Friday, November 30, 2007

Psalm 27: The Delusion of Independence

"Do not hide your face from me, do not turn away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject or forsake me, O God my Savior." (v.9)

Do you view yourself as a person in need of help? Do you seek to live more independently than you should? How do you respond when God sends someone your way to correct or confront you? Do you bolster yourself with evidences of your righteousness or do you regularly look in the mirror of the Word of God and admit how needy you actually are? Do you live with a sense of need for the heart-educating classroom of grace or do you think of yourself as a grace graduate? Do you think of others as needier than you? Even as you minister to others, do you think of yourself as one in need of ministry as well? When you seek to understand why you do the things you do, do you look outside of or inside of yourself for the answer?

One of the sad results of sin is that it causes all of us at some time and in some way to buy into the delusion of independence. Independence is what the serpent sold Adam and Eve, but this independence was as counterfeit as the old proverbial three dollar bill. The counterfeit currency of independence is the reward that the enemy continues to wave in front of each one of us. The lie goes this way, "You can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do." This lie is designed to make me believe that I'm wiser and more righteous than I actually am. It makes me think that I'm a mature person living in a colony of the immature. It causes me to reason that if I do bad things, I do them not because of what's inside of me, but because of the pressures that I am forced to deal with that are outside of me. This lie is meant to convince me that I'm capable and okay.

Here's what the Bible makes blatantly clear; the quest for Independence never ends in independence. It always ends in slavery. Why? Because I was carefully designed by the Creator to live in a dependent, obedient, and worshipful relationship with him and in humble, interdependent, relationships with other human beings. The quest for independence is not simply a spiritual mistake; it's a fundamental denial of my humanity. The pursuit of independence always leaves me addicted to a list of things that I've looked to in order to give me hope, life, strength and rest; in a vain attempt to distract myself from the evidence that I'm not, in fact, independent, I get hooked on things that have the ability to distract me, but can never give my heart rest.

The message of Psalm 27 and the rest of the Bible is clear, I'm a person in desperate need of help and if I walk with God for thousands of years I will continue to need his help as much as I did the first day I reached my hand out for him.

Does the way you relate to members of your family picture a person who believes that he's in daily need of help? Does the level of your commitment to Christian fellowship depict a person who thinks he's in need of help? Does your personal devotional life paint a portrait of a person who humbly acknowledges his need of help? Is your life a picture of the celebration that will result when you begin to grasp that, by the grace of Jesus Christ, you have been brought into personal relationship with the only source of the kind of help that you truly need; God himself? Do you love God's truth, love his people, love his gatherings of worship, love the work of his kingdom and love the hymns of his grace, all because you've humbly acknowledged the depth of your need and joyfully embrace the heart-transforming reality of his help?

The only way you'll ever run to the Helper is by running away from the delusion of independence. Why not do that once more today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Psalm 27: Singleness of Focus

"One thing I ask from the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." (v.4)

Do you live with singleness of focus? Is your life shaped, structured, and directed by the pursuit of one glorious, fulfilling, heart-satisfying thing? Or is your life a picture of a constantly changing narrative of fickle affections careening from one hope to the next?

You see, you don't live by instinct. Your life is directed by the thoughts and motives of your heart. You're always interpreting and you're always desiring. You always live in pursuit of something. You're always evaluating your progress toward that thing that you think will give you life. You're always in the possession of and in the service of some kind of dream. Maybe this is the best way to say it; you're living for something.

Now, Scriptures like Psalm 27 and Matthew 6:19ff remind us that all the things that a human being could live for fall into two categories. The first category is the CREATOR category. This means I'm living for what only can be found in God. It means my life is shaped and directed by my resting in the pursuit of his grace, glory, goodness, and plan on earth. Another name for this is the Kingdom of God. The second category is the CREATION category. This means that I'm seeking to find my identity, meaning and purpose in something that's been created. So, I look to my job, friends, possessions, a position, satisfy my heart. Another name for this is the kingdom of self.

Now, what does all of this have to do with singleness or fickleness of focus? It's only when I'm hooking my life to the glory and grace of God and it's only when I'm getting my identity from him, that I can truly live with singleness of focus for the long run. Why is this? It's because it's only God who has the power to satisfy my heart. I was made for him. I was made to have my life shaped by an acknowledgement of his presence, a rest in his love, and an active allegiance to his purposes. When I live this way, my soul is satisfied and my heart is at rest.

On the other hand, when I seek to satisfy my heart by the pursuit of a seemingly endless catalog of God-replacements, my heart will be anything but satisfied. So, I will abandon one dissatisfying creation dream for another, only to have that one leave me empty as well. I'll run from my friends, to my job, to my possessions in the frantic pursuit of what can only be found in the Lord. My life will be characterized by fickleness rather than singleness of focus. Why? Because my heart was created to be satisfied in God and God alone.

Is your life shaped by one great desire, a desire for the Lord? Or is it a picture of the constantly changing focus that's the result of asking the creation to offer what only the Creator can give. Your heart will only rest when He is the "one thing" that gives your life focus.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Psalm 27: The Worship of Another

" his tabernacle I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord."

I don't want to have to make
I want my plate
and my schedule
I want to be with people
I like,
people who are low in
maintenance and high in
I want control over
my time
my energy
my money
my things.
I want my days to be
and my plans
I want to experience
and successfully to avoid
I would rather be served than
to serve.
I would rather get the gift than
to give.
I guess this all points me to
one stunning reality.
There is never a day when
my life is
idol free.
There is never a week
when I don't give myself to the worship
of another.
It is sad to say
and humbling to admit,
that the chief of these
false deities
is none other than
I am the sovereign
I want to serve.
I am the king
I want others to obey.
I am the lord
I want to rule my days.
Yes, it is true,
Dear Father,
I want to be
My dissatisfaction is not because
You are not
but because I do not get
my own way.
So, once more I
once more I make my
once more I plead for
Once more I ask,
Dear Savior,
Please free me
from me
and cause this selfish heart
to find
in doing the
one thing
I was given breath
to do,
offer myself as a
in the service of