Christianity 201

September 23, 2014

Bringing Your True Self Before God

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After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

 

Today’s reading is from Stanley J. Groothof who blogs at The 4th Point.  Why is his blog called that? Here’s the reason. To read this at source, click the title below.

After God’s own heart

David of the Hebrew Scriptures is famously known as “a man after God’s own heart.” A great example of David living up to this description is when he oversees welcoming the ark of God to his capital city, Jerusalem.

That David is a man after God’s own heart is obvious in his excitement over bringing the ark of God to his home. For the Hebrew people of David’s day, the ark represents the character and very presence of God Himself. That it is coming to Jerusalem has David and all of Israel “celebrating with all their might before the Lord” (2Sam 6:5). Further, we see David “dancing” (6:14 & 16), “shout[ing]” (6:15), and “leaping” (6:16). David loves to worship in God’s presence; David loves God’s presence; David loves God. No wonder he’s called a man after God’s own heart.

However, it takes David two shots to get the job done: The first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem was tragically interrupted when Uzzah “put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6-7, KJV). It sounds to us like such a harsh punishment for someone who was just trying to help. David, it seems, feels the same way: He becomes “angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah” and he is “afraid of the Lord that day” (6:8-9).

Reading about David’s anger and fear also reveals how he is a man after God’s own heart: David is real with God – both in celebration and in lament. I learned from Mark Buchanan earlier this summer in a course on David he taught at Regent College how this was unheard of in the pagan religions of his day where people brought only their “best self” into the presence of their fickle gods lest they not get what they ask for. David, in contrast, brings his true self. And our gracious God welcomes David into His presence, even when David is angry and afraid.

God does not want us to think we have to edit ourselves or our emotions before we are welcomed into His presence. On the contrary, God invites us to bring all our messiness (to use Michael Yaconelli’s wording) into His presence rather than leaving it at the door, pretending it doesn’t exist or interest Him. Jesus confirms this truth in His conversation with the woman at the well where He refers to how “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” The truth to which Jesus refers involves facts – things that are objectively verifiable; but it also involves honesty, including honesty about oneself and one’s circumstances and emotions. David brings it all into God’s presence, presents it all in his sacrifice of worship. This kind of real worship of and love for God is what also makes us men and women and children after God’s own heart.


Go Deeper: This link takes you to a detailed sermon outline with many, many scripture links on various aspects of David’s character.

August 9, 2013

Dealing with Spiritual Dissonance: Five Steps

Although this appeared at a blog called True Woman, the message here is most applicable to men and women alike. The author is Dawn Wilson, and to read this and reader comments at source click this link: Five Steps to Dealing with Spiritual Dissonance.

Spiritual authenticityI’ve never been a jazz fan; I don’t enjoy the dissonance. As I reacted to some jazz music on a television program recently—telling my husband how much I hated it—the Spirit of God suddenly convicted me on some spiritual dissonance in my life:

“You say one thing, but do another. You tell women to be authentic, but what about this area of your life?”

“You say one thing, but do another. You tell women to be authentic, but what about this area of your life?”

A recent incident flashed across my mind, a situation when I exaggerated the truth to the point where it was a lie. Not a good thing. Hypocrisy.

Truth is one of my foundational life values, so when God pointed out the dissonance, I cringed.

My husband Bob, who directs a mission agency, shared one reason for spiritual dissonance in a recent message. “We tend to compartmentalize our lives,” he said, “and when we do that, the spiritual does not carry over into our everyday decisions.”

I wondered—how often do I compartmentalize, relegating the spiritual to designated parts of my life while ignoring or shutting it out in others? Because I want to overcome spiritual dissonance, I’m taking these five steps. I will:

  1. Recognize the dissonance in my heart. When I depart from fellowship with God, my heart wants something else more than Him. I’m drawn away by my natural desires—away from what God desires for me (James 1:14). I need to admit when my harmonious relationship with Him takes on some dissonant notes.
  2. Realize the root cause of my dissonance. I have a new nature in Christ, and God is making me more like His Son; but I still have free will to reject God’s everyday work in my life. James 1:15 says various lusts conceive and give birth to sin. I get that. I want what I want when I want it—things, pleasures, attention (1 John 2:16)—and when I want them more than what God wants for me, I’m an easy target for temptation.
  3. Repent of any sin that causes dissonance. Instead of rationalizing it away or justifying sin, I need to take it seriously. Sin will always separate me from spiritual intimacy with my loving Father. Because God is light, He cannot fellowship with darkness. My sins are already forgiven in Christ, but I must still recognize my wayward heart, repent, and turn from sin (1 John 1:8–10). I’ve got to get honest!
  4. Resist temptations that lead to new dissonance. The Word of God will help me fight the tendency to compartmentalize (2 Cor. 10:4–5; Heb. 4:12). God wants me to embrace truth and resist the enemy’s lies (1 Peter 5:8). When I take refuge in Jesus and the scriptures, God shows me His “way of escape” (1 Cor. 10:13).
  5. Refocus on harmony to weaken future dissonance. I will praise and worship God, seek Him, and pray for discernment. Because I know my spiritual dissonance grieves Him, I am asking God to rebuild my character where it is weak and change my heart (2 Peter 1:5–9).

My prayer for spiritual authenticity comes from Colossians 1:10:

“To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

How does spiritual dissonance creep into your life? What has God taught you about not compartmentalizing your life?

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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