Receiving the Desires of Your Heart

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Reading:                                     Psalm 37

Of David

(Verses 1-6)

Do not fret because of those who are evil     

or be envious of those who do wrong;

for like the grass they will soon wither,     

like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good;     

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the LORD,     

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;     

trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,     

your vindication like the noonday sun. (NIV)

 Reflection

What are the desires of your heart? What do you want more than anything else? Wealth? Fame? Power and influence? Is this what you want? We all have desires. Some are noble some are not. How we manage and direct our desires fundamentally determines the direction of our lives.

Lagoon 2014-08-23

Here in Psalm 37, David compares and contrasts the life of the evil person with the life of the individual who does right in God’s eyes. The differences are stark; this is a night and day comparison. But at its core, everything in life centers on the desires of our heart and how we handle them.

There is a promise embedded in this psalm: Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. It’s a promise that is well worth pondering.

Will the LORD grant us our desires if our desires are evil? Most certainly not! In Psalm 34 we read, “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth” (Psalm 34:16).

God’s promises are conditional. There is something required of us before the promise can take effect. In this case we are to “Take delight in the LORD.” What does that really mean?

If I take delight in someone, my wife for example, I enjoy being around her. It’s a delight to spend time with her. I take pleasure in the sound of her voice. I pay careful attention to her wishes and desires. Ah, there’s that word again, desires. If I take delight in the LORD, then my desires will align themselves with the LORD’s desires. I’ll be concerned about what He wants. My selfish desires will be tempered by my love for Him. He in turn will grant the desires of my heart because I love Him and want the best for Him and His eternal Kingdom.

It’s easy to get the desires of your heart, if your desires are His desires.

Response: LORD God, help me to delight myself in you. May I love what you love. Help me to recognize when my desires are right and wholesome, and when they are misdirected. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Your Turn: How do you keep your desires in check and in line with God?

Wholeness

davidkitz:

In the rush of life we need quiet times to refocus. Staci shares some excellent thoughts here to settle our hearts on the one who loves us always.

Originally posted on A God Coloured Girl in a Grey World:

Wholeness

Last week I posted a poem called, “Words, Mind, Emotions“, and shared how sometimes I find it difficult to calm my mind. I read something today that just hit me: “The world is so complex and over stimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction“. Do you find this to be true? I do.

I began writing the above recently. It’s a song and a prayer. When I get flustered, confused, worried, etc, I come to my secret place and meet with my creator, and He seems to have a special way of just breathing peace and new life into my heart. As if He’s saying, “I know you don’t understand it all. I know that the world bombards you, screaming their ideas and thoughts. My child, you will never understand it all. Rest in me and know that I have everything under control.”

Now…

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Everything Old is New Again

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About a month ago, my wife and I went for a leisurely Saturday drive out to the Carp Farmer’s Market about a half hour from Ottawa. It was one of those ideal summer mornings—perfect weather. We thoroughly enjoyed the displays of fresh produce and home-baked goods, but best of all we enjoyed sampling them. Surrounded by friendly faces and some live country music, who could ask for more?

But there was more. On the fairgrounds next to the farmer’s market antique autos were rolling into position for a 100+ vintage car exhibit. I’ve always revelled in these displays, so after a locally prepared midmorning snack, we sauntered over.

1932 Chevrolet

1932 Chevrolet

Now I admit I find early twentieth century cars fascinating, but for me, pure nostalgia draws me to the mid-century beauties of the 1950’s and ’60’s—the cars of my childhood and youth. Nothing says classic styling like the fins on a ’57 Chevy or a mid ’60’s Mustang.

1965 Ford Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang

But for me the real find—the pearl among the oysters—was a green 1953 Ford. Why did this car attract me like a magnet? It was the first car I remember—my father’s family car. I remember every detail about it from the chrome jet hood ornament to the Ford name crest on the trunk.

1953 Ford

1953 Ford

A thousand half-forgotten memories flooded back when I set eyes on that car. I was a one-year-old when Dad bought that car back in Saskatchewan. I cut my teeth in that old Ford and it was a central part of so many childhood memories. And here it was—a near perfect replica—sitting before some sixty years later. Furthermore, my name was on the license plate. How cool is that!

