Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Delight

Recently I was struck by a couple verses in Jeremiah. He says to the Lord in 15:16, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts."

I'm caught by his phrase "the delight of my heart." This is a heart that is singly focused. It is a heart that has one pursuit. This heart only has eyes for one thing. A heart that can say the words uttered from Jesus are the delight is contented heart. It's a heart that doesn't find sustenance in other things. Paul wrote to the Philippians that he learned the secret of how to be content in all things...whether in plenty or hunger, abundance or need. (vs 4:11-12). This is the kind of heart who finds its delight in God's words.

In the next chapter of Jeremiah, we find that God instructs Jeremiah to never have a wife or children. He's not to attend funerals, parties or weddings. Basically, his social life had no existence! He belonged to God and God alone...not only that, but he was called to give a message to Israel that wasn't the most popular sentiment of the time. Jeremiah lived a very lonely-earthly existence...yet I believe he lived a very full heavenly existence. He was captured by the One who called him and gave him a purpose and destiny. There were no other distractions or earthly crutches of false identity.

I want to know and experience how to have this heart of contentedness. It often feels like an overwhelming carrot dangling over my head that is just outside of reach. I have moments where I feel content and I experience that God is the delight of my heart. But I have way too many other moments where the opposite of this is true. How did Paul learn this secret? In contentedness there is peace and rest. It is void of striving. Contentedness involves trust. When I struggle with trusting God, I want to run to all other things/people for assurance and answers. Contentedness involves a yielded heart. Contentedness seeks first the Kingdom of heaven because it knows that all things will be added in time. Worry and fret do not co-exist with contentedness.

I'm hungry to find contentment in abundance or need, to say that the words of Jesus are the delight of my heart.

Fall Schedule for RMS...



 


Enrollment is still available for the 2010-2011 class.

Spiritual Formation
Tuesdays, 9:30 – 1
Instructor: John Piippo

Description: In order to be used by God as an agent of renewal and transformation one must themselves be in a continual place of personal renewal and transformation. This course will combine times of personal prayer, spiritual journaling, and teaching from biblical and historical resources on what it means to dwell in the presence of God and be renewed and transformed.

Worship I
Wed., Fri., 9:30 – 11
Instructor: Holly Benner

Description: True worship and adoration comes from intimacy with God. It is founded on the understanding of God's great love for you. Intimacy and Worship will focus on building and furthering that love relationship with Him while defining what a lifestyle of worship looks like. This class will include an in-depth look at Song of Solomon and Old & New Testament character studies.


Bible Study Methods

Thursdays, 9:30 – 1
Instructor: Josh Bentley

Description: This course will provide students with systematic methods of studying scripture. Through those methods students will also learn how to practically apply their understanding as they study different books of the Bible.



Kingdom of God I
Thursdays, 4:30 – 7:30
Instructor: Jim Collins

Description: The main teaching of Jesus was about the "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom of heaven." This course will present the major interpretations of the meaning of the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. Students will learn to understand the real Jesus from the perspective of God's kingdom message.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Stillness of Soul...by Andrew Murray

Today I read a chapter out of Andrew Murray's book, "Abiding in Christ." He talks about quietness and stillness. I thought I'd include it below:

Andrew Murray: Abide In Christ
Chapter 18–IN STILLNESS OF SOUL
“In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”– Isaiah 30:15

