In God Alone

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For several weeks I have been questioning my own heart. Am I longing for Christ to return because my circumstances are tough at times? If my circumstances suddenly changed and things were better, would my eyes still look up as often as they do now?

Am I praising God and telling others “God is good” because of all that He gives me? Is God good because he gives me things? Would I find Him just as good if all the things He has given me were suddenly taken away?

Do I truly love God? Why do I love Him?  Searching questions for the heart. Questions I have been pondering in my own heart.

On one particular Sunday morning I went to worship God but my heart wasn’t really in it. It has been some time since this happened but I can vividly recall what I was thinking. My thoughts were more on wishing my life was different rather than on the Great I Am.  I admit it. I wanted God to fix things in my life first, then I could be free to fully worship Him.  I know that is an awful admission. But God knows that is what was in my heart that day.

As I listened to the sermon, my mind slowly moved from wishing God would fix things to realizing I did not truly love God the way I should– at least not at that time. The preacher spoke of the Great Shepherd Who went searching for the one lost sheep, and of the great God He Is. He pointed out that Christ is the greatest treasure and ultimate satisfaction. As the sermon continued, my heart faced the truth that I was not satisfied with God alone. I wanted God plus a different set of circumstances. Ever been there? Are you there now?  I could say God was everything to me but it wasn’t true. God was not everything to me…not at that time. I could claim that to have God was all one needed but it wasn’t being lived out in my heart.  I cried out to God for forgiveness, and my heart found peace in Him alone…again.

My children are no longer little so they do not need me as they once did. I have been in a marriage that has been filled with so much pain through the years, and now I am caring for my husband who cannot communicate or care for himself,and whose condition does not allow me much freedom. It makes friendships difficult  I am lonely at times.  Yet, God is there– His constant abiding care and presence. I see it in so many ways. I know it is true because He promised to always be with His children, and He cannot lie.

Did you catch it? Wanting God plus something else –it is  there — still lurking beneath the surface of my heart. It was there that Sunday morning. I saw it. I thought I conquered it. But it was not a total surrender of the desire for God plus something else.

Now someone will say that it is not wrong to desire different circumstances in life, that if your loved one has cancer or some other illness or problem you will certainly desire for that to change. I understand. I agree. I am not saying it is wrong to desire different circumstances. It can be…if you are desiring it from selfish motives as I was, thinking only of my own loneliness or if you need your circumstances to change before you can be satisfied in God. One may be fully satisfied with God and still want circumstances to change but one cannot want circumstances to change before they are fully satisfied with God. In other words, am I fully satisfied with God if my circumstances never change? When I can say  “yes”, He is truly everything to me.

So, what is all of this about? What am I trying to communicate to you? Only that I am still fighting with these desires? No. I write this to offer hope that you and I can overcome our desire for God plus something else and find complete satisfaction in Him. There is a psalm that I have been studying for some time now that has helped me to see how to end this struggle…no, not once for all. But I know I can put this psalm into practice any time I find that I am not fully satisfied with God alone.

The psalm is Psalm 131. It is only three verses long but oh, the message in those three verses.

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 131)

Notice the flow of the psalm  It begins with the psalmist stating that he does not occupy himself with things too great for him. The idea here is one of contentment. He trusts the LORD. He turns his heart to the LORD. He  has”calmed and quieted” his soul like “a weaned child with its mother.”  It is important to realize that the psalmist quieted his own soul. It is within our power to quiet our own hearts. But the power to do so is due to the source of the psalmist’s contentment. He constantly turned his heart to his God. The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of a small child in his mother’s arms — perfectly content just to be there. A nursing baby is not always content to simply be held but a weaned child is very content in his mother’s arms, seeking nothing but the closeness of his mother. That is exactly what the psalmist finds in God — seeking only to be near God brings a calm and quiet heart of contentment which leads to the note of hope with which the psalmist ends his song.

So, how to put this into practice?  I have found that when I am not content, when I am  feeling burdened, lonely, confused or uncertain that if I turn my heart to the LORD and focus my mind on the LORD — upon His Greatness and His nearness–I can rest in Him the way a small child rests in his mother’s arms. A peace will begin to settle over my heart. It takes some effort to focus solely upon Him. It helps to be alone with the LORD in prayer and in His Word, but I have practiced this at times when it was not possible to be alone with the LORD. Some days I find I must run to Him often and quiet my soul with the knowledge of His love. It is a circle. We go to Him to quiet our souls and we find, “….he will quiet you by his love..” (Zephaniah 3:17)

We have the power to quiet our souls by going to Him as a small child seeking nothing but His nearness. We will find that He quiets us with His love in the same way a small child is quieted by the love of his mother.

