• Delighting & Desires – August 5, 2018

    When I enjoy too much dessert it affects my desires… I want more of it, I think more about it and it rounds out my belt-line.  The more I delight in the carbs the more control they have in my life.  The Psalmist in Psalm 37:4-6 teaches about the hope-filled response when evil men seem to win and we want to win too… We just want to win without compromising our integrity…

    The Psalmist tells us to delight in the Lord and it will shape our desires… In fact, the Lord has the capacity to satisfy our heart’s deepest desires…  Sometimes with himself and sometimes with his gifts.

    The perspective includes, from the context, an expectation that we’re walking God’s way, wanting what God wants and coming under his authority.  Frequently my own personal failures can be traced to my unwillingness to walk God’s way, want what God wants and repent from my own authority.   Psalm 37:23-24 tells us: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

    When I commit my way to the Lord and roll my concerns about how the path winds and how hard the rocks are to negotiate, I have a chance to trust the Lord with my own sense of loss and the best path for me to reach the destination… heaven.  Until I arrive, I can learn to enjoy the Lord and as I do a little piece of heaven will grow in my heart… and my desire for security, meaning and belonging will be met by the God who’s lovingly invited me on this journey with him and others in his Kingdom Family.  The Lord taught his disciples to pray… Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven…

    As you delight in the Lord how might he shape your desires?  What is a good the next step for you in your walk with Jesus?



    Full Manuscript for today’s conversation…

    Introduction:  My fishing trip on Thursday…   Food truck rain storm on Friday…   My ebay Chevy Blazer fiasco.
    What is the promise? When we’re walking with Jesus and His Kingdom Family, things can look pretty bleak, pretty awful… but don’t lose heart, don’t give up… when the rain comes, the sun isn’t far behind…  God will defend his honor and carry us when we care about his honor too…  When bad people, bad keep coming out on top, don’t despair… God sees what your’re doing… that you’re doing what HE says is right, what’s virtuous, what’s pure… what’s lovely, what’s of good report… God sees and will, in this world OR the next, make your innocence shine like the dawn, it will be seen clearly, as in the brightness of the noonday sun…
    What is the verse? Psalm 37:3-6 (NIV)  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.
    Who has this section in another version… electronic or not… come to a mic.
    What did the verse mean to original recipients, context… Psalms is a group of poems/writings/songs… this one is believed to be written by David… Matthew Henry comments that this is an alphabetical psalm (if you knew Hebrew); a teaching psalm; “the object is to assure men whose minds are disturbed by the face of the frequent prosperity of the wicked…”  in every case God will bring us all to account…  Adrian Rodgers titled Psa 37 “Too Blessed to be Stressed”.
    All through Israel’s history, even during the reign of David, people were against them… they were at war with others… protecting themselves…  Even within Israel there were good people who loved God and followed God’s teachings and those who didn’t…   There were times when, like in our space, that selfish, immoral people seem like they get ahead and the moral, humble people get pushed down…  This passage has encouraged generations of Jewish families to continue to delight in the Lord Yahweh…
    The word take delight – Is to enjoy something… What are some things you enjoy, delight in?   How many of us enjoy social media?  I know it’s a love hate…  Are you aware that it’s shaping you?  You have shorter attention span, you struggle to concentrate, you are addicted to the ping or vibration of a text when it comes in…   Your fascination with it has shaped you…   It true with any topic or area you delight in… the activity influences you…  Look at most bakers… are they thin or round?   What we love affects us… the word “Delight” offers the picture of being pliable and shaped…   When you take delight in the Lord, it should have an affect.   If you’re not delighting and not being shaped, I question if you’re really following Jesus.    When we’re taken with someone, and spend time with them, we begin to reflect their nature, habits and responses in our mannerism…   example…  There are times when I’ll be talking to someone and say something and think, that’s just like Marcia or Kent or Louis… because I’ve spend time with them… delighted in them… and their influence rubbed off on me…
    The word desires…  could be rephrased the ‘askings’ of your heart… for what does your heart most long for?  Not what external thing do YOU want but what internal, soul level, heart centered ‘asking’ would bring you inner-quietness, courage, or security?   What does your heart desire?  Not what new stuff do you want… the reason you want the new stuff is because you there’s something inside that feels restless, troubled, disappointed… and a new car, house, job, clothes, friend… distracts you from the internal askings for a while…  What does your heart desire, what are your internal askings?  Are you afraid?  Are you hurt?  Are you angry?  Are you depressed?  Do you feel restless, trapped, sad, empty?  Can you put your finger on it?
    To summarize… Psalmist is saying, If spend time with Jesus, so that he begins to shape your thinking, your pursuits and your desires… you’ll find that he also resolves the internal askings of your heart…   As you delight in the Lord, he will give you the askings, the desires, you’ve been craving… and lift the burden you’ve been carrying…   the next verse…
    Commit… means to roll your burden onto another…  Like I’m carrying a burden… by life’s purpose and outcomes… and I roll it off me onto another…
    Trust… it’s deeper than just  showing or tending to have a belief in a person’s honesty or sincerity; not suspicious.  It’s being so convinced that someone is capable that you go TO them like you’d go INTO a CAVE to escape a tornado… because it’s a secure, safe shelter…  and when you’re with someone you trust there’s calm because they’re capable…  like my kids during a thurnder storm… they ran and jumped in my bed… not because if a tree fell on us I could hold it up… but because they BELIEVED I could hold it up…
    No evil person, organization or government can hide the good we do forever… eventually it will come out… God will justly judge and our innocence will shine.   You’re showing the world the virtue of trusting in the Lord instead of trusting in self, or people who might try to bend the truth for personal gain or comfort.
    When it all comes out… people will see… what’s right and what was wrong…  UNTIL IT DOES, Don’t give up; don’t give in… Be pliable and shaped as you see the Lord, lean in on the Lord for the deep askings of your heart… Roll your burden to a God who can carry it… and trust that God will bring to light what’s right when the time is right…
    What about life works against this promise? People generally want to redefine what God’s saying… Into something that’s more about being blessed… and less about being changed…   We want to delight in whatever we want and still experience the protection and vindication of God…   Our culture suggests that success is measured in dollars, houses, cars and power…  Sometimes we ignore the criteria of taking delight in the Lord and just hope for good stuff to come our way…  Sometimes we do what Oprah does… and redefine the words to mean something we’d like them to say… https://youtu.be/c1jXPhsz26g?t=57s
    Today’s Communion Sunday…  Let’s reflect on how Jesus embodied the teaching in this set of verses?
    Summary Conclusions…  This promise reminds us that when things look pretty bleak, pretty awful… but don’t lose heart, don’t give up… when the rain comes, the sun isn’t far behind…
  • Mighty Warrior – Tender Father — July 29, 2018

