Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: future

Getting face time with God

I rarely get into long conversations via phone.  Since I live many states away from most of my family, I’m sure this drives them nuts.  Part of my hang up with phone conversations is how only hearing someone’s voice hinders our ability to communicate.  It can be hard to focus on the person we’re speaking with when they are not physically in front of us.  We lose out on seeing facial expressions and body language – both of which are significant contributors to how we communicate with each other.  It’s just not the same as face to face.

Prayer can sometimes feel similar, like an incomplete discussion or like we are have a one-way, long-distance conversation.  How much better would it be to sit on the couch and talk with Jesus than to sit on the couch and pray to Jesus?

In John’s final descriptions of the New Jerusalem, he tells us that

Revelation 22:3-5
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.

There are some special privileges listed here for those servants.  The first one to note is in verse 4 – They will see his face.

There were many key people that God partnered with in the ages, many who shared a close friendship with God and did great things for him.  One of God’s most intimate friendships was with a man named Moses.  God and Moses met together on numerous occasions, and God’s presence was constantly manifested with the nation of Israel during Moses’ leadership.  If you were looking to identify which individual in history has had the most direct interaction with God, it would be very difficult to argue against Moses being that guy.

On one occasion, Moses reverently asked God “Please, let me see Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18).  Check out God’s response:

Exodus 33:19-23
He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you…” But He added, “You cannot see My face, for humans cannot see Me and live…you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.”

Although he was thisclose with God, Moses was unable to see God’s face.

Many years later, Paul – who had his own direct encounter with the glorified, risen Christ – wrote this to the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

How different is it talking to someone on speakerphone verses calling them on Skype?  How much more intimate is it to speak with someone face to face, rather than talking with them from separate rooms?  Seeing God’s face is a new level of intimacy with God that will be available in the New Jerusalem. 

And that is something to look forward to.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Flashback Favorite: Tired hearts

Tired hearts
originally posted on April 10, 2015

As Jesus was dying on the cross, His final cries to the Father found their root in psalms that David had written.  A psalm has the distinction of being both poetry and a song.  When David wrote a psalm, he was not afraid to bear his raw feelings, thoughts, and fears to God.  David’s topics ranged from great celebration of what God accomplished all the way down to personal, deep feelings of despair. 

It’s during one of those low times that David wrote the following psalm.  Although his circumstances were dragging him down and he felt like his own heart was without strength, David clearly believed that God was able to handle his difficult situation.

Psalm 61:1-4

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth
when my heart is without strength.

Lead me to a rock that is high above me,
for You have been a refuge for me, 
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

I will live in Your tent forever
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

David’s request is as simple as it is profound – Lead me.  David sought God’s guidance and direction to see him through the trial in front of him.  When we find ourselves in trouble, our first inclination usually isn’t a desire to be told what to do next.  We want to find our own way out, and if we can’t find a path…then we figure it’s time to blaze one.  So how is it that David is able to muster the response of actually wanting God to lead him? 

The answer is found in the verses immediately following his request.

David can confidently ask God to lead him through his present problems because he remembers how God has provided for him in the past:

for You have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

David recalls the previous times when God was both his rescuer and his strength.  Essentially, he’s telling God “When I relied on you in the past, you came through; so I trust you to lead me now.” 

What’s also interesting is that as he remembers his past experience with God, David’s trust isn’t limited to his immediate problems.  He’s already committing his future to being under God’s protection.

I will live in Your tent forever,
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

Based upon God’s history, David trusts Him with the present issues as well as any future ones that he can’t see yet.  This is an excellent example for us.  When we struggle with letting God lead us through today’s trial, all we have to do is remember the times when God has previously protected and defended us.  Keeping that in mind makes sure that we aren’t overwhelmed when the low times come and our hearts are without strength.

Keep Pressing,
Ken
 

Does the past predict the future?

Past performance is not indicative of future results. 

We see that phrase all over the place, especially when investing money is involved.  It’s the author’s attempt at a legal disclaimer: “Don’t blame me if you lose all your money by trusting this investment I’m recommending.”  And yet, more often than not, the author is basing his or her assessment of “investment worthiness” on the stock’s historical performance.  Strange contradiction, right?

Isn’t that how we treat God sometimes?  We look back at everything He’s done for us, all the times He’s rescued us…and while we confidently say the right things “I trust God with my future.”, we end up worrying about how events will unfold.  Like the unsteady investor, we’re contradicting ourselves as we attempt to point others toward Jesus.

David begins Psalm 27 with his current outlook, looks back at his past, then extrapolates these out to his future.  Do you find any unsteadiness?

Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation –
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploy against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though war break out against me,
still I am confident.


David could look back and see that when someone was gunning for his life, God stepped in and took care of it.  We shouldn’t blow this off with the thought of “well, no one’s trying to kill me, so I can’t relate”.  There are many, many ways others will try to take a pound of flesh from us.  Ruined reputations, finances, careers, marriages, community involvement, even volunteer positions could all be targets of those who want to take us down.

Notice, too, that David doesn’t say God prevented all hardship; rather, with the benefit of hindsight, David could see how his foes and enemies stumbled and fell.  Best of all, David recognized that God was the one who handled his foes.  Instead of proclaiming that he survived the ordeal, David gives God the proper credit for his protection.

David’s current confidence and faith in God was rooted in God’s previous workings in David’s life.  So much so that David says he will still trust God even if the future trials are significantly worse.  Previously, individual evildoers threatened him.  Now, David says that even if multitudes come against him – armies or full-scale war – he will remain confident in God’s ability to handle the future.

