A New Look at an Old Truth in a New Year

Do you ever wonder if you are attuned to God and His will; if you really understand what God’s will is, and if you are following it?  I do, even though I have been a disciple of Jesus for many years and have read the Bible through several times.  I feel led to seriously re-consider, study anew the idea of “God’s will” and “doing God’s will,” if doing is even the accurate expression.  

The concept of the “will of God” is often used in a generic way, in that all good activities are lumped together and referred to as doing the “will of God.” Most people would think that my choice of knowing and doing the will of God is a rather basic focus. After all, a friend of mine said, “You have been a disciple of Jesus for many years; surely you know and are doing the will of God.”

As believers in God, we tend to automatically assume we are doing the will of God. We attend and participate in church services; we do good works; we live a relatively “clean” life style, so we think we are doing the will of God, but are we? Or, are we doing someone’s idea of “God’s will,” or our own version of “God’s will.” So at the start of this New Year I want to take a new look at God’s will and my connection to His will.

What is the “will” of God?
Simply put someone might say, “That’s easy the will of God are the commands of God; and almost immediately another pipes up and says, ”Uh, oh, be careful you don’t get legalistic.” Putting my fears of legalism aside I want to look at this idea of doing the will of God as embodied within my relationship with God, not the keeping of a code or fulfilling certain expectations so that I feel good about myself, or sense of spiritual security, which may be false.
What does it mean to live out the will of God in my life?

The word for “will” in the Greek New Testament is thelema, or a form thereof, and refers to: will, desire, intention, design, or plan.

We see this word spoken by Jesus in the prayer he taught his disciples: “Your (God’s) kingdom come, Your will (thelema) be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

Again, Jesus refers to “doing the will of God” as recorded in Mt. 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will (thelema) of my Father who is in heaven.”

The Will of God and Relationship
I am thinking the “will” of God has more to do with His intention, His desire, His design, or His plan to draw us close into a relationship with Him and to transform us more and more into His image. Clearly this has been God’s plan for me all along. Let’s take a close look at Ephesians 1:3-6 while defining and emphasizing some words.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will (thelematos). to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One..” (BSB)

 Here are the things that stand out in this passage about the will of God:

  • “chose” – God made a deliberate “willful choice” to draw us into a relationship with Him through Jesus
  • “in His presence” – The expression in His presence signifies a close personal relationship. God’s intention, his will/his design was to bring us into an intimate relationship with him
  • “predestined” – This meaning of this word is more closely associated with the understanding of “pre-planning.”  God planned in advance to send His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins (our self-willed-ness) so that we could be personally connected to Him.
  • “the good pleasure of His will” – God’s will, His intention, His design, His plan to initiate this and bring this about through Jesus was His pleasure. Pleasure has several meanings among those meanings is delight, good favor, beneficence towards man. God’s will to draw us close to Him was not done with a heavy heart or out of some kind of divine obligation. It was God’s pleasure to design, to plan in advance for us to be in an intimate relationship with Him.

When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they were revealing this truth about God’s good will, His good plan for us. The NKJV translates “God’s pleasure” as “His good will or good intent” to man.
          “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

There are many passages of scripture from Genesis to Revelations that reveal this same aspect of God’s will, His good intention, His design to gather us into Him.

Facets of the Divine Will
The will of God is like a large sparkling diamond. It has many facets. Like a diamond, each facet shines in a different way as you hold it up to the light. Once we see the whole of the diamond, we can then begin to examine the facets and get a better understanding of its beauty and value.

So it is with the will of God. The more I understand about the facets of the divine will, the more I can appreciate the will of God and the more likely I am to be in sync with God’s will.

Some words that need to be considered as facets of the will of God include:  surrender, submission, Lordship, exchanging yokes, denying self; abiding in God; refuging in God; knowing the eternal God and rejoicing in His presence. I am sure after a little thought you will see more facets to the will of God.

Some of the facets mentioned above may bring back a tinge of fear or maybe even a sense of burden or insecurity, but when I consider the will of God as His choosing to design a plan for me to come into a forever friendship with Him  through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, I can give up all fear and lean into Him.

Reflection for a New Year
I would ask you to reread Ephesians 1:3-6 and re-consider your ideas about the will of God in your life.

Do you know what the will of God is? How does doing the will of God fit in with having a personal relationship with God? How can you grow in sync with God’s will? What will that look like in your life?

I intend to continue my quest for comprehending and taking in the will of God in my life this year. I invite you to join me.

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“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

God Became a Speck for You!

As a young child during the Christmas season there was an elaborate and very beautiful manger scene that took up a whole corner of the church I attended. To my child eyes it was beautiful, really, a thing of awe. I have never seen anything like it since.

Every year during the Christmas season the children would line up and stroll past this scene singing a song of triumph. I think the song is entitled “Strains of Triumph.”  My family lived in a multi-ethnic community, we were among the Polish group, so I should clarify that we sang this song in Polish. I hear it in my head, with only snatches of remembered words, but I clearly remember the word for triumph.

It was a song about the triumph that came from God becoming a man! And there, encapsulated in that procession of children and their worship song, you have the true cause for celebration – the incarnation.

 God With Us – Immanuel
Immanuel is a name given to Jesus by God. This name encapsulates the incarnation. When Joseph heard the name spoken by the angel, he believed and obeyed.

