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What Does Your Heart Desire?

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This was the title of a sermon I delivered this morning at our church. Taken from Psalm 27, it speaks about what King David considered to be the most important thing in his life.

I’d like to share my text with you, as well a few notes that may be of encouragement to someone.

Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lordwhen I cry with my voice

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

If you have ever felt that overwhelming feeling like it’s you against the world, you can appreciate what David is saying here. I can relate to what he is saying, because just like a lot of you I’ve been in that scary place where I’m surrounded by trouble and despair.

David uses a military analogy to describe his approach to such a situation. Whether it’s a person or an army, or even war itself, should it come against him David said that he would be confident.

The question that immediately comes to mind is confident in what? What David was saying here was that I’ve experienced God’s deliverance many times over the course of my lifetime, and I believe He will do it again.

How about you? Do you believe God will do it again? Is he still able to deliver? I know He is more than able!

David then reveals something from the depths of his heart, something that people in positions of great power and authority rarely do.

He says that he has desired just one thing of the Lord, and that was to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Does that sound like something a man of war would say? How unusual would it be to hear a king say that his desire is to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple?

Pretty bizarre, if you ask me.

My mind immediately goes to thoughts of “is this the same David who committed adultery? The same David who conspired to murder? The same David of whom they sang of killing tens of thousands”?

Yes! Warts and all it was that David!

The David whose life was marred by sin and destruction.

The David who would pay dearly for the sins he committed.

The David who carried an enormous amount of baggage throughout his life.

Want to know something? All of us are marred. All of us carry with us the scars of our past.

Scripture reminds us that there is none righteous, not even one(Romans 3:10).

David was saying to the Lord that he desired to be in the presence of the Lord more than anything else. 

David was King, and as such could have asked for and received anything he desired. But it wasn’t riches, or real estate, or battlefield victories he wanted.

He wanted God. Despite his history and despite the mistakes of his past, what he longed for was intimacy with God.

What are you longing for today? What does your heart desire?

I find it encouraging that David wasn’t looking for entertainment in God’s house. He wasn’t looking to be seen. He wasn’t looking for accolades from the meek and lowly.

He simply wanted to dwell in God’s house, to bask in His presence.

Isn’t that why all of us should desire to be in God’s house? 

David also recognized that in God’s house was safety and security. In the time of trouble David said that God would hide him in His pavilion. In the secret of the tabernacle God would hide him.

God’s house was the one place that David felt safe from his enemies. As King of Israel, David had a target on his back, yet in God’s house he felt safe.

In Psalm 46:1 David declares that “God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble”. 

So many times in my own life I have ran to the Lord seeking refuge from the storm that was raging. Like David, I can testify that He is indeed a “very present help in trouble”.

As I ponder this Psalm of David about being in God’s house, my mind wanders back to an old gospel song that goes something like this:

“When I walk through the doors, I felt His presence.

And I knew this was the place where love abounds.

For this is the temple, Jehovah God abides here.

And we are standing in His presence, on holy ground”.

That’s how I see being in God’s house. A holy place on holy ground.

David then tells us that in God’s house he will offer sacrifices of joy, and that he will sing praises unto the Lord.

I wonder, is this what we do when we enter His courts? Do we come in to the presence of God with a complaint or a praise?

Something to think about, isn’t it?

As a matter of fact, I asked our congregation this morning how long will we remain mute in the house of God. What would it take for us to shake off the heavy bands and lift up holy hands in praise to the King of Kings?

I shared with them how that in Psalm 22:3 David had said “But thou are holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel”.

I am a firm believer that when we lift our praise and worship to the Almighty, He will come down and inhabit, or bask in our worship. Call me a fanatic, but that’s how I see it!

This is the Readers Digest version of my message this morning, and I sincerely hope you will derive some comfort from it.

I will close this blog just as I did the message this morning by asking the question:

“What Does Your Heart Desire”? 

Until the next time, may the Lord keep you safe in His arms.

Ron

 

 

 

How to know what God really expects of us.

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One of things I struggle with in writing this blog is how to condense topics that I could speak about for hours into a few hundred words,all while maintaining the integrity of the subject matter. I suppose everyone who has a blog struggles with this.

Such is the topic I want to tackle today:how to know what God really expects of us.Of course,I’m aware that a great many people,even some who attend church regularly,do not believe God expects anything of them.

Sad as it is,for many people God is seen as a type of cosmic genie who is supposed to be at their beck and call should a need arise.

The Bible however,paints a very different picture.You see,scripture points us to the fact that God desires to have a relationship with us.

As with any relationship that you might be involved in,it is a two way street.There are expectations,are there not? And if those expectations are not met on a frequent basis,the relationship suffers.

So it is with our relationship with God.He expects certain things from us and when we don’t deliver on our end,this relationship suffers.Think of it this way: God will not bless a relationship He is not involved in. Let that sink in for a minute.

So lets look at a few of those expectations,beginning with a question that the Lord posed to Israel:

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

act-justly

Jonathonsigmon.com

At the time of Micah’s tenure as a prophet in Israel,God had a problem on his hands with this people.

They had developed a malady not unlike us today in that they suffered from a serious case of ingratitude.

So deeply embedded was this ingratitude that the Lord even asked them “what have I done to you”?(v.3).

In telling them that He has showed them what is good,God is reminding them that for centuries they have had the Law and the Prophets to instruct them in how they should live.In other words,don’t even act like you don’t know what is expected of you.

He then gets to the heart of the matter by telling them three things He requires of them.