Seek the LORD as a weaned child seeks his mother, wanting nothing but to be held in His love. The heart will find a quiet calm of contentment, and a hope that keeps one moving forward.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5)

Joy In The King

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This life abounds with blessings if we only have eyes to see. All people, regardless of their beliefs, enjoy many good gifts  from  the gracious Hand of God, The Creator.  All good things come from the Father (James 1:17).

Yet, most of the world drinks from His gracious Hand without acknowledging the One Who made it all. Many people have developed a heart of gratitude…but without gratitude toward God. How can one be thankful without being thankful to Someone?  It is a strange culture that teaches one should be thankful but fails to teach Who they should be thankful to.

However, these gifts should not simply fill us with gratitude toward God for the pleasure they give us. These gifts should always point us to the Giver Himself. The taste of a  delicious fruit should lead you to praise the Creator, and to a greater desire for HIM. The glowing sunset that leaves you almost breathless should leave you in awe of your Creator, and with a longing for Him. Love for another person that flows joyfully in your heart should cause your love for God to overflow and your joy in Him to increase. The gifts never fully satisfy because they are meant to leave us with a desire for soemthing more — for Him.

If the gifts fail to create a deep longing for God, we have missed the main point of the gifts.

Many people have made the decision to “choose joy” even in difficult circumstances because they have learned the secret that we can control and choose our attitude.  Feelings come uninvited but an attitude is developed by choice. But they have failed to learn the deeper secret…that the deepest joy and the only lasting joy is found in King Jesus. then I choose Him, I can find the deepest joy because I have chosen the Source of joy. God is completely and utterly joyful, and we can share in His joy.

So, how do we come to a deeper joy in The King and maintain that joy in Him through all kinds of days – good, exciting, difficult, troubled, heartbreaking — through all the ups and downs of life?  I think there are three keys that are fundamental to finding and to maintaining joy in The King.

The first key is: Desire for God.  We will not find joy in someone we do not yearn to be with or to know more deeply.

” My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you”…(Isaiah 26:9a)

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? ” (Psalm 42:1-2)

Psalm 45 presents a beautiful picture of The King. He is fairer than the children of men, and grace flows from His lips (Psalm 45:2)

He is mighty in His glory and power. He is noble in power but without pride. He is good and true. His arrows defeat the enemies of the King. He is a good and victorious king. (Psalm 45:3-5)

His throne is an everlasting throne, and He rules with honor (Psalm 45:6) The King loves righteousness. Therefore, God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above all the other kings (Psalm 45: 7)

His beauty and goodness are seen even in His clothing. ” Your robes are full of the smell of all sorts of perfumes and spices; music from the king’s ivory houses has made you glad” (Psalm 45:8)

The question I must answer: Do I truly yearn for God?

The second key is: Awe….standing in awe of God.

Some time back I saw a Facebook post about an “awesome’ dessert. Our culture throws the word ‘awesome’ around on a regular basis.  But things are not awesome. People are not really awesome. Deity is the only true awesome.

Take time to consider the works of His Hand.  Read Isiah 40 on a regular basis.  Mediate upon His Greatness. Go outside. Look around you at the beauty His Hand created — the beauty of the clouds in the day, and the beauty of the stars at night.

Stand in Awe of Jehovah the King.

“Let all the world fear the LORD; let all the of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8)

The third key is: Delight in the King

Yearning for God and standing in awe of Him will lead one to delight in Him. We cannot find joy in someone we do not delight in.

Do you delight in Him?  We find delight in all kinds of trivial pursuits and things but do we find our greatest delight in this glorious King?  Should it not thrill us and fill us with delight to know that the God Who created all things, who has all power and all wisdom, and all knowledge should love us and want us to share in His glory? How can we not take delight in God, in knowing He is our Father and King, our Protector and Gracious Redeemer?  What an awesome and wonderful God. What a wonder that He created us so that we could know Him!

Oh what a delight it will be to look upon this glorious King! What an awe it will be to stand in His presence!

Do you yearn for Him and for His return?

May we determine that each day we will  delight in Him, stand in awe of Him, and yearn for Him.

D…Delight

A…Awe

Y…Yearn

How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh, what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the name,
Earth has no higher bliss.

What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze and gaze on Thee! *

*from a hymn by Faber