GOD IN A BOX?

II SAMUEL 5:19-20: “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.” So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: Have you ever tried to put God in a box? This may appear to be a strange question at first. However, if we think about it a bit we will realize – we have all done this in our lives. What does it mean to put God in a box? It is when we expect God to work in a way we have experienced once, the same way over and over again.

The text being considered covers the first battle with the Philistines that King David encountered after he was established as King over all the tribes of Israel. When the Philistines heard that all Israel had gathered together and made David King, they gathered together in battle array to stand against David. David was facing his first challenge as their new King.

David had learned over the years of challenges and difficulties in his life, that the battle was not his, but the Lord’s. As a man after God’s own heart, David did not simply summon the army of Israel and enter into battle.

The first thing David did was seek the Lord!

  • “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

The Lord answered David and he led Israel in battle array to meet the Philistines. David and the army of Israel did not have a strategic battle plan, they simply met their enemy head on. And, when they did, God gave them an overwhelming victory!

  • “So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim.”

Now, this is where we usually get snagged with the temptation to put God in a box. In our time of desperation, we cry out to God, and He intervenes with a great victory and breakthrough in our life. Like David, we rejoice and give God praise! And, then we do something else. We begin to think that God will work in the same way every time we face another difficulty. When we do this we are putting God in a box.

If this account of David was in modern times, this is how it might have played out. News of the victory would have been broadcast on social media. David would have been invited to numerous mega-churches to give his testimony. David would have appeared on Christian Television to promote his new book – “God of the Breakthrough” (How you can find your breakthrough too!). And, there would be T-shirts, keychains, and “God of the Breakthrough” version Bibles sold at every Christian bookstore, and even Walmart!

Does any of this sound familiar?

When David experienced this victory he gave God praise! He named the place of victory “Baal Perazim,” which means – the Lord breaks through. Yet, David did not fall into the trap that so many of us do. He did not begin to teach the “Baal Perazim” school of battle strategy. He did not presume that God would work in the same manner each time. David continued to seek the Lord!

  • “Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.” II Samuel‬ ‭5:22-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Note what David did. When the Philistines came against Israel again, David did not simply rely on his previous experience. He did not presume that what God did before, He would do again in the same way. David inquired of the Lord! And, when the Lord answered David it was with an entirely new approach and a new battle strategy.

The constant in all of this was God’s faithfulness and deliverance. The variable was the Lord’s method and timing.

When David refused to put God in a box, when he sought the Lord anew, when he listened to the Lord’s direction, and when he obeyed – he experienced the Lord’s breakthrough in an entirely new way!

What can we learn from this? Before we write the book, before we wrap the package, we need to seek the Lord! We need to avoid methodologies and focus on the source of our victory. When we avoid methodologies it forces us to seek the Lord each and every time! And, when we seek the Lord with a sincere and humble heart, He hears us and delivers us in new and undetermined ways!

  • “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James‬ ‭4:6-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lord, help me to humble myself this morning. I confess that I do not know what to do. The path before me is uncertain. I have not traveled this way before. However, You know my going out and my coming in. As I humble myself before You, as I seek Your face, speak to me this morning and let me hear Your Spirit say – “…This is the way, walk in it!” Let me lay all of my boxes at the cross and humbly seek You today.

In Jesus Name!

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THE POSITION OF WORSHIP…

PSALMS 141:1-4: “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works With men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: How do I position my heart before the Lord in worship? What kind of worship is acceptable to God? Is worship something I do once a week at church, or is it the daily response of my heart to the Lord?

I love to worship the Lord. I love to join with God’s people and lift up my voice in joyful praise. I love to spend time in the presence of God. There is nothing more fulfilling than being in His presence. Yet, if I am honest, many times when I do this, my heart is not truly positioned to worship. I need to be reminded that worship is not something that I do, it is first and foremost the condition of my heart before the Lord.

David begins this Psalm with a statement of his utter need for the Lord.

  • “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.”

