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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Honest prayer yields God's bounty

Bountiful:  liberally, generously, or abundantly; providing or having ample supply.  When I look at my bank account, I hope to see "ample" supply for every purchase I need to make - don't you?  When I examine the contents of the pantry, I want to see an abundance of the "good stuff" which seems to satisfy both my cravings and my hunger.  When I am down in the dumps, I call upon God's generous grace because I know it will be what pulls me to my feet again.  When God "deals" with me, I want him to do it with liberal grace, generous love, and abundant power.  How about you?

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live; and I will observe Your word [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it].  (Psalm 119:17 AMP)

Here our psalmist begins this section of our psalm with the intention of God's "dealing" with him - so he may observe God's word.  In other words, he doesn't expect God to deal with him so he can continue to live in his own way, but so his way will align with God's.  It is interesting to me to see David asking God to "deal" with him "bountifully".  I don't know about you, but I think David is just praying honestly here.  He doesn't want God's second-best, or a meager supply of God's grace, love, or power.  He wants it all and he wants it in abundance!  All I can say is we ALL probably want God to "deal" with us in this exact same manner - but most of the time we don't even ask for God's "bounty", do we?  

Why do you think this is?  It might be because we don't think our "great big God" would hear such a prayer, or maybe it is that we don't feel "worthy" of asking for God's bounty because we don't see our extreme worth in his eyes.  The truth is God loves to hear us ask for his bounty - especially when it comes to "dealing" with us.  When action needs to be taken in our lives, God's bounty is at our disposal, we just don't think to ask for it.  I want to challenge us today to begin to pray as David did - for God to "deal" bountifully with us as his servants.  It is a step of faith for some of us, but if we actually begin to ask for God to deal with our lives out of his bounty, I wonder what the outcome might be?  Do you know what it means to "deal with"?  It means to handle competently or successfully.  David's prayer was simply to ask God to handle what he was not so good at handling himself.  Maybe this is the crux of the prayer - coming to the place where we admit God can do a much better job than we could ever do!

David's prayer is purposeful - that he may live!  Not just breathing in and out, but enjoying every breath because it is orchestrated by one who competently and purposefully arranges each step.  In asking God to deal with his live out of his abundance, David says his part in the process will be the ability to observe God's Word.  Now, this is probably a major part of this prayer - don't ya think?  He is really saying, "God, I haven't done a great job with things on my own.  I keep getting things messed up.  I speak when I should be silent.  I jump when I should stand still.  I need you to show me how to conduct myself here and now.  I know the way to change is contained in your Word.  I don't always get what is contained in its pages, but I know if I ask you, it will be opened to me.  In turn, I will be able to actually hear it in the recesses of my heart - the place of my greatest struggles.  When my heart becomes affected by your Word, I know my actions will be changed.  So, deal with me out of your abundance, in a generous manner, and with all liberality, God."

I am not trying to rewrite scripture here, but I think if you read Psalm 119 and take this one verse in context, you will see I am not far off in this interpretation.  David is determined to live right - to make right choices, to see right actions produced.  He says it comes in God intervening in his life - in a bountiful manner - so he will not only hear, but receive; in receiving, he will begin to love what is given; and in turn, he chooses to walk in this newness of life.  See the progression?  We first hear - we are informed - given the steps.  Then we begin to receive - it becomes more than just instruction - it becomes that which will sustain us each step we take.  As we begin to step out in what God provides, we begin to sense something of his presence which surrounds us - his love in action.  In the end, we realize we have received abundant grace - the basis of change in our lives - the foundation of the steps we take toward obedience each day.

As we walk this earth, we will struggle with things way beyond our ability to deal with in a competent manner.  We may try, but we will ultimately fall short of "dealing with" these things as God would have us.  So, wouldn't it make sense to begin to pray as David did so many years ago?  To ask God to deal with us bountifully - not just to point us in the direction we should go, but to prepare all we need to get us to the place of obedient surrender.  Just sayin!