  1. to do justly,or to exercise Godly,righteous judgement in their dealings with one another
  2. to love mercy,to willfully and joyfully extend love and compassion to others
  3. to walk humbly with your God,meaning to acknowledge Him in all your ways

Notice something missing here? God did not require them to offer a ram,or a goat,or a calf.No,what He required of them was a different kind of sacrifice.One that came from within their hearts.

What He required of them necessitated a renewed heart.He wanted relationship.The same relationship that He desired when He delivered them from Egyptian bondage,and when He delivered to them His Law.

God has always yearned to have a covenant relationship with His people. Now lets take a look at this question as it was asked in Jesus’ day.

There was a certain lawyer who in trying to tempt Jesus,asked him what the requirements were for him to inherit eternal life.

And he answering said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.   Luke 10:27

Once again we see the answer to the age old question of “what does God require” to be something other than rules,sacrifices,or tradition.Jesus made it as clear as it could be that what the Lord requires must come from the heart.

Loving God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself is only possible when the heart has been transformed.It cannot be done from the mind,or because it’s the morally right thing to do.

No,the expectations set forth by Jesus bespeak intimacy with God,and that can only come with spending time with Him in prayer and in the Word.Which brings me to the title question of this post:”how to know what God really expects of us”.

The answer is found within the pages of God’s Word.The two examples I shared with you are representative of the content found within the sixty six books of the Bible,nearly all of which contain an abundance of instruction and admonition for our spiritual development.

My hope,my earnest prayer is that we first understand that God does indeed expect something of us.He expects US. Not our things,not our money,not our deeds or even our sacrifices,but rather our hearts.

Secondly,that we regularly read His Word,because the Word of God is alive and more relevant for today than most can imagine it to be.It will keep and sustain you in the darkest hours you may face.It will compel you onward as you draw near unto Him.

since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God“.   1 Peter 1:23   ESV

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

Ron

 

 

Why Prayer Meetings Fail

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Many Christians,especially newer ones,do not know that one of the primary strengths of the church used to be the prayer meeting.This should come as no surprise considering that the church was birthed in an Upper Room prayer meeting.

For so many generations churches of nearly every denomination practiced regular,routine corporate prayer because they understood the dynamics of regular communication with God. For the church to do the work of the church,prayer,especially corporate prayer was a necessity that could not be overlooked.

Through the centuries the practice of corporate prayer has dwindled until in most churches it’s not even practiced any longer,and if it is it’s so sparsely attended as to be of little effect. I suppose the case could easily be made that the demise of the corporate prayer meeting coincides with the general attitude of the Laodicean church today,which is that the church of today is in need of nothing.

Especially God.

This mindset that we are in control,that we are capable of sustaining our own evangelical empires apart from God is something that the church of the book of Acts would reject outright. As would countless millions of Christians through centuries past who routinely cultivated their personal relationship with God through prayer.

Today’s prayer meeting,what little there is of it,has drastically changed in many ways from what our predecessors new,especially considering this major point: what we pray about,or for,is different now. Let me explain.

It used to be that churches had a burning desire to have a positive impact on their community for the sole purpose of winning their community for Christ. They lived the Christian life outside of the church and were examples of God’s love and grace,which served to draw the lost to the church. The primary method at their disposal to accomplish all of this was prayer!

In return,communities recognized that the church genuinely cared for them,and were concerned for their well being. What they saw was Christ extended to them in a way that they were receptive to. Such is the love of God. Like moths drawn to a flame,the love of God will draw lost men and women when nothing else will.

Churches,pastors,lay members alike were all united in the shared goal of reaching the lost,and they knew that prayer was the only way to make that happen.Think about it…what else did the church have at their disposal?

Before the days of the internet,conferences of every conceivable type, car shows,and bouncy houses God’s people relied on the sovereign moving of the Spirit,wrought by prayer,to bring the lost in.

Oh,to be able to go back in time!

Today we have every means of the newest,latest technology at our instant disposal,ready to use to market our latest strategy to bring them in.A very small percentage of this works,the vast majority does not.

Church advertising budgets(disguised as evangelism) are expanding every year,yet the results are the same:pitifully few new converts are being added despite the staggering amount of dollars spent. Growth,what there is of it is mostly from other churches,drawn to the latest gimmickry or cult of personality preacher. History has shown that this is not sustainable growth,as true discipleship has given way to strategies and methods not designed to develop the believer,but to entertain.

In short, prayer has been supplanted in today’s church by every means available. God Himself has been replaced by the inventions of man. The Holy Spirit is no longer welcomed or needed in our churches as the principal agent to draw the lost.

And I think I understand why.

Because we don’t know the One we claim to know.

We use His name.

We use His building.

We sing songs supposedly written in His honor.

We preach sermons using His words.

But we do not know Him like we claim.

If we knew Him like we claim that we do,we would be different. We would be changed.Our hearts would be pure,as would our motives. We would not be this sickly,anemic,weak institution that the world mocks in derision. If we knew Him like we say we do,we would demonstrate His attributes in all that we do.

Perhaps most importantly of all,we do not know Him like we claim we do because we ask Him to do everything except what we desperately need the most:

To change us from within.

We ask Him for things. For stuff. For favor. For anything that will please the flesh.

But we do not ask Him to change us. 

Prayer meetings are no longer in vogue. They are considered old fashioned,relics from a by-gone age. At least that’s what the church of today is being taught.

Could it be however that the real reason that prayer meetings fail,have gone out of style,are no longer considered essential,is because we do not know Him after all?

Something I pray that causes us to stop and think about on this rainy Monday…