A personal meditation

Monday morning, you sure look fine! It’s a beautiful start to the week. My proclivity towards stress and negativity haven’t woken up yet, though they linger at the door. There was this great quote from Spurgeon on Challies’ blog this morning: “How much of the staple of our conversation consists in complaint!” I am reflecting more and more on how my thinking needs to change in this area. It all relates to my trust and satisfaction in God and His provision. I fight against the tide of my own negative thinking all the time. Like most things, it is easiest just to go with the flow of my negativity, rather than fight against it. It ultimately is not the way I want to live my life, though.

I don’t want to just be a Pollyanna, either. I want a reasoned trust that looks for the best in all the situations I encounter, whether in planning or in the meeting of them along the way. How will I fight the battle today? How will I fight the battle in this moment? I’m not sure that negative thoughts are ones to “take captive”. I think it will be better to put them to death as a deed of the flesh. Certainly it is in the flesh that I do not trust in God’s provision, plan and timing. In the spirit, I realize that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

So, a negative thought, a gloomy outlook, a pessimistic expectation springs from my flesh. In short, it is sinful for me to entertain and nurture those thoughts. I want to change in my heart and in my thoughts and in my actions! Who can save me from this? Only you, Lord. Only you.

So, let’s take a bit of Psalm 56 and work it around to my application and desire for life change (and I don’t think it’s an inappropriate working of the verse.)
Ps. 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
(Since I battle fear as well, this is a great verse to think upon, to meditate upon, to soak into my thought- and action-life. Let’s look at it from the negativity framework in this instance.)

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This is my prayerful application of those verses into my life. It is the way I pray Scripture to God and pray Scripture into my life and thinking. I suppose in some ways it is the “preparatory” corrective prayer. I will pray this Scripture prayer in daily preparation for the battle against negativity and pessimism. The struggle in the moment of temptation will be aided by this taking up of the sword of the Spirit in advance of the fight.

The fight will come, count on it. It will probably be a long struggle, since the formation of the habit of negativity took years and years. I am confident, though, that it is God’s will for me to trust in Him in all circumstances. I trust that it is according to His good purposes that He wants me to be joyful and confident in Him and His provision and plan. Since these things are in accordance to His will, I know that they will be accomplished in me as I “work out my salvation with fear and trembling”, knowing that “it is God who works in [me], both to will and work for *his* (and my) good pleasure.”

In all things, may He receive the glory. What is done for His glory is ultimately for my good, too.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!”
Ps. 57:7-11

Grace

This is a great thought about grace:

“There is nothing in human experience alone that can awaken a person to the full reality of God’s grace. What Jesus did for us, the grace that His life and death is for us, is eternally impossible to fully comprehend. The fact that people like us will live with God FOREVER is purely His gracious gift to us. Sadly, even though we know so much about grace, we continue to make obeying rules the high watermark of our lives, rather than grace.”

(Richard Ganz, quoted on Tim Challies’ blog)

Fruitfulness

From C. H Spurgeon, on fruitfulness: “Our fruit is found from our God as to union. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us. O Christian, prize this precious union to Christ; for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness which thou canst hope to know. If thou wert not joined to Jesus Christ, thou wouldst be a barren bough indeed.”

As we begin this new ministry year in ((34:3)), let’s remember that our fruitfulness will come from our connection to Christ. If we, individually and collectively, are not “joined to Jesus Christ”, we will be “a barren bough indeed.” (John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”)

God justifies the ungodly

from Spurgeon’s book, “All of Grace”

Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”

“He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought, did you not, that salvation was for the good? that God’s grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor.

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It does sound surprising, does it not, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? We, according to the natural legality of our hearts, are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly hold to it that there must be somewhat in us in order to win the notice of God. Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatever in us. He says that ‘there is none righteous, no not one’. He knows that ‘all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,’ and therefore the Lord Jesus…comes, not because we are just, but to make us so: he ‘justifies the ungodly’.”

Thirsting and Hoping

Ps. 42: 1 “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Ps. 43:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

I love the bookends of Ps. 42:1-2 and 43:5. In one of the most vivd word pictures of the Christian’s longing for fellowship with God, the psalmist speaks of his soul-thirst (Ps. 42:1-2). It is a poignant, powerful observation that God alone will satisfy the deepest thirst that we have: the thirst for living water.
Psalm 43 ends with the psalmist directly addressing his soul. It has been often said, perhaps best by Martin Lloyd-Jones, that we spend too much time listening to ourselves and not enough time talking to ourselves. The psalmist picks up this challenge and speaks directly to the very disquiet of his inmost being. It’s as if he is saying, “soul, don’t you remember who you were thirsting for and longing for just a short while ago? You were thirsting for the *living God*. You knew that only He could satisfy the deepest longing, the deepest appetite for nourishment and fulfillment. This same God is the One in Whom you will again find your hope. You will praise Him! Oh, remember!”
May God grant us the grace today to hope in Him.