ONE MORNING THE MUSIC JUST STOPPED AND THEN…

LOOKING BACK ON THAT ‘ONE PARTICULAR MORNING’:

And The Music Stopped
And The Music Stopped

The week before the awakening of a particular  Sunday Morning– after the pastor’s message, my wife and I headed towards the church parking lot. I found myself in a quandary. Why had his words fell flat in my hearing?  I was feeling the pastor’s presentation was being directed to a younger generation; my age group was being totally ignored, disrespected and my feelings were hurt . The more I thought about it as I left that day, the more outraged and disenchanted I became.

On arriving at our car, I opened the passenger side of the car for my wife (yep, after 48 years of marriage…I still open doors), then went around to the driver’s side and sat quiet in thought, as my hands rested on the steering wheel and finding myself in a trance.

My wife asked if I was alright.  My response was hesitant in the beginning, and then… the floodgates opened wide.  I told her I was dismayed with the Sunday morning message…then proceeded giving her all the reasons why this young pastor had missed the boat; he was preaching to the wrong audience.  Maybe it would be better to just skip this series of pastor’s messages.  I also went on to ask, “And besides…What did we get out of worship this morning?”  I’ll rephrased the question: “What did I…get out of worship this morning?”

— Needed counseling began that afternoon... 

Later that day, by the prompting of the Spirit of God, I realized that I had entered a designated place… of PRAISE & WORSHIP– out of my own needs, my selfish motives, without even thinking why I was there in the first place–to give PRAISE to Who praise was due.

–the following Sunday morning.

So Holy Spirit  urged me to go to church the following Sunday.  I knew He had something in mind.  I was to go with a  blank slate and not… with a predetermined outcome. I reluctantly obeyed.

To my surprise, the pastor didn’t continue with his message from last week. He had the flu all week and was unable continue in his message series.  Since our pastor also leads the music on Sunday mornings, I sang out with everything I had with voice and spirit– with my focus on who God is and the glory due His name.  Not the glory due to pastor…nor to my feelings, but to God’s Presence.

And after the music and singing stopped in the sanctuary, with my hands raised and head bowed, I waited IN SILENCE until praise began to rise in the heart of the people.  GUESS WHAT?  God turned up!

— It’s not about me, it’s all about You Jesus…

One of my favorite worship songs is a song that comes out of this tune by Matt Redman’s HEART OF WORSHIP:

When the music fades and all is stripped away,

and I simply come, longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart.

I bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required, You search much deeper within, than the things appear, You’re looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship and its all about You Jesus.

I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, cause its all about you, all about you Jesus.

It’s not our singing that brings a change in the Atmosphere, it is our PRAISE and WORSHIP!

EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE:

Even though God is OMNISCIENT…”the attribute by which God perfectly and eternally knows all things that can be known past, present and future” [NIV Bible Dictionary]–He can and does manifest His presence in a realistic way in a place or in the midst of His congregation. We have to look for it!

“But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]”  (Psalm 22:3 AMP).

— When God shows up, the atmosphere changes!  Things happen!

ASCRIBE TO the Lord, O sons of the mighty,  Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord is over many waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful, The voice of the Lord is majestic.

The voice of the Lord breaks cedars;  Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;  The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve,  And strips the forests bare,  And in His temple everything says,  “Glory!”

The Lord sat as King at the flood;  Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.  The Lord will give strength to His people;  The Lord will bless His people with peace  (PSALM 29 NAS).

— When we release a sound of praise, the Earth must respond.  God’s Voice is manifested! 

When Israel was ordered by the Lord, into ranks and tribes…

When they crossed the Red Sea…

Whenever they moved forward and traveled on in their journey (Numbers 2)…

Whenever they went to war (Judges 1:1-2)…

Whenever they were called to stand before the Lord…

ONE TRIBE always took the lead position–JUDAH

JUDAH in the Hebrew means PRAISE.  So what the Lord was saying, in asking the Tribe of Judah to take the lead role was…PRAISE always leads us into the things of God.

