“Then you will delight yourself in Adonai, and He will give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to Adonai; trust in Him and He will act.” Psalm 37:4-6 There are two verbs here that stuck out to me: give and act. They have something in common. Neither have anything to do with me! My usual thought is to ask God, pray about something, and then do something, maybe “helping” it get going. I give the situation to God, and then I act, assuming that I’m doing what He wants me to do. But these verses are pretty clear. HE gives and HE acts. All the action that involves doing is done by Adonai, not me. So what am I supposed to do? Sit there? Well, yes, sort of. I have to delight in Him (trust, settle in the place He puts me, and feed on His faithfulness), and I have to commit my way to Him. I have to believe and trust. Trust is inaction in action. I can believe and then do nothing about it, acting contrary to my “beliefs,” but trust implies that I act on my trust (or in this case, not acting, but rather waiting an allowing Him to act, which I believe will be a good thing because I delight in Him and He loves me). Once again, my actions are unnecessary. God does the acting. God does the giving. I don’ t need to “help” Him. I just have to release control, let it go, and find joy in the One who loves me with a passion that is unfathomable! And that is amazing!
“Trust in Adonai, and do good; settle in the land, and feed on faithfulness. Then you will delight yourself in Adonai, and he will give you your heart’s desire.” Psalm 37: 3-4 The first time I heard this verse, it didn’t have the “then” in it. It just said to delight myself in Adonai. Sounds good! Let’s go! But, wait… what does it mean to delight myself in someone or something, especially in God?! Then I realized there was a missing word. The statement I had heard so often was part of an if-then cause and effect chain! It tells me how to delight in Adonai! IF I trust in Him and do good, IF I settle in the land (the promised land… the place He plants me), IF I feed on faithfulness, THEN I will delight myself in Adonai. It’s about trusting, settling (which implies that I’m being still, staying where He puts me, and working in the place and on the tasks He gives me), and feeding on faithfulness (which sounds like I’m surviving and growing by relying on and remembering His faithfulness… which, in turn, should grow faithfulness in me). So, it’s not just a matter of *poof* delighting. There are some things that I do that create delight. And that delight has its own reward, that He gives me the desires on my heart (which, incidentally, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to, will line up with God’s purposes for me). That’s pretty awesome!
Adonai, my assigned portion, my cup, You safeguard my share. Pleasant places were measured out for me; I am content with my heritage. I always set Adonai before me; with Him at my right hand, I can never be moved; so my heart is glad, my glory rejoices, and my body too rests in safety. You make me know the path of life; in Your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight! Now I call on You, God , for You will answer me. Turn Your ear to me, hear my words. Show how wonderful is Your grace, savior of those who seek at Your right hand refuge from their foes. Protect me like the pupil of Your eye, hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked, who are assailing me, from my deadly enemies, who are all around me. Arise Adonai, confront them! Bring them down! With Your sword deliver me from the wicked, with Your hand from human beings. My prayer, in righteousness, is to see Your face; on waking, may I be satisfied with a vision of You. (Psalm 16:5-6, 8-9, 11; Psalm 17:6-9, 13, 15)
I just finished reading Rebecca Brown’s book, Becoming A Vessel Of Honor*, and one of the things that challenged me was the question of whether or not I trust God. Her stories are incredible, to say the least, and the revealed power of God is unquestionable. In one part, she says that God asked her whether she was going to believe Him or, essentially, call Him a liar. That hit home for me, because I often question whether God will do things. I call Him a liar when I don’t act on the truth that He states. For example, if He says He forgives us, and then we act like we’re still under condemnation, then we call Him a liar. More challenging, if He says that He gives us authority and armor so that we can stand against the attacks of the enemy, and we don’t use it or we question if it works, then we call Him a liar. I struggle with this a lot. I wonder if He delivers me when He says He does, I wonder if He will provide when He promises He will, I wonder all kinds of things even though they’re things He promises. So do I believe Him? If I say I believe Him, do I act as though I believe Him? Do I trust His word and live out my redemption, my deliverance, my provision? Ouch. What about you? * affiliate link
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it will be evident that such overwhelming power comes from God, and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 This is such a simple verse, but it’s pretty profound. We hear all the time that we are jars of clay, fashioned to do the work of God; however, this is another side to the clay. If we were made of something other than clay, say metal or iron or even porcelain, then it wouldn’t be obvious that the things in our lives that happen are from God. If we were made of iron or metal, then we could say (or others might think) that the miraculous things happen as a result of our own power and strength. Conversely, if we were made of porcelain, then it could be claimed that the miraculous things happen because we are beautiful or well-made. But clay pots are simple. Even when they’re painted and decorated, there’s still a simplicity and delicateness about them. They’re not always the ones to stand out, but they are useful and are used for everyday tasks, for serving, and for storing. In the same way, we serve others, we carry the Holy Spirit in us, and God uses us for everyday tasks. Our strength comes from God, and the overwhelming power given, can only come from from Him!
