Friday, July 26, 2013

Psalm 139.

I bet you read the title "Psalm 139" and thought I was going to post an excerpt or a sermon based on Psalm 139.
But no.
It really is just straight up Psalm 139. That's right. Copy and paste, baby!
I tried to write a beautiful prelude to this post, and I have got absolutely nothing.
This Psalm really caught my eye recently, and I have gone back to read it over and over again lately. I can't say I have a particular reason, can't say "Oh I read it for the first time and WOW!"
I've read it before. I've even memorized parts of it before. But right now, it is really jumping out at me. I think the Lord draws different things to our attention at different times, and it's a fact for which I am thankful.
I love this Psalm. The reminder that the Lord is present is just, well, beautiful. He is present for our joys, our sorrows, our triumphs, our failings, our sins, our tears, our crying out to Him, our praising Him. He not only is present, He also is directing everything! He searches us and knows us, and hems us in behind and before. Amazing. There is so much in this Psalm. Hopefully you find it encouraging as well.

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

The version is ESV, of course. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Burroughs on contentment. (briefly)

This blog used to be better. There has been no change in authorship, there has been very little new content, and the aesthetics haven’t changed in quite a while, but it used to be significantly more appealing. Why? Because of the music. Currently there is...none. Mixpod cut out on me, and pulled the FABULOUS playlist I had on the side of the blog for quite a while. I’m heartbroken. (Insert a depressed face here.)
Because of that, I was unable to add in a few songs... namely, from the soundtrack to the newer version of Sense and Sensibility. (Insert a blissful happy face here, because of the thought of that movie)
That being the case, your job during this post is to imagine that there is beautiful orchestral music playing gently in the background, preferably something Austen-esque.
Some people write so well that they don’t need background music. Unfortunately, my writing ONLY sounds good if there is music to, erm, drown it out. Therefore. Imagine music.
The second thing  -- I am currently highly caffeinated. I mean, all I have in my system right now is essentially caffeine and white chocolate. It’s dangerous to blog like this. The crash later is going to be brutal. But oh-so-worth-it.
I think I promised something edifying, so let’s just see here.
Before I go excerpting-to-the-skies, I am throwing this out--
I’ve started a new journal. Initially I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, but I know now. It’s going to be a record of what the Lord has done. I can’t remember exactly when I was thinking about it, but I was reflecting on the fact that the problems for Israel always began when they forgot God. Israel forgot God, and strayed. Israel ceased to tell their children of the mighty works of the Lord, and they became idolaters. The Psalms talk about reflecting on God’s works, and in Job it speaks about going and telling what the Lord has done for you. It just seems to me there is a huge connection between following the Lord and remembering and being grateful for what He has done. I think my goal with my journal is to help me maintain an attitude of thankfulness before my Lord, no matter where my life goes. There is also a tie between focusing on being grateful, and contentment. I am also doing this in an effort to combat my natural pessimistic tendencies. Due to aforesaid pessimism, I tend to think-- “Everything is going just too well.” Obviously yes, everyone has problems, as do I. Everyone has heartaches that don’t go away, everyone has daily trials. But overall, I look at the immense beauty of the things the Lord has blessed me with, and think “It can’t possibly last...” I see the years of blessing in our church, in my family, and in my job, and worry that it will all fall apart. Even though I can add no time to my life by worrying, I still have to fight against it. I know that’s not right-- The Lord is always gracious and compassionate, and always does what is right, and gives more than we could think or ask, but my “natural tendency” (which needs to be combated) is to wait for something horrid to happen. I want to know that if the Lord takes away, as He has given, that I will still be happy and content in Him. This is kind of going to be an open-ended blog post, because it’s a flaw of my own that I am trying to work on. (huh, didn’t see me throwing that out there when I started this one. Blame the caffeine.) I know He holds tomorrow safely in His hand-- I just want to glorify Him by being content no matter what tomorrow brings. I think writing down instances of His past goodness will be helpful in that regard. It is healthy to reflect on His works, and leads to even more of a trusting in His sovereignty. It leads also, I think, to a steadier, solid contentment.
I’m going to quote extensively from Jeremiah Burroughs, because I am slowly slowly working through The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment. It’s, well, extraordinary. He talks about the frame of a Christian’s mind and soul being where true contentment is found, and how you get to that point, and how it will reflect in your disposition. All I really have to say is: It ‘ain’t easy’. But, his thoughts were very helpful for me. So, here is what Jeremiah Burroughs has to say regarding all of this.
These are just some of the things I have highlighted as I was reading. I can’t say there is a particularly good flow to them, but hopefully his thoughts will be helpful to you. If they’re not, well, you should really buy the book and read them all in the exact context. :-)

“ Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition... ‘This is the hand of God, and what is suitable to my condition or best for me. Although I do not see the reason for the thing, yet I am satisfied in my judgment about it’...  The contentment of a man or woman who is rightly content does not come so much from outward arguments or from any outward help, as from the disposition of their own hearts. The disposition of their own hearts causes and brings forth this gracious contentment rather than any external thing. Let me explain myself. Someone is disturbed, suppose it be a man, woman, or child. If you come and bring some great thing to please them, perhaps it will quiet them and they will be contented. It is the thing you bring that quiets them, not the disposition of their own spirits, not any good temper in their own hearts, but the external thing you bring them. But when a Christian is content in the right way, the quiet comes more from the temper and position of his own heart than from any external argument or from the possession of anything in the world. ... Keep under the authority of God, the majesty of God, the sovereignty of God, the power that God has over you-- to keep under, that is to submit. The soul can submit to God at the time when it can send itself under the power and authority and sovereignty and dominion that God has over it... A contented heart looks to God’s disposal, and submits to God’s disposal, that is, he sees the wisdom of God in everything. In his submission, he sees His sovereignty, but what makes him take pleasure is God’s wisdom. The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone. I know that the love of God may as well stand with an afflicted condition as with a prosperous condition. .. Contentment is the inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God’s disposal in every condition.”
-- jeremiah burroughs.

Have a nice day.