Tag Archives: Third Day

Pray Before Giving

Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.’”
2 Samuel 7:5-6, NIV*

King David’s desire to build a temple for God came from a good heart. He wanted to honour God, not to live in an elaborate palace while God’s dwelling was a tent.

David loved God, and God had given him so much. I wonder if David saw a chance to do something for Him as a gift. Good heart, good idea, wrong timing.

We get love-born impulses too, to do things for God or for others. These verses remind me we need to pray before acting.

God may want us to bless Him with our hearts’ attitudes but to not act—or to not act yet. In His plan, timing matters.

Sometimes the very things we long to do for others are the things that would undermine what God is doing in their hearts. Oswald Chambers says, “It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s order for others.” (“What is that to Thee?” Nov. 15)

Father God, we want to give back to You out of the love You’ve given us. Impress on our hearts how best to please You—and how to show love to those around us. Help us to always come first to You for wisdom. Make us sensitive to Your prompting to act or to not act. Keep us in the centre of Your will.

The gift God wants most is our hearts. Here’s my favourite Third Day song: “Offering.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Willing to Give

The people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning…[until] the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
Exodus 36:3b, 6b, 7 NIV*

These are the Israelites in the wilderness, being led and sustained by God. The God who has now instructed Moses in the making of a tabernacle where He will dwell with His people. Moses has asked all who are willing and able to give materials, and this is the people’s response.

As God has provided manna each morning for the people, now that they have the opportunity to give back they do it the same way: morning by morning until the workers have more than enough.

I’m working through Beth Moore’s study,  A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place (updated version), and along with this passage she asks readers to discover what freewill offerings we give to the Lord—or hold back from Him.

He’s been prompting me for the past few months about an open heart, about stepping out through the self-constructed wall. I’m cooperating as best as I can, but it’s a real “step forward, step back” experience. After all, it’s familiar behind the wall… comfortable.

But I meant it when I told Him I’d obey, and when I realize I’ve retreated again, I get up and move out. Again.

Reading how the Israelites brought more offerings each day made my efforts look useless. I can’t even seem to bring one thing and let it stay there. Like the manna, it doesn’t “keep”. But then I realized, so what? As long as I faithfully bring my heart each time it sneaks home to roost, I’m doing the best I can. One of these days that heart may even stay where it’s put.

Father, my freewill offering is an open heart, but it keeps closing up again. As You remind me, I will open it and bring it to You again and again, like the Israelites kept bringing fresh treasures to You. I pray You’ll count it as obedience, and complete the work You’ve begun.

Third Day’s “Offering” is one of those rare songs that rooted in my heart on a first hearing. It’s a fitting one for today.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Feeling Whole

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:7-86-7, MSG*

Tuesday was a full day.

It was my first day filling in for a friend at her work, and that meant keeping a lot of mental balls in the air—not an easy task for someone who’s easily distracted. Between learning where to find everything and what to do with it, what I’d naively expected to be a morning slid halfway into the afternoon.

Not a big deal… except I’d planned to spend said afternoon cooking a large pot of spaghetti sauce and making apple-rice pudding for my writers’ group’s supper meeting. And writing this blog post.

Okay, cancel the sauce and open a can. Easy. Print the document I’m supposed to critique for the meeting before starting the pudding, so I don’t forget.

Open the email program to find the document. Also find urgent prayer requests I need to respond to under my hat of prayer team lead for The Word Guild. (And bless my wonderful assistant who’s already at work on this!)

So by the time the rice is cooking, I know I’m going to be late for my meeting. So much for going early to help set up. And I can’t reach our hostess on the phone.

Before you start playing tiny violins to accompany my suffering, I need to say it was a good day. Not bad, just hectic. And I’m not complaining.

We’ve all had days like this or worse.

What’s encouraging me this evening is that for once, instead of tensing up and trying to “hurry harder” I was able to remember the verses from James that talk about embracing what comes and being eager to cooperate with what God is doing, rather than fighting the tools He may want to use to shape us.

I’d read these verses recently, and I think our conversation here last Friday about using Scripture to retrain our minds made the truths stick.

When uncertainty and self-doubt asked (several times!) why I thought I could do this job, and self chimed in “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I remembered that God is quite able to help me learn and serve with a cheerful heart.

And He did. I even saw Him in the encouraging way the others treated me.

When perfectionism and fear murmured about my potential mistakes and what was left undone, it was enough to know I’m still learning and I did my best.

Time was passing, but I knew I was where God had me to be and instead of trying to mentally slow the clock (you’ve done that, right?) I trusted Him to arrange the rest of the day.

Well it all got done, even this blog post after my meeting—for which I was late and had to resist the guilt that goes with that. I’m tired, late getting to bed, but I feel good. Whole. Like I got it right even though a performance review of the day would reveal imperfect work.

