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June 10, 2004

Chaos or Contentment

Psalm 128:1-4
Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.

Our American Express bill came today and it was way more than we thought it was going to be. It really bummed, and even frightened Jayme. There always seem to be these speed bumps in life - unexpected car repairs, hectic schedules, and all other kinds of interruptions from phone calls to unplanned grocery store runs. They can send our home into chaos. But it doesn't have to.

This passage can seem to be a passage of promise - the result of doing things right. What happens when you are doing right but life turns to chaos, or at least seems to disolve into it? For me this passage speaks of perspective and contentment.

When you fear the LORD and walk in his ways, it has it's greatest effect on the way you view life. You see things from his point of view. It becomes less about what you have "earned" and instead about what you have recieved. You will be happy and well because you have honored the LORD by working hard. Your wife's life (interests and relationships) will be fruitful. The home will be a place of peace and joy because the "heart" of it is content. And your children will grow and mature and develop.

This is the blessing of God - not evaluating life by achievements or possesions. Rather by fearing God and walking in His ways something of his life is released in us that helps us escape chaos and be content in all the circumstances of our lives.

Lord, help me to work hard at obedience so our life will be blessed - content and honoring to You.

May 15, 2007

Satisfied

Psalm 131 (NIV)
1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

Once in a while, I'll eat something that "hits the spot;" a hot dog and peanuts at a baseball game, a coffee and bagel on a cold, early morning, anytime Jayme makes her strawberry shortcake. It's not just the flavor of the items, but the context, the timing of the experience.

Today's Psalm has that same feeling about it. It describes an infant being held by it's mother after being fed. I remember my own kids as newborns, crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night to be fed, gulping down that bottle, and then when finished falling peacefully to sleep in our arms - satisfied. David compares humility and dependence upon the Lord in these same terms. His (and my) own history of God's faithfulness gives him (me) hope (hope = not a wish, but the God's promise of faithfulness) in what ever circumstance. This "history" gives him control over his soul. He doesn't get hysterical or anxious. Instead, he is peaceful and still. The voices of question and concern are quieted, and he is at rest in the arms of his Father.

This state tranquility is the result of me keeping pride in check. It's the result of focusing on the things that I do have control over, not those things which I do not. It is the soul satisfied because it's hope has been placed in the promise of God's faithfulness.

God, help me to keep my pride in check, my soul at peace, and find my satisfaction in the promise of your provision and protection.

December 10, 2008

A Calm and Quiet Soul

Psalm 131:1-2 (NKJV)
LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

I had lunch with a long time buddy of mine yesterday. He happens to pastor a church that has experience wonderful growth over the past 8 years. We enjoy each other's company and process life and ministry together. I was sharing with him about some leadership struggles I was experiencing and feeling a little paralyzed from not knowing what to do. His response was encouraging, but direct. His comment was that I see things at such a macro level, that I can tend to overcomplicate things. It can be like trying to get to step 5 before completing step 2. I have a tendancy to try to get to the desired result without completing the entire process. His words resonated with me, and today's reading in Psalms affirmed this sense.

I have a tendancy to be overly concerned with "great things." I like "deep" and "profound" thinking. Vision and strategy are all things that stoke my fire. But these things can create a discontent in my soul. The Lord wants to break me from, wean me from continually geting ahead of myself. I've got to break my dependency to being on "the cutting edge." This means I also have to care a little less about what people think of me and the persona I must be trying to project. I must be content with what is in front of me. I must be focused on what He has told me to do and see it through, without getting distracted by my own need for recognition("haughtiness") or ambition ("lofty eyes") or being imressive ("great matters," "profound"). Like my friend said, hear God and just do what He tells you.

Lord, I want to do just and only that; to hear You and to do what you've told me to do. Wean me from my need for affirmation and teach me contentment through obedience so that my soul would be calm and quiet.

October 14, 2010

What, Me Worry?

