Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Delighting or Striving?



The last few weeks God has had this message on my heart but it’s been simmering in my spirit until now.  I have been praying on it and even discussing it with a few people.  The more I dig into this concept, the more I marvel at how great God is and how He created us to function!

I started with simply asking God to open my understanding to what it meant to “Delight in Him” as Psalms 37:4 says.  When I hear this verse, most pastors or people tend to focus on the second half which talks about the desires of our hearts, but God asked me “Do you really know what it means to delight?” 
 
So my reply was, “No, Father-God, I don’t.”  As I sat still for a moment, God brought an image to mind of a child playing at his father’s feet in a living room.  The father was reading a paper and the boy was playing happily between his feet on the floor.  The child gets up and starts playing with the father’s leg and then climbs up and plays with the father’s buttons.  He then sticks his face in between the newspaper and the father’s face.  “Daddy?!” he says.  The father lays down the paper expecting a request for a toy or candy.  Then the son lays his head on his father’s chest and says “I love you!”  The father then embraces his son for a solid moment.  His hand slides from the child’s back to under his arm where he proceeds to tickle his ribs!  The laughter penetrates the whole house!

I hope we have all experienced moments like these, either as a child or a parent!  Why?  Because at that moment we know the true meaning of delighting!   He has told us that He wants us to be full of joy, have pleasure, or be thrilled in His presence!  The sheer rapture of being in His arms, or knowing that you have gotten His attention and His focus is to love and be loved by you, intimately is overwhelmingly amazing!
As the week went on, I believe God was allowing me to digest that huge concept before he took me deeper.  I practiced it too, through praise and worship and simply being in His presence.  Then, last week God showed me that there are different uses of the word delight for different circumstances!  WOW, it gets better!

In Psalms 37:11, David goes on to say “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  The simple, humble people will delight in peace!  I looked up the Hebrew translation and found that it was indeed different from the original verse in 37:4!  This “delight” meant soft, delicate, and pliable and it refers to humility!  So we can also see that delighting in the Lord requires humility as well because we know that in Isaiah, Jesus is the Prince of Peace!  Being moldable, and delicate before God requires trust but He is ever so gentle with us as He interacts with us in love!

At that point I wanted to know how many meanings there were to the word “delight” and found one more significant meaning in most of Psalms and Proverbs!  Psalms 1:1-3 sums it up best where it says, “1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”  [Emphasis added]

I started to wonder, “How could ANYONE delight in laws, rules, precepts, statutes, and every other term used in Psalms and Proverbs that says to delight in them?!  Maybe a lawyer could, but not an average person!”  The definition was the key; To amuse oneself, tickle oneself, please oneself, or for self enjoyment!  God brought me back to the boy sitting at his father’s feet.  He was happy being in his father’s presence just amusing himself with the toys that were given to him by his father!  God’s laws are not slavery but gifts.  His principles are there to be used as tools to feel joy and fulfillment!  We were given vocation and tasks so that we would be amused and full of pleasure in doing our Father’s business!  Psalms 40:8 says “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”  His law is His word!  His will is my task or pleasure!

Delighting in Him is such an intimate act of love and an powerful gift that God has given us!  However, there is a flip side to this which has also been covered by the Bible!

Delighting in God and in His presence takes no effort at all.  There is nothing we can do but come to God simply and humbly, allowing Him to bring us into His arms!  Yet, there are those of us who strive to do so of our own accord.  This striving is what begins to separate us from God.

God started showing me the meaning of striving in Proverbs 13:10.  “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.”  When we begin to do things our way, we start spinning our wheels.  We work and work and toil and fight.  God showed me in Philippians 1:15-17, that there are people trying to “out work” God and are seeking the desires of their heart ahead of God’s presence!  Philippians says “15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” [Emphasis added]

Are we seeking His miracles, His signs and wonders, His financial blessings, the notoriety that comes with being a “spiritual leader”?  This is striving because God will not honor our pride and so we have to work that much more to make things happen!  I have been stuck in the mud trying to spin wildly out of the predicament I was in.  I went to God but only for Him to approve my plan and make them happen!  I ended up exhausted with nothing to show for all the work!  I had wasted time, resources, and even hurt some of my relationships trying to gain what I would have seen as harmful, if I had simply done what Matthew 6:33 says and “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness.”  The definition to the word strife in Philippians 1 is to wrestle, debate, or fight.  We cannot enter God’s presence and in turn His favor, our way.  There is only ONE way to the father and that is through Jesus!  2 Chronicles 7:14 says “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We can’t go to God without being pliable and willing to submit to Him, seeking a right-standing relationship with Him and not His benefits, and repenting for trying to do things our way! 
At this point, I challenge you to make the choice I made.  I choose to not STRIVE to get the things that God wants to give me freely as I focus on and take joy in the relationship I have with Him!  I choose to DELIGHT in every moment spent in His presence, hanging on every word that He whispers in my ear and loving Him even more for the little things He does to make my day!

I challenge you to ask God to show you any area in which you are striving!  Maybe it’s for a promotion at work or to find that perfect mate.  Maybe it’s for building a church or even building a family!  If it’s not a step ordered by God, it’s striving in our own ability and Galatians 5:20 says that it is a work of the flesh.  Follow the example given in 2 Chronicles 7:14, humbly go before God, and pray.  Stop the strife in your life so that He can bring you in to the delight of His presence.

God bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him!

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