Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Have you learned yet that all of 'this' is about God?"

Day #171

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 131 - 133 … 

When faced with LIFE, the very best thing any of us can do is remember that all of life is about God.  Knowing Him, loving Him and serving Him IS life … REAL life, spiritual life, eternal life!  Jesus said, "Seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).  The Apostle Paul defined the "kingdom of God" this way:  "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" (Romans 14:17-18).  God's kingdom exists where His Spirit is at work in His people, where His voice is heard through His Word and where the pursuit of righteousness overcomes the influence of sin in the lives of those who are now new creations in Christ.

Reading Psalms 131 - 133 is an exercise in once again understanding that this thing we call "life" is not about us trying to get God to do what WE want or think is right, but about yielding to His reign and acknowledging that joy and peace and purpose are found in serving Him.  Trying to understand the things that go on in your life and in the world from a merely human perspective will lead you to despair because you will never understand it all.  So David writes, "My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul …" (131:1-2).

David compares himself to "a weaned child with its mother"(131:2).  That seems like a strange comparison, but think about it.  A child who is weaned is walking and beginning to move from his or her mother's control, but is still dependent upon her watchfulness and protection and guidance.  That's us!  If we think we are more than we are and try to figure everything out on our own, our souls will be in an uproar continually.  We will never have any peace of mind or heart.  We will be anxious and worried and frustrated and overwhelmed.  There are things that we need to leave to our Father in heaven.  So David says, "Put your hope in the LORD both now and forever" (131:3).  God is in control of everything, so we must place our faith and our hope in HIM!

He goes on in Psalm 132 to point to the oath David swore to God.  Who IS God?  Many people get off track from the very beginning because they don't know God.  David endured hardships, too, but he endured … how?  "He swore an oath to the LORD and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob …" (132:2).  What was David's oath?  He wanted to honor God by building a dwelling-place for Him.  Now God had not asked David to do this.  The Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God's presence with His people, had been placed in the Tabernacle from the beginning of Israel's wandering.  Now they were settled in the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Israel had become a great nation, as God had promised.  So David's heart desired to honor the Lord in this way.  David knew God and loved God and because of His relationship with God he trusted God’s promises and believed God was with him.

God told David that it would not be him, but his son who would build the temple.  Yet David's heart is revealed in the Psalms he wrote.  "Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool!" (132:7).  David's desire was to glorify GOD!  God was at the center of his life and the life of His people, Israel.  These people and the place of worship, the temple in Jerusalem, were special to God because "the LORD has chosen Zion, HE has desired it for His dwelling" (132:13).  It would be here that God would bring salvation to all whom He chose before the world began.  Jerusalem and the temple were special not because Israel was there but because GOD was there!  And He is with US!!

It always comes down to this:  is God at the center or is man at the center?  If you and I try to be at the center and attempt to manipulate God for our purposes we will never find the joy of the LORD!  But when we acknowledge that God is at the center and we live for Him, God promises, "I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy!" (132:16).  "Joy in the LORD" is a common theme in the Psalms because it is a reality for those who know the Lord.  Most people look for joy FROM God rather than IN God.  There is a huge difference.  Trying to find joy in the things God gives leads you away from God, not toward Him.  When you find your joy in the Lord, His gifts point you right back to Him to give thanks for His amazing grace!

How then do you show your love for God as you live to worship Him?  "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"  (133:1).  From the time God revealed His commands to Israel to the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus began His ministry, from the beginning of the Church all the way up to today, God gives two commands, from which all the other commands arise:  "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength ... and love your neighbor as yourself."  Without love for God there will never be love for your neighbor, and if there is no love for your neighbor you cannot say you love God!

The Apostle John writes, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us!" (I John 4:11-12).  It's about God ... God's love for you, moving you to love God.  Joy and love go together, and when God is in the center of both life makes sense and is the right order.  "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

"Heavenly Father, the saints of old worshiped You at the tabernacle and the temple, surrounded by Your glory, but we know You even better, for You have revealed Yourself to us in Your Son Jesus Christ.  In Him we know Your love and experience true joy as we follow Your commands.  I praise You, Father, for revealing Your kingdom to me and I ask You to help me daily to surrender my life to You, my Savior and my God, as I worship You in all I say and do.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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