Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crazy Week...Good God

It has been insane for me this week, so I don't have time for anything original. At the present time, I am preparing 8 proposals...all which have to be ready by the end of the week. It is particually tempting to stress about this as I am going out of town, to a conference in Kentucky, this weekend and won't be back in the office until Wednesday. Since I came in this morning to an additional deadline notice left on my desk, it appears The Powers That Be don't really care about my plans. :) When I got in this morning, I remembered something I'd read yesterday and then thought "Certainly, the Lord's purpose in allowing these seemingly impossible tasks to be put before me is not to torment me and send me to this conference all in a tizzy. I must believe that His purpose is not to "vex" me but to bless me and do somethng amazing." In the meantime, I am hourly shown my inability, and thus far have been amazed by His ability to do what seems impossible for me, through me...and my co-worker (who is also preparing for the conference!) Please pray for us. In the meantime, and until I have time for something more original, chew on this...

"He led them forth by the right way." - Psalm 107:7
Changeful experience often leads the anxious believer to enquire "Why is it thus with me?" I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved. Lord, thou dost hide Thy face, and I am troubled. It was but yesterday that I could read my title clear; to-day my evidences are bedimmed, and my hopes are clouded. Yesterday I could climb to Pisgah's top, and view the landscape o'er, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; to-day, my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress. Is this part of God's plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven? Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God's method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith-they are waves that wash you further upon the rock-they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven. According to David's words, so it might be said of you, "so He bringeth them to their desired haven." By honour and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way. Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. "We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom." Learn, then, even to "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."

"O let my trembling soul be still,
And wait Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee."

--Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Psalm 63

From John Piper's Pierced by the Word

Psalm 63
My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
(running from his son, Absalom)

O God, you are my God;
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. (v 1-8)

" ...Learn from David what to do in a brokenhearted, terrifying moment: He prays. The whole psalm is addressed to God. He asks for one thing - not protection, not victory, but God Himself, satisfying his soul, like water satisfies thirst in a dry and weary land...Oh, to know God like this! Would this not be everything to us? Would this not be more than all riches and fame and success and health, indeed all the world can offer? God Himself coming near and making our souls drink from His love until all else fades from view, and fear is swallowed up in the unshakeable security of everlasting enjoyment at the right hand of God. Oh that we would come to this place in our walk with God! ..."O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." If this were on our lips Saturday night and Sunday morning, would not God open the springs of heaven and show us mightily that His "steadfast love is better than life"?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

From my journal

Quotes and prayers from this morning...

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3)

From Whispers of His Power:
And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat!We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at. (Numbers 11:1-6)

To think of nice things one can't have is to become discontented and grump. Is there something you want and can't have today? Are you tempted to grouse about it? Repeat that little string of six words to yourself quite slowly and solemnley: "fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic." If you haven't tiem for all six, just say "cucumbers," and see what will happen. First you will laugh. Then, in a flash, you will remember those foolish and ungrateful people whose story you know so well. You will remember, too, how patiently God bore with them and you will be ashamed that even for one moment you joined forces with them. -- Amy Carmichael

From Joy & Strength:
Stand still awhile and seriously consider the noble end for which thou wast created and for which God hath placed thee in this world! Thou was not created for time and the creature, but for God and eternity and to employ thyself with God and eternity. -- Gerhard Tersteegen

Lord, make me to know my true state - that I am but dust. Dust that was created and placed and redeemed to bring you glory. What glory is there in dust? It is a bother and a nuisance that is regularly swept away. Yet you chose me and though my existence is as fleeting and sure to be wiped away as a layer of dust on a bookshelf, you have a plan and purpose for that short time and mean it to be glorius. I wait on you, Lord, knowing that to whatever length my waiting extends , you have waited and will waill wait far longer for me. I wait knowing that though I am dust you chose me and rescued me for a purpose. And that purpose was not that I might be miserable until I am wiped away. You redeemed me - died for me - that I might find joy, peace and hope in you in all things and bring glory to your name. Father, help me to know that I am dust, but that I am also your child, chosenand rescued with a plan in mind. Help me to do what you command, accept what you place before me today and not think of all the things I'd like but don't have. You've given me more than enough, more than I deserve...and you aren't even finished yet! Thank you, Lord. Amen.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night,while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?" These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

There is STILL Corn in Egypt

Last year, I believe the Lord gave me a word. It was very much a word in due season...and that season continues...and that word still both pierces and heals my soul.

Then, I was struggling to get back on track with my weight loss and longing for a specific relationship. Now, I'm honestly flat out sinning in my eating, the hopes for that specific relationship have been dashed, and I feel very dry...even abandoned. I know this isn't the case. Then it felt like the Lord might be saying "Not this...but I have something else." Now, it feels more like "Not this...and really there's nothing else." I know this isn't truth. Then the Lord gave me this word...and now it is needed even more than it was a year ago.