David is not worried about the future.  He knows that he can find light and rescue and strength in the Lord.  He’s not adding any disclaimers or hedging his bets anywhere else.  Given everything God has done for us in the past, we should also be giving Him our full trust with our futures.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Bedrock truth

It’s amazing to me that it’s the simple ideas that keep us going. 

I love playing in the sandbox of theology, looking over the constructs of other people’s best understanding of God.  Some ridiculously smart people have thought through God’s Word and arrived at some intricate, mind-blowing conclusions.  The mental gymnastics it takes to keep up while comparing their thoughts to Scripture is both exhausting and exciting to me.

But not when detours happen.

When I’m already mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted…I’m not looking for deep-thought theology.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want “mamby-pamby feelly-good” sentiments either.  When life takes a detour, I need simple, straight-forward, bedrock truth.

David understood this need.  He felt it, too. 

This week, I’ve been dwelling on Psalm 16.  It wasn’t until the second day, when I had already read through the psalm several times, that I noticed a four-word sentence at the end of verse five.  But as soon as I saw it, those four simple words became my anchor.

Psalm 16:5
You hold my future.

David needed to say these words to God, to remind himself of what was true.  Despite whatever he saw coming his way, how he felt, or who was causing him trouble…David’s future was in God’s hands. 

Since noticing that verse, I have kept my Bible open next to me as I work on our next step.  Whenever the tension would rise and the stress would start to build and my mind would start to cloud up with doubt…I would look over and read those words out loud.

You. Hold. My. Future.

That’s all it took to calm me back down so I would be able to go forward again.  Just that small dose of truth.  Remembering that Someone who is more powerful, who understands more, who sees more, and – most importantly – who loves me…that Someone is the One who holds my future.

When life takes a detour, what we really need is to be reminded of the simple, powerful, foundational truths.

I am not alone.  Neither are you.
I am not abandoned.  Neither are you.
I can go forward.  So can you.
He holds my future.  He holds yours, too.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Choosing our path

When God says something, it’s best that we pay attention.  Sometimes, ideas or commands are even repeated a second time for emphasis.  However, when we read the same phrase five times in eight verses…we need to stop and take a closer look.

One of the overarching themes of the Bible, especially found in the wisdom literature of Psalms and Proverbs, is looking at the course of the individual’s life.  Our path in life depends greatly on the choices we make – which job we take, where we go to school, which church to attend, where we live, and a multitude of other options available to us help plot a course that affects whom we meet, which friends we make, the spouse we marry, our relationship with God, and on and on.

Sometimes it feels like we’re simply being carried along a particular path, either by being passive or due to the consequences of our choices.  However, being passive is still a choice, and the Bible is clear that our choice of action (or in-action) brings either good or bad consequences to our lives.

The author of Psalm 119 was very concerned with the course his life was on.  Although two instances of the word are translated slightly different based upon context, he mentions the way or path he sees a total of five times.  However, the psalmist’s mile markers didn’t consist of friends, spouse, or even career.  When you read the text below, look for the way that he wanted avoid and the way he desired to pursue:

Psalm 119:25-32
My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word.
I told You about my [way of] life, and You listened to me; teach me Your statutes.
Help me understand the meaning [and way] of Your precepts so that I can meditate on Your wonders.
I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word.
Keep me from the way of deceit, and graciously give me Your instruction.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your decrees; Lord, do not put me to shame.
I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.

When the author talks to God about his way of life up until this time, God actively listens to all of it.  However, as the psalmist looks into the future, he can see the paths ahead are different from each other.  The distinguishing feature isn’t particular life moments or events; rather the differing paths are identified by how well they line up with God and His characteristics.

The author recognizes that he must choose between the way of deceit and the way of truth.  He even asks for help from God – to be kept away from deceitfulness and to be kept within the boundaries of God’s instruction and commands.

The same choice of paths is in front of us each day.  I pray that we choose wisely, all the while asking God for the understanding, strength, and grace that comes from walking in the way of the Lord.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Tired hearts

As Jesus was dying on the cross, His final cries to the Father found their root in psalms that David had written.  A psalm has the distinction of being both poetry and a song.  When David wrote a psalm, he was not afraid to bear his raw feelings, thoughts, and fears to God.  David’s topics ranged from great celebration of what God accomplished all the way down to personal, deep feelings of despair. 

It’s during one of those low times that David wrote the following psalm.  Although his circumstances were dragging him down and he felt like his own heart was without strength, David clearly believed that God was able to handle his difficult situation.

Psalm 61:1-4

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth
when my heart is without strength.

Lead me to a rock that is high above me,
for You have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

I will live in Your tent forever
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

David’s request is as simple as it is profound – Lead me.  David sought God’s guidance and direction to see him through the trial in front of him.  When we find ourselves in trouble, our first inclination usually isn’t a desire to be told what to do next.  We want to find our own way out, and if we can’t find a path…then we figure it’s time to blaze one.  So how is it that David is able to muster the response of actually wanting God to lead him? 

The answer is found in the verses immediately following his request.

David can confidently ask God to lead him through his present problems because he remembers how God has provided for him in the past:

for You have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

David recalls the previous times when God was both his rescuer and his strength.  Essentially, he’s telling God “When I relied on you in the past, you came through; so I trust you to lead me now.” 

What’s also interesting is that as he remembers his past experience with God, David’s trust isn’t limited to his immediate problems.  He’s already committing his future to being under God’s protection.

I will live in Your tent forever,
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

Based upon God’s history, David trusts Him with the present issues as well as any future ones that he can’t see yet.  This is an excellent example for us.  When we struggle with letting God lead us through today’s trial, all we have to do is remember the times when God has previously protected and defended us.  Keeping that in mind makes sure that we aren’t overwhelmed when the low times come and our hearts are without strength.

Keep Pressing,
Ken