Friday, January 18, 2008

Thoughts from Psalm 41

If anyone is interested I have posted my present understanding of Psalm 41 at 'Paraphrases' at the right.
Several thoughts have been of special interest to me, especially following the past hour and a half or so. Someone was sharing with us their perceptions of how others have felt negatively concerning what we thought we were doing to 'help' 'them' - but evidently they don't feel the same as we do. Oh, well, can't win them all.

I get the feeling that David may have felt some feelings along these lines as well. He started off Psalm 41 with the following 'Freedom Declaration' though.

The Creator God will preserve the person who carefully considers the needs of those who are feeble and weak, particularly when he faces his own difficulties. The Self-Existent One will support, comfort and keep him alive. God won't allow those who hate him to have their way against him.

That, to me, is encouraging words from Jesus to me.

Farther into Psalm 41 there is strong indication that David realized that those who were 'against' him went so far as to attempt to 'cast spells' on him.

Sometimes we think that as Christians casting spells is a thing of the past. But I am not so sure that it isn't a very active 'counterfeit' even in my time. Satan chooses what kind of control he has over a person. To some he may come as 'voodoo', to others he may come as 'self-worship' or otherwise. Whatever way he chooses you can be sure it is calculated to turn the person from accepting God's will - that God loves them and they choose to love Him supreme in return and then allow that love to flow through them to all around them.

As is often the case in many of David's Psalms, after expressing his 'challenges' and 'problems' David returns to seeing more clearly as God sees him - on a 'triumphant' note of faith and trust.

I see that you favor me and are pleased with me because you didn't allow those who have been hostile toward me to get the better of me. And as for me, You follow close to me and keep me close to you for ever.

With God close to me I can truly have the peace that passes understanding inside of me.

May the God who blessed the first Sabbath be with you.

Bringer of Peace

Peace - result or cause

Jesus says "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." This kind of peace is a gift, not something that has been earned. This kind of peace that Jesus gives is based in a person's 'heart' - on the inside.

So, what happens when outward circumstances seem to be overwhelming one's inner peace? What happens when outward activities seem to be 'against' one's inner peace?

Today I seemed to be in somewhat of that kind of a situation. I kept asking both myself and God what it meant to be in the condition of peace that Jesus spoke about above. I asked God to show me what it meant to be the kind of person He sees in me and how to 'stay' in that condition even though outwardly circumstances seemed to be 'fighting' against me.

I am becoming more convinced that God's kind of peace involves 'staying' in His presence no matter what.

I hope also that I am learning what 'staying in His presence' really means.

Bringer of Peace

Friday, January 11, 2008

Peace Inside

I have been seeing some things inside of me that do not lend to my having 'peace inside'. I don't have what I think may be the whole 'bigger' picture yet, but I believe I am getting closer.

I have been thinking along the above lines since around the beginning of 2008. In one respect I am excited to learn more both from God and others. Oftentimes what 'stops' heart peace has to do with a 'lie' believed - in place of truth.

I went yesterday and got my hair cut and styled. For those of you who know me, I have had longer hair for some time, this new cut is shoulder length at the back tapering up to somewhat shorter in the front. (If I could figure out how to put pictures on the web I would add one here. But since I have not progressed in my blog talents to that stage I must be content for now with 'word pictures'.) After the hair styling I stopped at a few stores on the way home. I found a few items that I thought would be nice to use for when I teach children at church. But as I was looking around, the thought came to my mind that one excuse I was shopping had to do with reluctance to 'go home'. What 'worth' would I 'consider' myself labeled?.
Another excuse - especially for coming up with 'church' use reasons - was again harking back to 'low' self worth (This isn't for me. It is for someone else). When the Holy Spirit (I believe) pointed these 'excuses' out to me in my mind I think I began to see more clearly how 'low self worth' can be so detrimental - to me anyway. The second law of God, according to Matthew 22: 37-39, is to love others as one's self. If I don't properly consider myself of worth - love according to God's way - how can I truly treat others the way God would have me treat them? I can't.

To me that is also translating into how I care not only for myself but for my home and family.
Having said that I now seem to be faced with an even 'bigger' battle of sorts. I like to have things in order. Yet, at the same time, the thought has been flitting around that maybe one reason I don't 'do that' (keep everything in order) has been a sense that this is an area where I can 'not do' - in a twisted sort of thinking - and in that way I 'think' I am in 'control' (ugh! yuck!)