“Behold, the virgin will hold in womb, and will bring forth a son, and they will call His name Immanuel” which is, being translated, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.”  Matthew 1:23 BLB Matthew 1:24 NASB

Sometimes we can be as confused as Joseph was in regards to who Jesus is.  At times I may even wonder what is God’s intent towards me and purpose for me. I think meditating on this truth of Immanuel, God becoming man, will strengthen my faith in the love of God for man, and His desire to know me and have a relationship with me.

God went through great lengths to show us that He desires to be with us and have a relationship with us.  

God, the majestic, all powerful, the Creator and king of the universe, the source of all life and light, the all sovereign God became a “speck,” a single cell zygote in a human womb for you and me. 

Love Detailed
There are numerous passages of scripture that confirm this truth and define the purpose of God becoming man. These passages reveal in detail the deep love of God for us and His desire to be in a relationship with us. Let’s review some of these passages.

Immanuel, God in the flesh, purchased us with His blood.

  • Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28
  • He (God) is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7

 Immanuel, God in the flesh, had a physical body that could bleed, die and then be resurrected.

  • Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Hebrews 2:14
  • For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit 1 Peter 3:18
  • But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence—Col. 1:22
  • By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. 1 Cor. 6:14

Immanuel, God with us, had a body that could suffer on our behalf.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
  • But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Why Immanuel?
Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel.  Why did God come down in the flesh? Why was He born as a man so many years ago? The answer is throughout the scriptures but is very clear in Ephesians 3:12

  • In Him (Jesus) and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

God became man and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Immanuel became the “sin offering” for us, His blood atoned for our sin. He did this so that we could be in a relationship with God and enjoy fellowship with Him.

This truth of “God with us” is carefully documented for us. 1 John 1:1-4 describes the documentation of the Word become flesh- Immanuel, and it clearly states the purpose of God becoming a man.

“We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 

 This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

So What?
Whether you know the exact month or day that Jesus was born is not so important. Whether you follow those who think Jesus was born in a lean to stable or whether he was born in the lower floor of a house which was reserved for the animals is not so important. Whether you understand the origins of the “Christ-mass” holiday is not so important.

What is important is the truth that God became man in Immanuel. God became man for the explicit purpose of suffering, bleeding, dying, being buried and raised from the dead. He became the sin offering for us, so that we could have access to fellowship with God.

God went through great lengths to draw me to Him. Will I value and appreciate the humility and love of God? Will I choose to die to my “self” and live in friendship with God? What about you?

God in the Coffee Shop

We sat in the coffee shop talking about the disappointing turn her life had taken. She thought she had what she wanted in life but within the time it took to make one decision everything was turned upside down.

It had been six months since he left and her feelings are tangled in a ball of confusion. She is trying to cobble together a life by herself. We talked about her connection to God and where she is with Him now.

Thoughts of failure and unworthiness were swirling in her head. She wondered where God is; did He too walk away from her? Can God and His people be trusted? There must be something really bad about me that this happened?

Listen for Truth
In times of difficulty and pain, many fears and insecurities vie for center stage in our mind. When we are attacked by swarming life draining thoughts the best place to go is to the source of truth, the Word of God. If you are not strong enough to go there by yourself, call a friend and seek these truths together.

Knowing truths about God that we can sink our faith into is like firmly embedded pegs in a slick rock wall that you can grasp onto to keep your balance and use to pull yourself up as you move forward.

So God’s peace entered the coffee shop as we read some truths about Him.

God Cares
One of the stand out truths we needed that morning was to know that God cares about us and He is with us in our hurts.  God is very personal.  He does not disappear when we are going through difficulties. Here are a few verses that reveal the truth of God’s heart for us.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

This truth of God’s care and concern for us stands out within a passage from the letter of Peter to the disciples scattered abroad due to persecutions. The disciples had to move away to escape the threats to their life, their faith, their families, their livelihood, etc. They probably left behind much and were in emotional distress, and physical need. It is possible that they did not feel the care of God. Yet, in the midst of their troubles, Peter tells them this truth – “… God cares for you.”

The word translated “cares for you” is defined as: to pay special attention to; to take an interest in.

The truth about God always stands in direct opposition to the circumstances we are in.
Our circumstances seem to shout out: “God does not care.”

These disciples to whom Peter wrote had to make a choice to believe that God cares.
This truth is the same today, and we receive the benefits of this truth the same way they did. In the midst of the pain and chaos of our lives, we choose to believe that God cares. This truth is found over and over again in God’s Word. Truth leads us out of hopelessness and fear.

God Knows the Details
The scripture 1 Peter 1:5:7 literally means God cares about every little detail of your life. “Surely not,” you say. But yes that is the truth; a description of this very truth is in Psalm 56:8:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV)

Some translations say “wanderings” instead of tossings, which makes sense in light of all Israel’s wanderings and missteps. But the truth about God is He knows our wanderings, our tossings. He records our tossings of confusion, distress, despair, hurt, fear, betrayal, etc., in His book.

It’s like God keeps a journal of our difficult and painful times much like a parent might journal the growth of their child. God tenderly stores our tears in a bottle, as a parent might keep their child’s first tooth to come out, or store away a lock of baby hair.