Luke 12:11-12; 22-23 (NKJV)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

OBSERVATION
As a historian, Luke seeks to accurately account for the events he is reporting. Since it is not a real-time diary, there is a license that allows him to reflect the events, but also to possibly group them in a context that is subject oriented as well as chronological. I'm not sure how or why these two exhortations from Jesus found themselves in the same chapter. I can only say that in reading these passages my whole life, I never connected the dots that Luke placed them almost right next to each other (only separated by a parable about how life is not guaranteed).

APPLICATION
These two comments by Jesus - "Do not worry..." have to do with the two biggest concerns of our lives: how we're thought of by others and how we think about our lives. We all want to be liked, accepted, respected. In order to give myself the greatest chance for success in this area is to conform to what is expected of me. But when I'm unclear of what the expectation, then I worry. Even harder is when I know what the expectation is and its a conflict with my personal values. As I'm thinking about this I sense these thoughts: First, God uniquely designed me to be me. The greatest witness that I can be for Him is to completely be me. It's not about pretending to be or defending anything. Second, the Holy Spirit will teach me. If I'm more conscious to Him (which requires me to be less self-conscious), He'll teach me how to respond, when to initiate, when to lay back, when to assert myself and when to yield. In this way it becomes less about me and more about others.

Only when I develop the discipline to be less "self-conscious" am I free to learn contentment. We live in a world that screams "more, More, MORE!" This only creates the question, when is enough enough? When I learn contentment, I'm free from the burden of comparison; What does it matter what someone else has? What does it matter what someone else is doing? Why am I worried about any of this...is it really that important? Then in v 31 Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." He's not talking about "things" (ie material goods). He talking about the gaps in my life being filled. When the right things get my attention, then my life is filled.

PRAYER
Lord, I know life is more that "stuff." I know my worth is not determined by the opinion of people. Help me not to be so concerned, even consumed by these things. Teach me Holy Spirit what to do, what to say, how to be. Help me to value what is truly significant.

"More" Self-Conscious

Luke 12:11-12, 22-23(NKJV)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
...
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

OBSERVATION
As a historian, Luke seeks to accurately account for the events he is reporting. Since it is not a real-time diary, there is a license that allows him to reflect the events, but also to possibly group them in a context that is subject oriented as well as chronological. I'm not sure how or why these two exhortations from Jesus found themselves in the same chapter. I can only say that in reading these passages my whole life, I never connected the dots that Luke placed them almost right next to each other (only separated by a parable about how life is not guaranteed).

APPLICATION
These two comments by Jesus - "Do not worry..." have to do with the two biggest concerns of our lives: how we're thought of by others and how we think about our lives. We all want to be liked, accepted, respected. In order to give myself the greatest chance for success in this area is to conform to what is expected of me. But when I'm unclear of what the expectation, then I worry. Even harder is when I know what the expectation is and its a conflict with my personal values. As I'm thinking about this I sense these thoughts: First, God uniquely designed me to be me. The greatest witness that I can be for Him is to completely be me. It's not about pretending to be or defending anything. Second, the Holy Spirit will teach me. If I'm more conscious to Him (which requires me to be less self-conscious), He'll teach me how to respond, when to initiate, when to lay back, when to assert myself and when to yield. In this way it becomes less about me and more about others.

Only when I develop the discipline to be less "self-conscious" am I free to learn contentment. We live in a world that screams "more, More, MORE!" This only creates the question, when is enough enough? When I learn contentment, I'm free from the burden of comparison; What does it matter what someone else has? What does it matter what someone else is doing? Why am I worried about any of this...is it really that important? Then in v 31 Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." He's not talking about "things" (ie material goods). He talking about the gaps in my life being filled. When the right things get my attention, then my life is filled.

PRAYER
Lord, I know life is more that "stuff." I know my worth is not determined by the opinion of people. Help me not to be so concerned, even consumed by these things. Teach me Holy Spirit what to do, what to say, how to be. Help me to value what is truly significant.

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