I don't like that idea at all, but somehow I think there may be some parts of it that resonate when I look at my sad, pitiful, excuse for housekeeping. The fact that I like getting the dishes done and have a sense of personal satisfaction and yet a sense of almost anger comes up at the very thought of washing dishes gives me the distinct impression that there is something much deeper than 'dishes' disrupting my 'peace inside' in this area of my life.

I keep telling my Heavenly Father that I want Him to 'root out' what is causing this disruption of my peace inside of me. One primary step in this process is Him revealing to me what is the 'real' cause - be it a lie that I believe or otherwise' - so that I can first agree with Him (also called 'confess' in KJV Bible) and then 'release it' (also called 'forsake') to Him to do whatever He does with my 'going across' - or different than - (transgress in the Bible, also called sin or missing God's will) His plan for me.

I let go of the lie of 'peace at all costs' and it was a real 'peace bringer' into my heart. When I look back some day I will probably be able to put a label on the 'peace breaker' that I am presently being challenged with. But whatever I will decide to call it in the future I don't want it any longer even now.

I am greatly encouraged that God is more interested in giving me 'peace inside' than I even can presently comprehend at the moment.

I am also thankful for what is to me a very special promise from God. He tells me "I will contend with the one who is contending with you (the devil and his forces) and I will save your children." That is super special to me. Not only is God in the business of giving me peace inside by cutting loose the 'roots' of evil that have been binding me to 'missing His peace', but He will do it in such a way that the roots of evil that have previously been binding me will also be broken for our son. Praise the Lord.

Backing up to yesterday at the hair dressers place. When I first got there I was the only one there. I knew the folks in the shop from 'church' and we got to talking on some spiritual 'favorites' of mine one of them being the 'beauty' of God's love law. (See Matthew 22:37-39 for the way Jesus put it.) I was blessed both by the hair style and the conversation.

Then, as I was in the midst of discussing with Jesus concerning the events following the hair styling(as mentioned above) I was very impressed that my heavenly Father was delighted when I shared more about Him with others. It was like He was encouraging me to get back into sharing His love much more often than I have recently been doing.

Another point of encouragement was that when I got home I was able to get my new printer set up. I had told the folks at the salon I had some more printed materials I thought they might enjoy. I had taken a few pamphlets with me in case I had time to read but which I left with them instead. I spent time yesterday evening getting some other pamphlets ready to share with them. [Some time back I had felt the Lord urge me into preparing a series of lessons called 'His Story - The Creator God of the Universe'. These lessons review God's relationship to humans.]

Yes, I did receive peace inside. No, I have not yet arrived at 'total' peace. Yes, God is in the business of cleaning out the inside of me to the point where there will be 'only' peace inside. Praise Him.

Bringer of Peace

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thoughts from Psalm 39

It is interesting to me that David had challenges with his perception of himself - and in some ways as I have had in my life. I have been noticing, though, that God did not rebuke David when he would share with God how he felt. That, to me anyway, is very important. God does not condemn me when I feel 'down'. In fact, I am seeing God as longing for me to share with Him how I feel - up or down or otherwise. That doesn't mean I will 'stay' where I was when I first started sharing with God how I felt, but it does give God the opportunity to show me where my 'view' is not in agreement with His view of me, and as I agree He gives me a new perspective.

Psalm 39 resonated with me along these lines. How I put Psalm 39 in my own words is on the 'paraphrase blog to the right if you would like to view it. But I'll share just a few thoughts about it here.

Anyone who knows me also knows I can talk fairly easily. And when I get excited about a topic I sometimes have a hard time being quiet - to put it mildly.

It almost sounds like David had some struggles in the area of communications as well. It sounds like David had gotten himself into some difficulties by some things he had said, so after some consideration, David decided to just 'quit talking'.

It doesn't sound like that lasted very long but it also had the effect of raising David's stress level almost to the breaking point.

It is nice to have a friend that is willing to listen. But when there is no human friend or even if there is, God, I believe, uses this Psalm to invite me to share with Him. I can tell Him what is bugging me. I can tell Him what makes me angry. I can even tell Him that I don't like the way I think He is treating me.

There is another aspect that someone suggested to me that I really like. God is desiring to have so many 'JOY/PEACE' experiences with me that when there comes a time when it seems things are really tough, or I might even be tempted to think that God doesn't understand me at the moment, I can look back on the many, many 'JOY/PEACE' experiences that I have already had with Him and because of those I can choose to 'trust' Him that He hasn't changed one bit even though I may not be able to 'see' right, right then.