A loving parent is attuned to all good growth as well as difficulties in their child’s life. In fact many parents can sense even a nuance of difficulty in their child’s life.  God is the perfect parent, the ultimate shepherd; and He sees, He knows, He records our laments, and He responds.

I Don’t Know
Well, you say, “If God cares so much and He knows so much why doesn’t He change my situation, in fact, why did He allow this to happen in the first place?

I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. I have thought that if God really cared, He would magically pluck me up out of the difficulty.

It has been my experience that in general, God does not do this. But true to His faithfulness and love, God walks with us in all these things. We see Him with us through our faith.

For example, consider the account in the book of Daniel in which Daniel is falsely accused, of sedition against the king by jealous men. God does not rush in and punish these men; He does not send an angel to tell the king to overturn the ruling; and He doesn’t mysteriously remove Daniel from the situation.

Daniel still has to walk into the den where there are lions, hungry ones. Imagine that!

Daniel does not have an insider tip that God will shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel moves forward perhaps with some fear, and is willing to be attacked by hungry lions for honoring God. Yet God was there and shut the mouths of the lions. (Read Daniel 6) Think about what it might have been like for Daniel in that den that night. Could it be similar to you in your troubles?

God Is in It
A similar account is in Daniel 3 regarding an account of three young men who refuse to dishonor God by engaging in an act of worship that would betray their loyalty to God. These men knew the punishment for this crime against the king – death in a fiery furnace.

I hate fire and would do almost anything to avoid being burned by fire, let alone death by fire.

These three men professed their faith in God and their knowledge of His faithful care and powerful ability to save them, but also they were aware that God might not save them from this fiery death.

Again, we do not see God swooping to the rescue like a modern super hero; righting every wrong; huffing out the fire; rebuking the king; exposing the accusers or picking up the three men and flying away with them. No! The three young men stand firm in trusting and honoring God and walk into the fire.

Do you think they did not have any fear of the flames? Any second thoughts? Any tossings in their minds?

Where was God?In the flames with them!
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”  He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25

As a result of their faith in God; in your face loyalty to God and God’s presence with them, these three young men came out of the fire unsinged.

“ … So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Dan. 3:26b-27

The Result of Trusting God
What was the result of the fiery trial of these three young men? They saw the glory of God. The king and all his people believed and praised God. (See Daniel 3:28-28)

Choose Truth
In the midst of our troubles; our anxieties; our tossings; our pain we need to ignore the lying voices about God, and deliberately hang onto truths we know about Him. The truth is God cares about us and our lives, and God is with us in the big and small troubles.

So what will you and I choose to believe about God when we are in the fire? Will we trust that He cares, that He is there walking with us? Will we choose truth and see His glory?

As you reflect on these questions, consider this truth about God.

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him freely give us all things?!”  Romans 8:32

No Parking!

Park your mind in a better place!  Don’t keep backing your thoughts into the negative spaces.

My thoughts can undo me, seriously. If my husband is late returning from an appointment I already have created a scenario of him bleeding in a wreck by the side of the road. If my friend rushes by me without stopping to acknowledge me, or if she says something offensive, I have created all manner of accusations in my mind. The problem deepens when I choose to park there. I am more likely to somehow end up thinking bad things about God or myself, or both.

It is true there are difficulties in my life, people say and do things that hurt me. There are character weaknesses and other challenges that seem insurmountable to me. Not to mention past hurts and difficulties that replay in my head and lead me to park overtime in the negative space.

I have found that if I keep thinking I cannot overcome my weaknesses; or, that I am not good enough/smart enough/ strong enough; or why don’t they acknowledge my worth, then I am trapped in the dark spaces. The longer I park there the more difficult it becomes to heal and move out.

Park in the Light
Changing the way I think about myself, others, and life is called repentance. I need to repent of dark, hopeless regurgitation of thoughts that usually are not true and instead fill my mind with truths about God, His love and His power.

Such As . . .
When I question God’s goodness, the truth is God has good intentions towards me.

  • Psalm 86:5 – For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call on you.
  • James 1:17- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

When I feel that God does not care, the truth is He is deeply aware of my hurts.

  • Psalm 56:8 – You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
  • Matthew 11:28-29 -Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When I think my situation or someone else’s is impossible, I read the truth about God’s love and power.

  • Matthew 19:25- 26 – When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.”

When I think I am not important and don’t matter, the truth is God values me so much that He let Jesus die for me.

  • Romans 5:6-8 – Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.

Bank Truth
I do not advocate being a “Polly Anna,” who thinks everything is “ok,” or the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand, who ignores everything. At times, there may be wrongs we need to set right. But for the most part, I think God wants us to focus on the light because he is in the light. His truth is light. So I need to refuse to park my thoughts in the dark with falsehoods and half-truths.

Search the scriptures and find truths that will help you park your mind in the light. Bank these truths, keep them handy. Use them to lead you out of dark spaces.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Invisible

A little boy walked to the side of the playground, shoulders slumped and face cast down; feeling unwanted, disregarded, and invisible. You see the kids from his class had just picked teams for a game, and again, he was not chosen.

Feeling invisible or unchosen is not restricted to children’s play yards. A friend of mine, a very intelligent woman with a high ranking position, told me how she at times feels invisible, at work, sometimes at home and even at times in her church community.