“Be silent to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”– Ps.37:7

“Truly my soul is silent unto God.” Ps.62:1


THERE is a view of the Christian life that regards it as a sort of partnership, in which God and man have each to do their part. It admits that it is but little that man can do, and that little defiled with sin; still he must do his utmost–then only can he expect God to do His part. To those who think thus, it is extremely difficult to understand what Scripture means when it speaks of our being still and doing nothing, of our resting and waiting to see the salvation of God. It appears to them a perfect contradiction, when we speak of this quietness and ceasing from all effort as the secret of the highest activity of man and all his powers. And yet this is just what Scripture does teach. The explanation of the apparent mystery is to be found in this, that when God and man are spoken of as working together, there is nothing of the idea of a partnership between two partners who each contribute their share to a work. The relation is a very different one. The true idea is that of cooperation founded on subordination. As Jesus was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works, so the believer can do nothing of himself. What he can do of himself is altogether sinful. He must therefore cease entirely from his own doing, and wait for the working of God in him. As he ceases from self-effort, faith assures him that God does what He has undertaken, and works in him. And what God does is to renew, to sanctify, and waken all his energies to their highest power. So that just in proportion as he yields himself a truly passive instrument in the hand of God, will he be wielded of God as the active instrument of His almighty power. The soul in which the wondrous combination of perfect passivity with the highest activity is most completely realized, has the deepest experience of what the Christian life is.
 
Among the lessons to be learnt of those who are studying the blessed art of abiding in Christ, there is none more needful and more profitable than this one of stillness of soul. In it alone can we cultivate that teachableness of spirit, to which the Lord will reveal His secrets–that meekness to which He shows His ways. It is the spirit exhibited so beautifully in all the three Marys: In her whose only answer to the most wonderful revelation ever made to human being was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word”; and of whom, as mysteries multiplied around her, it is written: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” And in her who “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word,” and who showed, in the anointing Him for His burial, how she had entered more deeply into the mystery of His death than even the beloved disciple. And in her, too, who sought her Lord in the house of the Pharisee, with tears that spake more than words. It is a soul silent unto God that is the best preparation for knowing Jesus, and for holding fast the blessings He bestows. It is when the soul is hushed in silent awe and worship before the Holy Presence that reveals itself within, that the still small voice of the blessed Spirit will be heard.

Therefore, beloved Christian, as often as you seek to understand better the blessed mystery of abiding in Christ, let this be your first thought (Ps.62:5, marg.): “My soul, only be silent unto God; for my expectation is from Him.” Do you in very deed hope to realize the wondrous union with the Heavenly Vine? Know that flesh and blood cannot reveal it unto you, but only the Father in heaven. “Cease from thine own wisdom.” You have but to bow in the confession of your own ignorance and impotence; the Father will delight to give you the teaching of the Holy Spirit. If but your ear be open, and your thoughts brought into subjection, and your heart prepared in silence to wait upon God, and to hear what He speaks, He will reveal to you His secrets. And one of the first secrets will be the deeper insight into the truth, that as you sink low before Him in nothingness and helplessness, in a silence and a stillness of soul that seeks to catch the faintest whisper of His love, teachings will come to you which you had never heard before for the rush and noise of your own thoughts and efforts. You shall learn how your great work is to listen, and hear, and believe what He promises; to watch and wait and see what He does; and then, in faith, and worship, and obedience, to yield yourself to His working who works in you mightily.

One would think that no message could be more beautiful or welcome than this, that we may rest and be quiet, and that our God will work for us and in us. And yet how far this is from being the case! And how slow many are to learn that quietness is blessedness, that quietness is strength, that quietness is the source of the highest activity–the secret of all true abiding in Christ! Let us try to learn it, and to watch against whatever interferes with it. The dangers that threaten the soul’s rest are not a few.

There is the dissipation of soul which comes from entering needlessly and too deeply into the interests of this world. Every one of us has his divine calling; and within the circle pointed out by God Himself, interest in our work and its surroundings is a duty. But even here the Christian needs to exercise watchfulness and sobriety. And still more do we need a holy temperance in regard to things not absolutely imposed upon us by God. If abiding in Christ really be our first aim, let us beware of all needless excitement. Let us watch even in lawful and necessary things against the wondrous power these have to keep the soul so occupied, that there remains but little power or zest for fellowship with God. Then there is the restlessness and worry that come of care and anxiety about earthly things; these eat away the life of trust, and keep the soul like a troubled sea. There the gentle whispers of the Holy Comforter cannot be heard.

