God’s voice and Walking into the NEW YEAR

I’ve been trying for two days to edit this post, but haven’t been able to complete it for one reason or another.  Let’s see if I can do it this time.   Each time I attempted to update it, I would get almost done and then hit a button on my computer that navigated me away from the page and I’d lose everything I wrote.   So, let’s try this again, but I think I’m going to take a different approach, I think both times were God’s way of saying put the writing focus on something else.  So here we go, let’s see what happens.

I’m excited for 2015.   2014 was a pretty good year with a somewhat disappointing, but not quite disappointing ending.  It’s not how I would have chosen it to end, but it’s ended and now its time to move forward into a New Year.    There’s no magic button that erases what happened in 2014, there are still issues and questions left over from the events of the past 2-3 months, but GOD’s going to take care of them.  I’m walking into 2015 without a ministry, with questions about relationships that are in flux, and whether or not I’m walking away from a church or if I’m staying involved in some way and you know what?  I’m okay with that.   I’ve spent the better part of the last week thinking I needed these issues taken care of before the New Year, but I’m going to let go of my selfish needs and let GOD take HIS time and not put any conditions or time frame on GOD.    I’m looking forward to new things in 2015.   Relationships that will be recreated, new relationships that will be formed, new ministry opportunities that will be found.  I’m not going to walk away from anyone or anything, but I’ll extend the hand of friendship and the offer and hope to do ministry with whomever, and  generally speaking I’m excited to see who GOD brings alongside me.   My focus for this new year is to run after GOD first and keep my eyes on the path that HE’s put me on.  I saw the movie “Into the Woods” last weekend and in a way I really related to it.   It was all about people who wished for something, that had right motives, but wrong perceptions and by the end of the movie, the happy ending wasn’t what they expected and in some cases what they wished for brought heartache, but also renewal and hope for something better.   I really liked it, mainly because that’s where I’m at, with what I wished for in 2014 unfulfilled but looking at 2015 with hope and belief that there is something better or at least more interesting coming.   I choose to live expectantly as to how GOD will work in this new year and I’m not going to hold on to what GOD’s definitely ended.

Psalm 40.   Last Sunday I visited my home church with my mom.  My family has been a part of this church since my parents were teenagers.  They met and married at this church, sent me and my sister to the school, and a lot of my beliefs were formed here.   It’s a typical fundamental evangelical Baptist church whose format and music ministry has remained the same since the 50’s.   They’ve gone through a bit of hard times since the founding pastor died, but they’ve hired a new pastor that is absolutely phenomenal.  Last Sunday I really wasn’t expecting anything, and the first half brought no surprises, hymnal worship, traditional choir special music, etc, and I was a little bored to be honest.  The Pastor’s message changed that for me because it spoke to me about what I needed to hear.   I wasn’t expecting that to be honest.  The past couple of weeks GOD has been speaking into my life through the different pastors I’m associated with and its been pretty amazing the healing, correction, and encouragement that’s resulted.  The pastor only spoke on the first 5 verses, but the whole chapter had some amazing things, so let’s take a look at

Psalm 40[a]
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

These first three verse really grabbed my attention, because for the better part of October and November, that’s where I was.   David begins this chapter by stating he waited patiently for the LORD.  Are you kidding me?   Waiting?  Patiently?  When it feels like life is crumbling around you and you feel like you’ve failed at everything and failed everyone, wait patiently?   For me, that’s the hardest thing to do.  I want whatever is happening to have not happened, and I want it to end, regardless of whether its a consequence of a decision I’ve made or some “random” life event that is hammering me.   I try to hurry GOD up and set up a time frame and bargain with GOD.   It doesn’t really work.  David said he waited patiently, and GOD heard him.  GOD hears our cries.  Even though it seems like GOD is ignoring us or is far away, GOD hears us, but HE knows that what we’re dealing with is something that we have to deal with in order to be stronger.   In the midst of a crises, initially we hunker down and dig a pit for ourselves or we wander around and it feels like our tears create a mud bog that entraps us, making it feel like we’re literally trapped in crap.   To wait patiently is a hard thing to do, but it’s not an inactive waiting.  David said GOD heard his cry, so David had been praying,constantly.  Continually.  To wait doesn’t mean to do nothing.  It means to pray, prepare, seek, work on what you can and wait for the arrival of hope.   Hope comes when you least expect it.  It comes from unexpected places.  In Vs 2 David says GOD lifted him out of the slimy pit and set him on solid ground and gave him a firm place to stand.   Does that mean the challenge that he was facing was over?  No, not necessarily, it may have been that GOD changed his perspective, that GOD brought others alongside of him to support and encourage him.   Solid ground to a warrior is something that is desirable.  It allows him footing to fight and defend, and standing with others gives him the ability to be more effective.   Vs 2 is about hope.  It’s about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  It may have been that David was finally through his crises and that he felt salvation was there and that GOD had seen him through it.  Either way, David is giving praise to GOD.  I love how GOD does that.  When we cry out to GOD and in the right time, when we’ve finally come to the end of trying to solve “whatever” ourselves GOD comes in and pulls us out of the pit we’ve made for ourselves.  What’s funny, at least for me, is that when I was in my pit, I blamed GOD for letting me fall into it, even though I made the pit from the decisions I made .   Personally, I think it’s easier to blame GOD for the consequences of bad decisions than it is to accept the responsibility for the bad decision.   Have you ever tried to help someone who was stuck in a hole?   If all they’re doing is thrashing around and not listening to the instructions of the one who is on solid ground who sees what needs to be done to get them out, salvation isn’t going to happen.   It will be a pointless endeavor because all they’ll do is waste energy and resources.   What has to happen is the person trapped has to shut up, wait, listen, and obey the one on solid ground and they’ll get out.  That’s what GOD does.  HE waits for us to turn to HIM and say “Help, I can’t do this.”  It can be immediate when we recognize the crises and GOD comes in and sets us on solid ground, but most times it’s after we’ve exhausted ourselves from our own efforts and fell short, or we’ve sat down and dug ourselves into a pit and feel like we’re close to drowning and nothing is left, except to turn to GOD.  Once we give up and accept the help from GOD, man, it’s immediate.  HE pulls us out, set us on solid ground and then surrounds us with people and blessings.  We may still be going through something, but HE brings us a new perspective.  That’s what verse 3 is about.  A new song, a song of praise and a testimony.  When we give GOD the glory for the turnaround in our life and even for the crises, it’s a testimony to others.   We don’t know it as we’re going through our train wreck, but others are observing our train wreck.   There are people that we care about or associate with that see what’s going on in our life and are watching to see how we handle it.  A lot of times it’s the young people in our life that are watching, but it’s also coworkers, friends, family.   It’s when we properly respond to GOD and give HIM praise that others are encouraged and inspired by our journey and we turn from tragedy to testimony.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