She relayed a humorous analogy from her work place.  In a rest room there are three sinks with automated sensors, so as one puts their hands near the sensor the water turns on. One of the sensors is temperamental, sometimes it works and sometimes not. You put your hands there for water; you wait and get nothing. You feel invisible, not even weighty enough to trigger a sensor.

Maybe you feel invisible. You may be within a group, yet are overlooked, not regarded and “unchosen.”

Relocate Your Value Source
When I am feeling overlooked, disregarded and not chosen I withdraw. I respond this way to protect myself, however my response does not help me. The truth is I need to relocate the source of value.  I am looking in the wrong place for my identity, value and approval.

We are social beings, created for relationship and community. That is true, and we do indeed build into one another. However, I am learning that my basic value and identity is not determined by other people’s response to me or approval of me, but rather I need to go to my Creator for value and purpose.

There are truths in God’s word that can lift up our countenance and help us live loved and with a sense of true value. God knows us, sees us and has chosen us.

God Sees
God is the God who sees. Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, calls God by the name EL Roi which means “the God who sees,” Genesis 16:13.

Hagar has been cast out into the desert with her young son. Alone! Surely she is feeling despair and fear, maybe even invisible. But she was not invisible to God. He was aware of her situation; he saw her and delivered her, so as a result she calls him, El Roi, the God who sees.

God’s character is that he is ever alert to us. We are ever the center of his vision and awareness.

In fact God has intimate knowledge of us. God knows the very number of hairs on my head, Luke 12:7.  God knows every tear you have cried: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Ps. 56:8

God knows when I sit and when I stand. He discerns my thoughts before I think them. He knows a word that is on my tongue before I even speak it.

  • “You know when I sit and when I rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you. Lord, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4-5

While I do not understand God having such knowledge of me, I feel secure in it.

Visible and Chosen
God sees us and deliberately chooses to draw us near to him.

At times in my life I have felt “unchosen,” and I have been “unchosen.” The most confusing thing is when you are not chosen by those from whom it is natural to expect being chosen.

There are many ways we expect to be chosen or included but are not. There is no need to list them here, I am sure you have experienced a few of these stinging disappointments in your life. The truth is – you are chosen by God.

Being chosen by God is not a consolation prize. It is a truth that grounds us and directs our life. It is from his choosing us that we begin to know our true value.

The word chosen in the scriptures, both Old and New Testament references means: to be selected; to be loved; to be valued; to be delighted in; to be preferred or wanted.

Read some of these passages and let the truth speak to you about how deeply and intentionally God values us. God is telling us we matter to him. He welcomes and desires us. He wants to include us in his presence.

  • For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Ephesians 1:4-5 (TLB)
  • But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thess. 2:13
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (We are God’s beloved and are treasured by God.)
  • Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 312
  • Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35,37-39 (NLT)

Believe It
We could fill pages and pages with truths from God’s Word that describe God’s love and valuing of us. However, these truths about God have little power to change our thoughts, feelings and understandings about ourselves if we do not believe them.

I encourage you to read these passages again and insert your name in them, turn the third person pronouns into first person ones. Make these verses personal to you and God, because that is how he intends them.

Let these truths change your thinking about who you are, and your value. The next time you feel invisible – think about these truths.

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“And so we know and rely (depend) on the love God has for us. God is love…”
1 John 4:16a Live in His love!

God Loves Pink Monkeys

There is a legend about a “pink monkey” which describes a behavioral experiment involving a group of monkeys. Supposedly, some behaviorists dyed one monkey pink and returned it to the monkey group. After a brief perusal of the pink monkey, the other monkeys attacked it so viciously that the researchers had to rescue the pink monkey.

This “Pink Monkey” experiment is not true, but rather a social parable about how human beings tend to treat those who are different. More often than not we tend to push off to the side those who are different; those who don’t readily fit into our picture of the norm.

Differences can include physical appearance, intellectual ability, physical ability or disability, personality, emotional states, mental health challenges and the like.  The “pink monkey” in the parable was different. He no longer blended in with the tribe. Therefore, he was suspect, he was isolated and attacked.

The sad part of this “pink monkey” story is that I learned about it through a high school girl. She read about the “Pink Monkey” experiment and likened it to in her peer group  – feeling the attack of disapproval, rejection and indifference. She believes herself to be a “Pink Monkey” rather that a wondrous creation of God reflecting His image.

This may be an extreme conclusion for her to draw, and may not totally reflect the whole reality of her situation, but it is how this young woman feels. I was deeply moved by this girl’s feelings and had to ask myself, “How am I doing at loving and accepting those who are different from the norm or from my expectations and standards?”

God Created “Pink Monkeys*” (*Please note I am in no way saying that man is a monkey, or that people who are different are monkeys. I am using this term to refer to all those who stand out from the norm like the “pink monkey in the story.)

I want to advocate that we see beyond the “pink” to the beauty of God in each person. “Pink Monkeys” are created in the image of God just as is everyone else.

  • “These are the family records of the descendants of Adam. On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God…” Genesis 5:1
  • “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:17
  • “But now, O Lord, you are our Father;we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

God creates us to reflect Him, His intelligence, creativity, capacity for love, mercy and so on. Each person in some way reflects God. People will look very different; have differing degrees of intellectual ability, different personalities, and contrasting emotional states. The type or amount of these qualities does not change the image of God within that person.

