These verses come from a Song of Praise David sang to the Lord after God had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. Out of David’s heart came thanksgiving for God’s steadfastness…even in the face of calamity. And the deep-seated trust David had in God is not only evident here, but elsewhere when he declared, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4) David was able to turn fear into faith by keeping his eyes on God and not his situation.
I was blessed enough in my early Christian walk to have a lovely older lady come into my life. Joyce came up along side, took my arm, and together we navigated what being a Christian meant. Was she perfect with a perfect family? No, in fact, they had experienced many upheavals in their marriage. But what I saw in her was a God-centered life, marriage, and family, and that gave me hope that God could work in me. Through her example, Joyce guided, coached, and shepherded me on this brand new journey called Christianity. She was my mentor…and I will always admire her firm conviction, her consistent faith, and her unchanging trust in God.
In II Chronicles 32, the king of Assyria had invaded Judah and laid siege…empowered by his massive army of horses, chariots, and soldiers. However, King Hezekiah stood his ground and encouraged the people by saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.” (II Chronicles 32:7) So anytime when our circumstances look overwhelming… we need to remember that we too have that greater power with us.
It’s easy to love those we have a natural affinity for. It’s not hard at all to love our family and those close to us. Nor is it difficult to love those we’re naturally attracted to. But what about those who are like sandpaper against our soul? What about the unlovely of the world…the disagreeable, repugnant, and unpleasant people who God has called us to love regardless? For Jesus didn’t add any exceptions when He told us to, “Love one another.” But when we have the love of God…the unconditional, Agape, love within, we are able to look beyond the exterior and love the unlovely.
What does it take for the Lord to get your attention? Will the still small voice of the Holy Spirit be enough…or do you need something more dramatic and sensational (like a burning bush) for you to even take notice? Awareness of the Lord takes discipline…to be able to quicken our ears to His voice. But also know when the Lord calls, He’s very specific…He will call you by name, not by random.
What does denying self really look like? In this verse it means giving up our right to our-self…of becoming more like Jesus and less like ourselves. It’s refusing to allow our carnal nature to rule and reign on the throne of our life. But it’s even more basic than that. You can be saved, but not be a disciple. For discipleship means we have to first strip away pride and selfishness…rejecting our flesh to become more in the image of Christ. The Great Commission of Jesus is to, “Go make disciples…” But we can’t make disciples if we ourselves are not one first.
It’s our decision to be happy…for only we can decide how circumstances will impact us. In this verse, Paul is saying that during his Christian walk he had gained insight by study and experience to then be able to grasp the concept of contentment. To be content is not a usual human emotion…for we are most times anything but content with things! But we do spend millions of dollars a year looking for contentment…in the way of lavish vacations, or countless relationships. But Paul is telling us that true contentment comes from within and that only we have the determination whether we’ll be happy and satisfied…or not