— God’s Presence isn’t just a place to visit:

And the Lord said,  My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest  (Exodus 33:14).

JUDAH must go first!  PRAISE must go first in our lives as well!

— Our church

— Our Ministries

— Our cities

— Our Nation

“What are the benefits in The Presence?”

One of the first questions asked in a job offer are these words.  We are living in a “benefit-oriented” society; everyone wanting to know, “What’s in it for me?”

We don’t seem to realize that we are missing out on a greater source of benefits coming from living and dwelling in the PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

EVERYTHING you could ever need or want can be found in THE PRESENCE of the Lord.

— Do you need healing today?  You will find it in His Presence!

— Do you need provision today?  You’ll find it in His Presence!

It’s so simple, yet many Christians are missing out on the powerful truth.  It’s so amazing that many believers fail to exercise or practice God’s Presence.

Think about it.  Everyday in making decisions, we say no to God’s offer of fellowship and choosing instead, filling our minds with TV, gossip and mindless recreation.  Am I saying all of that is bad?  Not at all.  But if it takes or gets in the way of His Presence…you make the decision.

Results of Training and Practicing God’s Presence…

“TRAIN YOURSELF…For physical training is of some value, but godliness [practicing GOD’S PRESENCE] has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”       (1 Timothy 4:8 NIV–and my words added in the brackets).

— The experiencing of God’s Presence is the consciousness of His presence.

“And the Lord said,  My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you REST ” (Exodus 33:14).

God’s Presence isn’t just a place you visit…it moves with you wherever you go!  In fact, Moses goes on to say to God, I’m not moving from this spot until Your Presence goes with me:

“And Moses said to the Lord,  If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! ” (Exodus 33:15).

Can you imagine yourself saying tomorrow morning before your day begins, Lord…I’m not going to start my day without Your Presence going ahead of me!

GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS:

Experiencing God’s Presence is the direct consciousness of God’s Presence in our lives.  It’s not making God become present on Sunday morning’s Worship and Praise, but it’s becoming more aware of the Holy Presence that is here and now!

One of the ways, the most basic, most powerful in experiencing the Presence of God is through His Word.  How?

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself”  (John 1:1 AMP).

GOD AND HIS WORD ARE INSEPARABLE!

 When you are in the presence of the Word, you are in the Presence of God.

Something powerful happens when you spend quality time in your Bible.  Something happens to your heart;  it feeds your spirit, changes you right where you are and continues to actively work in you, even after you close the Book and walk away.

— Benefits of Two Partners Found In God’s Presence:

“Glory and honour are in His presence…”  (1 Chronicles 16:27 KJV).

GLORY – the God-kind, appears any time something promised in the Word is manifested [made visible] in the physical realm.

AN EXAMPLE: When HEALING, as promised in God’s Word (Scripture), comes into someones life, that’s GLORY!

Where can you go to see the GLORY of God manifested…made visible in your life?  According to the above verse, when you enter into the Presence! THAT…is a definitive BENEFIT!

— GLORY HAS A PARTNER:  HONOR

What kind of HONOR? The HONOR OF GOD.

[4] “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earth-born] man that You care for him?  

[5] Yet You have made him but a little lower than God, and You have [crowned] him with GLORY and HONOR”  (Psalm 8:4, 5 AMP). 

SOME PRACTICAL STEPS IN “PRACTICING AWARENESS OF GOD’S PRESENCE”:

— What works for one, doesn’t mean it works for every one.

Being aware of God’s Presence is not some kind of formula.  I haven’t spent much time before this blog-post, in analyzing what I do to be more aware.  I like to think it’s a work in progress.

These are but a few STEPS that I practice:

STEP #1.  Make sure my awareness is not required by anything or by anyone else.  EX.: i’M NOT DRIVING A CAR, CROSSING A STREET, TALKING WITH SOME ONE ELSE–or, with myself  for that matter :-).  Nothing that requires my attention.