No less hurtful is the spirit of fear and distrust in spiritual things; with its apprehensions and its efforts, it never comes really to hear what God has to say. Above all, there is the unrest that comes of seeking in our own way and in our own strength the spiritual blessing which comes alone from above. The heart occupied with its own plans and efforts for doing God’s will, and securing the blessing of abiding in Jesus, must fail continually. God’s work is hindered by our interference. He can do His work perfectly only when the soul ceases from its work. He will do His work mightily in the soul that honors Him by expecting Him to work both to will and to do.

And, last of all, even when the soul seeks truly to enter the way of faith, there is the impatience of the flesh, which forms its judgment of the life and progress of the soul not after the divine but the human standard. In dealing with all this, and so much more, blessed the man who learns the lesson of stillness, and fully accepts God’s word: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Each time he listens to the word of the Father, or asks the Father to listen to his words, he dares not begin his Bible reading or prayer without first pausing and waiting, until the soul be hushed in the presence of the Eternal Majesty. Under a sense of the divine nearness, the soul, feeling how self is always ready to assert itself, and intrude even into the holiest of all with its thoughts and efforts, yields itself in a quiet act of self-surrender to the teaching and working of the divine Spirit. It is still and waits in holy silence, until all is calm and ready to receive the revelation of the divine will and presence. Its reading and prayer then indeed become a waiting on God with ear and heart opened and purged to receive fully only what He says.

“Abide in Christ!” Let no one think that he can do this if he has not daily his quiet time, his seasons of meditation and waiting on God. In these a habit of soul must be cultivated, in which the believer goes out into the world and its distractions, the peace of God, that passeth all understanding, keeping the heart and mind. It is in such a calm and restful soul that the life of faith can strike deep root, that the Holy Spirit can give His blessed teaching, that the Holy Father can accomplish His glorious work. May each one of us learn every day to say, “Truly my soul is silent unto God.” And may every feeling of the difficulty of attaining this only lead us simply to look and trust to Him whose presence makes even the storm a calm. Cultivate the quietness as a means to the abiding in Christ; expect the ever deepening quietness and calm of heaven in the soul as the fruit of abiding in Him.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Faith...

I don't have anything astounding to write. I have some things I'm pondering about faith that have given me an urge to get it out of my system. If you're reading this, welcome to my head and feel free to jump ship at any moment!

One of the things I'm begging God to do in my life is to make me a woman of faith. I want to be able to trust Him with great big things...my deepest desires, the impossible, secrets that I don't share. I find it's easier for me to believe for breakthrough of His presence in giant rooms filled with people, to meet their needs in supernatural ways. It's easy for me to believe for provision and direction in the ministry He's called me to. But...to trust Him to see my own individual life apart from any ministry or function, is where I feel weak. I want it to be said of me at the end of my life that I was a person who understood and lived "be still and know that I AM God."

The book of Hebrews is one of my favorite books of the Bible...probably because it feels like an Old Testament book that snuck into the New Testament. The Old Testament makes me happy! I like Hebrews because it takes everything great in the Old Testament and layers the higher truth of the new covenant through Jesus Christ on top of it. One verse that has been haunting me for quite some time is Hebrews 11:6 -

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. 

This verse is so intense! Without faith...I cannot please God. His pleasure is the pursuit. To hear Him say, "well done good and faithful servant" or "this is My daughter, in whom I'm well pleased" is beyond music to my ears. But without faith this isn't attained...if I take this verse literally. If faith is something that is a struggle in life, than there is good reason why this verse is scary. Not only can I not please Him without it, but the final phrase, "He rewards those who seek Him," is also linked into faith. So, if I'm struggling to believe He'll breakthrough and reward me with the things I'm seeking Him for, than it's a double whammy because on top of that I'm not pleasing Him! AUGHGH!

