Monday, March 19, 2012

His Testimony

I don't want to be as the rich young man who did not want to consider his ways and turn his feet to God's testimonies. What was he so afraid of that he couldn't bring himself to consider it? Give up all he owned and follow Christ; although that is a lot to ask of someone. And wasn't it quite presumptuous on God's part to ask Abraham to give up Isaac? Why in heaven's name would He do that! I think of the things I've given up because He asked, not always willingly either. I'd have to go to the garden of Gethsemane and pray with intense agony; Not my will but yours Lord. I'd wrestle with bitterness, that can defile many, as I struggle to let go of what I perceived to be a great sacrifice on my part. In the process I start comparing myself to others who weren't required to make such a sacrifice. Falsely comforting myself with how unfair it was, basically wallowing in self-pity, which does not satisfy a broken soul. Ultimately, I make the choice to be as Abraham knowing that obedience is better than the sacrifice. I begin to consider my ways, turn my feet to His testimonies (Ps 119:24). I exercise free will to not turn my feet towards my testimony. The rich young man turned and walked in the way he'd come to Christ, but not in the way of following Christ. Abraham became God's testimony through obedience and God supplied the needed sacrifice of the ram. Knowing that Jesus is the sacrifice, I consider all I must sell and turn my feet to follow Him. As a result I come to know what it means to be as a bird of the air and lily of the field that He so lovingly cares and supplies all needs according to riches in glory. I am the delight of His testimony, I have considered my ways!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gentle Anger

A friend recently said it feels good to be angry; especially when defending oneself against true or false accusations. If it's true we get angry because we don't like that we were caught. If wronged we want to defend ourselves, set the record straight and put the accuser in their place. It feels good to achieve what we perceive to be justice; some go to great lengths to vindicate themselves, I know I have. Yet we're told not to vindicate ourselves, we can condemn an accusatory word or action but not vindicate. That action is reserved for God alone. So what and how am I to deal with anger?!

Anger is defined as indignant; wrath; enraged, sounds familiar to me. Paul quotes Psalms 4:4 to 'Be angry, and yet do not sin.' Easier said than done in my opinion, I'd rather not get angry. But it seems that whenever I tell my self not to do or say something the more I'm compelled to do so. Which could have been what Cain did before killing his brother Able. When Cain became angry God warned him that sin was crouching at his door, and its desire was for him, but that he must master it. Obviously he didn't but why? I wonder if he realized how dangerous and full of self-righteous lust his anger was. Lust is a fleshly desire that when governed by self defined right and wrong requires vindication, and can unleash wrath. The story of Cain and Able is an example of sin mastering anger's desire.

I don't want anger to master me! Sin is constantly crouching at my door waiting for an opportunity to entice my lusts of the flesh. So Lord what are some tools I can use to keep from falling into sinful anger? Let's see; Eccl 7:9 tells me "Do not be hasty/eager in my heart to be angry." I need to use caution and not be quick-tempered when my anger button is pushed. Okay that makes sense. James 1:19-20 warns me that if I'm quick to anger it's an indicator that some sort of "filthiness" remains in me. Ugh! 1 Jn reminds me if a lust has control then I haven't overcome loving doing things the worlds way. I must overcome by putting aside "anger, wrath, malice from my mouth" and "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and forbearance towards others." (Col 3:8-12) Really! That is so contrary to my nature when I'm angry! But it's not impossible for I'm told "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength," which leaves me with no excuses.

Psalms and Proverbs speaks of being slow to anger and I as read these verses I notice some sound advice for how I can accomplish this. I must rule my spirit by exercising free will through submitting to God and resisting sins desire. Overlooking a transgression and having discretion helps me to overcome feeling good about being angry. Remaining composed, which requires practice, practice, practice, enables me to condemn judgemental words without vindicating myself. Then I can pacify contention through slow anger instead of stirring up hot tempered strife. Whew! I can master sin rather than it master me, imagine that!

So where does that leave me? Ah, here I am; "But he who is slow to anger has great understanding" (Prv 14:29). My desire becomes grace that turns to righteousness; resulting in sanctification and eternal life (Rom 6:19). My understanding leads to "A gentle answer that turns away wrath, not a harsh word that stirs up anger" (Prv 15:1). Rather than becoming a Cain I can be as Abigail who diffused David's hot-tempered anger. I suspect she became angry at her husband Nabel's rejection of David's request for supplies. But rather than rant and rave she gathered what David needed and met him, asking forgiveness, reminding him his anger would only diminish his standing with the people. Her words and actions humbled and impressed David thereby saving herself and servants from death. I like Abigail's example of how to avoid sinful anger by using a soft tongue that can be persuasive and pacify through gentle anger.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Delight

Ahhh! I so enjoy a warm fuzzy! Sinking into a warm bath on a cold winter day. Biting into a sweet piece of chocolate. For some, it's wrapping fingers around a mug of fresh brewed coffee savoring the first sip. Then there's watching a sunrise bathe snow-capped mountains in pink or a glorious orange hued sunset. They delight the soul and make one feel better in the moment. I wonder if these count as the desires of my heart the Lord gives me because I have delighted in Him. Probably, yet there must be other things I know not of.

How about 'His testimonies are my delight, they are the men of my counsel. (Ps 119:16)' Wow, can it be that simple if I want godly counsel, delight in His testimonies!" As I take 'Great delight in my beloved's shade, his fruit is sweet to my taste. (Song 2:3)' Really, something sweeter than chocolate! He will make me ride on the heights on the earth as I delight in Him (Is 58:14). I could ride on a sunrise; besides I look good in pink. 'His consolations delight my soul when my anxious thoughts are many (Ps 94:19)' I would like to bathe my cold anxious thoughts in warm consolation!

I must ask myself "Have I given my heart to Him and let my eyes delight in His ways?" (Prv 23:26) "Is my delight the law of the Lord?" (Ps 1:2) Do I "call the sabbath a delight?" (Is 58:13) My answer is a resounding YES! As a result He "delights in (my) loyalty rather than sacrifice" and His greatest delight "is (our) unchanging love!" (Hos 6:6; Mic 7:18). This is the ultimate warm fuzzy to know that I know that I know the Lord that is the desire of my heart and my delight.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy! Happy! Happy!

God never promised we'd be happy. That's not to say we don't have moments of happiness, our first kiss, getting married, a child being born, etc. But happiness is fleeting, dependant upon external gratification and once the experience has passed we anxiously await the next thing that will make us happy. Besides who doesn't like feeling happy!? But like most feelings; happiness is short-lived and won't sustain in times of need. It's called the fruit of the Spirit not the feeling of the Spirit for a reason and happiness is not in that list.
A fruit seed is carefully chosen, patiently planted, lovingly tended, painstakingly cultivated and finally joyfully harvested. There's a process involved, knowing the season to plant and to harvest. And regardless of which fruit I'm growing it's not happiness that will sustain but contentment. As an added bonus it's godliness with contentment that is of great gain. Hm, who would have thought that throwing godliness into the mix would bring me into the realm of joy unspeakable and full of glory that trumps happiness.
Then I can say, as Paul did, "Not that I speak according to self-sufficiency; for I have learned to be content/satisfied in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." (Phil 4:11-12) I no longer have to depend on being happy, happy, happy and self-sufficient but can know the secret of godly satisfaction; what could be better than that!