Psalm 39 ends with the following prayer to God. "Have compassion on me so I recover strength before my life ends."

Might that word 'compassion' have something to do with God 'coming into my life with passion' . Sounds like a good way to recover strength also. "The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" - not even of a wrong self image.

You can agree with God too!

Bringer of Peace

Peace Inside

This past week I have been doing a lot of thinking. I suppose hearing talk of 'New Year's Resolutions might have had something to do with some of my thoughts. But there was more. I don't usually make 'resolutions'. I was born on New Year's day so most people celebrate my birthday. The name my parents gave me means 'maiden, bringer of peace', which I also believe has had a big impact on my life. Yet, there has seemed to have been some 'gaps' between the 'peace' I have been learning about and sharing with others and some seeming 'reality' checks recently in my life. I don't know exactly how to put in words some of what I have been learning but I am going to attempt it anyway.

I have truly believed that God loves me for my whole life. But somewhere in my younger years I imbibed in the lie of 'peace at all cost'. (The Bible teaches that as far as is possible we are to be at peace with everyone, but that does not mean becoming a door mat in order to have peace - which I have practically done at times, as some of my family and friends already know.) I thank the Lord that He has been leading me into the truth in this area of my life.

But one 'side effect' (at least I am presently viewing it as such) of the wrong 'picture' of what true peace means has been my view of myself. As usual, others could see some of these challenges in me long before I have. But the Lord has been working in my mind to not only 'see' but to 'change' my thinking into His view of me. I was talking to my brother one day and he brought up this 'weakness' in me (which I had thought I had begun to 'see' also). About the same time when talking to another friend she asked me about my 'poor' view of myself as a possible 'problem' particularly in my dealings with others. About that time I called my sister and she brought in the same thoughts concerning me. One morning shortly after those discussions my husband had gotten up early and when I came out the speaker on the TV was speaking about the 'brain' and the benefit, when properly used, of speaking words. As I listened I realized the tendency I have of 'putting myself down' (seeing the negative, or 'poor me' syndrome, which has a very detrimental effect on one's mind and body). The speaker was explaining that when a person makes an affirmation (particularly that is in agreement with God's will) it 'jumpstarts' a new 'brain connection' - or makes the connection stronger if it is already there. It is through these 'good' connections that God's power is enabled to 'renew' the mind and on in to the body.

Simply speaking in agreement with God's will for my life - not only in the area of peace but in all other God given areas - is like turning the power of God on in my life.

The Bible talks about a very special group of people at the very end of time who 'overcome' by the 'blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the WORD of their testimony' - speaking in agreement with God.

Another text in Revelation talks about those who have chosen to belong to the family of God as those who have no 'guile' (lies) in their mouth. God has chosen us and specifically me. To put myself down either by thought or words is 'guile' - a lie. So in order to be telling the truth about myself I need to say things about myself that agree with how God sees me.

I used to think that if I said something that wasn't yet 'visible' in my experience I was telling a lie. But according to what this man was telling about the brain, that belief of mine was a lie. The devil wanted me to believe I was a 'hypocrite' - which was a lie - if I spoke things that I couldn't yet 'see' in myself even though they were in agreement with God's will for me. The devil knew that when I would 'speak' God's thoughts not only would I be using my mouth in testimony but God's power would be activated inside of me and of course he doesn't want that to happen which is the reason for him telling me lies about God.

God has told me that He has thoughts of peace concerning me to give me an expected end.

He has also assured me that I can have great peace as I agree with Him (His law).

And the list goes on and on. Oh, by the way, the same is true for you as well.

One of God's biggest challenges is to get us to agree with Him about ourselves. As soon as He can get us to 'see ourselves as He sees us' then He knows that we are heading for 'His Peace' in us.

I have much to learn in this area yet. One thing I do know at the moment is that attempting to 'change' my mind by simply saying something over and over isn't what I am talking about. That is not always the same as 'agreeing with God'. Agreeing with brings true peace inside.

When I look back on this learning experience I believe I will be able to better identify any other lies the devil had been using to 'keep me down', but for now I do know that not only does Jesus love me but He also 'sings' for JOY as I come into more and more agreement with what He believes about me.

Today I am choosing to practice agreeing with God.

Jesus tells me "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you".

May you experience that kind of peace from Jesus inside of you just now.

Bringer of Peace