    What is YOUR God like?

    1. The Food Truck broke. Driving it Saturday to set up Saturday Produce Experiment, the truck was hard to steer and it didn’t have very strong brakes.  This is bad.
    2. Saturday I bought too much produce ($100 worth) and didn’t sell enough… This is also bad.
    3. My wife is feeling anxiety about her schedule at school.  This is bad.
    As I reflect on my troubles, I want to be rescued by a Mighty Warrior but I want to control how it all works.  I want to manage my rescue, control the costs and influence the outcomes.  Perhaps, I just want to rescue myself.

     

    Sunday’s conversation at church highlighted how we have a Warrior who Saves and a Father who loves.  Zephaniah 3:16 & 17… God is trying to get our attention through our struggles.  He wants us to lean on him more than our own ideas.  When we do, God reveals himself in new and fresh ways…

     

    God always wants to rescue us from the storm.  Sometimes he calms the storm. Sometimes he calms his child.  The rescue might look different than we expected… We want Jesus to be the Messiah who overthrows the Roman oppressors. When He wants to be the Messiah who brings lasting peace in the hearts of his followers.

     

    In the end, the Food Truck will get fixed, the produce will all work out and Marcia will live to see another day at EWA.  It may turn out different than I expected but as I allow God to fight my battles and rest in the Father’s tender affection, I can relax because God is alert.

     

    How does God, the Might Warrior – Tender Father, lead me to peace and joy of the Lord in my struggle?

     

    By cultivating a more vibrant awareness of God’s presence and power.
    By reflecting regularly on our Father’s tender affection.
    By opening our hearts humbly to Jesus rule and authority.

     

    Read the Verses: Zephaniah 3:16-17

    Sermon Video for this week:


    Sermon Manuscript for this week…

    What is the promise? – God, the Mighty Warrior who saves, delights in me as his child.
    What is the verse? Zephaniah 3:16-17
    Look at it in a couple of versions…
    What did the verse mean to original recipients, context…    This verse was an encouragement that even though hard times would come… God had not forgotten them.
    1. The book of Zephaniah was written notice to get Israel’s attention. Israel was in trouble because they turned away from the Lord; they were being disciplined by God through other nations… and it felt terrible…  Discipline was and is a time of personal crisis…
    2. God has such a merciful, loving heart… he wanted Israel to see the depth of his affection… Even while being disciplined… To encourage those whose hearts were aligned with his… SO God offered this promise for Israel’s future blessing when the discipline was over… when hearts turned…   Be encouraged… you faithful followers, you humble, teachable, heart for God people… don’t look at the circumstances look to your God who IS WITH you… don’t lose heart…
    3. He’s not with you like a weak and overworked strongman… But described as a warrior…     Who in the story does God the Mighty Warrior save?
    What does this mean to us?
    1. God is working to get our attention.  Life is what it is… ups and downs; joy and sorrow;  God is either bringing or allowing challenges that expose our frailty, our fears, our weakness and our dependence… sometimes all at once…  because there are area God wants to purify and mature us… Our response determines if we resist or we receive…
    2. God delights in us (maybe like a grandmother delights in her grand child and is filled with tender affection and warmth, like a blanket fresh from the drier or the joy of offering fresh baked cookie… Delight in the recipent… ), wants to quiet us in his love ( maybe like a father who sees his anxious son after a car accident, and hugs him with quiet affirmation that sets the boys heart at ease so instead of feeling prickly nervousness, there is stillness like the early morning)  and is so over the top for  us he breaks out in singing (maybe like a boy in love whose object of his affection has drifted so he writes a love song and goes to sing it while she’s at a sleepover at her girlfriend’s house to recapture her… He’s so smitten… He wants her happiness as much as his own…)…
    3. As the Mighty Warrior, He fights violently on our behalf and embraces our brokenness tenderly.  Israel was familiar with this phrasing… and their God who conquered… El-Shaddai Lord of Hosts; Story of Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s Army…  Joshua 5:13-6:2 – But HE rescues those who are under his rule, not those who push away his ways…
    How does God the delighting, loving, singing Warrior change your life?
    • We all feel stuck…  like we’re at a place and we’d like to get to another place… We have ideas of what life should look like, how it should work… but how often does it work that way?
    • We’re all trapped in the life we’ve been given or we’ve created…  And the idea of God lifting us out… seems impossible… but what if God wants to change us Here… where’s he’s placed us…
    • What if we’re not trapped, we’ve just been looking for the wrong path to our best life…   Perhaps we need to be open to a shift…
      • When the story talks about poverty… you insert YOUR situation, with your struggles, doubts, trials and disappointments…
    This promise reminds us that we do not go through challenges alone – ever… God, who takes great delight in you, WANTS to quiet you with his love and IS READY to break out in song because he loves you — God is your Warrior and STANDS READY to rescue and secure to save…  IF we want what he wants; IF we pursue his priorities; IF we respond to his delight, his love, and his singing…
    What about life works against this promise?
    1. Our fear.  Our fears are rooted in our belief that God is small and we are not enough…  Afraid of what?  not enough money; not enough health; not enough work; not enough family time; not enough courage; not enough restraint… We’re afraid that life will create a hole, bring an event that’s too large for us to jump over and if we fall in our lives, our families will be harmed…  Our fears are mostly in our mind… most of what we’re afraid of doesn’t happen… but the anxiety of it ties us up in chains and enslaves us to excessive control…  Our fear makes God seem too small and we have to struggle along on our own…
    2. Our internal experience of personal rejection.  Relationships are complex but we all, at one time or another in one way or another have felt or currently feel like we’re rejected by others and it effects every relationship we have…  Sometimes it’s overt… like when we get fired or ‘released’ from work… or when our friends get together and don’t invite us to the party… or when we get overlooked by managers or employers…
    3. The evil one whispers regularly that even God has better things to do than keep helping you…   You worthless failure of a human, you drink too much or watch too much porn or you are addicted to what other people think of you or succeeding at your job at the expense of your family…   The accuser knows your weak spots and undermines your place in God’s family or your value as a human so that  you’ll THINK or BELIEVE that God’s left you and you have to fight for yourself.
    4. Our own Biblical Knowledge can work against us… What kind of a Messiah did the Pharisees/teachers of the Law in the New Testament expect?  We have to be careful that we don’t make the mistake of the Pharisees… that we expect God to show up like WE think he ought to show up; they were looking for a Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and frequently we want someone who can forcefully resist those who oppose us… BUT remember when Jesus came, he brought an internal reality, a Kingdom life that offered inner renewal that would overcome eternal power; inner substance that would transform our vices, doubts and pride; an inner life HE would give us, his power to tear down strongholds and face our fears…
    What might this truth mean in our mind, heart and behavior?  If God, the Mighty Warrior who saves, is with us…  how does it change my heart, life, family and work?
      1. I’m not walking into any trial, struggle, threat or situation without Divine support…
        • What is it that suggests you’re alone?
        • Who told you that was true?
        • How does the Spiritual world show up in the physical world?
    1. I am a special object of God’s delight and affection…
      • What does it look like for you to rest in God’s love?
      • What would change if you could begin sensing God’s delight in you and presence in your daily struggles?
    What about God supports this promise?
    1. One of God’s names makes supports this picture of God, the Mighty Warrior who saves…
    2. Ephesians 1 – chosen by God; loved…
    3. Jesus’ arrival shows God the Father’s commitment to rescuing you, me and others from the brokenness of life;
    4. Jesus came 1st to reveal the Kingdom an inner Kingdom… when Jesus comes again he will ride the white horse and overthrow the nations… with power and force and authority…
    How might we experiment with this promise this week?
    1. Roll it around in your head… Because God, the Might Warrior who saves, is with me, I…..
    2. Put on the Armor of God Eph 6
    3. Submit yourself to the Lord of Hosts; Resist the Devil and he will flee (James 4:7)
    4. Holy Imagination… when you find yourself in a battle, picture yourself on the battlefield with your church family behind you and the opposition in front of you… admit your inability, your self-sufficiency, the ways you self-manage and put Jesus in the place he ought to be… between you and the opposition… keep your eyes on Jesus… review how he delights in you, how he quiets you in his love and how he rejoices over you in song…  and step into the battle behind the Lord… approach it with his priorities in front of yours… his Kingdom before your family… his integrity before yours… less pride and more humility… and complete your task with a view of honoring God and serving others…  AND the Lord will fight for you… your mighty warrior, El-Shaddai, Lord of Hosts…
    Summary Conclusions…
    Zephaniah is a call to return to the Lord; Judgment is coming, return; when you return God will forgive and redeem you from your past and rejoice over you with singing.
    Do we want to rest in his love?  How do we rest?  What does that look like? What doesn’t it? What’s important about that for us?  What does the deceiver slip in that makes us doubt God’s affection and passionate interest in us?
    Must read resource:
  • Jesus Never Fails; The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid… Hebrews 13:5-6 – July 22, 2018

