In the morning you hear my voice…

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3 (ESV)

O Lord – the first person I speak to in the morning is you, Lord. For only you hear me in the truest, deepest sense of hearing.

in the morning – at the beginning of the day, I need you. I need you to hear me. I need you to answer me.

you hear my voice – you do hear me, Lord. You hear me to the depths of my soul, whether in joy or despair, faith or hopelessness

in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you – what is my sacrifice for you today, Father? I sacrifice my self-assurance, my self-confidence, my confidence in my own wisdom and strength.

and watch – I watch for your answer! You answer prayer all the time, faithful God, and I miss it too often because I’m looking for my answer, the answer I want. Help me to look for your answer.

“I shall again praise him…”

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. Psalm 42:11

The longing to praise God doesn’t go away when I am in the depths of despair. I wrestle within my soul because I know the truth: God is my salvation and my hope, my only surety, the only one in whom I can fully trust. I know these things!

So, why I am struggling so? Why am I so sad?

Oh, God, is my wrestling with these thoughts worship? I am trying to work these things out before you. Am I giving you praise in the midst of it? And by that I mean am I looking to you alone for the answers? Praise is recognizing God, recognizing you, Father, for all you are. All of your majesty, all of your holiness, all of your love, all of your grace, all of your justice, all of your faithfulness, all of your steadfastness, all of your power.

As I cry out to you from the depths of my despair I am seeing through the tears, through the dimness of the dark day, that you are the only one I can turn to. You are the only one I can cry out to. So, I am praising you. I am worshiping you, even in the pain. I praise you in the dark as I seek your light.

There is a dawn coming. And in the light of that dawn, I will see you anew and afresh. I shall again praise you in the light of day.

Glory, Fame and Independence

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“This One who is life itself was revealed to us…” (1 John 1:2*)

Jesus was revealed to me almost twenty years ago in a powerfully dramatic way. I came to the Father through Jesus the Son. I was able to see, maybe for the very first time, just how beautiful, majestic, holy yet loving and compassionate God is through the person and work of Jesus.

From that day forward there has been an ever-growing, ever-deepening “fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 1:3) Fellowship, relationship, need, dependence, belief, trust– add “-ing” to them all. Whatever expresses this with an ongoing, active, living relationship–that is what has been mine in Christ since 1996.

I still battle every day with my desire for glory, fame, and independence.

My flesh still wants glory for itself–right here, right now glory. Never mind eternity and the glory that will be mine in Christ forever. I want to be exalted in the eyes of others, finding my worth there.

I want fame now. Oh, how I want to be famous! Oh, how I desire that! I want those words of praise and acclamation now, while I can hear them. Then, then, I will know that my life means something, amounts to something. (I want in my flesh to derive my identity from my fame and glory as a musician.) I want to exult in my own fame.

But most of all, above all else, I want to be independent.

  • Nobody tells me what to do
  • Nobody places demands on my time
  • Nobody directs how I spend my money
  • Nobody is needed for my strength or existence

 Oh, how I want to be independent!

But fellowship with God the Father through Jesus His Son–authenticated, validated and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit–destroys all of my fleshly ambitions. They are all supplanted by the blessings of fellowship.

  • I don’t need glory because I exalt God for His glory! For His glorious Name’s sake I do all that I do.
  • I don’t need fame because I exult in God, through Christ. My joy and my identity come through Him. He is all that I am; all that I need.
  • I no longer desire independence because I recognize my need for dependence. And not just dependence on God. No, I also realize that I am depending on the body of Christ, the church, for help, for strength, for the encouragement I need every day.

In this connection to God and to His people I am free and am being freed day by day from my desires for glory, fame and independence.

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms…”

*Scripture quote from NLT

Images supplied by Ryan McGuire, http://www.gratisography.com

What we share in common with John

When we read 1 John 1:1-4, we find that there are things that we share in common with John, while there are other aspects of his knowledge of Christ that we don’t share (at least in the same way).

Here’s the passage (New Living Translation)

“1. We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

John saw Jesus with his own eyes and touched him with his own hands. We don’t share that with him. There was a season of the incarnation when Jesus could be seen by all around him. What an amazing thing! God in the form of man could be seen! John again in v. 3 attests, “we ourselves have actually seen and heard” Jesus. We can’t say that, not in the sense of being physically present with Him.

But there are more things that we have in common with John than what we don’t.

  1. We proclaim Christ together. John proclaims “the one who existed from the beginning” and so do we.
  2. Jesus was revealed to us. Jesus, “who is life itself”, was revealed to John in flesh and in spirit. We know Christ together in spirit. We know “the Word of life” together.
  3. We have fellowship together in Christ. Since Christ has been revealed to us, we now have fellowship together with Christ and in Christ.
  4. We share so that others may have joy. John wrote his letter “so that (others) may fully share our joy.” We testify in our words, our proclamation, so that others will share the joy of fellowship in Christ.

So, in this season of celebrating the Incarnation of Christ, remember to proclaim Christ who has been revealed to you. Rejoice in your fellowship in Christ, but share this good news of “life itself” with those who don’t know Him, so that they may have joy.