Exodus 16:3 The people of Isra’el said to [Moshe and Aharon], “We wish ADONAI had used his own hand to kill us off in Egypt! There we used to sit around the pots with the meat boiling, and we had as much food as we wanted. But you have taken us out into this desert to let this whole assembly starve to death!” Before we get to the main point, let’s put this verse into context. God had just finished defeating the gods of Egypt, had lead His people out with all the gold and silver of the Egyptians, and had opened the Red Sea for the people of Isra’el to walk through (and had washed away the Egyptian armies when the sea closed back again). And He had just provided water for them to drink by having Moshe throw a piece of wood into the bitter water, turning it sweet, and then leading them to a beautiful oasis with 12 springs and 70 palm trees. Reading this, it seems incredible and ridiculous that the people of Isra’el would so quickly forget all the amazing things that God had done in order to get them to this point! But, isn’t that what we do? We forget. We forget the ways that God has provided for us in the past. We forget the ways He has rescued us from sticky situations. We forget the miracles that He has worked in our lives. We just forget. We aren’t all that different from these people. I think this story in the Bible is there to remind us that God does provide. It’s easy to think, “Man! These people were ridiculous! They kept doubting and testing God!” But, that’s missing the point. The story isn’t there to make us look down on the people of Isra’el. It’s there to make us examine our own lives. How many times have I seen God meet my needs in awesome (and sometimes miraculous) ways, and then the very next time I have a need, I panic. I forget what God has done, and I start stressing out. Granted, I haven’t seen anything like the Red Sea parting, but I know God’s hand has been in other parts of my life. That’s the beauty of the Bible. We may forget, but it’s there to help us remember. So, what’s the point? The next time a need arises, or the next time when the situation seems overwhelming. Look back at those times when God pulled you through in the past. He’s not going to bring you this far and then abandon you! The Hebrew view of time is to walk backwards into the future, always looking at the past, and using the signposts of God to guide the directions we need to go. We don’t know the future, we can’t see what God is about to do, but we can see where He’s been and the things He’d done in our past. And we can use that to remind us to trust Him. Faith is a verb. Look back and remember. Then move forward with confidence that our God is bigger than any problem we’ll ever face.
Exodus 10:24-26 Pharaoh summoned Moshe and said, “Go, worship ADONAI; only leave your flocks and herds behind – your children may go with you.” Moshe answered, “You must also see to it that we have sacrifices and burnt offerings, so that we can sacrifice to ADONAI our God. Our livestock will also go with us – not a hoof will be left behind – because we must choose some of them to worship ADONAI our God, and we don’t know which ones we will need to worship ADONAI until we get there.” I’ve read this story a hundred times, and heard it probably as many times. Moshe tells Pharaoh to let the people of Isra’el go, but over and over Pharaoh refuses. This time this particular verse struck me. Pharaoh says they can go (he actually does this the previous time too, but won’t let them take their children), as long as they leave their animals behind (animals and herds, at this time, were like money, and to leave them behind would have meant starvation and death). Moshe says that is not acceptable and the people won’t leave without them. Seems insignificant, right? But did you catch the part where Pharaoh let them go (albeit, conditionally)? If I were in a difficult spot and I was offered the chance to go, I’d go. I’d think, “Whew! God’s finally getting me out of here!” I’d take the best offer they’d give me and run. But that’s not what Moshe does. He refuses to settle for “whatever he can get.” He stands firm and says that the people must take all their things, including their children and livestock. When Isra’el goes, they’re going in style! Obviously, it’s important to note that Moshe was in the middle of a rather unusual situation and had been speaking at the behest of God. But, God never wants us to leave a difficult situation with our tails tucked between our legs, whimpering and escaping by the skin of our teeth! He won total victory for us! He is THE God! He is almighty and powerful and strong and awesome! God doesn’t whimper. God also doesn’t settle for whatever He can get. It’s all His. And He’s not leaving it behind! The point that really made me stop was, “How often do I settle for less because I’m in such a hurry to get out of the situation I’m in?” How often have I left my Egypt, but left behind the spoils and my belongings? Shortly after Moshe leaves Pharaoh, God tells the people to ask their neighbors for their gold and silver jewelry, and He gives the Isra’elites so much favor that all the Egyptians load them up with their jewelry (which, being gold and silver, would be like the Egyptians emptying their bank accounts to give it to the Isra’elites)! Talk about taking it all when you go! This is how we are to live! We don’t leave with a whimper and with our tail tucked between our legs! We leave with all the spoils of the situation we’re walking out of! We walk out with all our belongings, all our blessings, and take the ones that belong to the enemy, too! ADONAI, Lord of Hosts, may I have the boldness to walk in Your great favor and to only leave when I can take the treasures of my enemies with me; not leaving behind any of the things You’ve blessed me with, not settling for whatever I can get, and not leaving before Your glory has been manifested! May I walk in the victory You promise, and believe that when You give the victory, it is total and complete. I praise You that you make those around me favorable disposed towards me, and that I am regarded highly by my enemies, and that You have already won my victory! Hallelu Ya!