory of God’s insights and wisdom. This does have its challenge because it means we must pause to check in with Him. We must begin first thing in the morning getting our hearts and minds aligned in and with Him and then continue in that flow all day. It is the absolute best and most enjoyable way to live but it does not come automatically. We have to dedicate the time and invest the discipline to check in with our Father at the start of the day. This can be a challenge but that is the challenge I hope to encourage you to accept.

Walking in perfect peace, knowing that where you are about to place your foot is good solid ground is a joy. It comes with the Father’s perfect peace, Shalom. All things are as they should be, everything in its proper place. Your steps are divinely ordered, and your heart resides in ease. When you lie down, your sleep is sweet and your dreams, divine. This is the inheritance of the saints.

Enthroned

Psalm 102: 12 – 22

But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

This is a large selection of text today, but hopefully it reveals a central truth and comfort. You might be interested to know that the title of today’s psalm is, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” What a title! However, this segment of the psalm does not sound like it is written by a person in despair and that is the key lesson. From despair, we lift our heads and see God’s glory.

The author may have wondered, like many other saints, “Where is God?” In times of trouble, it may seem God has abandoned us. However, as the psalmist indicates, our God is still on the throne and He reigns. He will save Zion, and your town, and rain down upon it His compassion and favor. Though the author was afflicted and had grown weak, yet he says of God, “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Then he tells us that this is recorded for a future generation, i.e. for us, that we might have courage and confidence in our time of need.

We are not abandoned, and God is not ignoring our plight. He attends to the prayer of the destitute, the needy. We will not ignore our cry for help. God will save us. He is with us and we will yet praise His name as we assemble to worship His name. His love surrounds and keeps us. He is Lord Protector and Father. Let us leave a testimony for a future generation too, that our Father lifted us and showed us His favor in our time of need.

Glory to God! Let the earth sing. Praises be to Yahweh; Father, Lord and Savior. Come Lord Jesus, show us your grace; shower us in your mercy and favor. Lift our heads that we might praise you with a joyful voice. Let the world see the beauty of your countenance as you touch and bless through your presence, your glorious, shining presence with your people. Amen.

Confident Stance

Luke 21: 25 – 28          GW

“Miraculous signs will occur in the sun, moon, and stars. The nations of the earth will be deeply troubled and confused because of the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint as they fearfully wait for what will happen to the world. Indeed, the powers of the universe will be shaken. Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand with confidence! The time when you will be set free is near.”

This momentous time in history in which we are living was prophesied by Jesus. We have certainly seen many signs in the heavens in the last couple of years including a total solar eclipse. We’ve also seen increased hurricanes and floods. The seas, indeed, have been roaring and tossing. Jesus said when these signs begin to appear that people will lose their heart, lose their courage. “People will faint” with fear. That is truly and well said. People are lost right now and immensely fearful, but Jesus has a message for you because you are set apart and different.

Jesus said that when these things begin to happen, as indeed they are, we should stand with confidence. We should be emboldened, not fearful for our redeemer, our savior, our sweet beloved is upon the wing ready to sweep us all into his loving embrace. He has prepared a place for us. Have courage, Jesus says. Be confident for your Lord is near.

It is important that you understand that you are set apart and less there be any confusion at all, you are loudly being called “apart.” We are to separate ourselves as God separated the Israelites from the rest of the world. He has a place of safety reserved for us, a land flowing with milk and honey. It is different this time though we are to follow the same glory which led the Israelites. Then God’s glory went before them in a cloud by day and a cloud of fire by night. Now, that glory lives within us but we are still told to follow the light. Follow the fire within. We are being called out of the multitude of nations to a state of divine love and protection.

So, stand with confidence. Call upon the name of your God. Do not fear but have faith in the love of the Holy One. This situation is no joke. It is serious, but so is your Father. He and Jesus saw this coming many years ago and have prepared for it. These are the days of promise. This is the time of your redemption. Do not sleep through them because though they are some of the most challenging days of our lives, they can be some of the most enlightening as well. Stand boldly in the confidence of the Lord and see the glory of our Lord Jesus and the Father he serves.

True Humility

Psalm 72: 8 – 9

May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

You will undoubtedly sense a change of tone in this psalm. David didn’t write this one. It is written by his son, Solomon. The kingdom falls apart after Solomon, the kingdom that God gave to David for eternity. You begin to see the unravelling even here. Compare this psalm with the one’s David wrote.  Here, we find Solomon praying for himself, not about rescue from enemies, but increasing his holdings.

This is another example where one must really read the entire psalm to get the flavor. Solomon was concerned about his ability to rule the kingdom. At first glance his importuning of God for the wisdom to rule the country appears as humility, and at one level I believe it to be so. At a higher level, though, Solomon mirrors our prayers and feelings. Compared with the prayers and the songs of David, we see that humility is often a cloak for the real underlying demon – pride.

David didn’t have confidence in his ability to rule the kingdom either. He did, however, have confidence in the Father, and David trusted his friend and strong right hand to be with him and to rule through him. It may be a subtle shift, but this micron of perspective shift makes all the difference in the world. Solomon was overwhelmed with by the responsibility of leading the kingdom. The reason, though, is because his eyes were fixed on himself.