Worship begins when we have exhausted all of our self-effort, when we are emptied of all of our pride, and when we come humbly before the Lord in our time of need. Worship is the cry of a hungry heart for the living God. Worship is when we cry out to God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Worship begins at the place of spiritual surrender and hunger.

David then writes these words,

  • “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

David’s reflections are drawn to the table of incense that stood before the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant. It was there that incense was burned as a perpetual offering of the prayers of God’s people. David desires his prayers to be accepted by God in the same way.

David then likens the lifting of his hands in worship to the evening sacrifice. The evening sacrifice was the burnt offering of the covenant. It was the closing sacrifice that was given each day to confirm the covenant that God had with His people Israel. It was the daily sacrifice that covered Israel with the blood of forgiveness and cleansing.

How does this relate to us?

Jesus is the final sacrifice for our sins. He is the fulfillment of all the promises of God’s covenant. It is through His blood, offered once and for all, that we are invited to come before the throne of God, to enter into the Holy of Holies, and to offer up our sacrifice of prayer, worship, and praise. Yet, we do not come empty handed. We too are to bring a sacrifice. However, it is not a sacrifice for sin.

It is a sacrifice of worship!

  • “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV

We are not truly positioned for worship unless we are presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul reminds us – “…this is your reasonable (or spiritual) service.” This is what God requires of us. What does this mean? It means that worship is not a compartmentalized event that we participate in for a few hours a week. Worship is living our life, our entire life, for the glory of God. It is abiding in prayer, walking in obedience, allowing the Holy Spirit to daily transform us. It is coming to Jesus when we fail and rising up in newness of life. It is the presentation of our heart, soul, body, and mind for the glory of God. It is lifting our hands and our hearts in full surrender to the Lord!

This is the position of worship!

This is not an easy calling. We cannot fulfill it in our own strength. We must draw upon the grace of God and walk after the leading of the Holy Spirit. David was fully aware of this. This is why David prayed,

  • “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works With men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.”‬‬

Paul’s words echo this same plea.

  • “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The call to true worship is beyond us. Yet, it is close at hand. It is beyond us if we feel we can fulfill it in our own strength. It is beyond us if we feel it is simply singing songs or uttering a prayer. Yet, it is close at hand if we humble ourselves before God, recognize our utter need for Him, and boldly come into the Holy of Holies with our lives as a living sacrifice. When we come in surrender, when we come in repentance, when we come through the completed sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we enter into true worship!

  • “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lord, this morning I come to You with a hungry heart. I recognize my need for You. I come to offer You my life as a living sacrifice. May my prayers be before You as incense, and may my lifted hands of surrender be to You as the evening sacrifice. May my life be fully positioned in worship.

In Jesus Name!

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IS MY LIFE A MISTAKE?

PSALMS 139:13-17: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: Why are so many people today unhappy with their lives? The marketing gurus have discovered this truth and they have used it to their advantage in hawking products. My life would be so much better if only I had, if only I were, if only I could do – (fill in the blank). Today, contentment with one’ s self or place in life is rare.

We all want to be something other than who we are.

If we could rip away the curtain, we would realize that everyone is insecure. History is filled with stories of those who climbed the ladder of success, only to find that what they thought was waiting for them was really just an illusion. Today, we are not happy with our looks, our bodies, our jobs, our relationships, or our place in life. If only we could be something or someone different – then life would make sense and be worth living.

These overwhelming feelings of insecurity do not come from the Lord. They come from the very pit of hell. Satan is not a fairy tale. He is real and his objectives have not changed. Jesus makes it very clear when He starkly contrasted His purposes against Satan’s.

  • “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So let’s break this down. Jesus came to save us from our sin and from ourself. He came to reintroduce us to the true meaning and purpose of life. He came to restore us in relationship with the Father and give us life abundantly, both now and throughout all eternity.

The enemy on the other hand, came to do only three things. He came to steal our purpose and meaning in life. He came to kill the destiny that God has called us to. And, he came to destroy the beauty of God’s creation in our life. Like an angry Middle Schooler, defacing a picture in their yearbook of someone they do not like, the enemy of our souls is trying to deface and destroy the image of God in our creation.

