VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

WORSHIP IS TO PLEASE GOD

7/18/2016

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-2-32-11-pmI’m certainly proving that I can do nothing without the LORD. I survived the last three weeks of daily socializing by looking forward to these next two weeks of setting at my desk researching, organizing and writing in the LORD’s presence.

Today I start. I will spend it alone—totally with Him but I am quickly realizing I’m not prepared. I’m lonely; I’m out of practice using my mind. I’m remembering that desk work is work, and the work is overwhelming with papers from the last three weeks piled high.

And then there is music. I’m pursuing songwriting yet have no desire to play and sing anything. My body is in pain, my mind so very sluggish, and I have no desire to pursue what GOD is calling me to. Looking forward to this day for the last three weeks has kept me going but it has arrived and I’m disappointed. How much this situation screams that I can do nothing without GOD.

Thus I chuck my plans and go to the prayer closet to sit. Though I feel it not, I know there is unending joy for me embedded in the privilege of His attention. And I have proof in my memory that His covenant promises to me will never be broken. Just the promise of eternal life with Him—someday being free of these earthly struggles… These things are enough to find the needed strength to face this day with energy.

Suddenly I’m on the mountaintop. I don’t necessarily feel it but these thoughts have given me enough gumption to begin. I can walk out of this prayer closet—put one foot in front of the other with anticipation. Here I go, and the first step is toward the piano.

As I approach I am thinking two thoughts about the piano: (1) all I see behind and ahead of me is failure: no progression in talent, no opportunity to preform. I feel I should give it up and concentrate my expression of worship with just words and not song.

The other thought is just the opposite: (2) I should continue with songwriting and piano, remembering how GOD, periodically over 30 years, has encouraged me at the piano. Yet…

30 years He has strung me along. My flesh wants to quit. I, with pleasure, will admit defeat instead of taking more embarrassment, but my heart cries with just the thought of ending. I’m in the valley with my mind’s logic to quit yet my heart refuses to listen to common sense.

Before I arrived at the piano I picked up the guitar and sang with a three-week, out-of-practice voice. My ears heard something unpleasant but the LORD heard not my voice but my heart. I had forgotten this songwriting desire was for the pleasure of GOD not that I might get good and please others or myself.

All my writing has been to help me draw close to GOD even though it is available to the public. And so my music should also be to help me draw close to GOD. Is there anything better than to be close enough to sing Him praise?

I do love to express my love for GOD in music. I love to please Him in song—magnifying Him. Song is certainly a higher way to magnify Him than words.

Seeing that my spiritual gift is encouragement, it makes sense that it should spill over into my interaction with the LORD through song.

“…the great object of…worship is to please God…” William S. Plumer (ref#183). From GOD’s perspective: He waits for me to bring Him joy. He created me that I might bring Him pleasure (Rev 4:11).  Now I’m really on a mountaintop!

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SABBATH

A SIGN OF THE COVENANT

“Blessed is the man who refuses to work during my Sabbath days of rest, but honors them; and blessed is the man who checks himself from doing wrong” (Isa 56:2 TLB).

“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer” (Isa 56:6-7 NASB).

“Keeping the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant” The NIV Study Bible (ref#96, p1099, [Isa 56:4,6]). “Covenant union with God defines the true people of God and their true worship” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1343, [Isa 56:6]).

These Scriptures in Isaiah 56 convey to us our part of GOD’s covenant with us—“the duties which men owe to God…” Matthew Poole (ref#112, p454, [Isa 56:1-8]). We must prepare ourselves if we are to be included in the covenant and benefit by it. We are to avoid evil (v 2), keep justice and do righteousness (v 1).

“The Sabbath is a covenant sign that represents a lifestyle of devotion to the Lord, for it requires the practical recognition of every week around him” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1342, [Isa 56:2]).

We are not only instructed to keep the Sabbath, but be “resolute and constant in so doing; that not only begins well, but perseveres in it”  Matthew Poole (ref#112, p455, [Isa 56:2]). The Sabbath keeping “is an eminent part and the bond of all the rest” to GOD’s covenant (ref#112, p454, [Isa 56:1-8]).