We, as God’s creations, are called to respect and respond to His image in others. I believe that is why “to love one another” is the second priority in God’s commands. By loving one another we demonstrate that we are in God’s image, and we bring out His image in others.

God Champions “Pink Monkeys”
In the scriptures we see that God has a heart for all people and He seems to especially seek out those who are marked as different in some way: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. God has no partiality for those whom man deems as beautiful, whole, charismatic, successful, and so on. Scripture testifies to this.

  • “… who (God) shows no partiality to princes,nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?” Job 34:19
  • “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality …” Deuteronomy 10:17
  • “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1

Let’s look more closely at God’s love for those that man often finds wanting.

The Withered
There was a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand. It was physically distracting to others and useless to him. Performing daily tasks and earning a living with the use of only one hand was indeed challenging, especially in the age and society in which he lived.

Jesus had a heart to help this man by healing him. But the leaders in the synagogue did not care about this man’s life or his feelings. In fact, it seems they used him to trap Jesus by accusing Him of doing work (healing) on the Sabbath.

Jesus was grieved in his heart at their “coldness of heart,” their lack of regard and care that these men had for the condition of the man with the withered hand. Yet, Jesus had compassion on him and healed the man, risking the wrath of the religious leaders. (Read:Mark. 3:1-6)

As I reflect on Jesus’ character in this situation, I ask myself: “What is my heart towards people whose appearance is unusual maybe from burns, an accident, a birth defect, an amputation, skin lesions from a disease, or other physical issues? Am I willing to reach out and touch them, welcome them into my group, befriend them? Serve them? Look past their appearance, disability or behavior and see the person within? Am I willing to put myself in their shoes? Do I give them the value God does, or do I consider them somehow less important, or less valuable?”

The Cast Out
On a busy pathway a man with a dreaded disease approached Jesus. This man had leprosy a disease that in those days marred physical appearance, brought isolation to its victim and fear to others around him/her. The leper was literally “cast out,” forced to keep a designated distance from others,  and to label and identify him/herself as unclean, unacceptable.

Jesus’ response was amazing. He did not turn away from this man, reject him or follow the accepted protocol. Jesus reached out in compassion and touched this man, who had probably not had an affirming touch in a long time.

  • “Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him … Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,”he told him. “Be made clean.”  Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed.” Mark 1:40-41

As I read this account in the life of Jesus I ask myself who do I hold at a distance and why?

The Out of Control
There are many reasons as to why a person’s emotions, thought processes and or behaviors may be out of control. Jesus reached out to just such a man. In fact this man was so out of control that people had chained him in a graveyard. (Wow, how is that for acceptance and affirmation from your peers)?

This man had self destructive tendencies; he was obviously in turmoil and pain. Everyone feared him and ran away from him, but Jesus reached out to him, drew him in, helped him and had a vision for this man that went beyond the grave yard.

  • “As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, He was met by a man with an unclean spirit, who was coming from the tombs. This man had been living in the tombs and could no longer be restrained, even with chains. Though he was often bound with chains and shackles, he had broken the chains and shattered the shackles. Now there was no one with the strength to subdue him. Night and day in the tombs and in the mountains he kept crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Read: Mark 5:1-20

Jesus did not bind this man, which surely He could have done. Jesus did not ignore this man. Jesus looked at this man, took time to hear his story and then helped him. In the end, we see Jesus and the man sitting together talking and then Jesus gives the man a new purpose.

  • “Jesus said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” Mk. 5:19-20

You, Me and “Pink Monkeys”
What does this say to you and me? If you profess faith in Jesus and claim to follow Him, then it says a lot.

We are recipients of the grace and abundant love of God, and are called to love as Jesus loved.  Some questions I am asking myself about my love for others:

  • Do I love others beyond those who include me in a familiar circle?
  • Do I pull in those who for whatever reason are on the fringes?
  • Do I consider and value those who have a different personality type than me?
  • Do I fellowship those who have a physical or a mental challenge?
  • Am I emulating God’s love?
  • Am I teaching my children and others how to see and love other people?

Jesus stopped. Jesus looked deeply. Jesus listened. Jesus acted in compassion and love!
Let us follow His example.

 

 

Nuclear Prayers

“Where is God when I need Him?” This is a question many of us think, but we do not often ask God for fear of sounding disrespectful.

A friend of mine who has had a significantly rough life journey was asking this question. Over the past several years she has been walking closer with God, working on healing from the scars caused by her own negative thinking, words and actions; and from traumas delivered by others.

She has acknowledged negative actions, words and attitudes that she has been responsible for, and has sought professional help in working through the toxic actions and words of others. These are all important steps in the healing process.

She has sought answers not only in counseling but also in truths in God’s word, in prayer and in her relationship with God.  In viewing this from a “Christian” perspective one might say she is a Jesus girl seeking a deeper more genuine walk with God. Yet, she feels her prayers are unanswered and wonders why she does not feel God’s support. Maybe she needs to ask God this very question, “Where are you, Father?”

God Welcomes Laments!
Sometimes praying what we think are standard, acceptable, safe prayers may not be enough. Such “standard” prayers may indicate that we need to get down deeper in trusting God.