Ford 50th Anniversary Edition

Ford 50th Anniversary Edition

Unfortunately, over time we have lost so much. My father’s old Ford went to rust bucket heaven a decade or two after he drove it home from the dealer. Cars rust, fabric frays, memories fade. That’s why I draw so much comfort from this Bible verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This body of mine may be growing old and showing signs of wear, but in Christ I am being renewed every day. If there is resurrection and renewal for old cars, surely through faith in the risen Christ there is hope for this old body of mine. And if that be true there may even be hope for my Dad’s old 1951 pick-up truck stored in a shed in Saskatchewan, and my grandma’s bones stored in a grave a few miles away.  

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).

There’s hope and renewal for old Ford’s and Kitz’s too!

David Kitz is an award-winning author and Bible dramatist. For details on his book and drama ministry visit www.davidkitz.ca

Pride Says “I Would Never”

davidkitz:

There is a lot of wisdom in the words of James. This “Morning Meds” post is well worth a quick read and daily application.

Originally posted on Morning Meds (Take 1 each Morning with all the Prayer You Need):

God is waiting to show you the Way.

God is waiting to show you the Way.

13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. ​16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. —James 1:13-1​6​ (NLT)
​God never tempts us. So, if God isn’t tempting us, then where do those temptations originate? That’s right, they come from satan. We know that satan was allowed to tempt Jesus with promises of wealth and grandeur. Jesus, being human, yet perfect, did not give in to those temptations. Why? Because Jesus had one desire and that was to please our Father, God. We are not perfect…

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Do you know God?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 36

(Verses 10-12)

Continue your love to those who know you,     

your righteousness to the upright in heart.

May the foot of the proud not come against me,     

nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.

See how the evildoers lie fallen—     

thrown down, not able to rise! (NIV)

Reflection

Do you know God? Are you well acquainted with Him and His ways? Are you in regular conversation with Him? I ask these questions because in this concluding portion of Psalm 36 David prays, “Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.”

Knowing God is or should be the great quest of our lives. This is our raison d’etre—our reason for being. We were created to know and love God. The Garden of Eden was first and foremost a place of communion with God. Yet so often we see ourselves running from God, or ignoring His invitation to draw close.

Eden Walk -- David Kitz

Eden Walk — David Kitz

Jesus gives us this warning, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

From Jesus statement here, there appear to be two requirements for entering the Kingdom of Heaven: doing the will of the Father and knowing Jesus. I would argue that truly knowing Jesus helps us to discover and do the will of the Father. If you know someone really well you know what they want—what will please them—without even asking. We need to aim for that kind of intimacy with God.

We come to know the mind of God because we have drawn close to the heart of God through time spent with Him. Prayer and meditation on His word acquaints us with His will and His ways.

God is not impressed by our prophetic or miraculous powers. He is not impressed by our power over demons. These after all are gifts from Him. God is impressed by our obedience as we seek His face and His will.

Our God is faithful. He will continue His love to those who know Him. His righteousness will constantly flow to the upright in heart.

Response: LORD God, give me a humble heart that seeks after you. Show me your ways, O Lord. Give me a hunger for your word. I want to know you more and more. Help me to do the Father’s will today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Your Turn: How do you get to know God better? What practices grow your faith and knowledge of God?

Are you drinking from the River of Delights?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 36

(Verses 5-9)

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,     

your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,     

your justice like the great deep.     

You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!     

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;     

you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;     

in your light we see light. (NIV)

 Reflection

As mentioned in my previous post, Psalm 36 is a psalm of contrasts. David compares the wickedness of man with the amazing goodness of God. The opening portion of Psalm 36 touches on the depravity of man. In today’s reading we behold the awesome love and kindness of God.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. The beautiful poetry of those words sends me off on a Rocky Mountain high.

