Heart Sick

Heart Sick

“If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.” Psalm 119:92 NLT

Have you noticed that some of these verses about “delight” have referenced pain, misery, anguish, trouble, or discomfort of some kind? (See Psalm 119:143) I like how the Message puts it:

“If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so, I would have given up when the hard times came.”

Do you know anyone who has given up? Perhaps you have given up? I know a few people who have definitely given up on life, given up hope for happiness, and are certainly drowning in a sea of their own misery. I have been there myself. Part of the problem is whether or not we really understand the character of God. It’s one thing to look at a verse and nod in agreement, but if that truth hasn’t infiltrated the deepest recesses of our minds, it won’t transform our behavior. And by behavior I mean whether or not we choose to trust our Sovereign God when we are facing terrible distresses. We can know all the facts in the world about the Bible, Jesus, God and various doctrines, but if we are not living it out, it is worthless information (James 1:23-25); just words on a page or knowledge in the brain. Facts won’t transform us.

When we are hopeless, miserable, and despairing it is an outward evidence of an inward illness; the heart that has not fully understood the living truth of God’s promises. We’re not instructed to transform our behavior through memorizing facts (not that memorization is bad-quite the contrary), we are told to be “transformed” by the “renewing” (Greek word meaning “renovation”) of our minds; this is the only way to discover God’s will. (Romans 12:2) Our mind must undergo a spiritual renovation. This process involves removing the old décor, tearing down some walls, maybe building a new room, and removing the old clutter. This renovation will teach us to think in a different way. This way of thinking is led by the Holy Spirit, and is centered on the word of God and his revealed truth. Without this mind makeover, we are left to our own way of thinking which seems good to us, but in reality is conformed to the thought processes of the world. We cannot be worldly and spiritual at the same time.

If we really know God relationally (as opposed to just factually) we will begin to have a transformation of thought which will result in a transformation of behavior. Take a marriage, for example. As you get to know your spouse as a person (their character) you begin to behave differently around them. You have a level of trust based on your knowledge of who they are, and how they have acted towards you in the past. You also allow yourself to be more “real” in the presence of your partner as opposed to a person you just met last week. It’s not the facts of your spouse that influences your behavior, it’s the knowledge of their character based on your experience with them in your life.

So, are you miserable? What has your experience and relationship with God been like? Do you know his character, do you trust what the Bible says about who he is and how he feels about you, his treasured creation? Your relationship with God will dictate your behavior. Walking around moping and feeling sorry for ourselves is a demonstration of disbelief in God’s word. Does that sound too hard? Think about it!  It is something we are all guilty of at times, but it can be different! God’s word can sustain us with a deep lasting joy despite any situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be walking around bubbly and enthusiastic all the time, but it does mean that deep down we will trust God, his word, and his promises and know his plan is being worked out in us. (Romans 8:28) That knowledge and experience with our Lord will relieve our pressure, lift our burdens, and give us joy! God is working this out: hallelujah! I know I can’t figure it out on my own (and when I try it usually turns into a total nightmare) but I know when God is moving miraculous things occur. I want my eyes to be open to the miracles he’s performing every day in my life, but I can’t see and be thankful for those things if I am fixated on not getting my way.

If it’s in my life (and yours) then God allowed it, and if I have a problem with that I need to dig deeper in to his word to discover more of his heart for me. God isn’t the problem, he’s the solution.

Prayer

Jesus, right now I choose to thank you for this circumstance in my life. I admit I am uncomfortable, but I realize that you are painting the portrait, not me. I will stop trying to add my colors to your picture, and let you be the Artist. Teach me more of who you are and what you are up to in my life so I may learn to trust you completely in all things. Today I ask for you to show yourself to me in a mighty miraculous way, confirm for me the truth that you are here, you care, and you have a plan. Impress that upon my heart with your Holy Spirit, and help me to be quiet so I can listen to your voice.

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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.

