Quiet

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15)

This morning I ran. I run on most mornings, but this morning was different. It was snowing. The flakes were light and fine. They chilled my face, but provided an insulation to the world around me. The noises that usually come in the morning–birds chirping, cars moving, dogs barking–were all hushed. This kind of peace and quiet, though not foreign, is not easily experienced in our world today.

We don't live in quite times. Something is always demanding our attention. Spouses, kids, church, work, and friends (all good things) all want a piece of our time. Then there is social networking. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the like might put off a semblance of quiet as you gaze uninterrupted into your little screen, but these too are screaming in your face for more of you.

Stillness is not something we're good at any more, but it's certainly something we should labor to recover.

Quietness is a value seen throughout the bible. It's in quietness where God meets us. Furthermore, quietness is the result of a healthy relationship with God.

"And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." (Isaiah 32:17-18).

Jesus is the only one who can do this for us. He is the only man who experienced the quiet that is spoken of in Isaiah, because he is the only perfectly righteous man. But the good news is that by faith, we get Christ's righteousness! This means quietness for us too.

If you haven't done so already, take some time to be quiet today. Think on these verses in Isaiah. Speak the gospel truth to your heart that this quietness, peace, and security is yours too in Christ.

Give Yourself In Prayer

Life is stressful. It would be great if it weren’t, but I suppose it’s one of the realities of life that show us we aren’t God. We’re aren’t in control. We don’t know what may come in the next minute, day, week, or month. So we stress.

The question we need to ask is how do we respond to the things we’re uncertain about?
In Psalm 109, David is dealing with a stressful situation. He says:

Be not silent, O God of my praise! For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. (Psalm 109:1-4)

David is under verbal attack. People are saying things about him that are either half true or not true at all. He says that he hasn’t done anything but love his people and this hatred is how they are repaying him. David doesn't know what will come of this situation. But notice his response. “I give myself to prayer.”

Our tendency is to respond to uncertain and difficult situations by fighting. We grit our teeth, dig our heels, clench our fists, and tell ourselves that we’ll figure it out and get through it. We’ll get to the bottom of the situation. We’ll prove we’re not who they’re saying we are. All the while, we're stressed out of our minds. But David simply prays.
 
Prayer is the great stress reliever. Why? Because prayer is us communicating to the God who stresses over nothing. There is nothing He is unaware of. There is nothing He is surprised by. In prayer, we give ourselves to Him and trust that He will bring that which will shape us more into His image and bring Him the most glory.

In stressful moments, days, weeks, and months, may God enable us to give ourselves in prayer. 
 

God Is On The Throne

I was given a new devotional for Christmas. It's Tim Keller's, The Songs of Jesus, a year of daily devotionals through the Psalms. I'm only day two into it, but am already deeply encouraged and challenged. I encourage you to buy this little devotional and allow it to help you soak deeply in the Psalms. To encourage you, I will share what I read this morning. The way the devotional works is there is a Scripture, a brief commentary, and then a prayer. 

Psalm 2:1-4. Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the LORD scoff at them.

No Intimidation. Each day the media highlights new things to fear. The "powers that be" in society tell us that obedience to God shackles us, limiting our freedom. In reality, liberation comes only through serving the one who created us. Those people and forces that appear to rule the world are all under his Lordship, and one day they will know it. God still reigns, and we can take refuge in him from all our fears. So to be intimidated by the word (Psalm 2) is as spiritually fatal as being overly attracted to it (Psalm 1).

Prayer. Lord of the world, people resent your  claims on human lives. I fear to speak of you for fear of ridicule of anger. But you are not intimidated by the world "powers," nor should I be. Help me to know the joy of obedience and the fearlessness that goes with it. Amen.

May the reality that God is on the throne encourage you to live fearlessly this year!  

Shortcomings

Some days I simply feel like I'm falling short. Like the Apostle Paul, I don't do the things I know I'm supposed to do, and I do the things I know I'm not supposed to (Romans 7). I'm often at war against my flesh and I often come up short. 

This morning I ran across a prayer in my Valley of Vision prayer book. It's a great little book filled with prayers from the Puritans. If you don't have it, I highly recommend getting it as it is a great prayer devotional. The old english language is beautifully poetic and causes one to think deeply about God and the Christian life. I'm going to share the prayer I read this morning. It's called Shortcomings.

Shortcomings

O Living God,
I bless thee that I see the worst of my heart as well as the best of it, that I can sorrow for those sins that carry me from thee, that it is they deep and dear mercy to threaten punishment so that I may return, pray, live.
My sin is to look on my faults and be discouraged, or to look on my good and be puffed up.
I fall short of thy glory every day by spending hours unprofitably, by thinking that the things I do are good, when they are not done to thy end, nor spring from the rules of thy word. 
My sin is to fear what never will be; I forget to submit to thy will, and fail to be quiet there.
But Scripture teaches me that thy active will reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf, and this quietens my soul, and makes me love thee. 
Keep me always in the understanding that saints mourn more for sin than other men, for when they see how great is thy wrath against sin, and how Christ's death alone pacifies that wrath, that makes them mourn the more. 
Help me to see that although I am in the wilderness it is not all briars and barrenness. I have bread from heaven, streams from the rock, light by day, fire by night, thy dwelling place and thy mercy seat. 
I am sometimes discouraged by thy way, but though winding and trying it is safe and short; Death dismays me, but my great high priest stands in its waters, and will open me a passage, and beyond is a better country. 
While I live let my life be exemplary.
When I die may my end be peace.

 

The LORD's Delight

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. -Psalm 147:10-11

God does not look down upon us and take delight in our own inventions and ideas. He doesn't look at the strength we have in and of ourselves and give us a pat on the back. He doesn't look down at the things we consider to be great and think to himself that he is sure glad to have us on his side. No, God looks down and takes pleasure in those who fear him. Those who know that they can do nothing apart from God's common and special grace upon lost humanity.

God's delight is in those whose hope is in him. 

Praise be to God that Jesus hoped perfectly in the Father for us. In Christ, we now can have hearts that are made new. Hearts that are redirected. Hearts that hope in the living God. 

Where is your hope today?

The Flowers Are Dancing!

It's raining outside today, and there is a light breeze. 

Our middle son, Denny, came running with exuberance to Abby and me. He had something to say. He looked up at us with his deep, dark brown eyes and proclaimed: "The flowers are dancing! The flowers are dancing!" 

The flowers are dancing!

Abby and I walked to the door with him to look outside. Sure enough, the flowers were dancing. The rain lightly dripping on the pedals. The light breeze swaying the sturdy stems back and forth. The flowers are dancing. 

It was a true moment of delight. To see a sweet joyful smile brought to my two-year old's face because flowers were dancing in front of him. 

It's the middle of June. I'd much rather it be sunny and 90 degrees outside. But today, God made the flowers dance, which delighted my son, which delighted Abby and I. So today, I'm thankful that my Father in heaven made the flowers dance!