Banff-

Banff-Lake Louise Tourism

God’s love is reflected in the beauty of his creation. He nestled us into a world of incredible beauty and variety. From the grandeur of the mountains to the minute sea fauna, God is there—sustaining all—reigning over all. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

Park Walk --David Kitz

Park Walk –David Kitz

God’s unfailing love stands in sharp contrast to man’s rapacious capacity for hate and destruction. We glory in war, death and bloodshed as though these are great accomplishments, when in fact they are a failure in love and forgiveness—the attributes of God. Yet despite these failures God showers us with His love and goodness. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.

It is worth noting that God is the source of the river of delights. Just as any good father enjoys bringing pleasure to his children, so too our Heavenly Father delights in bringing joy to us. He is not stingy in His love, but overflowing with generosity, in many cases providing more than we can handle.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. The LORD is the author and source of all life. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Only in Him and through Him do we see the light of day and the light of life. To God be praise forever more!

Response: LORD God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your great love and faithfulness to me. Let your light shine in me and through me today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you been drinking from God’s river of delights?

Is self-flattery your worst enemy?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 36

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.

(Verses 1-4)

I have a message from God in my heart     

concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves     

too much to detect or hate their sin.

The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;     

they fail to act wisely or do good.

Even on their beds they plot evil;     

they commit themselves to a sinful course     

and do not reject what is wrong. (NIV)

Reflection

Psalm 36 is a psalm of contrasts. David compares the wickedness of man with the amazing goodness of God. This opening portion of the Psalm 36 touches only on the depravity of man. The picture we see of ourselves is not particularly flattering.

According to David the problem begins with our eyes. He states, “There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”

The sinful man has a vision problem. He cannot see the dire consequences of his sin. Sin exacts a terrible price. Consider the lives wrecked by addiction to alcohol, drugs or pornography. Furthermore, the damage is not limited to those caught in the terrible grip of sin. It overflows and contaminates all those around. Sin blinds the eyes so we cannot see the suffering we are causing to ourselves and others.

Over time, even so called “small” sins can exact a heavy toll on our lives. Often in subtle ways sin robs us of intimacy, peace and joy. While we are blind to the problem, sin interferes with our relationship with God and those who are near to us. Daily, one should be asking oneself, do I have the right view of myself. In my mind am I flattering myself too much to detect or hate my sin? Have I become blind to my faults?

There is a biblical prescription for the blindness caused by our sinful condition. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding (Psalm 111:10). The fear of the LORD opens our eyes. The fear of the LORD leads to repentance and the fear of the LORD enlightens our understanding.

What is keeping you from intimacy, joy and peace? Is it a plethora of secret sins that blind and bind you into unhealthy patterns of thinking? Ask God to give you a right view—an unflattering view of yourself—so that with His help you can change.

Response: LORD God, help me to see a true picture of myself. If I see sin in my life, help me to change. Grant me the gift of repentance through Jesus, who loved me to the point of death on a cross. Amen.

Your Turn: In our mind, all of us flatter ourselves. How do you maintain a right picture of yourself?

We Advance Ourselves by Advancing Others

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Reading:                                     Psalm 35

 (Verses 26-28)

May all who gloat over my distress     

be put to shame and confusion;

may all who exalt themselves over me     

be clothed with shame and disgrace.

May those who delight in my vindication     

shout for joy and gladness;

may they always say, “The LORD be exalted,     

who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,     

your praises all day long. (NIV)

Reflection

Psalm 35 draws to a close with this warning against Schadenfreude: May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace.

David Kitz as Centurion

David Kitz as the Centurion

So what is Schadenfreude you ask? Dictionary.com defines Schadenfreude as satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. It is a compound German word: Schaden harm + Freude joy. In other words, Schadenfreude is the joy you may feel when hearing about another person’s calamity. Schadenfreude can be viewed as the ladder-climber’s delight in seeing others fall behind. Far too often it manifests in the false assumption that we can advance ourselves by putting others down. The truth is we advance ourselves by advancing others. Advancing by putdowns has no firm foundation and usually ends badly because pride precedes a fall, just as darkness follows sunset.

Are you exalting yourself at the expense of others? If so, take some time to repent. Do your best to repair the damaged relationships that result from such behavior.

Paul, the apostle, gives us this advice: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans12:14-16).

