Monthly Archives: June 2018

WHICH WAY?

Psalm 86:11 has been my prayer since 2008. It’s a prayer and a response. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth.

The rest of the verse is also a prayer and a response. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.

What are God’s ways? He told the prophet Isaiah that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. Our ways are often patterned on the world’s ways, what works to our advantage, forgetting that what we think is the right way is often the wrong way.

God gave Adam a simple test. “Do not eat the fruit of that one tree.” We think that the fruit was the issue. There must have been something wrong with the fruit of that particular tree. However, the fruit wasn’t the issue at all – the real issue was; would Adam trust God enough to believe what He said and not try it out for himself?

Just like our children who don’t believe our warnings until they get hurt trying out what we warned them not to do, Adam followed Eve who was deceived into believing that God was not telling the truth. Satan insinuated that God was withholding something good from them.

Adam brought death on himself and the entire human race by mistrusting God’s word and deciding for himself what was good and evil.

If and when we pray David’s prayer sincerely, it means that we relinquish the right to decide what is good or bad for us, and trust that God’s ways are always the best, although we may not always understand the things He reveals and the way He works.

God’s ways are always in harmony with who He is. God is love. His ways, though sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible, are always loving towards us. When we follow our own ways, we often get into lots of trouble. When we walk in God’s ways, His love guides us towards knowing Him better and learning more of His truth.

How much better it is to abandon our own stubborn independence and ask Him to show us His ways. In the end, Jesus is the way, and when we follow Him, we will find the path of truth that leads us to the Father. Jesus’ way is the way of gentleness and humility. Caring for and living for others instead of always thinking about and living for ourselves is the beginning of learning God’s ways. It is the way of unending peace.

 

ONE THING!

We all have wishes and desires and wants and dreams, don’t we …and they cover a variety of aspirations, from money and wealth to health and happiness and everything in between? What would you ask for if God promised to give you anything you want? Would He give you what you desire or would He say, “No!” because it would not be good for you?

David also had a desire, so strong that he called it ONE THING. He didn’t only ask for it; he sought it with all his heart.

ONE THING I ask of the Lord., this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple (Psa. 27: 4).

What! Spend your whole life just thinking about God! What benefit is there in that when there’s so much going on around you?

David was the king of Israel but he was also a man after God’s own heart. God loved him dearly – in fact, his name means “beloved.” He had everything his heart could desire. He had wives and children, fame, success, wealth and power. Yet, of all the things he could have desired, he most wanted to be in God’s presence to gaze at Him!

“Well,” you might say, “if I had been David, I would have asked for…”, something tangible to make my life a little easier or more comfortable.

For David, one thing was more important to him than anything else – to be in the presence of the Lord.

Two other Bible characters had one thing on their minds. Mary, Martha’s sister, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. When Martha complained that Mary wasn’t pulling her weight in the kitchen, Jesus gently reminded her that it was Mary’s choice to be with Him and no one could take that ONE THING from her (Luke 10:42).

The apostle Paul also had ONE THING on his mind.

But ONE THING I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13b-14).

The difference between these desires and ours is often the difference between what is eternal and what is transient. These three people set their hearts on the eternal. Another guy in Scripture chose his money over Jesus. He has kept all the commandments, yet he lacked ONE THING – fellowship with Jesus. That makes up for everything else. When you have Jesus, you have everything.

 

 

SHARING GOD’S SECRETS

Do you have a friend with whom you can risk sharing your secrets – even those of which you are ashamed? It’s good to have someone to whom you can unburden yourself when you struggle with issues in your life

A friendship like that can only be built on trust and mutual respect. It is risky to trust another person with your secrets. You would not share your heart with a new friend or a so-called “friend” who has betrayed your trust.

Trust betrayed makes one feel outraged, violated and deeply hurt. After an experience like this, it is difficult to trust anyone again, even those with whom one has trusted with one’s secrets in the past.

To be the confidante of a friend is a privilege which one should honour and a trust one should never betray. We should keep our mouths shut when a friend has shared a secret with us lest we inflict emotional wounds that may never heal by breaking the confidence.

Did you know that God also looks for people in whom He can confide? Why would He want to confide in fickle human beings who might easily betray His trust, when there is fellowship and confidence in the Godhead between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

As strange as it may seem, God created us to be a part of the intimate union between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed that His disciples – we are included if we follow Jesus – be one with Him and the Father (John 17: 20-23).

Abraham was God’s friend. God shared His plan to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with him and, because of his friendship with God, Abraham was bold enough to intercede for the people in the doomed cities. Although God carried out His plan, Abraham’s nephew, Lot escaped God judgment because of Abraham’s intercession.

There is one condition for friendship with God.

The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them (Psalm 25:14).

God is willing to share His secrets with anyone who trusts Him, reverences and honours Him and obeys His Word. Very simply put, to fear the Lord is to recognise and acknowledge who He is and to hold Him in such high esteem that we take seriously what He says and does and honour His name and His Word through our obedience. That’s what Abraham did, even when God asked him to offer his son as a sacrifice.

Wouldn’t you like to be someone with whom God shares His secrets?

STORMPROOF!

How many times have you quoted or heard the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”? We even sing the words church as a worship song. It comes in the middle of Psalm 46 – a song about storm, tumult and war and the place where peace can be found in the midst of chaos.

We love the verse but it’s difficult to put it into practice when the storm hits, isn’t it? How is it possible to be still when our problems are yelling so loudly in our hearts that we can hear nothing else? Emotional, financial, physical or relational storms hit us when we least expect them. We are often so unprepared that the storm knocks us off our feet when we haven’t had the time run to the place of refuge.

If we read the psalm carefully, I think we will recognise that the psalmist isn’t telling us to run for cover when the storm hits. He is singing about a place of refuge where we can live in safety all the time, even when the storm rages around us. That’s a different scenario from looking for a place to hide when we are being battered by unexpected circumstances.

Where can we find a place of refuge where we are always safe and at peace no matter what happens? Right in the middle of the psalm, we find the answer:

The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress (Psa. 46:7)

We don’t need the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, councillors or even pastors in times of trouble. We need only Jesus. How do we live “in Him”? Of course, it’s difficult to begin to live in Jesus when we are in the midst of stormy circumstances. During the lull between crises (and someone said that we always live in a state of slight crisis!), is the time to work on our awareness that He loves us with a passionate, furious and indescribable love so big that He gave His life for us.

John wrote that “there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear”. God’s dream for us is that nothing, nothing, NOTHING will be able to shake our confidence in His love, not even the wildest, most violent storm.

Why does God allow the storms to come? It’s not the devil attacking us! It’s the Father teaching us to trust Him. Where is the safest place to be when the storm hits? Like Papa said (in “The Shack”), “Slap dab in the middle of God’s love.” Why? Because nothing can separate us from His love.