STEP #2.  I always practice my awareness in a quiet place; where I am not likely to be interrupted.  

AWARENESS and ATTENTION are fleeting,jumping from one thing to another; one thought to another.  I wish some churches who initiate “fellowship time” right after Worship and Praise on Sunday mornings, would re-evaluate their practice.  

So, a quiet place with few distractions works best for me. 

STEP #3.  I close my eyes.  Visual stimuli are distracting for me.  Maybe it’s is just my age :-).  The fewer the distractions, the more aware I become.

STEP #4.  I turn my attention away from the daily activities in my life.  I turn my attention towards God’s Presence in the ‘right now’.  I sometimes have to take a deep breath and relax.  Then start praising God in the Spirit of Who He is!  Giving thanks that God so loves us “that each of us is in God’s Presence.” 

So What Works For You?

Use your own creativity.  It may be that the awareness you might have is unique to you.

In closing, my responsibility is to be aware of God’s Presence.  I don’t somehow conjure up God in doing magical things that might cause God to be present in the moment.  That’s already done for me, and, I believe for all.

It is up to me to do something about this Presence–not the pastors–not the music team–not the congregation–to reap the benefits available of God’s Glory; healing, provision, etc.

The “ball is in my court”, as, I believe, it’s in yours.  So let ‘JUDAH PRAISE’ lead out, and then start practicing–being aware–of God’s Presence in your life.  And maybe one Sunday morning, the music will stop…and you too will be aware of His Presence manifested in your Tabernacle.  It’s a work in progress for me and I hope it will for you.

IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part two)

(Part Two) – Looking Further Into the Qualities of God in Remembering:

GOD’S IMMANENCE: God’s presence in Creation–a personal and relational God.

In PART ONE, we discussed how in the midst of circumstances–when we become disappointed, perplexed (baffled, confused, mystified), and disillusioned with where we find our self in life.  FEAR often sets in to our spirit; of what is going to happen to us and our family.  We get the wrong images of and misbelief about who God is, which then keeps us from God’s presence.

FEAR Casts out LOVE–

“There is no fear in love, [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love”  (1 John 4:18 AMP).

GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16):

God’s IMMANENCE is how He is unwavering; determined to be with us. close to us and for us.  We have a LOVING COMPASSIONATE GOD who chose to be attentive to our pleading cries IN THE MIDST…forgiving and merciful.

‘God Believers’ in Old Testament (First Kings 8)–

GOD shows His goodness through fulfilling everything He promised David.

There were visible signs of encouragement!

— a throne…Solomon reigning.

— a new magnificent Temple.

The people were EXPECTING God to not only stay or tabernacle with them as before; not to actually dwell, but abide–settle permanently in a House as it were (Solomon’s Temple).  Or as The Message Bible reads: “move into the neighborhood”–to stay with them forever!

Yet, was there some selfishness to this motive?  Did they want to keep God for themselves under their control somehow?  Do we?

How patient and longsuffering do you think God is?

Most believe that God would bless us if obedient and good; did what God wanted, but do you believe God would bless you with His goodness, even if you chose the total opposite of what He wanted, even when you failed Him over and over again?

I made an amazing discovery in my WORD Detective investigation from this Biblical story,  God does just that…remembering that prayers are inspired by God’s Spirit; a gift of His grace & prompting…we see very interesting words God puts in Solomon’s mouth (1 Kings 8:22-53).  Solomon actually prayed for God’s mercy from all the consequences the nation of Israel were going to experience from the people’s sins.

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The people disobeyed ALL THE WARNINGS; chose curses instead of blessings.  But God already knew this, since He spoke about this very thing through Moses in Deuteronomy 28–warning the people of the consequences and rewards of disobedience and obedience–through blessings and curses. 

God’s Presents Us with Choices and His Recommendation:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the BLESSINGS and the CURSES; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live  (Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP).