How does this happen? It happens when we are led to doubt the wonderful creation that we really are. God does not make mistakes. Listen again to the words of David as he contemplates his life and God’s hand in his creation.

  • “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”

There is a deep yearning, a deep inner knowing, within each individual, that they have a destiny in life. However, many never discover and achieve this destiny. Why? It is because they buy into the lie that they are not enough. That who they were created to be is either wrong or deficient. They are convinced by the enemy, and our sinful world, that they are anything but fearfully and wonderfully made.

Yet, David proclaims – “Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” David was a man after God’s own heart. He was far from a perfect man. Yet, he was a man who continually returned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, it was this relationship that brought everything into focus. It is only when we are in right relationship with the Lord that we discover who we truly are. Without this relationship we will find ourselves on an endless journey that will never bring fulfillment!

I have battled insecurity all my life. Now, as I have grown older, I am finally understanding the fallacy of insecurity. Insecurity, not grasping and accepting who I was created to be, never brings me to the place where I can find true peace and fulfillment. It is only as I position my life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, as I begin to daily meditate upon His Word, and as I listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, that I discover the awesome truth. What is this truth?

  • “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

I am not an accident! I am not a mistake! God was intimately involved in my creation. He formed every part of me – my body, my mind, my personality, my gifting, and my abilities. He also called me with a purpose and a destiny. It is so unique that only I can fulfill it. He has directed my steps to provide me with the proper training, education, life experiences, and divine connections to fulfill this purpose. He is desiring me to embrace my God given purpose and fulfill it. And, He looks down upon me with His unfailing love and unconditional acceptance.

This is who I am! I am a precious child and creation of God!

I don’t need to be someone else. I don’t need to compete with anyone else. I don’t lack any good thing to accomplish the calling and destiny that God has given me. All I need is to trust Him and obediently follow the pathway that He has laid out for my life. And, if I begin to stray from this pathway, if I begin to fall once again into the pitfalls of insecurity, He is faithful to rescue me and restore me to the pathway of His perfect will for my life.

The key question that remains is – who will I believe?

Will I believe my human weaknesses and insecurities? Or, will I believe the Almighty Creator whose hand fashioned me when as yet there was nothing? Jesus came to bring me life and life abundantly. I need to honestly assess where I am today. Am I walking in this abundant life, or am I being dissuaded from trusting Him? Am I daily experiencing His life and peace, or am I constantly battling feelings of depression, anxiety, insecurity, and doubt?

This morning – I choose to believe!

What will you choose to do?

  • “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well…How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

In Jesus Name!

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GOD WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD!

PSALM 138:8: “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Are you experiencing a trial that seems like it will never end? To many, the current pandemic that we are facing this year is such a trial. Many are still under shelter-in-place orders. Business doors are still locked and closed. And, there are those who project a continuing of the same with no reprieve in sight.

To all those who have lost their hope, Psalm 138, verse 8, brings a word of comfort and assurance. It reminds us of the wonderful truth,

God will have the last word!

I will never forget the first time I heard these words. I was in the midst of a difficult period in my life and ministry. It seemed like the walls were closing in on me. Driving in my car, I flipped through the radio channels. Then, landing on a Christian station, I heard the end of a sermon by the late Dr. Robert Schuller. To be completely honest, he was not one of my favorite preachers. Yet, I was drawn to listen. And, in his booming voice I heard him say,

“God will have the last word!”

Suddenly, these were not simply words that were part of a sermon. It was as if God breathed on these words and they became life to my weary soul. At that moment I knew – this too shall pass! God had not forgotten me. I was not destined to wander in this wilderness forever. The Lord loved me so much that He led me to this radio station, at this set time, to hear these words of hope and life! I knew, that I knew, that I knew…

God would have the last word!