Settled

 “Forever, O Lord, your
word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89-NKJV

Settled

Look in the mirror.
How often has your appearance changed over the years? How about your wardrobe?
If you’re honest with yourself, there may be a decade (or two) that you’d
rather forget when it comes to fashion!

Trends come and go;
music fads change; seasons change; ideas change; even the tires on our car
change (at the worst times, might I add!). Everywhere we look something is changing, and frankly it
gets to be a little tiresome. How do we keep up with it all unless we spend
money? Of course, that usually requires a job
change!

What a drag.

But wait…I see the
sun beams breaking through the graying clouds of our downcast spirit. Now there is something constant! The sun!
When have you ever woken up and not found the sun in the sky? Maybe it was
hidden behind some storm clouds, but you knew it was there, and it would shine
again. It’s constant, you can count on it. We count on the stars to be there at
night and the earth to continue rotating on its axis. Who put all of these
things in motion, anyways? Do we count on Him? If God’s creation is constant,
how much more so is his Word! No, it’s
not only constant, it’s settled!

Established.

Firm.

Immovable.

God has made up his
mind about a few things (to say the least) and he has graciously poured them
out into print for us: the BIBLE! What pleasure, what relief we have knowing anytime of the day or night we have the
honor of learning the heart of God through his inspired words! He breathed it,
he spoke it; these words have no variation. They are the same yesterday, today,
and forever, settled in heaven and on earth, unchanged for all eternity for you
and for me.

Prayer:

Jesus, when everything around me
bellows with uncertainty, I will cling to your words of life as the only unshakeable
source of constant truth.

I Do Not Compromise With Evil

 “[I] do not compromise with evil.” Psalm 119:3 (NLT)

“The surest way to abstain from doing evil is to be fully occupied in good.”

Charles H. Spurgeon (Treasury of David, Volume 6)

 

How often do we hear someone say (or even say it ourselves), “Well, this is what that verse means to me”? We are directed in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “be diligent to present yourself to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The New Living Translation puts it this way, “…one who correctly explains the word of truth.”  It’s not about what God’s word means to me; it’s about what God’s word says-period.  We need God’s continual transformation of our hearts in alignment to His word, in this way we can become aware of the many counterfeits standing in line to take our attention, our love, and our devotion away from the One who deserves it. Compromise often comes when we don’t fully understand the truth. “Sin will keep us from the Bible, or the Bible will keep us from sin-one or the other.” (John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms)

I Wanted A Piece Of Fruit; God Gave Me A Smoothie

For the last few days all I have been craving is a good piece of fresh fruit. That doesn’t sound so complicated I suppose….except for one little hitch. I can’t afford to go buy one little piece of fruit right now. It’s not that I don’t have food in my house, or that I have a puffed out bloated tummy like a starving child in Africa. No, I am well fed. It’s just a tough time for us, and right now we have no grocery budget, and have to make due with what we have in the cabinets. None of that happened to be fresh fruit or any type of fruit juice. *sigh* Ok, not the end of the world, I can drink some water and pretend.

When I look at my circumstances, they don’t look desirable. In fact, one could say they “suck”.  Someone told me the other day, “It always seems that bad things happen to good people. And you’re better than me because at least you go to church, and look at all this stuff happening to you. I don’t understand it or think it’s fair. You derserve better.” I suppose if I had entertained that line of thought I could have easily talked myself in to one massive pity party like I have done so many times in the past. But this time I knew it would be different. This time I had trust. This time I was not going to allow my circumstances and the storms of life to affect my attitude and spiral me into a fit of worry. Hey, if I have to live off of cereal and bread for two weeks, then so be it. I’ll live. It could be worse. In the past I would have been freaking out, wringing my hands, upset because I couldn’t eat exactly what I wanted. Upset because I didn’t know how rent was going to be paid or how needs would be met. Having major anxiety attacks and major anger problems. But this time was different. God got ahold of me. I knew that no matter what, I was where He wanted me to be, and He was my Provider. I knew I could trust Him. It might not be what I wanted (No Steak and Shrimp, God??) but it would be what I needed. So I relaxed and let God take care of it. Trusting God didn’t change my circumstances. It changed ME. That’s when the light bulb went on. This whole thing isn’t about crying out to God when I need something and watching him fix it and make my life easier. It’s about trusting Him even when my circumstances DON’T change. It’s about loving Him, praising Him, and fixing my eyes on Him even when everything around me gives me every reason to lose hope. To turn my back and complain. To say “It’s not fair!”  First God wants my undivided attention. He wants my trust in Him, and he doesn’t want that trust to be conditional based on what He is doing for me. Just think…if everything was always so grand in my life, then would I really appreciate or even notice the awesome ways God moves around me? Probably not. God isn’t just in the big things, He is all around me in the little things, in all the details. And he wants me to SEE HIM in it, and PRAISE HIM for it! Every day should be an AWESOME GOD day! Not just the days that are going well, or the successful days or the happy days. God allows these things in my life to show Himself to me in an even more intimate way. What a loving and nurturing God! He says:

“‘I will satisfy with…abundance and my people will be filled with My bounty.’ declares the Lord.'” Jeremiah 31:14(NIV)

Well, you wonder, did your awesome God give you your fruit?? Let me tell you. My dear friend surprised me with a couple bags of groceries, after a day at the park. Along with that was a bag a freshly picked oranges from one of her neighbors trees. When I brought the groceries home and started unloading them, I quickly realized that not only was God involved, but He was ALL OVER this! Every item pulled from these bags was something my family normally eats, and some were things my daughter had been asking for for weeks! Now, mind you, my friend was not aware of any of our normal eating habits, likes or dislikes. All she had was the leading of the Holy Spirit, and she followed it! As my daughter slept during her nap I took one of the bananas my friend gave us, and two of the fresh oranges. Found some ice cream in the freezer, and made myself a wonderfully delightful, fresh fruit smoothie. And as I sat there in the couch in silence reflecting on the awesomeness of my God’s provision I thought, “Hey, all I wanted was a piece of fruit, but God gave me a smoothie!”

What’s my point? Simply this: God allows us to face things in our lives to reveal Himself to us more through our circumstances and through other people. He used a friend of mine today, who I have only known for a few weeks, to greatly bless my family. Her generosity and kindness was God honoring and her faithfulness to Him is no doubt going to be rewarded. But how could she have served unless someone was in need? In the same way, all of us have needs or circumstances, and God makes us, as His children, a perfect match to fulfill those needs in each others lives. We just have to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, and be obedient to His voice. Maybe we should look at trials differently. Maybe we should take a moment to stop, and ask God to show Himself to us. What is it that He wants us to see? Who is it He wants us to help? Who is it that He may use to help us?

The bottom line is that He uses all of us to enrich each other, but ultimately He is the sole Provider, and the sole Caretaker.

“Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust.” Psalm 16:1

Preserve-(Hebrew definition)

a prim. root; to hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. to guard; to protect; attend to…etc.-beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep(-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save, sure, (that lay) wait (for) watch(-man)

If you look at the original Hebrew definition of “preserve” you see all that it implies. We could re-phrase this verse in many other ways to understand it further, based on this definition, and therefore gain a greater knowledge of how God truly cares for us.

Mark me, O God…”

“Look narrowly after me, O God…”

“Observe me, O God…”

“Regard me, O God…”

“Save me, O God…”

“Lay wait for me, O God…”

“Be my Watchman, O God…”

“Put a hedge about me with thorns, O God…”

“Protect me, O God…”

“Attend to me, O God…”

“Be my Keeper, O God…”

He IS our Hedge, our Keeper, our Protector, our Attendant, our Watchman….He regards us, He saves us, He observes us, He looks narrowly after us….

What a God!! What is there not to trust? Even in the small things, in the big things, in ANY thing. HE IS THERE, we need to look for HIM, and He will be found. Allow Him to use your circumstances for His glory, before you throw up your hands in frustration. Ask Him to satisfy your soul with His goodness, BEFORE your circumstances change.

“For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9