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DON’T’ TELL ME ABOUT ‘DOING’!

May 26th, 2009

 

For what seems like a very long time now, I have had this unquenchable thirst for more of God.  I absolutely must know more about His ways, and I am desperate to hear His voice more clearly, and more often.  I am unwilling to travel through this life without His constant leading, and I am unable to understand His ways on my own. 

Although it is a very good thing to be hungry and thirsty for more of Him, it can also be quite frustrating.  I find that the more I read and the more I learn, the more questions I have, and the more pressure I experience in my spirit to know and understand Him better.  It is a sweet problem to have; however, I find that most of the time I feel like I am on the cusp of something big but I just cannot quite grasp that golden ring.  There is no doubt in my mind that God is the instigator of this drama, and that He is continually drawing me closer, inviting me to dive into deeper intimacy with my Maker.  Since I am in training for eternity, the rewards will no doubt be worth the effort.  The more intimate I become with my Abba, with my Beloved Jesus, and with my best friend Holy Spirit, the greater is my reward here and in the hereafter.  So, as I continue my pursuit of the deep things of God, I will take pleasure in the joy of the hunt for His hidden treasure.

During my continual search for resources, I happened upon a book with a title that talked about satisfying that ravenously hungry place in my soul.  I was excited about my find, and I could hardly wait to dig into it.  I took the book with me on vacation, looking forward to the enrichment it had to offer.  But much to my dismay, it turned out to be another ‘doing’ book.  Do this – do that – prepare yourself – say the right words – worship this way or that way – implement this activity to attain that result.  How exasperating – and how exhausting! 

(I am already an over-doer; that is part of my problem.  Because I grew up with very little comprehension of my value to God, or to anybody else for that matter, I always assumed I needed to do twice as much to be half as good as everybody else.  Consequently, too often I find myself trying to do more, or do better, or do something else – in what seems like an attempt to induce God to love and accept me more.  My brain is too often on overload, striving, and frustrated.  I absolutely do not need one more new methodology, or one more thing to do!)

Admittedly, that book had some good points, and I incorporated a few suggestions into my basic mindset.  But I cannot describe how infuriating it was to have one more author suggest that my failure to have a deeper relationship with God was the result of my not doing enough of this or that.  Disgusted over what I was reading, I closed the book and threw it in the corner.  Once again, I had to stop and remind myself that I was not a failure simply because of my lack of knowledge, or my inactivity.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So, there I was, crying as I leaned over the veranda of our cruise ship stateroom, looking out at the stunning beauty of the ocean … still searching … still hungry even after recently gorging myself with the ship’s fare … still desperately in need of a new encounter with God … and out another twenty bucks spent on one more book.  Deep in my soul, I knew there was more to intimacy than devising a routine of ‘doing.’  I am convinced that once I have invited the Lord to come in His glory, He will not first ask me to say more or do more.  The Word says that if I draw closer to Him, He will draw closer to me.  Unlike witchcraft, I do not need to set a better atmosphere or recite certain words or conjure up a more emotional drama to get His attention.  Instead, deep calls unto deep.  He hears my heart cry and that touches His heart, causing him answer my call and draw nearer to me.  Why do I continue to try to make this so difficult?  Is it because I really do not believe that He is as anxious to fellowship with me as I am to fellowship with Him?  Do I think He is too busy for me, or that He enjoys hiding from me to see how long I will beg for His attention?  This is most definitely not the character of a Daddy who loves me and made me in His own image.  And yet, it seems that much too often I open a new book or listen to another teaching, and am inundated with more about ‘doing’ and less about relationship.

Determined to shake off this heaviness, I curled up on the sofa and began to call His name.  Nothing happened.  I paced back and forth in that tiny stateroom and then sank back into a chair.  I called again.  Nothing happened.  I resisted the urge to beg or plead, or worse yet, to fall prey to some religious ritual that may have seemed to catch His eye some other time.  I took a deep breath and settled deeper into the cushions, determined to remain there until peace came over me.  As I waited, a holy calm seemed to drape over my body and I felt like I had been enveloped in a cloud.  After a while, a ‘knowing’ came over me and I began to realize that I still had not yet learned how to wait on Him.  I had to admit that usually, after about two minutes of waiting, I get impatient and my brain begins to wander off to the next item on my mental calendar.  Who knows how many times Jesus has responded to my call, only to find that I have already moved on to the next event?

Sometimes I simply give up and fall asleep.  Jesus asked His disciples to wait for Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, to watch and pray.  But they fell asleep.  He asked Peter, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?”  Sometimes I cannot wait a few minutes, let alone an hour.

Perhaps the key to solving my dilemma is as simple as that:  watch and pray.  And wait.  I do not wait well.  Lord, teach me to wait on You.  Teach me to watch and pray and wait for You to reveal Yourself to me.  Teach me to linger in Your presence, to bask in Your glory.  Pour out Your Spirit; teach me to drink deeply of that sweet wine that is my reward for waiting.  Refresh and restore me, fill my emptiness until I am overflowing, but please never quench my longing for more of You.

 

 

Psalm 63:1

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.

Psalm 73:28

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.

James 4:8a

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

2 Samuel 22:7

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.

Psalm 42:7

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me.