David is saying that it’s better to trust in the LORD than to run to some self-help guru or positive thinking and good vibe book.   Nothing the world offers can compare to the wonders GOD has in store for us. David is heaping praise onto GOD and it’s a lesson for me.  GOD has so many plans and blessings for me.  Nothing the world offers as “Comfort” can compare to the peace that GOD actually gives us.   When we step back and focus on GOD we see the things and blessings and wonders that GOD is doing and it’s positively mind-blowing.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened[c]—
burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.

Many times we bargain with God and say we’ll give up something, someone, some wish or desire, but that’s not what GOD wants, HE doesn’t want a sacrifice of something.  HE wants us.  HE wants me.   HE wants me as sacrifice and a tool and most of all HE wants to know me.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

There it is, that’s my prayer for the New Year.  Specifically vs 8.  “I desire to do your will, my GOD, your law is within my heart”.  My goal for 2015 is to be bolder about my faith, to not hide it, but live it expectantly.  To go and assemble with believers, to minister to those outside the body, to do the work that GOD leads me to.   I’m not going to randomly run around and bang on doors and hope for ministry opportunities, because to be honest, the path I’m on doesn’t seem to have any doors.  I feel like I’m on a long stretch of highway with no off ramps, and that’s ok, I think GOD’s telling me to step back and take a breath, learn for a bit, rest and fellowship with others for a bit and at the right time, HE’ll lead me to something that will excite me, something that I can be passionate about.  HE’ll provide the vision and desire.   The key, though, is to be a part of the body so that I may not only be an encouragement and a servant, but also be encouraged and served as well.   GOD doesn’t want us to be Lone Rangers, HE wants us to do life together, cooperatively and corporately.   I need to step back and refocus.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

This prayer of David’s has been my prayer.  It’s easy to see the troubles and sins in our life and how they have affected our life, our hopes, expectations.   It is GOD’s mercy and love that rescues us and protects .  Our salvation is from GOD.   When we feel overwhelmed and overtaken and the panic and anxiety overcomes us, let go.  Let GOD handle it, that’s what HE specializes in.  HIS purpose is to rescue and to direct us to a better path.  HE’s the ultimate first responder.   LET your prayer…my prayer…well, our prayer be vs 13:  “be pleased to save me LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me.”
14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.

There are always haters.  Those that want you to fail and be embarrassed and humiliated.   This is David’s prayer for those people.  This is not a selfish prayer or hope.   When haters happen, let’s be real, we pray this prayer.  I’ve prayed this before.  It’s a prayer for conviction, that those that are causing  the stress or issues in your life be exposed for what they are.   It’s not selfish to pray this, but it’s a release.   It’s going to GOD and saying only HE can expose them, it’s a prayer for protection and hope.   GOD will vindicate you if you’re innocent.   HE’ll expose people’s motives and HE’ll deliver the payback.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay

The LORD is great.   The LORD is my help and my deliverer.  Rejoice in the LORD, HE’s got our back and HE will be our help.   We can pray this prayer, we can ask GOD not to delay, but again, HIS timing is perfect; any delay is a not a delay, it’s timing issue.   In the storm we find ourselves in, we need to keep a focus on GOD and HE will set us on firm ground and lift us up.  Ironically, that message will be the second conversation with Peter, but that’s for another day, another blog.

I hope this makes sense to someone and GOD works in your storm.

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