Perhaps we need to follow the example of the prophets and psalmists of old and pray risky prayers. Maybe, we need to risk sounding brazen and disrespectful. Sometimes we need to “dump it” on God, lament and moan to God from the depths of our heart. Such prayers may sound scandalous. They may sound disrespectful to God, but in truth such prayers show absolute trust in the love and goodness of God.

Lamenting to God is a true pouring out of your heart, and shows an authentic engagement with God.

The Israelites knew how to lament to God. In fact when the Israelites began moving away from God, breaking their covenant with Him, God literally asks, “Hey, why aren’t you guys trusting me, lamenting to me and asking me where I am?”

Jeremiah 2: 1-8 reveals that God accuses His people of not trusting Him enough to lament. This is apparent in verses 6 and 8.

 5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols   and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,  who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness,  through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’

Dumping It!
True faith is childlike and just dumps it out. Lamenting is pouring out our heart to God. It is risking sounding like a spoiled child or an offended wife in order to seek God’s help. Shallow “religious” faith bottles it all up. In a sense, it is hypocritical because we are in our minds saying, “Well, God, you are the sovereign God and it is your fault that these things are happening.”

The prophets and the psalmists in their lamenting reveal a true faith in God, a real dependence on His love, faithfulness and power.

David, a man after God’s heart, often lamented to God. David cried out to God in desperation and in faith. Psalm 142:1-2 carries the tone of a lament.
“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”

Laments Recorded by God
Below are examples of prayers of lament found in the scriptures. As you read them you may feel uncomfortable with the raw openness of these prayers, but listen for the faith. What are they really saying?

Blaming God for their Sinful State

  • Why, Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17

Charging God with Forgetting, Rejecting; Neglecting…

  • Wake up, O Lord! Why are You sleeping? Arise! Do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery and oppression? For our soul has sunk to the dust; our bodies cling to the earth. Psalm 44:24-25 (BSB)
  • Do not hide your face from me,do not turn your servant away in anger;you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Psalm 27:9
  • How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? Psalm 13:1-2
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

Charging God with Anger and Abandonment

  • Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—  darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:14-18

Nuclear Faith
Laments are like nuclear prayers that express radical faith. They are not the tantrums of a child, but rather cries coming from hearts that know God. Laments are the vulnerable, desperate outpouring of our need to God. When we lament we are grieving about our life, we are proclaiming our trust in a God who is faithful; compassionate; involved and powerful.

Laments come out of faith and lead us to greater faith. They remind us who God is and how much we need Him. With humility and out of your deep need for God, begin a journal of your own authentic laments to God.

God, a Personal Friend (2)

Picture this: It is the dark of the night, the sky out in the country is brilliant with stars, myriads of stars, countless, dazzling, bright stars, against the dark backdrop of night (imagine no street lights). As we watch the scene, Abraham stands looking up. He seems to be talking to someone, someone who has his arm around him and seems to be pointing to the stars. The scene seems to present two friends appreciating the night sky and conferring with each other.

Something like that really did happen to a man named Abraham. It is recorded in Gen.15:4-6.

  • “Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”  He (God) took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
  • James 2:23 echoes this truth: And the Scripture was fulfilled, that says “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, and he was called a friend of God.”

Now picture this: You seated on your couch with God next to you. Maybe He is holding your hand or has an arm draped around your shoulders, talking to you and you to Him.

Can’t picture it? Let’s see where we get this idea about a very personal God.

 God says, “Come Sit with Me.”
Psalm 25:14 states: “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He will make His covenant known to them.”

The word translated secret inherently implies some type of intimacy. Like one friend whispering a confidence to another. The word “secret” is “cowd” in Hebrew. It means “counsel, consultation; familiar converse; intimate conversation.”

Actually this word “cowd” comes from a primitive root that means a couch or a cushion upon which someone reclines, indicating people sitting together leaning in towards each other and conversing.

  • The NIV translates this concept as: “The Lord confides in those who fear Him;
    He makes His covenant known to them.”
  • The ESV translates it as: “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
    and He makes known to them His covenant.”

Both translations catch the intended meaning with the words “confide” and “friendship,” but the primitive root of “cowd” captures the intimacy of this relationship. We need to be careful that our “religion” does not obscure our vision of the relationship that God is longing to have with us.


A Second Look at an Old Friendship
So what does this very personal friendship with God look like? If we take time to look closely, and beyond the way we have always seen the story of Moses and God, we can get a glimpse of it.

We see this relationship throughout the life of Moses. Let’s look at one snapshot of their relationship, such as when Moses was called to work with God to deliver Israel from Egypt. This meeting is recorded in Exodus 3 and 4.

I am used to seeing this meeting of God with Moses at the burning bush, God is depicted as the Sovereign LORD, giving a command to His servant Moses. But, on second look, maybe what we really are seeing is God reaching out to a man (Moses) to bring him into a friendship and partnership with Him.

What signs of friendship do I see?
I see God’s reassurance of His presence with Moses, like he isn’t going it alone; it doesn’t all depend on Moses.

      And God said, “I will be with you…” Ex. 3:12

I see it in God, like a true friend, being transparent and revealing His true identity to Moses.

  • God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Ex. 3:14-15

I see it in God, as a good friend, sharing His strength and power with Moses.