Wrong Choices Made–

Everyone of the disasters that Solomon prayed about in 1 Kings 8, actually happened as a consequence of wrong choices & actions:

— Defeat by Enemy Forces,

— Drought,

— Famine,

— Pestilence,

— Natural Disasters,

— and Plenty of Wars.

Do any of the items listed above sound familiar in our world today?

It all culminates in a nation of God’s people, going into exile… and as Psalm 89 says, rather than becoming a nation where foreigners are attracted to come and pray, Israel and Jerusalem become an object of mockery and ridicule (just as God warned Solomon in 1 Kings 9:6-9):

[8] This house shall become a heap of ruins; every passerby shall be astonished and shall hiss [with surprise] and say,  Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?  [9] Then they will answer,  Because they forsook the Lord their God,  Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have laid hold of other gods and have worshiped and served them; therefore the Lord has brought on them all this evil  (1 Kings 9:8-9 AMP).

The people were in a long-term state of sinning against God and yet…God turned this kingship into a blessing and fully redeemed it through JESUS; who is the true Son of David, the Promised King of Kings–whose reign of shalom peace will never end.  He is the anointed Savior, who sacrificed himself for us; extends His forgiveness to full restoration to you and I.

A LEGACY TO DAVID:

God gave the throne and enduring kingdom, a legacy to David in spite of his sinfulness.  God allowed Solomon to build the temple and promised to all–His presence to be present in this man-made temple, even though He couldn’t be contained, even in the vastness of the universe.  All of this in spite of Solomon and the mixed motives of the people trying to box Him in–to domesticate Him for their own benefit.

Though God knew of Solomon’s upcoming actions, even though he was given the gift of wisdom–even wrote the Book of Proverbs–yet he would later live foolishly, turning his heart away after many other loves and hundreds of wives and concubines–worshiping false idols from many nations that came along with them.

GOD, His name, the temple and the worship of God is not a commodity to be used as a means for our own selfish ends, yet that is what Solomon and the people of Israel made them.

You might be asking the question at this point of the series, “What’s all of this have to do with me and my life as it is right now…IN THE MIDST, as you call it?”

Wisdom Given…

WISDOM is not a possession!  It is a gift and we can lose it… if we let go of the reverence for God, the Lord of our lives.  It’s a slow fade when we give ourselves and our hearts away.

No one demonstrates this erosion in his life more fully than king Solomon:

He did everything that God warned the kings not to do–

Solomon Examples: misusing power; amassing weapons, riches, wives; let his heart go astray; lost his reverence for God; turning away from following the Law…

All of the above and more, because he proudly considered himself better than other people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

And yet, God is still merciful–

Later in life, Solomon writes Ecclesiastes, realizing all the mistakes he has made in the past; how he’s wasted his life chasing after many dreams and desires that turned out to be illusions…all is vanity and futility without God.  He repents and at the end of his life realizes that worshiping God is indeed, above everything else.

You can also regain WISDOM and God’s MERCY and His relentless LOVE restored IF…you return to God, the source of ALL GOOD THINGS, including wisdom and love.

God even blesses us when we choose to go against Him.  Are you surprised?

The Israelites wanted a king

God never intended for His people to have or need a king.  But the Israelites saw their neighbors had kings, so they prayed to God…We need one too!  Kind of like keeping up with the Jones of the neighborhood.  God even told them if He gave them a kings, they would be sorry.  My mom and dad told me the same when I was a child–You will be sorry Mel.  They knew ahead of time the consequences that came along with my request.

Our Heavenly Father lets us have what our flesh desires…even when He warns us about the harmful consequences to us.  And it breaks His heart and hurts Him in the process.

In His heart of LOVE, He is constantly waiting for you, aching with yearning for your return to His presence with outstretched arms, ready to give you a ‘big hug’!  [The Parable of the Prodigal Son–Luke 15:11-32]. 

Is it too late?