If we desire the blessings of GOD we need to make the Sabbath rest part of our every week. “Sanctify My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God’” (Ezek 20:20 NASB).

SUPPLICATION

CHRISTIAN

[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST. Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves. Fill their name or your name in the blanks.]

THE RADICAL GOSPEL

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-25-25-pm…FATHER, guide ____ to always make You the hero of anything (he/she) says. The accomplishments and goals of life do not come from human efforts as non-Christians think. Christians have a radical view of life and care nothing about earthly success.

“This view of life is that we are a people chosen by a sovereign, loving, God who, in Christ, has forgiven us and adopted us into his family. He is at work in each situation to conform us to the image of his Son, supplying all that we need to do what he has called us to do….we are weak vessels of clay that have been filled with the all-surpassing power of God’s presence” Paul David Tripp (ref#5, p297).

“The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Jan 7th).

THANKSGIVING

HEIRS OF GOD’S PROMISES AND GOD HIMSELF

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-20-39-pm…FATHER, my irrepressible joy comes from the consciousness of Your favor and protection (Ps 97:11). I thank You not only for everything Your covenant promises but for You. You are my portion and inheritance (Num 18:20). You adopt me into Your family. You are my share (Lam 3:24). Therefore I have an infinite interest in every perfection of Your divine nature Octavius Winslow (ref#61, Sept 12th).

In You, FATHER, there is “an all-sufficiency of love to comfort us; an all-sufficiency of strength to uphold us; an all-sufficiency of power to protect us; an all-sufficiency of good to satisfy us; an all-sufficiency of wisdom to guide us; an all-sufficiency of glory to reward us; and an all-sufficiency of bliss to make us happy here, and happy to all eternity” Octavius Winslow (ref#61, Sept 12th).

CONFESSION

A TRUE PICTURE OF MYSELF

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-12-27-pm“O MY LORD, Forgive me for serving thee in sinful ways – by glorying in my own strength, by forcing myself to minister through necessity, by accepting the applause of others, by trusting in assumed grace and spiritual affection, by a faith that rests upon my hold on Christ, not on him alone, by having another foundation to stand upon beside thee; for thus I make flesh my arm” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p182).

FATHER, there is no soundness in my flesh (Ps 38:3,7)—that part of me that is under the control of ordinary impulses. I have no health or rest when I pamper my flawed, damaged, evil nature. Loathsome and corrupt wounds sprout because of my foolishness in looking for comfort within my HOLY SPIRIT-less nature (Ps 38:5). I become feeble and crushed, faint and quite worn out from such effort; I groan be reason of the disquiet and moaning of my heart (Ps 38:8).

When I allow my depraved nature to rule me, my iniquities go over my head—like waves of a flood—they become a heavy burden weighing too much for me (Ps 38:4). My heart throbs, my strength fails me and the sparkle in my eyes disappear (Ps 38:10). My pain and sorrow are ever before me (Ps 38:17).

When I sin by making my own carnal-minded, prudent-seeming, decisions I ignite Your indignation, triggering Your discipline (Ps 38:3). Your arrows stick into me, and Your hand comes down on me (Ps 38:2).

FATHER, when, with rebukes, You correct and chasten me for sin, the beauty, vigor, and strength of my “first Adam” nature is marred and destroyed. Anything that is the object of my desire or delight (“strength, beauty, possessions, life itself”) disappears with Your expression of displeasure (ref#16, [Ps 39:11]). Your discipline causes me to see my natural nature as it is—not beautiful or strong.

Drive me to my knees; showcase my wretchedness; make me see how prudent it is to repent and stop relying on my old nature.

“Only in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness (salvation and victory) and strength [to achieve].…” (Isa 45:24 AMP).

ADORATION

CHRIST’S HUMILITY

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-07-02-pmAmong us, CHRIST, You were gentle and humble in heart (Matt 11:29)—as the One who serves (Luke 22:27). You made Yourself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Phil 2:7). And being found in human form, You humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). For my sake You became poor, that through Your poverty I might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).