  • “Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.” Ex. 4:8-9

In chapter 4, we see Moses, so to speak sitting on the couch” with God, having intimate converse or consult with God. Moses shares his weakness and fears with God, and God provides support for Moses in each thought. There is intimacy; there is encouragement; there is frustration and even anger expressed; but always, God is the friend, the help, the advocate.

Many other instances in the life of Moses reveal this close personal friendship and partnership between God and Moses. We can see it in the life of Hannah, David, Hezekiah, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel and countless others, but the question is do we see this for our life today?

In the End It Is “Religion or Relationship”
So many times in my life I have tripped over my practice of religion and missed the depth and beauty of a real relationship with God. God is all about this relationship. He has set it up from before the creation of the world for us to be close to Him.

Eph. 1:4 – 6 states this truth clearly. Look for the relationship words.

  • “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presenceIn love He predestined us for adoption as His sons/daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One.”

While God is Almighty, all powerful, and the sovereign Lord, He does extend Himself to us as our intimate friend. Knowing that God has been eternally longing for friendship with me is a thought that draws me to Him. At times it is hard to believe that “God” would actually want to be friends with me because I know who I am, how messed up and sinful I am and can be. But the amazing thing is that God knows that too, and in spite of my messed up self, God still reaches out to me (and you) in love.

About Giants, God and You – Part 2

In Part 1 of “Giants, God and You,” we reflected on two ways God prepares us to meet giants in our life.

We reflected on how being a true worshiper of God prepares us to face giants, and how dependence on God trains our faith to stand before giants in our life.

Prepared by Worship
What or who we worship reveals what is at the center of our life. Everything in our life flows out from that center. If we truly worship God alone then when the giants come we automatically turn to God, rather than relying on our own strength.

  • David was a true “worshiper” of God. He ascribed great value to God. David’s heart continually longed for God. His heart was focused on being close to God. This prepared his soul to trust God when trouble came.

Prepared by Dependence on God
When we believe that God is near and that he answers when we call on Him, we will be prepared to meet the giants in our lives. Every time we depend on God our faith grows stronger and we are more prepared to trust God when the giants show up.

Preparing to meet a giant is not an event of the moment, but it is a process that occurs overtime in our walk with God.

In Part 2, we will look at how God prepares us by:
   – observing the character of God in nature around us;
   – learning truths about God from His Word and
   – learning about God through our experience with Him.

Prepared by Nature
The creation around us reveals truths about the beauty, complexity, consistency, power and faithfulness of God.

The Word of God reveals truths to us about God’s character and intent towards man. The scriptures detail how God interacts with man. We can use these truths to encourage our faith and to guide us through life.

David, as a shepherd, spent much time out among God’s creation. In the Psalms, David talks about what nature taught him about God. He sees that God is sovereign and the Creator and Sustainer of life and order. He sees God’s value for and love for man in that God has given man a special place of value and honor. 

  • The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done.
    Ps. 19:1 (CEV)
  • Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with Your majesty. Psalm 8:1 (HSB)
  • When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place— what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

In nature, David sees God’s power and sovereign control over all. He then puts his trust in God’s power.

  • The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap; He puts the depths into storehouses. Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 
  • For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence. Psalm 33:6-9 (HCSB)

By observing nature around him, David sees that God has tender compassion and care for all He has created. Therefore David can put his trust in God and know that God will take care of him.

  • The LORD is good to all; His compassion rests on all He has made. Psalm 145:9

Prepared by the Word of God
David had a great love and respect for the Word of God. He allowed the scriptures to cement truths about God into his mind and heart so that in the day of trouble David drew upon these truths to give him courage and inner strength.

David found restoration and life in the Word of God. He found joy and wisdom for life in the Word of God. He gained a sense of security from the God he read about in the scriptures.  Psalm 19: 7-10, reveals how David viewed that Word of God and how he valued it.

  • “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. 
  • The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.
  • The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
    and altogether righteous. 
  • They are more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb.”  Psalm 19:7-10

David learned truths about God through observing nature around him and through reading the word of God. Knowing these truths prepared David to stand firm in faith when trouble came into his life.

Prepared by Experience
David experienced God’s help in his life during certain situations, and he experienced God’s answers to prayer. This experience prepared David to meet the giant.

David uses some of these experiences of God’s help and deliverance in his life as David explains to Saul how the Philistine giant will be defeated. David remembers how God helped him deliver the sheep from the bear and the lion, and so he trusts that God will deliver him and all of Israel from the giant and the Philistines.

  • But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 1 Samuel 17:34-36

In addition to actually rescuing sheep from the very jaws of the lion, David had some skills with a sling. It is very probable that David’s experience as a shepherd trained him in using a sling skillfully.

(Side note:Slingers” were an important part of Israel’s army. They could sling a rock at an enemy from 100 yards away at a speed of up to and surpassing 100 miles per hour. They were like crack snipers in the army.  Judges 20:16 reports: “Among all these soldiers there were 700 select left-handers, each of whom could sling a stone at a (single) hair without missing.”)

David knew about these “slingers” in Saul’s army, 1 Chronicles 12:7. He may have even dreamed about becoming one of them.  He had many opportunities to practice “slinging” as he shepherded the sheep. How many times did he use his sling to kill a wolf, a bear, a lion, or other predator?