Maybe you are reading this blog series, thinking that it’s too late.  You’ve failed miserably in this mess you call life–disappointed, perplexed and disillusioned.  You might be feeling there’s no turning back, or some sinful habits or patterns or ways that you think or believe about yourself–in the midst of all of what you’re going through right now.  Feelings of rejection, low-self-esteem, hurts, trauma; that keeps you emotionally bound–STRONGHOLDS–that plague your life that you just can’t seem to overcome.

THE PROMISE:  With Our God Comes GRACE, MERCY, HOPE, FORGIVENESS–

With our God, who is patient and kind, full of Grace and Mercy, there is HOPE!  God will hear and He will FORGIVE:

2 Chronicles 7:14, God gives the PROMISE:

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves,

pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face

and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven,

forgive their sin, and heal their land.

I like to think that God’s promise in the above verse is conditional — with the use of the word...”IF”:

IF…YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF,

IF…YOU PRAY,

IF…YOU SEEK,

IF…YOU CRAVE,

IF..YOU REQUIRE OF NECESSITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE–HIS FACE,

IF…YOU REPENT–TURN FROM WICKED WAYS,

THEN–and only then, will God hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal their land.

Back to the beginning–The story of Adrian Plass (part one):

The youth worker’s life was seen as a field of overrun weeds and bramble…a wasteland…and he was feeling hopeless.  But the man of God goes on and says,

But wait…I see fire burning up the weeds and then ashes being put back into the soil and now the soil is enriched with all that was burned up.  And the Lord puts a sign over this field…

“NOTHING SHALL BE WASTED”

Philippians 3:13-14 AMP:

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

The Lord desires to pour out on us ALL THE BLESSINGS and JOYS in Him that we’ve missed or missing IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  Yet He doesn’t make it all up with outpourings alone!  These “outpourings” become “overflowing s” in our life:

And the [threshing] floors shall be full of grain and the vats shall overflow with juice [of the grape] and oil”  (Joel 2:24 AMP).

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they [YOU] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

IN THE MIDST–Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part one)

What Do We Do With A False Sense Of Security?

The Story of Adrian Plass–

I want to begin this post with a story of a church youth worker–it could be any dedicated Christian worker involved in ministry:

A youth worker had been involved for years of zealous ministry, burning both ends of the candle in the needs of inner-city youth and he “burnt out”.  He had a complete emotional breakdown, became so depressed, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward to recover.

During his stay he started to keep a diary as part of therapy in reflecting on his past life and present.  At a certain time, he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to seek out a certain man of God who lived in another city.  He made an appointment with the man and traveled there.

This man of God sat down with him to pray, then he paused in listening prayer,  “God has shown me a picture of a field overrun with weeds, thorns and brambles.  THIS FIELD REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE.”

This burnt out young man thought,  “Oh that’s great!  That’s my life alright.  Nothing but weeds.  That’s how God sees my life…a useless wasteland.”

Overrun with WEEDS and BRAMBLE
Overrun with WEEDS and BRAMBLE

A STUDY IN 1 KINGS 8:

Some Questions before the journey begins–

— Have you been perplexed and disillusioned, or even now, experiencing these feelings, of “being in the weeds”?

— Are you disappointed at God in the midst of pain and suffering?

— Are you thinking or have thought God is punishing you for something in your past?

Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned?

You are not alone if you are asking yourself questions.  We have all, at one time or another, been stuck with the WHY’S...why is this happening to me?  I’ve read in my Bible almost every day–I go to church, even when I don’t feel like it–I pray and do good to others–so WHY NOW LORD?

An important exercise to begin–

Reflecting, remembering and looking back over your life can sometimes be trying–making sense of how you started with the promises, the dreams and ideals that God gave you.  Maybe you tried to make sense of  God’s promises in your given given situation, trying to remember how God revealed Himself,  in light of  where He was clearly leading in His promises.  So what went wrong along the way?

The Journey Begins–THE BIBLICAL BACKGROUND FIRST:

The referenced story in The First Book Of Kings, is written by someone who asked himself and his people the same question:  WHAT WENT WRONG?