    Today I put my daughter on a plane.  It’s a funny thing.  It’s real but it’s not.  It feels like she ought to come home tonight.  Like our long talk yesterday should linger on today when she finally rolls out of bed with sleepy hair and that pretty smile.  But, alas, it’s not meant to be.  Her path turned off from mine, from ours.  It feels a bit like something broke apart and yet hasn’t.  Grief comes in all shapes and sizes.

    When things get out of order, lots of folks turn to material rewards to resolve the tension.  In Hebrews 13 this past week at First Alliance, we pondered the impact of Jesus never leaving or forsaking us. Because he won’t ever let us slip out of HIS hands and he won’t abandon us on the side of the path, when the journey gets to be too difficult, we can confidently repeat, with the author of Hebrews, verse 6… “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid…”

    I will not be afraid of not having enough money, of having my stuff break, of health challenges or sending my daughter off to her new job in Colorado… I will be content with my house, my cars, my clothes and my job…  While I delight in how Jesus is enough for me.

    Sure, I’ll finish my education and try to do my best at work.  I’ll study so I can get that promotion or look for the house we need for my family’s needs… but I’ll do so with a palitable awareness that I am a child of the King of Kings.  This world isn’t my home; the stuff I collect will break, stain, rust or depreciate but cultivating Kingdom priorities will return a blessing for eternity.

    Jesus never fails.  People may be hurtful and bring harm to my body.  But since my life is hidden in God and my REAL home is eternal I’ll continue to remind myself that my money won’t do it; it pays to be content; Jesus won’t let me go SO I can CONFIDENTLY say, “The Lord is my helper” and relax knowing it’s going to be OK.

    Our perspective changes everything… On Sunday I mentioned a TedTalk story from 2009 told by Jacqueline Novogratz tells a moving story of an encounter in a Nairobi slum with Jane, a former prostitute, whose dreams of escaping poverty, of becoming a doctor and of getting married were fulfilled in an unexpected way.  Listen to Jane’s Story (6 minute TedTalk)

    Listen toward the end…  What about your dreams… God’s dreams for you might not look like what you think they should but they ARE amazing… once we’re captured by his promise to never leave us or forsake us… It changes everything…  You can be confident; He is your helper; You don’t need to be afraid.

     

  • Seeking The Kingdom of God

    Today’s food truck numbers were down.  The help was great.  The truck ran like it was brand new.  The kids were fun.  It was a really good day!!!

    Why do we put so much emphasis on the numbers?
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