David attributes his skill to battle the giant to God’s training of his hands and his heart.

  • Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
  • He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. Psalm 144:1

God Prepares You
God does not leave us alone to face difficulties of life, but in truth He is preparing us all along the way. After reading through Part 2 of this blog, reflect of the ways God has and is preparing you to handle the giants in your life. 

Writing this blog has caused me to ask myself some heart questions. I post them here for your reflection also.

  • What truths from the Word of God encourage my faith in God?
  • What truths have helped me to overcome a giant in my life?
  • Do I have a collection of truths about God from the scriptures that I can go to in time of need?
  • What experiences have I had with God that build into my trust in Him and make me able to engage a giant in my life?
  • What skills has God trained into me that help me stand before giants?
  • What are some of the most outstanding prayers that God has answered in my life that strengthen me and cause you to step toward the line of battle to fight the giant instead of running away?

Help build into someone else’s faith by sharing one of these things with them.

About Giants, God and You – Part 1

When I was a child I never read or heard the Biblical account of David and Goliath. I began reading the Bible in my early 20’s and was in wonder at this story. I was intrigued at the absolute loyalty that a young man, perhaps still in the teens, had towards God. The words that David spoke to the giant, Goliath inspired me.

David stands up for the honor of God. He shows little to no fear only true loyalty to God:

  • David asked the men … “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” . . .  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:26 and 45

God Prepared David
As I read the account of David’s life (1 Samuel 16 to 1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 2-29), and see his heart for God revealed in the Psalms, I have come to realize that God prepared David to meet and overcome the giant, Goliath.

David is known by the people as a man “who the Lord is with.” He is characterized as someone who walks with God. I don’t know how people in those days knew of the faith of a shepherd out in the countryside, but they did! David’s faith impressed and influenced people. People knew of his faith, even before he took a public stand to battle Goliath.

  • “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man, and the Lord is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

The Preparation Process
God prepared David to meet the giant Goliath, and that may have been just one step in preparing David to meet the “giant” of the jealousy of King Saul.

God will prepare us in similar ways to face the giants in our life. Giants in our life may take the form of: difficult relationships; financial struggles; physical and mental health issues; various addictions (power, pride, reputation, anxieties, alcohol, or drugs); marital issues; parenting difficulties; character weaknesses, or any seemingly insurmountable problem that harasses us or overwhelms us. Such are the giants in our life.

Preparing to meet a giant is not an event of the moment, but it is a process that occurs overtime in our walk with God. Let’s look at some of the ways God prepared David to meet Goliath.

Worshiping God prepares us to meet our giants. Worship implies priority and value. What or who we worship becomes the center of our life – taking first place whether we realize it or not.

David was a true “worshiper” of God. He ascribed great value to God. David’s heart continually longed for God. His heart was focused on being close to God. David loved God with his whole heart. He freely praised God and expressed his longing to be with God.

Reverence, adoration, esteem, devotion, absolute passion, praise, and treasure, are words that characterize David’s relationship with God. What words describe your relationship with God?

David longed to be in association with God, in God’s presence. He yearned after God, even after his sin, David sought to renew his closeness with God, Psalm 51.

The passages below exemplify David as a faithful worshiper of God.

  • You are my God. Earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You. My body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.  Psalm 63:1 BSB
  • One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4
  • I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You, as in a parched land. Psalm 143:6
  • Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Psalm 103:1
  • I will fervently thank the Lord with my mouth; I will praise Him in the presence of many. Psalm 109:30
  • Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11

Dependence on God prepares us to meet our giants. When we believe that God is near and that He answers when we call on Him, we will be prepared to meet the giants in our lives.

David’s prayer life reveals his continual dependence on God. He cries out to God concerning his relationships and all of the circumstances that distress him. He hides in God and uses his faith in God as a shield. He is not too proud to cry out to God.  We see him regularly praying to God and calling out to God in all circumstances.

  • But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain. Psalm 3:3-4
  • This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6
  • Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:1-2
  • Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught. Psalm 55:1-2
  • I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. Psalm 142:1-3a

As you read verses in the various Psalms of David, you get a sense of authentic passionate expressions of dependence on God.

David was close to God, believed God was with him, and depended on God. So, when the time came David could stand boldly before the giant.

A Pause to Reflect
Worshiping God and depending on God are two of the avenues through which God prepares us to face the giants in our life. This process that prepares us to face giants is born of a living relationship with God, and has a cyclical effect.

The more we worship and reverence God, the more we experience His power and loving care in our life which leads us to increased trust and dependence on God which leads us to a deeper intention to honor God. These interactions with God form the foundation of being able to face the giants in our life. Part 2 of this article will explore truth and experience as part of the preparation process.

Here are some final questions to help you to reflect on your status as a worshiper of God and one who depends on God:

  • Am I a true worshiper of God, or a “good” church member?
  • What would my daily life look like if I truly worshiped God?
  • Would my friends characterize my relationship with God by the words “yearning and longing for” or “hungering” for God and His righteousness?
  • How do I use my “relationship” with God, or my “practice of religion” to honor myself?
  • How has my worship of God increased my faith?
  • Do I depend on God at all times or only when I am in a situation that I cannot handle?
  • What is a time that I depended on God in prayer and the result lead me to worship God?