This is what Psalm 138, verse 8, declares. It says – “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me…”. The word perfect in the Hebrew literally means – “to end, come to an end, complete, cease;” (Brown-Driver-Briggs). With every difficult situation in life that we face, as we trust in the Lord, He will bring it to an end. The trial will cease, His purposes will be established. And, His faithfulness will lead us to His desired end.

To be honest, as I remember this event in my life, I cannot remember the trial that I was going through. However, I do remember that at the time it seemed like an insurmountable challenge. As we hold tightly to the Lord, as we continue to trust Him in this present difficult time, this will be our testimony too. We will see the hand of God lifting, working, rescuing, and establishing our lives. We too will know that,

God will have the last word!

The Psalmist ends this thought with these words – “Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” I love the raw honesty in this statement. On the one hand David rises up in faith and proclaims – “Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.” Then, in the same breath he cries out – “Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Our lives are always filled with the tension of faith and doubt. The Lord knows and understand this. And, even in the midst of our continued doubt, the Holy Spirit rises up and proclaims to our hearts…

God will have the last word!

Lord, as I walk through a very difficult situation in my life, that is greater to me than the current pandemic, I know that Your mercy endures forever. As I place my trust in You, I will see both of these things come to and end, to Your completed purpose in my life. You will watch over that which concerns me and lead me in the path of completion, restoration, and blessing.

And, when the weakness of my humanity cries out – “Do not forsake the works of Your hands…”, may I once again remember these life giving words,

God, my God, will have the last word!

In Jesus Name!

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WHERE’S THE GOOD?

PSALM 136:1: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Where’s the good? When you look at the world around you this is a question that is often asked. The news is a constant barrage of what is not-good about our world. Every once in a while there is a redeeming story. However, it is soon overshadowed by more of the same.

Is there any good left in the world?

Years ago a fast food restaurant hit the jackpot with a commercial where an elderly lady looked at a hamburger and exclaimed – “Where’s the beef?” This commercial was brilliant because it not only made a striking comparison between their hamburger and the competitions, but it also created a catch phrase that is still used today. Perhaps we are missing the good in the world because we are looking in the wrong place.

Just like the lady who kept looking at the inferior hamburger for the beef, so we look to the wrong sources for the good. It reminds me of the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler. This man was an upstanding Jewish citizen. By all appearances he was a good man. He even thought he was a good man. He came to Jesus and asked Him,

  • “…Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Luke‬ ‭18:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus was not only pointing to Himself as the Messiah, but He was also striking at the heart of the young man’s problem. The rich young ruler was a very moral and ethical man on the outside but not in his heart. When faced with the choice of holding on to his riches, or leaving them and following Jesus, he chose his riches. He revealed that his goodness was not goodness at all.

When we look at this world, when we look at mankind, and more importantly, when we look at ourselves – we only see glimpses of good. It is a passing good. It does not endure. It shines for a minute but then is tarnished by the next bad thing we do. This is why we get so discouraged. We all need to know that there is good. Yet, we look for it in the wrong place. There is only one source of goodness that is constant.

  • “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Note, it does not say – “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He does good.” Rather, it says – “He is good.” Goodness is not something God does, it is who He is. He does good because He is good. Our basic nature is sinful. This is why we need a Savior. The good that we do now is because of Jesus Christ. It is His goodness working in us. It is His goodness transforming us. However, He is good, and He does good, all the time!

Not only is God good in His essence, He is also merciful. The Psalmist says that His mercy endures forever. Mercy is God’s goodness in action. Mercy is the lovingkindness and faithfulness of God reaching out to us in spite of our sin. God does not cease being good and doing good because we are sinful. In fact, God’s goodness is magnified by the fact that He does good even though we do not deserve it.

  • “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

John writes in his Gospel, “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” The goodness of God is manifested in His willingness to die for our sins when we were positioned as enemies of His love and grace. He did not die in our place because we were good enough. He died in our place because of His mercy that endures forever.

His mercy is not simply extended to us only in salvation. His mercy is also extended to us in our sanctification. Sanctification is simply becoming more like Jesus. As we walk with Jesus we abide in His light. This light, the light of His goodness, reveals the areas in our life that are not good. And, it is His mercy and goodness that extends His ongoing forgiveness and cleansing to us. The Holy Spirit is always at work, changing our lives, transforming our hearts, through the goodness and mercy of God!