I've been spending time reading the miracle stories of Jesus in the gospels. They make me curious. Stories of desperate people in desperate situations who moved the heart of the Messiah. Interestingly, many of them received healing, freedom from demonic oppression or breakthrough and either confessed they had little to no faith OR they weren't a disciple of Jesus before their encounter. Jesus met their needs and desires, not based on faith, but based on His love and compassion for them. Today in conversation with a friend, I finally understood something. Faith pleases God, it's true. But faith does not empower God to move. This has to be true because if faith was what empowered Him to move, it would be by our efforts and works that would bring about breakthrough...which is the complete opposite of faith. Faith is empty of works and effort.

Faith brings gladness to His heart. He loves when we trust His goodness. He loves when we depend on His ability and storehouse, rather than our own resources. Faith pleases Him because it's relationship. But, God doesn't rely on the strength of my faith to drive His love and compassion for my life.

 I don't think anything I'm writing here is that brilliant or filled with astounding wisdom. Sometimes I just have to get my musings down on a page to complete my thoughts and understanding.  I don't want to have faith to manipulate Him into moving or to bring about as the final product fulfillment of my desires. I want to have faith because it's His desire and it brings Him pleasure. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Want to Know Him - another Bob Sorge excerpt

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses - as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 
                 ~Hebrews 3:3

The first motivation of my heart is that I want to be with Him. And the reason I want to be with Him is this: I want to know Him! This is the second great motivation that I want to energize all that I do. I want to know Him "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

This is the passion that fills the breast of the saint who has been quickened to the beauty of Christ's face. Above all else, he longs desperately to know more of Christ.

Hebrews 3:3 says the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. Speaking of Christ, the writer is saying that the Creator of the universe has more honor than the universe itself. Jesus is more honorable, more glorious, more incredible than the universe He created! So take your pick of the created order - want to tour a far-off galaxy? Interested in exploring a supernova? As splendiferous as that may be, exploring the face of Jesus is even more exciting!

Motivation

If you're serving because you want to see souls saved, you'll probably get discouraged and quit. If, however, your motivation is to be with Jesus, then you'll never grow weary of reaching out to human needs. You'll be energized by the joy of fellowship with the Lord Jesus in the midst of the harvest field.
 ~Bob Sorge

Monday, July 12, 2010

the Father's heart...

The past few weeks at Redeemer we have been continuing our Jesus study by focusing on the crucifixion passages. Bob Sorge, author and former worship leader at IHOP, says that in order to mover further into the love of God you must become an obsessed scholar of the cross. If you want to understand what true love is, look at Jesus on the cross. It displays the love of the Son. It displays the love of the Father. It displays the love of the Holy Spirit.

Lately I've been wondering a lot about the Father's view of the cross. I find it's true of my life that I remember events often in comparison to the emotions that tied into those events. I have many memories of differing situations involving emotions of joy, delight, surprise, excitement. I also have memories of events tied to grief, sorrow, anger and disappointment. As memories arise I find that the emotions linked to those memories are often felt all over again. How is it with the Father every time He thinks about the cross?

Jesus is so clear that His mission here on earth was to only do what He saw the Father doing and to only say what He heard the Father speak. His final words here on earth were, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Even in death, Jesus was submitted to the will of His Father. What kind of delight and pleasure does the Father take in the Son? How intense is His love for Jesus? What emotions well up within His heart over the Messiah? God the Father will never forget the cross. Even eternity will not be able to wipe that event away from His memory. How often does the Father ponder the cross? What was He thinking during those 3 days as He watched His Son being mocked, tortured and murdered? How intense were His emotions?

I know that the event of the cross was orchestrated so that we faulty humans could gain the wondrous relationship with God. My life is set on the course to understand this grace and love more. But even in that, I can be so self-centered to believe it's only about me...that Jesus only had me on His mind; that the Father only was paying attention to...ME! Yet, lately I'm wondering if, regardless of the Father's omniscient knowledge of what the cross would accomplish, He was more grieved and devastated in the moment of Jesus' death than I could ever understand? To watch His precious Son so willingly obey His every heart's whim, even unto death...what does that do to a Father's heart?

As I've been asking these questions, the extent of the Father's sacrifice and love for me is beginning to sink in. May it continue to sink in deeper and deeper still.