Thursday, November 29, 2012
Today’s Topic: New Mercies
Today’s Text: Psalm 119:76-77 (ESV) 76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
I have discovered in a new and fresh way the solutions to misery and despair.
Now that I have your attention, let me tell you that I hesitate to share them for fear that they be minimized to a self-help system rather than be honored as the God-given process of restoration that it is. But I will share it anyway, and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you in the application of these truths from a humble and surrendered heart and protect us all from the pride of using these steps to simple serve self.
1. Admit that there is nothing we can do to change the situation. Don’t go on to number 2 until you really understand this first one. Years ago my brother and I painted barns in North Dakota during the summer to help pay for college. I hated heights, but faced my fears and climbed those 25 to 40 foot extension ladders anyway. I remember one time when I was on the top of a ladder about 20 feet high, and needed it moved to reach the next section of wall. I did not want to come down and face the fear of climbing it again. So in unison, my brother tried to move the base of the ladder as I pushed off from the wall and moved the top. We quickly discovered the danger of that move and I climbed down the ladder and moved it.
That’s exactly what God has said to me in the past twenty-four hours. “I won’t move the ladder as long as you are on it. Get off and I’ll put it in a spot where you can climb out of the hole you are in.” Not mostly off. Not just on the bottom rung. Get completely off the ladder. You can’t change the situation, but God can.
2. Focus on God’s promises rather than on possible solutions. Once you get off the ladder, let God put it where He wants. He did not ask you to get off the ladder and give Him directions as to where to put it. He alone knows where it should go. Stop trying to advise God. At this critical time of surrender, the reinforcement of pride is NOT what is needed. Suggesting solutions strengthens self, and that is exactly what God desires to suppress. Deny the desire to determine the outcome, even if we can justify it by claiming that we are only making suggestions.
3. Allow the love of God to overwhelm your hatred of what is happening. It is not the solution that ultimately satisfies us – it is the reality of the love of God for us no matter what happens that completely satisfies. His steadfast love is our comfort. Not His power to work a solution. Not His judgment on those who have sinned. Not even the memories of His past work. His love alone is what sustains us. The incredible experience of His arms of love wrapped around my hurting heart is what gives life when all that I could see was the darkness of death.
4. Choose to serve Him no matter how you feel. Yesterday morning started out for me with the recognition that the teacher needed to be taught. I was a mess of emotions. (see yesterday’s Connecting Points if you missed it at https://lifelinkdevo.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/overwhelmed/ ) What really bothered me was the knowledge that I had several very important appointments coming up during the day. I wanted to cancel them all, but knew I shouldn’t. I choose to not let my emotions dictate my service to my Lord, even though sometimes I forget that and cancel anyway. But yesterday I was determined to live for my King even though I didn’t feel like it.
10:00 AM – I went to the hospital to sit with the family of a long-time friend who was having serious cancer surgery. For the next two hours I would have the opportunity to visit with several member of the family and share spiritual wisdom with them directly from the Lord. It was a blessing to see how God is working behind the scenes in their lives to draw them into a closer and more personal relationship with Himself.
4:00 PM – I met a college student for coffee. She has been struggling with an emotional issue of her own, and it was absolutely amazing to see how the Holy Spirit filled me with words designed specifically for her situation. It is so good to be constantly amazed by God.
7:00 PM – I led a Bible Study in the book of First Peter with a small group of people that meet every Thursday night. It is absolutely my favorite way to serve my Lord. I love to teach. The release that God gave me as I led the group to understand the deeper truths of Scripture was refreshing and restorative. After the meeting I received an encouraging email from one of the participants in the group, and it blessed me immensely. I experienced the mercies of God that are new every morning, and today I am alive again.
Four steps to renewal, each contingent upon the previous and upon surrender to the Holy Spirit. Don’t turn it into a quick-fix plan for every emotional moment of your life, because soon you will be worshipping the plan rather than the Person who designed the plan. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.