  • “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (His goodness)” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord, the Lord told him to stand in the cleft of the rock. As Moses did this, the Lord told Him that He would pass by Him with His goodness. God’s glory is His goodness. He is good, and He does good. That is who God is. When we wonder where the good is, all we have to do is remember,

  • “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

This morning Lord, help me to give You thanks for Your goodness. You are good and You do good. Your mercy endures forever. Your mercy not only saved me, but it will also bring me to the fulfillment of all that You have purposed for my life. Today I choose to give thanks. Today I choose to proclaim – the Lord, He is good!

  • “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In Jesus Name!
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A PLACE OF REST…

PSALMS 131:2: “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Is my life marked by rest? Do I find myself in the place of quietness and peace? Or, is my life marked by insecurity, uncertainty, and unrest?

David writes of a place of calmness and quiet for his soul. He compares this to a weaned child with his mother. Like David, I have no reference to this experience other than observation. What is the difference between a weaned child and one who is still dependent upon his mother’s milk?

A small child that is still nursing looks upon their mother as a source for survival. At this stage, there is usually no personal interaction between the child and the mother. The relationship is one of need and fulfillment. The child takes comfort in their mother’s arms to be sure. Yet, this comfort only lasts until their hunger causes them to frantically reach for their mother to supply their need. Peace only lasts as long as the need is fulfilled. When the need arises again there is a loss of peace.

This is a picture of much of my life. I would rejoice in the Lord when I was walking in victory. However, when difficulty knocked on my door, like an unweaned child, I would begin to cry out to the Lord. My peace only lasted as long as I was abiding by the still waters and enjoying the green pastures. When faced with the valley of the shadow of difficulty, my faith and peace wilted like a wildflower in the hot summer sun.

What is the difference between an unweaned child and a child that has been weaned? A weaned child has been slowly transitioned from depending upon its mother’s milk to a new source of food and supply. Their mother is no longer the source of this sustenance, but the provider of it. The child learns through routine, and the faithful provision of the mother, that when the child is hungry, their mother will provide. They begin to see their mother in a new light.

We need to see God in a new light if we are going to enter His rest in our lives. The weaned child begins to transition from a focus on his mother’s breast to a focus on his mother’s countenance. The weaned child of God must learn the transition from focusing upon the hand of God, to seeking the face of God. His relationship must be transformed from seeing God only as the one who gives, to seeing Him as the one Who Is! The writer of Hebrews puts it this way.

  • “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Faith that is weaned is faith that sees God for who He is. He no longer looks to God as one who gives, but as the one Who Is. Only when the child begins to transition from seeing their mother as a food source, to seeing their mother as one who loves, are they able to grow in a relationship with her that is more than need and supply. It is when this transition happens that the child can rest in their mother’s bosom with no thought about their need. Their only thought is being secure in her love.

We too must come to the place where we can rest in the bosom of our Heavenly Father. When we can come to Him, simply to worship, simply to abide in His presence, without an agenda or a need, we will enter into His rest. Again, the writer of Hebrews speaks to this so beautifully.

  • “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Faith that is weaned finds this rest. David found this rest. We too can enter into this rest. We do not enter into this rest through striving. We enter into it when we trust in God’s faithfulness. Just as a child trusts that their needs will be met by their mother, so we can walk in confidence that our Heavenly Father will continue to meet our needs. Jesus said that our Father knows our needs even before we ask.

This does not mean that we do not ask. We are taught to ask the Father for all of our needs. However, when we come to Him, it is not in desperation or fear. It is in confidence and peace. We know that our Father loves us and it is His good will to give us the Kingdom. And, in this confidence we find the rest of faith that has been weaned, faith that is maturing, faith that is focused on the Father’s love and not simply His hand!