In the days of Your flesh, You offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Your FATHER. Only He was able to save You from death (Heb 5:7).

You gave Your back to those who struck You, and Your cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; You did not hide Your face from shame and spitting (Isa 50:6). You were a reproach to men and despised by the people (Ps 22:6). Zeal for Your FATHER’s house consumed You; all who reproached Your FATHER, fell on You (Ps 69:9).

FATHER, keep reminding me that my life’s goal is to be Your bondservant as CHRIST was. If You allow me to serve You in a specific way, keep me from focusing on that service. Rivet my focus on being Your bondservant. Refine me into salt (Matt 5:13)—too much salt to the unregenerate but a perfect portion for the regenerate so that my life mirrors CHRIST.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

HOLY SPIRIT – unholy spirit

5/27/2015

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-58-31-pmIdentified the problem that was making me feel miserable. But it wasn’t the current problem.

Each day I was moving further away from the SPIRIT who I beheld so clearly over the weekend. He was fading like the morning dew. And there was no way I could find to go back treading the wet grass with Him. The ground was dry.

I definitely feel like I’ve lost a best friend. I mourn—longing for the exhilaration of “knowing” I was beside GOD Himself and able to obey Him exuberantly. The joy of it was addicting. Who obeys exuberantly when we’re in the room with just ourselves?

My journal is full of mountaintops and valleys where GOD is close, and then gone. My life marches to those ebb and flows. So, the logical question is, “How can I get myself again close to the SPIRIT?”

But, as soon as I ask that, I must be cautious reminding myself that the SPIRIT is like the wind (Acts 2:2)—hard to capture. And, I’ve read enough about revival to know mankind gets in trouble seeking to keep the SPIRIT after He’s made Himself known in an extraordinary way.

So the answer does not have anything to do with what I can do to get him to stay or to return. And, does it do any good to make a conscious effort to wait for Him—just sit and wait until I feel Him once again? Well, I have done that and sometimes it has worked.

Indeed, I’m instructed to ask for Him (Luke 11:13), but “waiting”—sitting and waiting is risky. It’s the same as in the great revivals where people loved His appearing so much they forgot all about who’s Spirit He was and only concentrated on Him. But, the SPIRIT does not initiate anything. He is obedient to the FATHER and the SON. So, I cannot wait expecting something from the SPIRIT directly.

The enemy is the great imitator. He is quite able to act in all the ways man has enjoyed the HOLY SPIRIT. But, he is the unholy spirit acting without the FATHER’s or CHRIST’s authority.

So now the question becomes: “How can I distinguish the real SPIRIT and guard against following the devil?” The words, “Holy, Holy, Holy” begin to give me the answer.

The Godhead, three in One, is “holy, holy, holy.” And I am not; so because I’m sinful I will be unable to feel myself in the SPIRIT’s presence continually. My journal entries do not lie—ebb and flow is how life is.

I flail around in the valley and continue to do so until I act in faith. I get that opportunity to act when the LORD puts spiritual information in front of my face. By faith only am I transported to the mountaintop.

A true mountaintop is always achieved by operating in faith; it is never achieved by waiting to “feel” the SPIRIT move. True, I may be aware of the SPIRIT when I am on the mountaintop but faith provided the foundation for Him. Faith always forms the foundation for the SPIRIT. Faith is a spiritual act; it is never accomplished by my human fleshly nature. The below quote helps me distinguish between the HOLY SPIRIT and the unholy spirit:

“Carnal pleasure, worldly profit and honor, the things of sense and time, are the things of the flesh…The favor of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit” Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Rom 8:5]).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH OF REST – SINCE TIME BEGAN: UNTIL TIME ENDS

“…the Sabbath entered Eden by man’s side. In its origin, it stands the firstborn of all ordinances. It is a portion of primary law. Its date precedes the date of sin. Away with the vain thought, that it is a short-lived flower of ritual field”  Henry Law (ref#214).

It arose not as a ceremony among ceremonies. Sinai was not its birth-place. The wilderness was not its cradle. Therefore Calvary is not its tomb. “It is no passing rite. It is the transcript of Jehovah’s mind. It shines a jewel in the high crown of moral law” Henry Law (ref#214).

