03/21/16

Only the Good Stuff.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints,for the courts of the Lord;my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home,and the swallow a nest for herself,where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house;they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you,whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka,they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength,till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield;the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty,blessed is the one who trusts in you.”

— Psalms 84

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “

— Matthew 5:8

My small group has been going through The Comparison Trap by Andy & Sandra Stanley these last few weeks and it has stirred some very fruitful conversations for us during group times and some lingering thoughts for me afterwards. This last week, the topic revolved around our overall dissatisfaction, potentially the root (or at least one of the roots) of comparison.

Sandra states that “our dissatisfaction with how we look, feel, act, etc. says more about how we feel about our God than the people, circumstances, or situations that we compare ourselves to.” Somehow we feel like He is holding out on us.

Like He owes us something.

Every moment that we spend comparing ourselves or our circumstances to those of another is a silent, or not so silent, accusation to God. After all, who else has the power to increase our knowledge on a certain subject? Make us skinnier or give us a different body so we wouldn’t struggle with negative body image? Who else could drop the perfect man or relationship in our lap?

We feel short-changed. 

I wanted to run from that statement. I didn’t want to believe that I was upset at Him or doubtful or angry.

Oh my. It was impossibly convicting.

In Scripture, He tells us that He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly…

What are these good things, these good gifts that He does not withhold from us?

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

Those good gifts should leave me feeling anything but short-changed and wanting. So, why do I compare? Why do I envy? Why do I feel empty unless I have what she has?

I recently read a commentary on Psalms 84 from Steven Cole and he states, “The pleasures that God gives to satisfy our souls should fuel our desire to be in His presence. In other words, God motivates us to seek Him with the pleasures and satisfaction of being in His presence. And those pleasures are not all delayed until we arrive in heaven. They begin now. As Jesus proclaimed with reference to His sheep (John 10:10b), ‘I came that they may have life; and have it more abundantly.'”

It’s discerning  what the “good things” are and how they are good for us that is the key. We must interpret this promise from our Heavenly Father in the light of the many trials and tribulation that Scripture tells us the Saints endured.

This is where living out our faith steps in.

Although we may not always understand God’s purpose for our trials, especially on this side of eternity, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). So, in that sense, He truly does not withhold any good thing from us. For all things work together to the building of the plan He has set for all mankind.

His blessing, His good gifts, are for those that “walk uprightly”; those that trust Him.

Those that are not blameless, or ever proclaim to be, but those that live in a constant state of awareness as to their dependence on Christ. Confessing their sins and seeking to obey Him and bring praise to Him in all they do.

In 1714, Matthew Henry, the well-known pastor and Bible commentator, was on his deathbed at ripe age of 52. Throughout his life, he had endured the loss of his first wife and 3 of his 9 children had preceded his own death. He said to a friend, “You have been used to take notice of the sayings of dying men. This is mine—that a life spent in the service of God, and communion with Him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that one can live in the present world” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible) 

I want the good stuff.

Don’t you?!?

No longer feeling short-changed or that He owes me, but living and delighting in His truth and knowing the Lord gives me all I need to accomplish what He sets before me. Knowing that He supplies all my needs. Knowing that He gave me life, and for me to live it abundantly!

Let’s step into good living…

Celebrate rather than compare.

Prayer rather than despair.

Exultation & praise when you feel the dark closing in.

Thanksgiving for the good gifts He has already provided rather than envy the stuff of others.

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