Grasping Straws

Suggested Reading: Psalm 131

“I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself.” Psalm 131:1-2 (NLT)

I enjoy surfing the web discovering other writers with a passion for Jesus; I find this both rewarding and daunting. I often come across unique and well-written blogs causing me to take pause on my own abilities. Maybe this is how the Lord keeps me humble.

One particular blogger writes about deep theological issues, and he writes them in such a clear, easy to understand manner. I enjoy his writings immensely (and you may as well, so I included the link to his site), but at the same time I have been tempted to run off on rabbit trails researching issues I may never understand. (Predestination, election, the trinity, soteriology…what I can understand continues to blow my mind.) This morning as I listened to Bible on audio I was struck by Psalm 131.

David starts with, “Lord, my heart is not too proud; my eyes are not haughty,” and my spiritual light-bulb goes on. True humility comes with understanding my own calling, and walking in it with confidence, rather than pursuing what I haven’t been given a mind for.

God has not called me to be a seminary grad (at this point), nor has He called me to try in my feeble attempts to understand the deepest mysteries of doctrine. He has only called me to draw on his word and apply it to my life, sharing how marvelously freeing his truth can be for the soul who believes and lives it. This is how my soul is quieted and finds peace; knowing who I am, what my purpose is, and not straying from that path.

Some are theologians, preachers, or missionaries, and some are just regular folks like me, redeemed sinners rescued from a pit of hopeless despair and called to live the liberating life of Jesus.

Blameless

Blameless

“May I be blameless in keeping your decrees; then I will never be ashamed.” Psalm 119:80 NLT

When we enter the presence of God are we ashamed or confident? Can we come to him in prayer and feel good about the way we have conducted our lives? The prophet Isaiah got a taste of the holiness of God and declared, “Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…for mine eyes have seen the glory of the Lord of hosts!” (Isa 6:5) This account gives me goose bumps every time I read it. How do we view ourselves when we come into the presence of the Almighty? Do we come to him with an attitude of indulgence, demanding what we think we need? I fear much of what has happened today is a lack of self-awareness. We don’t view ourselves as we ought to. We are weighed down with pride. We approach God as if he is our vending machine. “Bless this pursuit, God, thank you!”

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for ever losing sight of the holiness of God!

Yet, God doesn’t call us into a life of shame and regret, does he? He calls us into a life of holiness. He is a Holy God, and he demands holiness from his children.  However, there is a big difference between living a holy life, and living a life of bondage. We can try so hard to be “good” in our own power that we become slaves to rituals, rules, and conduct codes. Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and try to live that out. It can’t be done apart from the Holy Spirit! Reading the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the law then trying to act them out is a sure way to feel like a failure. We are called to live a blameless life, but we are not called into bondage. The only way to live a holy life is to walk in the will of God, and that involves spending time getting to know Him. As we get to know the voice of God and his leading we get “in tune” with the Holy Spirit and his ways. Over time we see a change in our conduct.

 The behavior springs forth from the relationship, the relationship doesn’t come from the behavior.  If we have the relationship right, the behavior will flow. So, are we walking the “fruits of the spirit”? Are we a living testimony of the Sermon on the Mount? If not, we need to check in on our relationship and knowledge of the Lord. If we are walking in the Spirit, he will lead us into his will.

When I come into the presence of God I do not want to be ashamed.

“I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin.” 2 Samuel 22:24

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life-when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with a blameless heart. I will set my eyes before no vile thing.” Psalm 101:2-3

“He whose walk is blameless is kept safe.” Proverbs 28:18

“You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 18:13

“For he chose us in him before the beginning of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.” 2 Peter 3:14

All of the biblical knowledge in the world will be put to shame without a right heart. The Pharisees followed all the rules, but their hearts were perverse. They didn’t grasp the fact that their behavior would not earn them anything before God. They had to come to Jesus first, and they were unwilling to do that. No doubt, they were put to shame because of their religious hypocrisy.

If we want to have confidence in our prayer life, we need to be walking the blameless life. We cannot do that apart from Jesus. Intimate dependence on him is the beginning of correct behavior. We start in his word, getting to know him, spending time with him and letting his Spirit change our hearts as we mature in him.

This is the holy life; walking in the will of God.

A relationship with a holy God will lead us into the blameless life. In this way we can enter the throne room of Christ and have confidence in what we ask.

The holy life is the life never put to shame.

Prayer

Jesus, I know every single day I fall far short of your holy standard. I want to come into your presence with confidence and assurance that I am in your will. Help me this moment to see a glimpse of your true holiness. I know you want what is best for me, and that it’s perfectly lined out in your word. Teach me to love your word so I can know your word and follow your word. I need your Spirit to guide me into truth to keep me from being ashamed in your presence. I want to stand before you confident that I am in your will and living the blameless life.

Confidence

Confidence

“I will speak to kings about your laws, and I will not be ashamed.” Psalm 119:46 NLT

Confidence in the presence of God gives us confidence in the presence of men. When we are confident of whom we are, who Christ has made us, and how he sees us, we will have boldness in the world to speak the truth. The fear of man’s view of us, what we believe and how we choose to live stems from an insecurity in our relationship with Jesus. If we truly understand who he is and how he feels about us, it should spur us on with all assurance.

Psalm 119:43 “Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth.”

Verse 46 is the answer to this request. The truth has not been taken from the Psalmist, but rather validated in his life giving him boldness before rulers.  No doubt the Psalmist knew the promises of God well, and he trusted God in light of that.