It is God’s first command. The Patriarchs kept it. Sinai preached it. The holy tables gave it central place. The holy Ark encased it. The Jewish church revered it. Prophets enforced it. Jesus upheld it. The Apostles sanctioned it. The Christian church throughout all time has prized it. The prophetic finger still points to it as a last-day blessing. Is. 66:23. Eternity waits to be an eternity of Sabbath” Henry Law (ref#214).

“Jesus comes Himself. The mighty God instructs in human form….’The Sabbath was made for man.’ Mark 2:27. This is a mighty word. It looks backward, and forward. It seems to say, It always has been, for man always had need. It always shall be, for man will always need. Thus Jesus decks the Sabbath with undying freshness….It must march on, until time is lost in one Sabbatic rest” Henry Law (ref#214).

SUPPLICATION

NON CHRISTIAN Resisters

[We all have friends and family that do not want anything to do with Christianity so it is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

WORKINGS OF THE SPIRIT

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 3.49.48 PM…FATHER, I thank You that I cannot find out who commits the “unpardonable sin” for it would surely devastate me. I know You glorify Yourself through dispensing wrath since You are holy and only bless ones who are holy through their embracing the cross of Your Son, but I sure don’t want ____ to suffer forever without You.

FATHER, I pray ____ come to understand Your SPIRIT’s work:

“It is the Holy Spirit’s work to enlighten the mind of sinners (Eph 1:17,18), to reveal and teach the gospel (John 14:26), persuading souls to repent and believe the truth (cf. Acts 7:51)” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1421, “The Unpardonable Sin”).

Your SPIRIT not only explains Your Word, but will open ____’s mind so (he/she) can perceive it (2 Cor 3:16,17).

I pray ____ has not deliberately and knowingly refused what the SPIRIT freely gives. I pray (he/she) has not committed such a “voluntary and informed act of malice” to the point that (his/her) heart is so hardened making (him/her) unable to repent (Heb 3:12-13) (ref#56, p 1421, “The Unpardonable Sin”).

I know there is a profound act of hatred that You have determined You will not forgive—indeed, cannot forgive. And, I know You must respond to offenses against Your love, but I pray that You continue to beckon ____. I pray (he/she) has not gone beyond (his/her) ability to turn back toward You. Send Your SPIRIT, FATHER to persuade ____ to repent and believe the truth!

THANKSGIVING

YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH ME; I AM ASTONISHED

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 3.44.16 PM…FATHER, love is “an affection of union and nearness…” John Owen (ref#35, p113). The result of our union raises my level of love to You—it increases my faith. Because of our union I observe Your kindness, tenderness, unchangeableness, etc, which brings rest to my soul, and rest is my most prized possession (ref#35, p114).

O LORD, I desire to search out continually Your beauty for I am always seeking rest for my soul. This rest is a quiet joy that fills me completely so I find no need to roam unsatisfied. To be a doorkeeper in Your house, to get as close as I can to You is my desire, for a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:10) (ref#35, p113).

“The union…of likeness, is the cause of the love of another” John Owen (ref#35, p113).

You rejoice over me with joy and rest in silent satisfaction. You are held still by the very depth of Your love for me—resting with contentment. You are delighted when You think of me—with deep and tender yearning love You hold me to Yourself. Your love for me so engulfs You, You leap for joy; every inward and outward expression or token of love is heaped together to express Yourself. You sing—Your contentment is expressed in singing—I cause the jubilee in Your heart (Zeph 3:17).

Thus, Your love animates me; it makes me fully satisfied with You so I will not seek further for another to love. Your love is a joy past belief, past utterance, past thought. I am motionless as I experience Your love but then must exult in an outward demonstration of my delight. Singing and praise is the result of my great enjoyment and pleasure in You. Your love is so surprising I must leap for joy or cry or do something that would embarrass even Michal, King David’s wife (2 Sam 6:16). Michal would think, “This is not normal.”  It may not be normal but how thankful I am it is real.