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

120H

“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

Spurgeon on prayer for the new year

Dear ones, as we begin this new year, please be encouraged in your life of prayer by this devotional thought by C.H. Spurgeon. It comes from his classic book of devotions, called “Morning and Evening”.

“Continue in prayer.” 

— Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises.

What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

 

Wings of the Gospel

I love this John Bunyan quote (seen at www.challies.com today):

“Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,

Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings”

Oh, let us fly to Jesus on wings of grace today!

(forgive me if you’re getting this twice. I posted from my iPad this morning, and it didn’t get to my Facebook or Twitter feeds)