Great holiness equals great boldness.

Silence, idle talk, cowardice, and bashfulness are all signs of the one who is ashamed. The Psalmist declares with force, “I will speak.” He has predetermined that he has the word of truth, God has given it to him, and he will speak of it. Indeed, he will not only speak of it rather than remain silent, but he will speak to kings about it! He will not only speak to kings about Gods truth, he will do so boldly and unashamed!

Imagine the opportunities we are given every day to be a bold witness with our lives. When we are living out his will our actions will back up what we speak of. That blameless life gives us confidence before men.

Have you ever been given advice about a situation from someone clearly not heeding their own words? It’s a little difficult to trust that kind of wisdom. I can’t expect my daughter to grow up with healthy eating habits by merely telling her to do so, I have to live it. It’s not going to have much weight if I’m gluttonous every day while telling her she cannot do as I am doing.

If I want people to see Jesus, I need to be a portrait of who he is. It’s more than just words and knowledge.

The fact is people are drawn to actions rather than words. I’m more interested in my daughter obeying me then I am in her telling me she loves me 500 times a day. If you love me, obey me! How interesting that a parent child relationship is mirrored in our relationship with Christ. He also tells us if we love him we need to show it! Stop the talk and start the actions.

The actions will back up our words and give us a holy boldness before men. We can speak of truth and not be ashamed. We can have the word of truth in our mouths and declare it before kings without fear!

So often we avoid speaking because we are afraid to offend someone. Really, it’s quite absurd. Jesus does not give us a politically correct example. He often offended people, mostly the Pharisees (the religious leaders!). Jesus was the ultimate example of speaking the truth in love. So often we think speaking the truth “in love” means keeping our mouths shut or sugar coating the truth; however we should never be ashamed of the truth he has revealed to us in his word! Certainly, we should never apologize for it. I’ve heard people say, “Hey don’t get mad at me it’s in the Bible, God said it not me!”

Listen folks, if God said it, we shouldn’t be ashamed of it! We should speak it boldly and have the life to back it up!

Could you stand before kings with confidence?

Bosses

Spouses

Friends

Siblings

Co-workers

Do we have confidence before them? Can they tell who Jesus is by what they see from us? Or do we have hollow words; or perhaps no words at all?

“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

Prayer

Lord, teach me your word and let me never be ashamed to proclaim it! Help me to trust the promises in your word, and gain boldness from my relationship with you. I want my life to be a witness of who you are and I want it to point others to you. Let me be one who is deeper than just words, truly walking blamelessly before men.

Expectation

“When will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:82 NLT

Expectation

“I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” Micah 7:7

I can’t think of anything much worse than getting the silent treatment, especially getting the silent treatment from God. Sometimes our afflictions come in the form of silence. We cry out, we plead, beg, anguish, and it seems to fall on deaf ears. “Where is that God of yours?” you hear while wondering within yourself, “I don’t know.”

We have the word, we know the promises, we claim the truths and yet we get nothing but silence. What are we to do? When will we receive our comfort? The Psalmist went through this awful silence, and he didn’t seem to like it much either. There is an answer, and we do have a choice.

The real answer comes in the waiting. The Psalmist knew that God would comfort him, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was when? It seems that this waiting is usually the problem with us. There is a reason for the silence, though. We can be sure God is not ignoring us, mocking us, playing games, or tricking us. He does care. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

Do we trust what God is doing? Do we trust him in the silence, while we wait for his answer? Micah 7:7 says we can be certain he will hear us. Certain! Right now if you are experiencing the silence, you simply need to be reminded of who God is and how he feels about you. If you believe the Bible is infallible, then you must take the truth that he does care, and wrap it up in your heart like a treasure. Hold on to that during the silence. He will sustain the righteous. Hold on to that during the silence. Truth; hold on to it, stay in it, remind yourself of it, and do not give in to doubt and unbelief that threatens your security in Christ!  The enemy would like nothing more than to get us off the path of trust and into the darkness of doubt. We are rendered ineffective when we are wrecked with unbelief. We cannot help but drip the scent of that poison like garlic cloves hung around our necks. NO! Refuse the unbelief, and embrace the joy of his words to you.

We are called to be active in the waiting. We expect our God to answer, we look for his reply. We don’t stop living life and curl up in a heap while tragedy strikes. We actively trust God and walk in that trust. That is what we are shown throughout the word.

“Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

“So now, come back to your God…always depend on him.” Hosea 12:6

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

Lastly, we wait with confidence. When we trust someone, we have confidence in them. We know they will come through for us, and that encourages and motivates us. We have confidence in God because of his word that has proven true over and over again in the lives of millions throughout the centuries. Is it even logical to doubt now? When we consider the stars, the heavens, the earth, and all of creation so well designed, does it really seem reasonable to doubt that God will take care of our situation, silent or not?

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

We wait expectantly for him to answer, we know he hears us and sustains us in the silence, we have confidence in him, and we live like we believe what he says!

When the answer comes, when the words are spoken softly to your heart, when understanding is clarified, you can rest assured it was in Gods perfect timing, and not a moment too soon.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the silent times, when you have allowed me to learn to wait on you. Thank you for developing a deeper level of trust and confidence in you. Thank you for increasing my faith. I confess my times of unbelief and doubting to you, and ask that you remind me of who you are and how you care for me. Combat the lies of the enemy that tell me you’ve abandoned me with the truth that you are sustaining me. Make that truth real in my heart and open my eyes to see you clearer in my circumstances. Teach me to trust while I am waiting on you.