Sunday, 2 September 2012

Understanding God backwards...

Psalm 131
My heart is not proud, Lordmy eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. 

I love I love this Psalm... Can I say again how I love this Psalm!

Let me tell you why I love it, I love it because it stills me; it steadies me, like a lullaby sung over a baby in a rocking chair soothing the baby to sleep - this is a lullaby to my soul. When things don't seem to be working the way I expect them to, when impatience comes knocking at my door - I am learning to let Psalm 131 get the door for me.

There are times when you know you are in the right place, on the right track, on course of the plan which God gave you but the territory to which which you have been sent is tough.

Exodus 5 vs 22-23 "So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all"

That was Moses with the Lord, after Pharoah had heaped even more hardship on the people of Israel because they had asked to go and sacrifice to the Lord. Sound familiar anyone? You have just arrived in the city where God sent you, it's your first month on the job He gave you or your first day on the ministry He asked you to begin - and all of a sudden they've cut the lights in the new church office, there's a colleague that has just been transferred to your department who doesn't seem to like you very much and the new neighbours did not roll out the drums to welcome you, actually they seemed rather put out to have a new face about.

The Lord continues the conversation with Moses and this is what He says:

Exodus 6 vs 1 -3 "Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land." And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD.   I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them"

Now you will see what I shall do with you in this new city... you will see what I shall do on your new job... you will see what I shall do with you in the new ministry.

What I have just done in the last sentence is apply Exodus 6 to "your" circumstance. That, I believe is what God wants to do, if He has sent you - there are times where that requires for you to be still - to place your hope in the Lord, to stand and remain standing to see God's salvation in your situation despite what appears to be opposition and resistance to your success in what He has sent you to do.

There is one simple thing which I have learnt to do and this was something Pastor Patrick taught me, He asked me once "what was the last thing God said to you? Go back to that..." If God has not said something new, go back to the last thing He said to you, didn't He tell you this was it and has He said its time to leave yet? If the answer is no, then friend where are you going, who are you going with??

God is not wishy washy, willy nilly, He doesn't change His mind on a whim or as per circumstance, He is very focused on His assignment. If you read further - Exodus 3 vs 4 - 8, you will see how God refers over and over again to His convenant with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The Lord had not changed the last thing that He said, He made a convenant, had an assignment and He was committed to keeping it, same way He is committed to keeping every promise and fulfilling every assignment He has given us.

God said something in Exodus 6:3 - He said they knew me as their sufficiency - God Almighty - the literal translation from Hebrew is "in-El Who sufficies". He is saying you have known me up on till now as the Great Provider, the Strong One, the One sufficient to provide, but now again you will see another dimension of Me as The Lord that is Master of all - Jehovah - Yahweh.

In Nigerian Pidgin English there is a term we use called "Oga". It is a term which depicts the one in charge - in control. There is also a song that we sing which goes "Jesus na You be Oga" translates "Jesus it is You that is Master". I woke up this morning with that song on my heart...

They say hind sight is 20/20. I remember coming to a point in my life and reflecting back on some experiences I had some ten years ago and saying 'now I see why God let me walk through that path, if I had gone the other way I wouldn't have learnt this or learnt that, I had to go through A so I could get to B... I had to go through C so I could handle Y' I got a sense of understanding what God had been doing from the beginning of the matter - only when I got to the end of the matter; Sometimes you will only understand Him backwards....

He has the blue print of life so He can see what you can not see - so don't concern yourself with matters too great for you. Don't suppose to know more than Him because ermm... you don't.

Wean yourself, train yourself to be content with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as your guide. God is it time to move on - we move, is it time to chill here - we chill.

Lamentations 3:24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Be content in this "But He knows the way that I take..." Job 23:10a. God is not oblivous to our challenges, struggles or the paths that we take.

We used the following analogy on our prayerline: God's vision is like a "helicopter" vision compared to our "foot-wagon" vision, His ways are higher than your ways and so He can see much further than you.

God was saying in Exodus 6 that He is Lord of Pharoah, Lord over circumstances, Lord over cities, governments, neighbours, colleagues, jobs - He is the God who fulfills mandates. God who keeps convenants, God who completes assignments. The God to whom everything will bow, as He lines things up to work together for your good & to fulfill His purpose.

God allowed Pharoah's heart to be hardened so that He could judge Egypt with great judgements for all the wickedness they had exacted on Israel, that Israel would come out with great spoil from the Egyptians, that He would glorify His name Yahweh and that Israel would know Him as THE LORD.

There are times when you wonder but Lord You could do this in a twinkling of an eye - If we look at Exodus 9: 15-16 - we realise that God is also aware of that fact and He makes a note of it. The Lord's ways are not our ways - He wanted to bring Israel out with great judgement on their hard task master, He wanted to show His power and proclaim His name through that experience. He made Moses great amongst the Egyptians, causing them to fear the God of the Israelites which made Egypt to be favourably disposed toward Israel such that Israel could spoil them. Checkmate!

God is the Master Chess Player and He has all the best moves!

Exodus 7: 4-5 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.“When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.“The  Egyptians shall know that I am THE LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”

Exodus 9: 15-16 "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go." 

Exodus 11:3 The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.

Exodus 12:36 And the Lord had given the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Exodus 3: 21-22 “And I will make the Egyptians favourably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbour and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

I find it soothing just reading Psalm 131 and meditating on it - when anxities threathen, when impatience comes calling, when circumstances disappoint...