Isaiah 45:3

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God if Israel.

Matthew 13:44

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

 

THE SOURCE OF OUR WORDS

May 12th, 2009

 

Words do have power.  After all, God actually spoke creation into existence.  THE Word (Scripture) says that life and death are in the power of the tongue, reminding us that even our own words carry life and death – and the choice is always ours to make.  However, that particular conversation is for another time.

 

What I am led to speak about now are the words I am inclined to share with others:  personal words of “wisdom” I offer to someone seeking my input.  At the time they are spoken, I think the words are good and life-producing.  However, the Lord recently reminded me how the well-meaning words of others had caused me a significant amount of pain.  Some of the words spoken resulted in the loss of relationships.  I know that the Father’s love does not “remember” a wrong that has been forgiven, and indeed I had forgiven those who had hurt me.  Therefore, I understood immediately that His reminder was an invitation to me, to re-examine the well-meaning (and often well-thought-out) words I offer to others.  (NOTE:  this message is not speaking about the Gift of the Spirit called ‘a Word of Knowledge’, which comes exclusively from the Holy Spirit and bypasses my intellect completely.)

 

At the prompting of the Lord, I immediately began to search my heart, and ask myself some hard questions.  When I have offered someone a word, whether or not it was solicited, where did I get that word?  Did I have knowledge about the subject?  And if so, from where did I get that knowledge?  Books?  Other people?  My own personal experience?  Did I just grasp for something to say?  Or, was it truly a word from the Lord in due season, perfect for edification and instruction?  Did I take the time to check that out?  Did I pray until my spirit was at peace with the matter?  Or did I just allow my flesh to jump in and puff itself up?  Pride always wants to know the answers, and it especially wants to make sure others are aware that he knows the answers.  Have I put down my pride, or have I simply masked it in a religious pose?  How many souls have been wounded in the process?  I do have a certain amount of wisdom; however, every ounce of that wisdom was Divinely imparted into me through the Holy Spirit.  I must remember that wisdom is much different from thoughts, or ideas, or assumptions, or opinions.

 

When I share my opinion without the leading of the Holy Spirit, I can stir up a lot of trouble for myself and others.  First of all, if I am truly a bondservant of the Lord like I claim to be, then I will resist offering an opinion.  Servants do not have the luxury of expressing opinions.  Second, I must remember that my opinion will always be clouded by my own personal bias and by my mood at the moment.  Passing that on, at best, bears little fruit; and at worst, can open the door to destruction in the life of another.  The next thing I know, my attempt to encourage that person has backfired, and he walks away confused and discouraged.  I have now opened a door for the enemy to torment the person who received my words, and to dump guilt and condemnation on me as well.

 

I absolutely must avoid the trap of merely speaking out of my own experience, as if my conclusion or assessment holds the key to unlock someone else’s mess.  My own method of experiencing victory could carry much weight in the eyes of another, but rarely will it hold the solution to another one’s woes.  Like snowflakes, no two problems are exactly alike.  It is dangerous to invite another to apply my solution to his problem – I have learned that lesson the hard way.  Someone else’s decision to take this very action caused me several seasons of tremendous pain, and it altered the course of my life.  Yes, he was well-meaning, and yes, the second party sought that opinion and chose his actions based on the words he received.  However, I was the innocent recipient of the consequences.  Yes, God allowed it.  He used it to work a new thing in me.  And in the aftermath, He brought healing and blessings – and complete forgiveness.  That said, I must admit that I sometimes wonder how our lives would have been different had someone else not infused his solution into our issue. 

 

Walking through this experience has prompted me to pray often for the grace to guard my tongue when I am tempted to offer up my own words and opinions.  Because I have experienced the pain of being on the other end, I can say without reservation that only God knows the best solution for each problem.  Only the Word of the Lord in due season can heal, and draw one into the symphony of a life created to blossom in the garden of God.  I must always seek His words when I have the honor of speaking into the life of another one of His precious children.  So long as I am walking in His light, He will expect no less of me.

 

How do I avoid this pitfall?  It gets a little easier when I remember that someday I will be called to account for every word and deed attributed to me.  I must continuously ask the Lord to bathe me in humility, and to teach me how to guard my heart and my tongue.  I must never forget that I am a child of the Most High God.  When I know who I am, and when His opinion of me is more important that others’ opinions of me, I will discover that I have less to say and less to prove.  Only when Jesus becomes first in my eyes can I risk being last.

 

 

As I was in the final editing process for this piece, I woke up in the middle of the night with a word in my spirit that I knew came directly from the Lord.  It said, “Add a P.S. to your piece and declare the following:  Every time I step out ahead of the leading of the Holy Spirit and His absolutely perfect timing, and I offer a ‘key’ that unlocks the door to your problem, that word becomes a crutch to you.  It tempts you to allow someone else to solve a mystery God intentionally concealed for you to discover, and you miss out on the glory of searching it out for yourself.  Furthermore, if you do not learn the lesson for which the mystery was offered, then you will have to go around that mountain again.  O God, forgive me for every time I have committed this error!  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

 

 

Proverbs 15:23

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

 

Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

 

Proverbs 25:2b

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

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Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

 

John 16:13

However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will tell you things to come.

 

Proverbs 18:21a

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…