It seems a tad self-focused to share this, but it’s not about me getting something right. It’s about God and discovering what relying on Him can do. We can each do that, and sometimes listening to one person’s story can encourage us about our own.

Father, thank You so much for Your grace today that enabled me to rely on You instead of on my self-defeating behaviour patterns. I’m sorry this is such a rare thing, and I pray in faith that You will finish the work You’ve begun in me—begun in each of us. Remind us of Your Word, help us to choose to believe what You say instead of what our inner critic claims to be true.

Many artists sing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” but one of my favourite versions is by Third Day. Here’s their amazing medley: “Give/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus/With Or Without You/Your Love Oh Lord” from their Offerings 2 CD.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Free to Do it God’s Way

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG*

I’m not suffering right now, and I’m glad of it. But I’m also glad God is working to free me from being tyrannized by self: my will, my opinions, my perspective.

Self-focus comes naturally and we can spend our lives encouraging it, but really it’s a prison. And the jailer, self, gets harsher over time.

There’s a reason God asks us to trust Him wholeheartedly and not rely on our own limited, darkened perceptions. His way is life everlasting and we miss it by keeping to our rigid, self-imposed choices.

“Free to pursue what God wants instead of … what you want.” At first glance this looks backward. Aren’t I free when I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, when I can do my own thing?

Maybe, but… life has shown me I’m not a kind taskmaster to myself. And relationship with God has shown me that I can trust Him.

“Free to pursue what God wants….” Well, what does the Bible say He wants? Cruel dominion over all people, wars, suffering?

What did Jesus say?

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
Luke 4:18-19, MSG*

He came to save us from our brokenness and to reconcile us with God. He asks us to receive what He gives and to pass it on.

Sounds more liberating than fighting with the universe to get my own way. Especially when my own way, like too much chocolate, is not a good thing.

Jesus came to set us free… sounds like the Christmas message and that of Easter. Here’s Third Day’s encouraging song, “Cry Out to Jesus”.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

In the Shelter of the Most High

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
Psalm 91:1-2, NIV*

I confess I don’t understand how to interpret parts of this psalm, when it seems to talk about walking in total protection and yet Christians suffer and die like everyone else. But these first two verses have been my prayer for a week and I’m seeing something new here.

When I’m alone with the Lord, it’s usually easy to rest in His shelter. Then I say “Amen,” close my Bible and get on with the day’s responsibilities.

In the house, I still sense a bit of His shadow, unless things get really hairy. Put me into a store or other community venue with lots of people and distractions, and I feel like I’m on my own. Like I’m outside the compound, and shelter is on the other side of the wall. Maybe it’s an introvert thing, I don’t know.

The Lord has been enlarging my image of His shelter. Why should it just be the corner of the couch where I curl up with my Bible and blanket? Couldn’t it include my whole house? Why not the entire community, country, world? Wouldn’t His shelter fill the boundaries of His Kingdom?

Since I can’t get away from God (see Psalm 139), I can’t get out of His shelter, away from His shadow. That must mean I’m still dwelling in His shelter even if I’m in unfamiliar territory. My refuge and fortress, my God, isn’t in a location I have to run back to. He’s in all and over all.

Father, thank you for Your grace that lets me dwell in the shelter of the Most High, and that lets the Spirit of the Most High dwell in me. Help me abide in confidence in You, wherever you lead me each day.

Our song today is “Your Love, O Lord,” by Third Day. It’s based on a different psalm, but still gives the image of resting in the shelter of God.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Praise the LORD

Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! … Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem, praise your God, O Zion.
Psalm 147:1, 12 NIV*

Verses 2 – 6 say, “The LORD builds… gathers… heals… binds up… determines… names… sustains… casts down.”

Our God is worthy of praise. Something within us needs to praise Him—was made to praise Him.

We need to praise Him privately, adoring Him and growing our trust and confidence in Him.

But we also need to praise Him publicly. We need to tell others what He has done, because

  • He deserves it,
  • it strengthens other believers’ faith,
  • it shows His reality to those who don’t believe, and
  • it strengthens our own faith as we re-tell what He has done.

Sometimes church feels to me like a spectator sport. I go, reminding myself “let us not give up meeting together…” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV) but I wonder: are we meeting together? Exchanging stories to encourage our faith? Sharing and bearing one another’s burdens? Or are we putting on our nice faces for a visit to our faith club, then going back into our world powerless and unchanged?

LORD, I need to praise You more, to build my trust and confidence in You by thinking and talking about what You do. Help me see Your hand at work around me, and help me share it with others. I’m not the only silent one. Please wake Your body and  loosen our tongues to declare Your glory.

Lots of artists have sung “God of Wonders,” written by Steve Hindalong and Marc Byrd, but my favourite rendition has to be by Third Day:

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.