Take joy in the success of others rather than resenting their achievements. Let their successes ignite within you a desire for self-improvement. With God’s help change what you can within yourself before looking to change others. We all have a room in our heart that needs some renovation.

Then with David we can rejoice when others succeed. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

Response: Father God, give me a heart of thanksgiving. Grant me a pure heart with pure motives. May I always delight in the well-being of your servants. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you suffer from a bad case of Schadenfreude?

Are you a peacemaker?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 35

 (Verses 22-25)

LORD, you have seen this; do not be silent.     

Do not be far from me, Lord.

Awake, and rise to my defense!     

Contend for me, my God and Lord.

Vindicate me in your righteousness, LORD my God;     

do not let them gloat over me.  

Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”     

or say, “We have swallowed him up.” (NIV)

 Reflection

There’s an old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That certainly is true of the conflict in the Holy Land. About 3,000 years ago, in David’s time the Kingdom of Israel was in a struggle for survival. Chief among its enemies were the Philistines along the Gaza coast. Today as I write this post, Israel’s chief enemy Hamas is firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza coast.

David’s words from Psalm 35 have a present day resonance. LORD, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Many in present day Israel are praying this prayer with the fervour of those who are being attacked.

But the residents of Gaza could pray this prayer with equal fervour. Their homes and businesses are also under bombardment. Where is God in all this suffering? Whose side is He on? Many in the Christian community affirm with great confidence that God is on the side of Israel. Does that make God complicit in the deaths of innocent children in Gaza?

Jesus gave this counsel to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:38-39). Present day Israel (and America for that matter) has a well-established policy of hard-hitting retaliation when attacked. What are the long term consequences of this policy? Is the conflict resolved or is it inflamed?

Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek goes unheeded. Most feel that turning the other cheek implies weakness. In reality it requires far more strength, but in the end it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness—not a righteousness that insists on its own way—but a righteousness that sees both sides of an issue and works hard for peace and reconciliation.

Jesus asks us to do the far harder thing. Retaliation is easy. It’s the natural response. Forgiving when we are wronged, that requires far more effort. Whose side is God on? He is on the side of peace. That’s something worth fighting for.

Response: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9). Lord God, help me to be a peacemaker in my world today. Amen.

Your Turn: Forgiveness and turning the other cheek works on a personal level. Can it work on an international level as well?

Learning in the “School of Hard Knocks”

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Reading:                                       Psalm 35

 (Verses 17-21)

How long, LORD, will you look on?     

Rescue me from their ravages,     

my precious life from these lions.  

I will give you thanks in the great assembly;     

among the throngs I will praise you.

Do not let those gloat over me     

who are my enemies without cause;

do not let those who hate me without reason     

maliciously wink the eye.

They do not speak peaceably,     

but devise false accusations     

against those who live quietly in the land.

They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha!     

With our own eyes we have seen it.” (NIV)

Reflection

This portion of Psalm 35 begins with David’s cry for help, “How long, LORD, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.”

Briton Riviere -- Daniel in the Lions' Den

Briton Riviere — Daniel in the Lions’ Den

When I am in distress, help can never arrive too soon. I want an instant answer from God. Better yet, He should have pre-empted this disappointment—this disaster. But often God doesn’t instantly ride to our rescue. If poor choices are the cause of our distress, He may let us experience the consequences of our folly. When you are enrolled in “The School of Hard Knocks” the test comes first and then you learn the lesson. Often patient endurance brings about an invaluable change in character through the work of the Holy Spirit. James, the brother of our Lord, reminds us of this truth:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

But all of our troubles do not come as a result of bad decisions on our part. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7). Job reminds us that even the good and the just will at times face suffering. Anyone who tells you differently is not being faithful to the full counsel of scripture. Satan severely tested Job, but he remained firm in his faith.

When hardships come will you stand firm? When the haughty accuse can you bear it? David felt the sting of false accusation. They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” 

Thanks be to God. We can bring our trials and burdens to the Lord in prayer.

Response: Lord, you know the troubles and trials that I face daily. You are my help and my strength. I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you learn from God’s word or from “The School of Hard Knocks” or from both?

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