They’re in EXILE looking back at their history, trying to make sense of where they find themselves.

Jerusalem, their Holy City, has been ransacked and in ruin.  Their Temple has been destroyed by foreign powers, they’ve all been taken captive, including the former King (David’s descendant) and now they are living in a foreign land with resident aliens.  This was oppression of an empire, who usually was not sympathetic to them, their values or their God.

AND NOW… they were trying to think back where God made some important promises of enduring Kingship of David’s descendants, a Temple that was to be the center of worship; where God’s name and Presence remain forever.

Background of The Temple–

DAVID wanted to build GOD a Temple worthy of worshiping Him.  Instead, God promised him a legacy of an enduring house or Kingly dynasty.

GOD also told DAVID that his son would build the Temple.  So David spent many years preparing for that glorious day, collecting materials and articles for this Temple to be.

Solomon comes to the throne–

In the midst of struggle, who among David’s sons would become King?  The aging King David (with God’s prompting), selects Solomon.  Solomon starts construction in the 4th year of his reign and it takes 7 1/2 years and thousands of laborers/artisans to complete the task; including being completely covered…in costly gold.

THE PASSAGE (1 Kings 8):

Finally finishing the task, King Solomon calls all of Israel’s leaders and ‘common folk‘ to join in celebration of the big national Autumn Feast of Tabernacles and the dedication of the Temple; asking God’s Presence to dwell with His people–symbolized especially by bringing up of the Ark of the Covenant–representing God’s Sinai covenant given with the Law to Moses (the Torah) to all the people delivered from Egyptian slavery.

Temple Dedication–

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Solomon’s Temple

This day was one of the most glorious days in the History of Israel.  The people finally have peace (David had conquered ALL their enemies in his 40 years of reign)…and, they had a consolidated kingdom with the pinnacle of success, power, wealth, and international renown.

First, the qualities of God–

Let’s look together at some qualities shown about God in this passage of Scripture.  I hope you have your Bible close by so we can look together.

Wrong images of and misbeliefs about God keep us from God presence, because FEAR CASTS OUT LOVE!

1.  GOD’S TRANSCENDENCE.

I used my ROGET’S THESAURUS for the above ‘fancy word’.  It means, God is way beyond us with all His qualities and attributes–ALL- KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL, MAJESTIC, way beyond our limited understanding to grasp Him and who He is.  That said, in the time of the Old Testament, the acceptable means of worshiping was in sacrificing animals by fire.  The “how big” and “how much” to offer, was in order to express and give a sense of how powerful you imagined this Great God to be and what He is worth.

“King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel who had assembled before him were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, so many that they could not be reported or counted”  (1 Kings 8:5 AMP).

How much did it cost them in money and time to worship God?  How costly is our worship?

A Heavy Impenetrable Cloud and the Bright Shining Glory Filled the Temple–

God’s presence filled the house so much that the ministering priests could not enter to do any work (1 Kings 8:10-11).  In a parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3  says, that after Solomon prayed, fire came down from heaven and consumed the offering and sacrifices.

Fire Came Down
Fire Came Down

How would you feel about God in your next week’s worship service or after your prayer time at home, God sent fire down in front of your eyes?

WHEN SOLOMON had finished praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.  The priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.  And when all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed with their faces upon the pavement and worshiped and praised the Lord saying,  For He is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever”  (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

I highlighted the people’s words, for the purpose of remembering in life’s journey, while…IN THE MIDST–Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  HOLD THAT THOUGHT.

One way of becoming complacent in our lives–in the midst–is when we lose our reverence for God.  Can you bring to mind right now, specific times that moved you deeply in beauty and awe of wonderment over God and His works?  The bible says the natural created world and the heavens, declare and reveal the glory of the Creator–give revelation of His splendor of His character (Psalm 19:11; 5:11; 108:5; Isaiah 6:3; Romans 1:20).

