Jan 9 2015

Tested Tips For Seeking Grace

Today I was reflecting on David . . . you know, the shepherd, musician, warrior, king of Israel. David, the “man after God’s own heart,” one of the most relatable, influential characters in the Bible. As I continue preparing and working through our current sermon series on Grace In The Everyday, I find myself thinking that David was a guy who really had an operational sense of the grace of God.

Through the “ins” & “outs”, the “ups” & “downs” of David’s life, he seems to generally keep his gaze on God. God provided the strength, the resolve, the comfort in all of David’s circumstances. Whether moments of triumph like winning battles or moments of sorrow like guilt over sin, David runs to God – regularly and completely. And with God, David finds what he needs.

So I asked myself, “What qualities of David’s life may have contributed to such a consistent leaning on the grace of God? And can I (and C!C) emulate that to better tune our lives to God and His grace?”

Here are three practices from David’s life as seen through the Psalms that helped David keep his eyes on God:

 

  • David sought God in His temple.

 

The Lord is in his holy temple (Ps 11:4)

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: 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 inquire in his temple. (Ps 27:4)

In addition, there are many Psalms of Ascents which functioned to help focus one’s worship while approaching and entering the temple. I think we can interpret God in His temple as the seat of His Presence and source of His revelation. For us today, this is primarily accomplished through spiritually discerning God’s Word. Saving faith in Christ initiates the Holy Spirit dwelling inside the believer to enable intimate relationship and communication with God! Seek Him where we know He can be found. Spend dedicated, introspective time in the Bible, praying and meditating about what it says and how it might influence your life. Such sacred time will pave the way to experiencing more of God’s grace.

 

  • David sought God in nature.

 

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Ps 8:3)

The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. (Ps 19:1-3)

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (Ps 29:9)

I can’t help but be inspired by how consistently nature responds to God by doing what it was created to do. If only I could so naturally respond to God’s promptings. Even in the deepest days of winter (and sometimes especially there), a walk in the woods with my dog awakens affections for Christ that my to-do list somehow renders dormant. Spend some time outside. Get in the woods and look up, letting the Spirit lead you deeper into grace. (He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Ps 103:10-12)

 

  • David sought God by being with God’s people.

 

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. (Ps 16:3)

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! . . . Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Ps 34: 1-3, 11)

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! (Ps 122:1-2)

I love this one. Between work, family, leisure, social networks, etc., it can be easy to give a backseat to initiating spending time with other believers. Let me be clear to say that spending time together on Sunday morning is NOT enough for growing in grace through being with God’s people. For the sake of God’s kingdom, we should make time to have one another over more often. We should attend various functions together. We should share with one another. It may be difficult and/or awkward at first – but most of life’s best things start that way. Take the initiative to meet someone new at church this week. Then go out of your way to contact and/or meet up with someone from church. Talk about a Bible verse that you’ve found encouraging. Share what you find special about grace. Do this and get ready to experience a special blessing as the One Spirit that you share leads you deeper into the joy and grace of the Lord.

Let’s all “go after God’s heart.”


Aug 10 2012

Who are you listening to? Part 2

A few posts ago I wrote about the importance of listening to Jesus in order to receive the words/message that He may desire you to pass along.  Thus, in our marketing-saturated society, we’ve got to be careful who we’re listening to so that we don’t miss out on the best messages.  Well, thanks to a series of life circumstances over the past couple weeks, I’ve got version 2.0 of that message.

In all honesty, it’s been a tiring couple of weeks, physically and spiritually.  Sparing the details, there were travelings, sicknesses, losses, disappointments, unmet expectations, flat bicycle tires, and often a general feeling of being spiritually assailed by the evil one.  Enter into that picture a simple children’s praise CD that has put various Scripture verses to music.  (Caleb requests this one a lot.)

[ band strikes up ]

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Matthew 12:34″

And that’s the song.  Remarkably simple, with a fairly catchy tune (come take a ride in our swagger wagon . . . I’m telling you, Caleb will likely request it.)

Well here’s the rub.  I realized that in the midst of this difficult couple of weeks, my mouth wasn’t “clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12) like I would want.  The lyrics/verse of the song provided the reason why.  I had definitely been short-changing my time in the Word in the midst of the craziness.  My heart was overflowing with more woes that it was with the Word.  So in response, I dove into Psalms to help find my bearings.

The Lord rewarded my obedience with Psalm 25 .  Go ahead, take a few minutes and read it.  Put yourself into the Psalmist’s shoes and pray this from your perspective instead of David’s.  Pay attention to your heart as you meditate on the picture of God described in the chapter.  Pray that God would keep His Truth in your heart . . . and watch how your responses throughout the day change.  ‘Cause ya know . . . “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”


Aug 12 2011

“Right the first time”

“Do it right the first time.”

This is one of the many phrases/lessons that I heard from my dad countless times growing up.  And while I’ll admit an occasional roll-of-the-eyes upon the faithful reminder, I deeply appreciated my dad’s guidance and perspective.

This morning, during a sweet time in the Word, I came across a story that spoke to the truth in my dad’s statement as clear as the ring of a bell.  In 1Chronicles chapter 15, King David is finally bringing the Ark of the Lord into Jerusalem.  In verse 2, David proclaims, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before Him forever.”  Then verse 15 records, “Then the Levites carried the ark of God the way Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord: on their shoulders with poles.”

Why is this significant?

Well, back in the books of the Law (specifically Exodus 25:10-15) God gave very specific instructions regarding the Ark and its transport.  Then only a few chapters before our story above, David first decides to bring the Ark into the city (1Chron. 13).  The problem is that David decides to put the Ark on a cart to be pulled by oxen.  You know the story from here: an ox stumbles, Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark, but as Uzzah was not permitted to touch the Holy object, the Lord struck him dead.  David, out of emotional anger and fear of the Lord, leaves the Ark under the care of a Levite instead of bringing it into the city, and the Lord blesses the caretaker greatly.

I see significant lessons in that

- David learned from his mistake and ended up doing the right thing,

– David’s lesson came at a high price, the life of Uzzah and the blessing associated with obedience,

– David could have done the right thing the first time.

 

As I consider how I respond to my to-do list items, to my call to obedience before the Lord, and also to my leadership/example as a father, I see the need to heed the advice of my father:  do it right the first time.  What tasks lay before you today that you are trying to cut corners on?  What responsibilities do you have where you insist on just doing it “your way”?  Consider what you think God would have before you as the “right way,” seek some spiritual counsel from a trusted friend if need be, and decide to trust the Lord with process and the outcome.  I think we’ll all be better off for it!