For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem;
he has desired it for his home. Psalm 132:13, NLT*
Remember King David’s plan to build a place of worship for God? This psalm starts there, reminds the people how excited they were to come into God’s presence in celebration, and then it finishes with God.
God chose Israel out of the nations, and He chose where he wanted to “dwell” among them. God, who needs nothing that we can make for Him, wanted to establish His presence with His people.
It makes me think of the verse that says God gives us the desires of our hearts. He planted the desire in David, and in Solomon who actually built the Temple. It was their desire, but it was God’s first.
That reminds me how important it is to listen to God, to take time alone with Him in quiet. What dream or vision might He want to plant?
It also means we need to remember that any desire He may give us is ultimately His. We don’t dare re-shape it or get possessive over it. David’s role wasn’t to build the Temple but to gather the resources and prepare his son Solomon to be the builder.
Knowing a longing like this comes from God releases us to trust that He’ll accomplish it as He fully envisions. This may be different from what we expect, since we may see only a portion of the whole.
Do you have a longing that wells up from such a deep place inside that sometimes it hurts? Stay close to God, listen to Him and wait for His timing. He knows what He’s doing.
Our God, Your ways and thoughts are beyond what we can comprehend, and yet You choose to involve us in accomplishing Your purposes. Thank You for the desires You plant in our hearts, the ways You draw us into Your work. Help us to listen and to follow You, not turning aside and not running ahead. Help us remember that this is for Your glory, and not our own.
At Under the Cover of Prayer, Jen Cudmore shares a challenge to go deeper than surface prayers for people who may irritate us–to do battle for them in prayer. See the full post: You Want Me to Pray for Whom?
At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly reminds us that even Christians, if we’re not careful, can find ourselves living according to the flesh instead of the Spirit if we’re “following sinful tendencies in ways that may not even appear overtly sinful… living as if God did not exist. That is, living by one’s own resources and wits.” For wisdom on how to live oriented to the Spirit instead of the natural, read Turn the Dial to “Spirit”.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9, NLT*
I have the privilege of reading the children’s story at church on Sundays. For Easter, I chose one from Violet Nesdoly’s site, Bible Drive-Thru, and in hindsight I shouldn’t have been surprised that Violet’s words would teach me too.
Her story explained how Jesus had warned the disciples that He would die and be resurrected, but when the women came from the tomb with the news, “they were shocked. Their surprise shows that either they didn’t hear Him, or they didn’t believe Him, or both.” [read the full post here: Death to Death]
Well of course the disciples didn’t believe Jesus when He told them what would happen. They didn’t want to believe the dying part, and the rising again part was more than their minds and experience could process. We only know better because the Resurrection happened. People saw proof and handed their experience down to us.
It got me thinking: what else may God have told us in His Word that our minds have naturally sloughed off because it doesn’t fit our human understanding?
God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—loves us. (John 3:16)
Our God, the Bible brims with promises and hope, yet we confess that sometimes we trust our thoughts above Your Word. We believe our doubts rather than Your truth. Often we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Please remind us of what You said and give us faith to believe You really meant it—and meant it for us. Help our unbelief.
But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. Romans 8:13b, NLT*
In our spiritual armour, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God [see Ephesians 6:10-20]. The armour lets us stand our ground against attacks. The sword may even be for taking enemy territory if we’re doing battle for someone.
Today’s verse suggests we can use the sword to cut free of existing bonds or snares, not just to deflect new blows.
I’ve been wielding the sword when I use Bible verses to counter deep-set lies I’ve accepted, but somehow I hadn’t seen it in terms of battle. I just knew I had to use the light of God’s truth to burn away the deception.
God’s been nudging me lately about some attitudes that have to go—attitudes that date back to my early school years and that I thought were pretty well in hand. It turns out they’ve inserted themselves into deeper cover than I’d realized. Prayer and confession and surrender have made a start at eradicating them, but I see now that the truth of the Bible is the single-most effective tool or weapon I have.
Choosing a song for this one was hard! I found a good “change my attitude” song with the Newsboys’ “Breathe” and a good “don’t buy the lies” song with Jonny Diaz’ “More Beautiful You.” If you need one or both, have a listen. They speak to my heart.
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9, NIV*
Have you heard the anecdote about three blind people encountering an elephant for the first time? The one, touching the trunk, said the creature was skinny, long and floppy. The one at the elephant’s side insisted it was huge, while the third one stood at the patient animal’s foreleg and thought maybe it was a tree.
God is so much bigger than we can comprehend, and the silly story illustrates the danger of insisting we know all about Him based on what we’ve personally encountered. We have the Bible to teach us about Him, but we need to be careful to read all of it instead of focusing on what we “get” or on what makes us feel good.
And we have Jesus, who reveals the Father’s character. That makes the four Gospels extra valuable for study.
Majestic and holy God, the better we know You the more we can trust You. And the more our spirits will surrender to You in worship. You alone are holy, all-wise, our Redeemer and our Judge. You are more than we can comprehend, yet You reveal Yourself to us. Open the eyes of our hearts to the truth of who You, and help us to live lives of worship.
I saw Jonny Diaz perform “The Opener” at Maple Noise 2011. I really like his serious songs, especially “More Beautiful You” and “Scars” but it’s great to laugh once in a while. You can see the video for his new song, “Scars,” on the Jonny Diaz website. The site also has a link to follow him on Twitter–definitely worth doing if you like to smile. Here’s “The Opener” for another smile:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV*
Tuesday morning, yesterday now, I curled up with my Bible and journal, tea at hand, reminding the Lord that I still didn’t have anything for today’s post.
Since He nudged me into blogging in 2008, He’s given me a devotional thought to share each week. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes it’s pretty close to the finish line, but He provides every time.
I don’t fret about it anymore, although I do like a few days’ breathing space in case something else in my schedule goes boink. So no stress on that account, but something else was bothering me this time.
When I tried to read the day’s psalm, my spirit felt tight, shrink-wrapped. Instead of pushing on, I stopped to pray. “Lord, there’s some kind of blockage. I feel… well… like You’re holding out on me.”
Everything seemed to hush.
I knew that lie! It’s so old, it goes back to the Garden of Eden.
Truth defeats the lie, so I asked God to give me a verse to counter it. I knew He wasn’t holding out on me, because He’s not like that. He gives good gifts. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, NIV*) That was my answer, although I didn’t remember the reference.
“Recognize the lie—defeat it with truth.” I’m hearing that a lot lately. It’s one of the things God is working on in me, but it’s also something to share today. I’m not the only one learning this particular lesson.
God who is holy, faithful and true, You know we’ve accepted lies and they’ve diminished us. Some of them are so rooted-in that we think they’re true. Shine the light of Your Word into our darkest places, reveal the deceit, and help us to replace it with Your truth. Teach us how to believe and rely on Your Word.