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Archive for July 21st, 2010

Discerning the Lord’s Call:  Reflections From Psalm 37

Matthew's Call

Matthew's Call

Have you ever come to a point in you life when you sense, deep in your inner self that the Lord is calling you to follow Him? And you sense your response is: Who Me. Lord? If so then you need to discern your call!

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Trust in the LORD, and do good;

so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the LORD,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your plans to the LORD;

trust in him, and he will act.

He will make your vindication shine like the light,

and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;

do not fret over those who prosper in their [own] way,

over those who carry out evil devices[schemes].

(Psalm 37:3-7)

My dear fellow pilgrims,

Today, I wish to share with you my reflections on the scripture cited above that has helped me navigate through some very difficult times in “Walking the Walk” with Jesus. I do so in order that you may profit from my mistakes and thus avoid some of the pitfalls we all face as we attempt to respond to the Lord’s Call in our lives.

After my conversion, in my sincere, but uninspired, desire to let the Lord reign in my life, I proceeded in a very disorganized and impulsive manner. I was trying to put the Word of God to work in my life but I did not have a consistent spirit-led approach – instead I responded to events and circumstances in a helter-skelter manner, that is, in a fleshly unthinking instinctive manner. In so doing, I often found myself doing things out of my own-self will rather than the Lord’s perfect will.

My core problem was that I was letting my human zeal and pride dominate my decisions in the direction of my walk. I was using my own self-centered human efforts in my attempt to please God. What I should have been doing is surrendering myself to the Lord in Love and letting Him work in me and through me so that He, and He alone, would be the one to accomplish His will and His Works in this world. I had forgotten that I am merely His servant and that, as LORD, all the initiative is to be His.

In seeking guidance, I turned to The Word of God, remembering that we are told that, “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet / A light unto my path” (Ps. 110:105).  As I prayed and meditated on this psalm I asked for guidance from His Word on the basic principles I should use to stabilize my life and to discipline the disordered manner in which I was trying to apply His Word to my life, which was in a state of disarray.

As I prayed I felt the Lord was leading me to Psalm 37. I had been reading and praying through the Psalms so the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the passage from Psalm 37 that I cite in the foreword. This segment of the psalm struck me as very meaningful regarding the situation I was in.

At that time in my life, the spiritual gifting the Lord had graced me with had begun to be evident to me and I was struggling with attempting to discern my personal calling in ministry to the community. However, my motives were not entirely pure and I was hypocritically covering them, thinking to myself: “after all, it is to share my gifts with them”. Because I was not listening to the Lord’s direction, and was trying to do things under my own self-will, I was making many mistakes, stumbling all over myself and hurting others.

My problem was that I presumed that, because of the gifting I sensed the Lord had placed on me, I could just determine for myself how and when I was to use these gifts in the community. So in my efforts to be “used” of God I became very self-promoting in our community prayer meetings.  I also found that, in order to justify myself,  I was taking segments of His Word (out of context, of course) and attempting to use them to fit my own “religious” plans and schemes. This was resulting in disorder in my life and the lives of those around me because I was, in fact, walking in the flesh, twisting the Word to my desires not His. Of course, this led to fleshly results and opening the door to the enemy. In short, I was really messed up.

Lent came early that year and, during my personal prayer time and meditation in preparation for the penitential season we were entering into, I began to feel the pangs of conscience, so as I was conducting my personal assessment, in repentance, I asked the Lord in prayer what He wanted me to give up for Lent.  His answer shocked me. He told me in no uncertain terms that what I needed to give up was my self-promotion and the way I was to rid myself of this ugly habit was to be quiet during the prayer meetings during all of Lent! I was not to prophesy, I was not to teach or share, I was not to pray in tongues or in any way use the gifts He had placed in me. If I prayed it was to be as a quiet personal prayer under my breath. Not because the gifts were not of Him, but because I was using them to my own ends rather than His, I needed to die to self.

He then began to teach me something about the use of the spiritual gifts that I had blinded myself to, namely, that the spiritual gifts are His gifts and He is the One who administers these gifts through me. He is Lord and I am merely His servant, His channel to be used by Him for His purposes and not mine!  So it was during that Lenten season that the Lord led me through His Word, through a variety of scriptures that clearly set me on the right track back on the narrow path from which I had so sinfully deviated. The scripture I have chosen to headline this posting is the one which has really stayed with me because it so clearly summarizes the path we must take to truly discern our response to the Lord’s Call, to be totally yielded to the Spirit’s leading, and to crucify the flesh as we come into His service.

In order to share what I have learned I will paraphrase the cited scripture verse by verse with the personal meaning that the Spirit placed on it for me so that I could comprehend the manner in which a disciple ought to walk with his Lord.

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A Scriptural Approach to Discerning the Lord’s Call In our Lives

Personal Reflections Based on Verses Taken from Psalm 37

[3] Trust in the LORD, and do good;

so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Our walk with the Lord begins with trust. This trust flows from a relationship with Him. Without a living personal relationship with Him we cannot reach the level of trust we need to stay on the strait and narrow path. Without a relationship with Him we cannot “do good” because, as He has told us that unless we abide in the vine we cannot bear fruit. As long as we continue in fellowship and trust with in the place where He has us, and doing the good for which He created us, then we will enjoy His protection and provision on our lives.

When we are motivated by pride and our own self-will we are not abiding in Him and our fellowship is broken and we cannot even get started on our walk with the Lord. In His goodness and mercy, as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and we repent and confess our sins, He is righteous and just to forgive us and restores us to fellowship with Him (1Jn.1:9), centering our life again on Him, and Him alone!

