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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Expecting our fill of good things

Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, and also obedience. You hear the prayer in it all. (Psalm 65:1-2)

Silence is the absence of sound or noise; a perfect stillness – absence of motion. Too often, we find ourselves requiring “noise” or “movement” to know we are “connected” with God. We think it is impossible to make a connection with him if we are not doing something or saying something about or to him. Yet, God inspires the Psalmist to write the words, “Silence is praise”. David had learned that even in the quietness of waiting in his presence, we praise our God. When we can stop long enough to just simply admire him, we connect with him afresh. This is a tough thing for us in our modern world of busy lifestyles – but it is worth more to our soul and spirit than any other pursuit.

David does not stop at acknowledging silence as a form of praise to our God, he also focuses on our obedience. We rarely equate obedience to praise – but God does. Obedience is submission to the control of another. It is a truly blessed person that realizes that God’s control is sometimes more rewarding when we just hush long enough to enjoy it. We spend so much time and energy trying to regain control of what we claim to have given to God. Yet, in learning to leave those things rightly at his feet, we learn to celebrate God in a fresh way.

In our silence and in our obedience, God hears the prayer in it all. Even in silence, prayers are lifted. David is trying to help us to see that prayers are more than words. They are an opportunity for us to commune with God. God knows us intimately and connects with the silence of a submissive heart.

We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt, our sins too much for us – but you get rid of them once and for all. (Psalm 65:2-3)

We all arrive. It is a fact than no one is exempt from needing God in their lives – we are drawn to his doorstep by the power of the Holy Spirit and the desperation of our own need. It is a destination with a purpose – but the journey is unique to each individual that comes. David reminds us that sooner or later…we all end up at his doorstep. Some accept his invitation to come and enjoy a life of liberating grace and mercy – while other resist the invitation until it is way too late. We’d do well to listen to his invitations sooner. We’d save ourselves a ton of issues, loads of disappointments, and a lifetime of anxious pursuits.

It is important to see how we arrive…loaded. Carrying more than any one person was ever meant to carry. We come to his doorstep weighed down, burdened under the weight, full of guilt. We don’t even arrive in good shape or worthy of entrance.

We carry with us a full load of blame and condemnation - maybe not fully aware of the violations of conduct we have committed, but sensing the associated guilt anyway. Our sins too much for us…we come to his doorstep. We were never meant to bear the guilt of our sin - the cross did that. We are just meant to lay that guilt down, walking away free in his presence, free by his grace, free in his love. As we come, he gets rid of those things that burden us down - completely, thoroughly, without a trace that they existed at all (in his sight). It amazes me that we struggle so often with “memory” disease – we remember what he forgets / what is no longer in his line of sight – recreating our guilt and placing upon our shoulders again a weight of guilt and shame that rightfully belong to him now.

Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest at home in your place! We expect our fill of good things in our house, your heavenly manse. All your salvation wonders are on display in your trophy room…Dawn and dusk take turns calling, “Come and worship.” (Psalm 65:4-8)

A guest at home in his place – imagine the privilege of being “at home” in God’s presence. A visitor to our homes feels rather odd – just comes inside, to the sofa perhaps – and they never really get to know more of us than what is revealed in that “front room” of our home. A welcome friend feels very comfortable – at the kitchen counter, in the backyard, or even in the intimate privacy of the den. That is how our Lord welcomes us into his presence – opening to us the very intimate parts of his courts to us. Intimate friendship with God is only possible when we extend ourselves in relationship with him. What type of a visitor are you in God’s home? Do you barely make it to the sofa with God? Are your visits with him stiff, or impersonal? Is your movement in his home uncomfortable, making it difficult to explore all that he holds for you? Do you feel conspicuous in his presence? Or do you make yourself at home? We are given total access, but we need to make the move beyond the sofa to the kitchen. He provides our fill of good things - in the kitchen, we get our fill.

David speaks of another room in God’s house - the trophy room. The purpose of the trophy room is to display memories of battles won. The room acts as a memorial, and offers displays of honor and conquest. What trophies does God display on your behalf? Trophies are treasures placed in a place of significant view and honor. There are lessons in our lives that we have learned, dreams that are finally fulfilled, and deliverances provided that all stand as trophies of God’s grace, mercy and gracious love. In the “filling” of the kitchen moments, God turns the tragedies of our lives into the trophies of his great treasure. We don’t become treasures on the sofa – it is in the free intimacy of the kitchen, the deep exploration of the den, and the comfortable enjoyment of the backyard that God creates those trophies in our lives. For many of us, it way past time for us to move beyond the sofa and to allow ourselves access to more of God than we have ever experienced before.

We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do YOUR work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy…God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. (Colossians 1:10-13)

Live well for the Master – become trophies of his grace. We learn more about him in the “kitchen times” than at any other – in turn, we share what we have been fed – we become workers in his orchard. Learn how God works…and you are guaranteed to learn how to do YOUR work. Not just “a” work, but the specific calling God has placed on your life - the very reason for which you were created. We have a tendency to begin well, but then to wane in our commitment to what God calls us to do. Paul writes to the Colossian church to encourage them to stick it out. Yet, he is not encouraging them to do everything God calls them to do in their own ability or strength. We fail miserably whenever we try to become treasures by our own strength. We become polished treasures on display for him through his “glory-strength” alone - rescued from dead end alleys and set up – a thing of display and honor to our heavenly Father. Out of the pit – no longer looking up to see the light, but fully glorified by the light. Polished regularly so we don’t repeat the sins of our past.

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your back turned to God…but now…Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the message, careful not be distracted or diverted. (Colossians 1:21-23)

Each of our lives could be called a case study. The “study” is only as good as the author – if God authors the work, the results are assured. We are a case study of his grace, mercy and everlasting love. So, we need to stay grounded - in trust. We stay grounded by being constantly attentive to his voice / his every command (remember the words of the Psalmist…silence is praise, obedience, as well). We must remain carefully focused on the one who welcomes us to his doorstep. It is only in the directed focus of our obedience that we becomes treasures – trophies on his mantle – displays of his honor.