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Posted By Nan

When God’s direction is not the one you think it should be

For today’s blog I am telling a story. This story is a timely reminder of how we can block the joy God has for us when we try to impose our will on a situation rather than trusting God. This is what the Psalms I have covered already have been referring to. Trust in God and a willingness to place our trust in Him and be able to praise Him, even when things are really dark, is what gives us joy.

 Thirty years ago, my first daughter was approaching her first birthday. There was a group of mothers I had met at our local Baby Health Clinic who all had babies the same age. As Christmas approached we planned a Christmas Party play morning. We all had to buy a small present for our child to wrap and put under the tree.

We were on a tight budget and I was wondering what I could squeeze in the budget to afford this present. As I walked along the road, praying for guidance, I saw two $2 coins on the ground. I picked them up. I could not see anyone near who may have dropped them. Shortly after that I walked past a book store and saw on tables out the front discount children’s books. As I looked at the table, I saw a book about the first Christmas. It was $4! It was exactly what I wanted for my daughter. Here was a lovely book I could read to her to teach her about Jesus’ birth. So I bought the book, wrapped it and placed under the tree at the play morning.

The morning was hosted by a domineering woman. She was strong willed and opiniated. Her strongest opinion was her hatred of all things Jesus. She did not like me at all. At that time she did not realise I was a follower of Jesus but maybe she sensed it. This woman was also avaricious. The presents sat under the tree with my book being the biggest gift. The woman announced we were going to pick a gift from under the tree for our child. She had sighted my gift, the biggest, and she wanted the biggest gift for her son. So she insisted on going first. Her son went to grab a brightly coloured package but she wasn’t having that. She directed him to my gift. The look of greed on her face as he opened it was astonishing. Then her face turned to consternation and disgust. It was a book about Jesus! Her son was delighted. A book! He lifted it to his mother to read and she was repelled by it.

At the time I, felt a mixture of disappointment, because I wanted the book for my daughter, and laughter that this avaricious woman had directed her son to the biggest present that turned out to be the last thing she wanted. In the end the disappointment was the greatest feeling. As I sat there feeling disappointed, God gently reminded me that my daughter already knew about Him. I would always be able to teach her about Him. She had the blessing of that teaching already. But this little boy had a mother who hated God. This was one of the only chances he was going to get to hear about Jesus.

This morning, I remembered the story again. As I contemplated it, in conversation with God, He reminded me about that boy and his need. He had other family who loved God and prayed for him. That book was not thrown away, they found it and read it to the boy so that he could learn about God. God had plans for that boy. He belonged to God and at some stage in his life he will meet God and become a follower of Jesus, if he hasn’t already done so.

When we see things happening, we second guess God’s direction and think we have it all worked out. But God’s direction is not always the direction we have decided it will be. This story is a great illustration of how I decided God had supplied this book for my daughter. But He had supplied it instead for a little boy whose relatives prayed for him. He had supplied that little boy with a way for his relatives to teach him about Jesus.

It was a good reminder to not rush to reach the end too soon but to wait and see how that end unfolds. It came at a time when I was waiting to resolve a family misunderstanding and was tempted to imagine the future and what may happen. It was God’s reminder to not think of the future but to wait patiently for His resolution. And while I was waiting, to pray.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 28

 “Praise be to the Lord for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” V6-7 NIV.

What I love about the psalms is their honest faith. David, and the other psalm writers, speak of terrible times. They speak of torment and difficulty. They speak of being persecuted and God seeming far away.

But they also speak of God’s faithfulness. They speak of His strength, the strength He has and the strength he imparts to us. The speak of the writer’s faith and trust in God. They speak of how God helps them. And they speak of the joy they feel when they think about all God has done for them.

This psalm shares all that delight and it adds an intriguing statement “I will give thanks to Him in song”.

How often do we do that? I don’t mean standing with other Christians and singing praise songs. I mean you on your own singing to God. I mean your heart singing with joy at what God has done for you. I mean the music of joy permeating every pore of your body so that every movement is music.

Can you experience joy like that? Can you dance around a room singing praise to God and allow what joy He has for you to enter in? It is something to consider doing. It is a challenge I am willing to take up. Will you try it too?

Posted By Nan

Psalm 27

The first 6 verses of this Psalm declare with great confidence how God is the light and salvation of His servant David. God is David’s stronghold to the extent that David does not fear anyone. He sees evil men being attacked and overcome by God who defends him. All he seeks in this is that he can dwell in God’s house forever. That he can gaze on God’s beauty. He will sacrifice to God with shouts of joy because of God’s might, faithfulness and beauty.
That is David’s declaration of faith. He had seen so much of God’s hand guiding him. Life was not easy. He had lost so much after being anointed as God’s King. He had lost his wife, his home, his country. He lived as a fugitive, cut off from Israel and in fear for his life.
He asked God to listen and be merciful when he called out for help. He asked God not to be angry with him and hide His face from David. David loved God and he heart’s desire was to seek God. He wanted that so much. And he wanted God to teach him to follow Him and serve him. He offered to give up everything for God.
God did answer, but the difficulties did not end. He was still a fugitive. He was cut off from his family. People told lies about him, others desired to kill him. But David held fast to his faith in God. He was prepared to wait for God. And as he waited, he was prepared to be strong and take heart because his confidence was in God.
This confidence was David’s source of joy. He knew God. He loved God. He desired to be with God forever. But he lived on earth and he had a God appointed task. Someday he would get to be with God forever, but for now he was living on earth. And earth was not a nice place to be at the moment.
Earth and this life is often not a nice place to be. We cannot just sit in peace in God’s presence and be surrounded by His beauty. We have to live in this world and carry out day to day activities that frequently distract from God. We struggle often in the chores of the day to experience God’s Joy. But this psalm is a wonderful illustration of how to find joy in the busyness of life. We need to take that time out every day to proclaim our confidence in God. To proclaim our love for him. To express our love and faith in Him.
Life is not easy. In fact it is often really hard. But David has shown how we can experience joy, even in the darkest of times. His example is a wise one to follow.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 21

“O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength.”

What a beautiful way to start a psalm.
This is an aspect of Joy that is important.
We rejoice because God is.
We rejoice because God is faithful.
We rejoice because God answers prayer.
We rejoice because God intervenes when it seems impossible.
We rejoice because God welcomes us.
We rejoice because God blesses us.
We rejoice because, despite the hopelessness that surrounds us, we know that the victory belongs to God.

May we rejoice in His strength.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 20
This Psalm is a beautiful prayer of support for each other, and faith in God
It starts asking that God answer you when you are in distress and protect you. May God send help. May God remember your faithfulness and worship.
Those asking this support for another say they will shout for joy when these prayers are answered.
It is a different aspect of Joy, the joy at a prayer answered, a hope fulfilled. In the case of this Psalm, it is about the people asking God to answer the prayer of their King for success in battle. So the joy they feel will also be about their rescue from an enemy.
The faith in God comes from their profession of faith and trust in God and His salvation.
This psalm speaks of the power of prayer for others and the support of community for each other. This is how God wanted it to be. But that is not necessarily how it is. Yes you may argue that the modern churches fulfil that need. But I have seen too many fail to pray support for each other and fail to offer support and encouragement for others within the community. Instead secular interests get in the way.
When we support one another as fellow children of God. When we offer community support as God intended, then there is joy in that true service to God. But when we only offer that support to those we agree with (secular interests) or who attend our church, then we are not serving God. There is no joy in that.



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