[4] Take delight in the LORD,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

In this restored and yielded state of fellowship we will find ourselves delighting, yes, literally delighting, in the presence of the Lord in our lives. This sense of delight comes especially from our loving obedience to His Will as manifested through His Word and through our worship of the One True God in Spirit and in Truth. It is when we are in this state, where we have placed the Lord at the center of our lives, that the Lord then places His desires in our hearts. In fact, it is in this state that His desires replace our human, fleshly desires so that we can become the channels and instruments of His Will in this world.

[5] Commit your plans to the LORD;

trust in him, and he will act.

Then, and only then, can the plans we formulate from our inner desires truly reflect His Plans and His Will.  Our response to His call must be based on His infused desires and NOT on our own fleshly impulses. For you see it is His Will that we be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom into this world. So that when we act and make plans based on the desires He has placed in our hearts it is HIS WILL that will be done and not ours! But we must commit or consecrate our plans to HIM and if we do so He will realize those plans in and through our lives, for His Glory! Praised be His Holy Name!

[6] He will make your vindication shine like the light,

and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

If we follow the leadings of the Spirit in this process, then, and only then, will we see our plans bearing fruit for His Glory! This realization of our plans (really, His plans) in response to His call will vindicate the faith and trust we have placed on Him. And, in yielding to Him in Love we will see His purposes in using us as partners fully realized.

[7] Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;

do not fret over those who prosper in their [own] way,

over those who carry out evil devices [schemes].

But the final step is the ultimate test of our faith and our willingness to die to self – it calls us to be still and wait patiently for the Lord to act! This is where we put down our human zeal that desires to get things going because of the self-exaltation we get from doing things from our own ego. This is true even of things we do for the Lord.

By waiting for the Lord we purify our motives and humble ourselves before Him acknowledging in faith that the plans we committed to Him are indeed His plans and not ours and that He, and He alone, can fulfill and activate these plans.

On Eagles Wings

On Wings of Eagles

But we have to wait for Him to act, that is, to bring it to pass! It must be His initiative, not ours! Thus it is, when we wait for the Lord to act, that His anointing will empower us as we work out His will to the task for which He has ordained us. The very anointing that empowers, then, us is confirmation that He is there working in us and through us! That is how this partnership with Him works. That is why we find in the book of Isaiah that , “…but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Is.40:31)

If the anointing is not there, beware, you are most likely walking in the flesh or your service is not in the area that the Lord has ordained for you individually! Waiting for the Lord helps you in discerning not only when but where the Lord wants you. In this way you avoid many of the problems that come from mistaking the Lord’s leading.

In waiting, we are not to be anxious or tempted in seeing those who prosper doing their own thing. That is, those who are acting out of their own self-will rather than God’s.  In waiting for the Lord we are ascribing to Him, and Him alone, all the Glory and Honor for the work He chooses to perform through us!  When we do not wait for the Lord and act out of our own flesh then we are putting down the Lord and dishonoring Him. That is why the psalm describes those who do so as workers of evil schemes.

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Now, brothers and sisters, I am not, implying that these reflections on Psalm 37 are the end-all and be-all of a discernment process. I only present, these, my private reflections, as an example of how the Word works in our lives to lead us along our walk with Jesus. When we ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance He opens up the scriptures to us and uses them to correct our paths and discern His personal guidance for us.

The Lord works in each of us in very different ways depending on our personalities and state of mind and heart. However, praying over these verses and asking the Lord’s guidance for your lives will certainly initiate the contact you need with Him so that He can, through prayer, guide you to the individual aspects of His will for you that you are seeking.  The reflections above may also serve as a spiritual checklist to see where you stand with the Lord so that His Will may be done in you and through you!

In conclusion I must also clarify the statements about “waiting for the Lord”.  This type of discernment is mainly needed when:

(1)  we sense in our hearts that we are at a crossroads in our lives and we are seeking the Lord on which path to take to continue to serve Him,

or

(2)  when the flesh has entered into our walk with Him, deviating us from the strait and narrow path and are in need of restoration .

If we are already in a calling or ministry to which we have already attained such as marriage or the religious state, and we are walking in fellowship with Him, we should already have the basic guidance we need to function in that state or calling (as per Brother Lawrence). So when you are functioning within the constraints of your calling, your every-day duties and obligations themselves are indicators as to God’s will for you.  If this is the case, your main discernment is to do everything out of Love, agape Love using the inspired Word as your guidebook.  If there is any waiting at all it is only to ensure that all your motives are “sure and pure” and that you have crucified the flesh in all that you do in your current calling.

It is only when you have a new leading that appears to change something in what you are currently doing that you need to do a more thorough discernment in seeking the Lord’s will and waiting for Him to authenticate that new call. This will ensure that it is really the Lord’s calling and not your own fleshly desires seeking an outlet.

In all things remember,

“… brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Rom. 8:12-14)

and,

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34,

James 4:6)

Your Brother in Christ Jesus …  Bartimaeus

Post Script:

It is unfortunate that our religious culture has placed such an emphasis on the ordained ministry that we have forgotten that the Lord calls every Christian to fulfill a purpose for the life that has been placed in him/her and that each of us needs to respond and receive His calling and empowerment so that His Will may be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

Recommended  Links

Discipleship and the Releasing of the Spirit

About Brother Lawrence and the Practice of the Presence

The Beatitude Series of Posts

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 3)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 4)

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