Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Words of Encouragement

Because it changes nothing.

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. - Psalm 37:1-11

As I was preparing the message for this month, September I went to this Psalm. I realized that I wrote something last month from this scripture and I was about to look for another one. Yet, God stopped me and told me we needed to hear the message again.
This scripture starts off with a direct instruction for the people of God. That instruction is do not fret or worry about what evil people will do. The reason why we should not worry is because God already has taken care of that.
Instead he instructs us do something positive. The positive things we are told to do instead of worrying are: trust, delight, commit, rest, and cease from anger. Why do you think we are given these instructions? Well first what can we change with worrying? Can we worry or fret away the enemy? Can we change our situations and circumstances by worrying? Will our finances or relationships be better because we worry? The answer is no.
On the flip side, if we do as the Psalmist instructs us we can see some change, even if the change is only in ourselves. So let us take a few moments to look at the things that can change.
Verse 3 says "Trust in the Lord." And in our trusting in him it should compel us to do what is good. When we do that we see that it will result in us being able to dwell in the land and be fed. This feeding from God is both physical and spiritual. When you and I determine to trust God it results in a change in our actions. We move from worrying (which keeps us standing in the same place) to actively pursuing God and his plans for our lives. Like the sheep that follows the shepherd, we too will be fed and taken care of.
Verse 4 says "Delight thyself also in the Lord." While you and I are trusting in God we should also find delight (pleasure in being in the presence of the Lord and in doing his will) in him. This attitude of gratitude results in God granting the desires of our hearts. Partly because as we dwell in his presence our desires change from selfish ones to ones that line up with God. We then move from worrying, which makes us focus on what we do not have and keeps us from having a grateful heart to one that delights in all that God is, all that God does and all that he does through us.
Verse 5 says "Commit thy way unto the Lord." I often hear of individuals trying to get jobs, or trying to do things and they want God to bless it. What we fail to understand is this key point, if we want God to bless us and what we are doing we have commit our ways to Him. That means I cannot do what I want and still believe that God is going to bless it. And we should not be fooled into thinking because something "bad" hasn't happened to us when we are going our own way, as if that says that God is pleased with us. It is fact simply us living off the mercy of the Almighty God and we should change our ways to line up with his before he removes his mercy from us because of our stubbornness and unyielding spirit. When we commit, we move from worry that says "do it, because God isn't moving fast enough" to saying, "Lord, I trust you and where ever you say go, I will go."
Verse 7  says "Rest in the Lord." Resting in the Lord also requires us to wait on him and not get fretful (worried) when things are not moving as quickly as we desire. When you and I rest in the Lord we are willing to say Lord,you are more than capable of handling my situation and I wait on you. And in the waiting time help me to commit even more of myself to you. When we worry and fret, we somehow believe the lie that we have to take control of our lives and we know best on how to pick our relationships, our behavior, or whatever it is we think we need RIGHT NOW. Our fretting moves us to make RIGHT NOW choices that lead from resting and trusting in God.

Verse 8 says "Cease from anger." What are you angry about? We often get angry when things are not moving as quickly as we would like them to move. This results in us looking at others around us and thinking, why do they have it good even though they are not doing what God says, maybe it doesn't take all this for me to live for God. I can do like the "evil man" and have my own way and then I'll receive the blessings. The psalmist warns against this thinking because again he states that God will cut off the evil ones. So the instruction for the people of God is not to get angry or to grow weary in doing what is right. Instead, we must not make RIGHT NOW decisions and miss receiving God directed decisions. We must not fret or worry, because it changes nothing for the positive, in fact it really changes us for the worst.

I pray for us today, that we would seek God to help us commit to him and to rest, trust and lean on him. Lord help us your people to turn from trying to doing things our way, with our own ideas and turn to doing things your way and in your will. Amen.