There is corn in Egypt.

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of electing love, had stored a granary for His people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity, and leading them to treasure up the grain of the years of plenty. Little did Jacob expect deliverance from Egypt, but there was the corn in store for him. Believer, though all things are apparently against thee, rest assured that God has made a [provision] on thy behalf; in the [midst] of thy griefs there is a saving [grace]. Somehow He will deliver thee, and somewhere He will provide for thee. The quarter from which thy rescue shall arise may be a very unexpected one, but help will assuredly come in thine extremity, and thou shalt magnify the name of the Lord. If men do not feed thee, ravens shall; and if earth yield not wheat, heaven shall drop with manna. Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in the Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if He pleases, and make the source of distress the channel of delight. The corn in Egypt was all in the hands of the beloved Joseph; he opened or closed the granaries at will. And so the riches of providence are all in the absolute power of our Lord Jesus, who will dispense them liberally to His people. Joseph was abundantly ready to succour his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in His faithful care for His brethren. Our business is to go after the help which is provided for us: we must not sit still in despondency, but bestir ourselves. Prayer will bear us soon into the presence of our royal Brother: once before His throne we have only to ask and have: His stores are not exhausted; there is corn still: His heart is not hard, He will give the corn to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this evening constrain us to draw largely from Thy fulness and receive grace for grace. (Spurgeon)

Then, I read this and cried: "I believe, Lord. Help mine unbelief!"

Today I send up the same cry. But, more than that, I am overwhelmed with grief over my unbelief. How can I look back over my life - a life that was very much saved from destruction and death - and think for one minute that the Lord isn't good...that He doesn't have a plan...that He isn't for me? How can I think that this withholding is meant for anything but my good and His glory?

I don't know, but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say there are times when I do think exactly that way.

It hurts just to type that.

Lord, I believe you can change my unbelief!

I am willing, Lord,
to receive what Thou givest,
to lack what Thou withholdest,
to relingquish what Thou takest,
to surrender what Thou claimest,
to suffer what Thou ordainest,
to do what Thou commandest,
to wait until Thou sayest, "Go." ~unknown

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Have you met my inner One-Year-Old?

The other night, I visited with a small group of ladies from my church. A dear friend of mine was there with her one-year-old daughter, who is very lively and fun. She is also one, which means she has opinions but lacks the verbal ability to express them, so she does what she knows to do...fuss. At one point before the meeting, this sweet girl realized she was hungry and didn't want to wait for the rest of us to eat. She needed her food RIGHT NOW and she was going to get way or the other. She tried the cute approach. She hugged Mommy's pregnant belly. She tried to plead. She tried to get at the food herself. When all that failed...she cried, quickly repeated the few words she knew mixed in with other noises, and she turned red in frustration. I looked at her, somewhat enjoying her determination and muttered to myself "That's what my heart looks like most of the time."

The other ladies heard me...and the attention was mercifully removed from my friend and her darling,determined daughter.

Over the past few weeks, I've been confronted with my sinfulness, it seems, almost daily. What I have seen is my inner one-year-old...throwing a tantrum because things aren't going my way. When my will comes up against another's, providence, reality, I fume and fuss (mostly on the inside) and cry and look for any possible means of getting my way. It's everywhere I look: home, work, family, even in my relationship with the Lord. This past week, I also found out "it" has a name - it's called Selfish Ambition.

This is what scripture has to say about this particular sin:

This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition (Greek: rivalry) exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:15-17)

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

My eyes were opened to the true nature of my heart AND what that sin was called through a very helpful message on Selfish Ambition by Betsy Riccuci. Hearing how this sin manifested itself in her life was like hearing a description of myself. As she shared her attempts to mortify this sin I realized something...more often than not my first motive and ambition is self.

By His grace, this "kneejerk" response is often beaten down and His truth changes my thinking, my heart and my actions...but it is still there. My heart want's to set myself up as god and thus the clash begins. Because I belong to Christ and have His Spirit, this rebellion is met with force and the true God will be victorious. I am thankful for this...for His power AND for His mercy on me.

Though the tantrums continue. Though what I see in me is beyond ugly. His gracious purpose is now, always has been,and always will be my good. He is still for me and His purposes are still being worked out in my life...for my life...and most humbling of all, through my life.

God help me to make it all about you and not about me. More of you, less of me is my prayer. Your will be done, not mine! Whatever that looks like. Whatever I have to lose or give up or change to bring you glory and be more conformed into the image of your Son. Do it! And give me the faith, despite the tantrums and intense emotion, to submit to your Hand and trust You!