One Starry Night…

Several years ago, my wife and I celebrated our Wedding Anniversary at a B & B (bed and breakfast inn) in Leavenworth, Washington USA.  After dinner in town, we drove back to this wonderful re-created Swiss Chalet, and when we got out of the car, Dianne said Look up into the sky and see what an awesome God we have.

A Stary Night
A Starry Night

In the night sky, looking up was millions of stars, galaxies…millions of light years away…in a vast Universe.  Maybe sometimes, we have lost sight of the awesomeness of God…who cannot be contained because we have so timed and domesticated our view of God.  Maybe we have lost our wonderment along the journey–in the midst of disappointments, perplexities and disillusionment’s.  Just maybe we need to ask God to help us to recover this wonderment.  Only when we realize God’s grandeur, do we realize the tremendous sacrifice He made to stoop to care about us in His vast Universe.  Do we think we can control or domesticate this awesome God, put Him into our own boxes; try to manipulate Him in our agendas, in our timing as if He had to do our bidding?

THE SCENE OF WORSHIP:

It’s hard to believe from that scene of worship presented in 1 Kings, that Solomon and God’s people would so deteriorate into that very same thing I just mentioned.

In Jeremiah, the people eroded to an illusion because they had the Temple; that their salvation was secure and God was somehow bound to bless them–keep them safe–nothing bad would happen–no matter what their behavior was.

The PRIDE of Being Chosen…

In the Hebrew, there are several words mentioned for the English word PRIDE.  One in particular is the Hebrew word ga’on: “arrogance, presumptuousness, haughtiness, conceit.”

There were several reasons the Israelites would give us if we were there for their PRIDE:

— Having the ‘Golden Temple’.

— God’s Presence.

— Kingdom power.

— SUCCESS.

— Well Fed.

— PROSPEROUS.

The people had been lulled into falsely thinking that ALL WAS WELL.  This was their False Security–they took all of God’s blessings and God for granted as a given–that could be demanded as a right.

WHAT IS OUR “FALSE SECURITY” IN THE MIDST?

Ronald Rolheiser in “The Shattered Lantern” states:

“To be a saint [or one of God’s people] is to be motivated by GRATITUDE, nothing more and nothing less.  In the end gratitude is the root of all virtue.  It lies at the base of love and charity…  Essentially the condition is this:  God tells Adam and Eve that they may receive life as a gift but they may never take life as if it were theirs by right…as long as you continue to receive and respect reality as gift, it will continue to give you life and goodness.  Conversely, as soon as you attempt actively to seize it, life will decrease and there will be shame, loss harmony, pain, death and loss of proper connection with God…LOVE can only be received as a gift.”

This mysterious God is GOD…

High above us, so Holy, He will not be domesticated with our agendas.  He wants us to RESPOND to Him, not with fear and distance, but in GRATITUDE and LOVE.

A Dog and Lion Story…

Years ago, I was an owner of an English Mastiff dog.  A dog at adulthood, who weighed 210 pounds and stood at 34 inches at his shoulders.  In coming up with a good name for him, I found in a dog breed book on English Mastiffs, that ‘as a Lion was to the cat family…English Mastiffs were to the dog family’.  So we named him ASLAN.  If you are acquainted with C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, you get the picture.

GOD is like the Lion, ASLAN:  the King of all Beasts.  He is not tame but He is good! 

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is GOOD TO ALL: and His tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145).

God’s MERCY is “over all His works”!  Everything He does is based on mercy.  When He heals you, it’s because of His mercy.  When He gives you the finances to pay a bill, it is because of mercy.  Even your salvation–the act of being born again–is based on mercy.  The apostle Paul said it this way:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:   Not of works, lest any man should boast”  (Ephesians 2:8, 9 KJV).

God’s character shows His goodness, but do we believe God cares that we can approach Him and actually have intimacy with Him?  God’s presence in creation doesn’t mean that He winds up creation like a watch and then sits back to watch it run.

I will continue this series in PART TWOGOD’S IMMANENCE.