Lord, grant me the grace today to walk in weaned faith. May I come to You first and foremost to worship You. May Your presence and love be my great reward. May I enter into the place of peace, like a weaned child with his mother.

In Jesus Name!

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WHEN PRAYER IS UNANSWERED…

PSALMS 126:4: “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Is their something in your life that is unresolved? You are thankful for all the Lord has done in your life, yet there is still that unanswered prayer, that need that is yet to be met. You find yourself between the place of joy and continued sorrow. What should you do?

Psalms 126 was a song of ascent. The songs of ascent were a group of Psalms that were sung by those who had been scattered during the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities as they journeyed to Jerusalem for the key festivals of the year. Psalm 126 begins with praise and adoration for God’s provision in restoring the Jews to Jerusalem.

  • “When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, And we are glad.” Psalms‬ ‭126:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The return of the Israelites to Jerusalem was nothing short of a miracle. The rebuilding of its walls and the temple were signs of God’s blessings and favor. Yet, Israel was still not the nation that God had established. Their sin and rebellion had left this once great nation as a splintered community scattered among the nations. As the Psalmist rejoices in what God has done, he also is filled with sorrow regarding what they had lost. And, so he prays,

  • “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.”

The streams in the South are called wadis. A wadi is a dry channel or stream bed in the desert that is dry and barren, except during the rainy season. In the rainy season the water that flows brings life to the barren desert. The Psalmist is yearning for God to bring back all that was lost during their captivity. He longs for the refreshing of God’s mercy and grace, as he finds himself on pilgrimage through the desert wasteland of his unfulfilled prayers and dreams.

Walking in the tension of joy and grief is a strange emotion. Yet, it is something that we all experience. It is a rare moment when we are enveloped by absolute joy. The normal course of life is one of tension. We rejoice in what God is doing, or has done. And, we carry a burden for what is yet to come to pass. We are assured of God’s faithfulness, at the same time wondering about His timing. We look over the barren wasteland of our unfulfilled prayers and we cry,

  • “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.”

What do we do when we find ourselves in the midst of the barren wasteland of unanswered prayer? How do we find the refreshing that is needed when it seems like all the streams in our life are dried up? The Psalmist pivots from these thoughts to the following words of hope.

  • “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalms‬ ‭126:5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When we find ourselves in the barren places of life, we create a river through our prayers and our tears. Although the wadis that we have depended upon are dry, we are not left without hope. Our Heavenly Father is watching over all of our prayers. He is gathering all of our tears in His bottle. He is protecting the precious seed of faith that we have been planting. And, He will faithfully water this seed and bring it to harvest in our lives!

When we find ourselves in a barren place, our human nature says to give up. Yet, faith calls us to press on, to keep sowing, and to water this seed with our heartfelt prayers. The only way we will miss His harvest for our lives is if we stop sowing and weeping!

  • “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians‬ ‭6:7-9‬ ‭NKJV

This is a sure and faithful promise from the Lord. God will not be mocked. If we sow in tears, we will reap in joy. If we sow in faith, we will reap in victory. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap everlasting life. God will do this – “…in due season…if we do not lose heart!”

Each year, as the exiled Jews journeyed to Jerusalem, they rejoiced and wept. They worshipped and prayed. They sowed tears in the desert knowing that once again God would restore His nation and establish His rule through the Messiah. We have seen the firstfruits of this promise. And, we are looking forward to the fulfillment when Jesus returns.

As the disciples looked up into the heavens, wondering if they would ever see Jesus again, angels spoke words of promise to them.

  • “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

As sure as Jesus will return, God will fulfill His purpose in our lives. He will watch over the prayers that have been offered in tears, in the secret place of our heart. And, He will allow us to once again come with rejoicing, bringing in the harvest of His faithful mercy and care.

Lord, as I look over the wadis of my life, may I do so in hope. May I be found, empowered by Your grace, filled with Your faith, sowing and weeping, trusting and hoping, until the day that I that I return in joy, bringing in the harvest You have provided.

  • “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalms‬ ‭126:5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus Name!‬‬

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