We can all become overwhelmed by what God has called us to do, but if we do it is because we are looking at our own abilities. We become focused on ourselves rather than on the Father. David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord and that the God of Israel would deliver the Philistine giant into his hands. David was looking for God to do something. If he had considered himself responsible for the victory, we would not have this great story to admire. He either would have been defeated, or, more likely, he would never have faced the giant. We know we cannot succeed in our own strength so we think God will anoint us with his strength and then we will prevail. In our spirits we know this is not quite right. The victory is not ours, but the Lord’s.

So, David spent less time in prayers like these and much more time praising the Lord and declaring His greatness. He focused his attention on the righteous kindness of God and His delivering power. He glorified God in song and in deed. Go back and look at the construction of David’s prayers. There is a real secret here. Our words show where we are in our walk with God. Solomon’s show that his eyes were on himself. He lacked confidence because he was looking at himself rather than at God. He prayed for God to make him a great king with much land. Perhaps, those breaths would have been better spent praising the real King.

Structural Integrity

Psalm 69: 31 – 33

For I know, Yahweh, that my praises mean more to you than all my gifts and sacrifices. All who seek you will see God do this for them, and they’ll overflow with gladness. Let this revive your hearts, all you lovers of God! For Yahweh does listen to the poor and needy and will not abandon his prisoners of love.

There is a lot of good news in this passage. David was tormented when he wrote this psalm, but he resolved into praise and praise boosted his confidence that Yahweh would, indeed, rescue him from his then present peril.

No matter how troublesome our present we, too, can have confidence that our God will never abandon us for we are bound to Him by His love for us. Though we may feel alone and that our prayers fall upon deaf ears, David confirms that Yahweh listens to us. Father hears our every whisper, every cry. His heart hears our prayers.

However, there is an important lesson we can learn from David. David might spend some time whining and even more complaining but when you read his psalm you discover that he never remains in the moaning stage. His victory is found in praise. He reminds himself of God’s love and might. When one combines the love of God with the power of God the only possible outcome is victory.

Our problem is that the construction of our prayers often fails to follow David’s. Sometimes you need to complain and grumble a little just to expunge your soul of despair. That is fine but it is not final. Eventually prayer needs to move to stage 2. Praise, then stage 3 confident statements about God’s grace for every situation.

I would encourage you to read this entire psalm and see for yourself the transition from despair to confidence. God continually showed up in David’s life and I believe his prayer composition is, at least, part of the reason why. Praise and confident expressions in the faith and loyalty of our God bring out the victory that is laying still within us.

Placement

Psalm 16:8

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Did you know you have a choice in where God exists in your life? David was the one who set the Lord before Him and at His right hand. Where do you want God? David put God where He was always in sight. That was how he combatted the fear which could have so easily overwhelmed him. It is how he had the confidence and faith that his enemies would be vanquished. Every day, he saw problems in the light of God with him. He saw God every time he looked up and the enormity of his God made his problems shrink.

The beauty of this is that you can put God wherever you want. You choose! Is He in His throne room? Is He hovering over the earth on a cosmic cloud? Or do you decide to have Him seated right next to you? David said that because God was at his right hand, he could not be shaken. Sometimes it pays to keep Yahweh close to you. It’s good to have His power right beside you. It’s good just having His presence there because His presence reminds you of all that He is. It boosts your confidence. His presence with you reminds you of who you are in Him.

It’s wonderful to visit the Lord in His throne room. I highly recommend it but don’t lock Him up in there. His plan was to be with you. You are His temple, remember. He wants to walk every step with you. Today.

Battle Strategy

Psalm 59: 16 – 17

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

You may need to read the beginning of this psalm to get the full thrust of these last two verses. The backstory is familiar. Saul was in relentless pursuit of David. Saul’s men surrounded, besieged and attacked David and his men. Day and night, there were spies, sneak attacks and ambushes. David tells of the trials and persecutions through the first fifteen verses. At the end he says, “but as for me . . ..” In these last two verses, David reveals his battle plan.

No matter what the enemy’s tactics were; regardless of being outnumbered, trapped or under siege, the battle plan David employed was praise and complete confidence in our Lord. David’s confidence wasn’t just something he held in his breast, though. His faith in the Father was boldly declared from his lips. That is one thing which distinguished him from every other. Perhaps other people thought God was a stronghold and deliverer, but David made a career of proclaiming it.

How about you? Are your words like David’s? Perhaps we too can turn the tide with our words. You know the end of the story. God removed Saul from the throne and installed David in his place. As I have studied David’s life, I noted his continual boasting in the Lord. I think his success was tied to his proclamation. While others count their soldiers and array their weaponry, David installed his stronghold. His plan involved the power of the Almighty, his strategy relying on the promises of his Lord.

It seems, then, that David didn’t have anything we don’t have. That is what makes his story so attractive. We can do what he did. We can love the Lord and trust in His prowess as David did and enjoy the same success. The strategy that prevailed for David will work for us too. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul. Lean on Him and His understanding. Make joyful praise to the Lord and let His power arise in your battles.