hope or die

July 2, 2016

unicorn1

I know these are rather long posts, but we are almost done with this series. As I said yesterday, it is what God is telling me, for me, and I confess I’m kicking against the prod. I’m either going to break or be broken and I like to tell you it’s all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows and unicorns (it disturbs me that I even have this picture) but we all know that’s a load of hooey.

So even when someone says “be of good cheer” and you would like to ram your fist down there mouth; put a stupid smile on your face, get electro shock therapy, get medicated and live in an alternate reality (just like Hillary Clinton)(sorry I couldn’t resist.)

The Heart Needs Cheering, Encouraging, Comforting

Proverbs 15:13,15 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. … All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me …

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Life is full of pain and disappointments which bring sorrow and discouragement, so the heart needs to be cheered, comforted, and encouraged. But our tendency is to seek to cheer and comfort our hearts with the methods of the world—through our strategies for happiness, through the details of life as with the pursuit of power, pleasure, possessions, position, and the like. God has given us all things to enjoy, but God’s plan for lasting joy and encouragement comes from a heart that has been prepared and fixed to trust the Lord (Jn. 16:27; Ps. 37:4).

The Heart Needs Strengthening

Psalm 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

(1) The absolutes of God’s Word provide a sure FOUNDATION that promotes right thinking and attitudes, direction and choices, values, priorities, and pursuits, etc. (Matt. 6:21f).

(2) Strength of heart comes through humility of heart. A humble person is one who walks in dependence on the Lord rather than in proud self-trust (Ps. 10:17; 31:23-24).

(3) Strength of heart comes through waiting on the Lord and trusting God for needs. What exactly does the Bible mean when it calls us to wait on the Lord? In essence, from the use of this challenge in Scripture, to wait on the Lord is a summary term for living by faith or living dependently on the Lord as explained for us in the Word. On the one hand, it calls us to throw ourselves on the Lord in childlike trust. On the other hand, it calls us to turn away from all forms of independent living whereby we seek to handle life by our methods and means.

In the Bible, waiting on the Lord stands opposed to running ahead and taking matters into our own hands by turning to our own human solutions. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!” (RSV).

(4) Strength of heart comes through making God our portion. This means God is the reward or greatest possession and companion of the heart (Ps. 73:26; 119:56-57). “Portion” in Ps. 119:57 is the Hebrew cheleq. It was used of a reward or profit, but also of a chosen portion as a habitual mode of life. As a contrast, compare Psalm 50:18b, “and you associate with adulterers.” The NIV reads, “you throw in your lot with adulterers (i.e., you have chosen this as your portion, your way of life, the companionship of adulterers).”

The Heart Needs Biblical Desires and Longings

One of the most fundamental and life changing needs of the heart is to have biblical desires and longings. Please note the emphasis in the following passages:

(1) Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart

Though this passage is filled with commands, we can summarize it into four key responsibilities:

  • Look up: get your eyes off of people and circumstances and trust the Lord. Do not fret, do not be envious, but trust, delight, commit.

  • Look ahead: Rest and wait on the Lord and what He is doing. Know that the way of life of evil doers is only temporal and unstable or insecure. God will bring forth your righteousness, you will one day dwell in the land, you will have eternal rewards.

  • Be productive: While resting in God’s provision for our needs and committing our way and our circumstances to the Lord, ever delighting in Him, we are to do good, cultivate faithfulness, and dwell in the land.

  • Be content: Compare Ps. 37:16f. with 1 Tim. 6:6f.

At the core or heart of all this is verse 4 and the words, “delight yourself in the Lord.” This is the basis of trust, commitment, and rest in the Lord.

First, the Command. “Delight” is anag which means (1) “to be soft, delicate, dainty.” In Arabic, a sister language, it meant “to allure” and “to entice” and was used of the amorous gestures of women in their looks and walk. There is a certain feminine quality to this word and it fits with the nature of God’s dealings with believers. Israel was the wife of the Lord and the church is the bride of Christ. As it was with Israel, so we are to respond to the Lord as His chaste bride and to be sensitive to His love and care. Knowing Him as such should build our trust and commitment and keep us from being lured away from Him. In the Hebrew text, the verb “delight” is in a reflexive stem which came to mean, “to take exquisite delight, to delight yourself in an exquisite manner.” So the Psalmist says in effect that God is to be our most exquisite source of joy. We are to delight in His person and being. He is calling us to pursue God that we might know and revel in His divine person and being.

Second, the Promise. “Desires” is the Hebrew mishalab which may mean, “prayers, requests, petitions.” Our requests are usually based on our desires, wants, or what we see as our needs, though this is not one of the major Hebrew words for desire. “Of your heart” points us to the source of the requests, our inner person through the function of the mind, emotions, and will. “Desires of your heart” refers to the results of the function of the mind, emotions, and will in the formation of aspirations, desires, and longings.

When our delight is genuinely in the Lord, our requests, the product of our desires, will be transformed and conformed to the will of God. When we start truly delighting in the Lord and trust in Him for our needs and desires, we will then stop depending on our own devices for security or significance. It is then that our desires and requests will naturally begin to change.

Therefore, God promises to give us those requests, as the context suggest, according to His timing.

(2) Psalm 94:19: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul.”

Anxious thoughts multiply when a man’s delight is off the Lord. When this occurs, his trust will also be off the Lord and on his own devices and solutions to life. So what does the Psalmist say? “Thy consolations delight my soul.” What is God’s greatest consolation or source of comfort? It is God Himself. When Christians fail to delight their heart in the Lord by seeking Him as their number one source of comfort, they will begin to unravel and they will turn to their own devices.

Note also the emphasis of the following passages:

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God.

Psalm 62:10 Do not trust in oppression, And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

Psalm 73:25-28 Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works.

Such Psalms do not just express the desire of a highly spiritual man, but they acknowledge man’s need as a human being created with a vacuum that only God can fill. They acknowledge the fact that nothing else can truly satisfy.

Finally, compare Psalm 86:11 with Matthew 6:21-24. The greatest indication of man’s fallenness is his capacity to try to handle life, or to seek satisfaction, significance, and security apart from clinging to the Lord.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; Unite my heart to fear Thy name.

Matthew 6:21-24 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Even at his best, such a person is guilty of a divided heart trying to walk with one foot stationed on the Lord and the other one stationed on his own solutions. So what does the Psalmist say? “Unite (remove any division of trust) my heart to fear Thy name.” To fear the Lord is ultimately to trust the Lord or to turn to Him in complete trust (Ps. 40:3; 115:11).

May God put a song back in your heart.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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