In recent months, I have been struck by a recurring theme in Scripture. It is so obvious, I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve missed it; or worse, ignored it because it causes me discomfort. But God has been doing a work in my heart, and the time has come to stop ignoring His voice.
Perhaps this new resolve of mine has to do with God enlightening my spiritual sight, or perhaps it’s just a maturing in my faith, or perhaps it’s a result of consistently sitting under amazing, Spirit-filled preaching, or maybe it’s a perfect combination of all three. But this is what I’ve realized –
My desire is this: I long for God’s blessing on my life.
The issue is this: I tend to focus on the promise parts of Scripture; when I spend any time focusing at all.
The reality is this: Every promise of God is preceded by a command for me to follow.
Some of my favorite verses are well-known to many people:
“He will give you the desires of your heart”
“all things work together for good”
“[you] will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”
“your plans will be established”
“ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”
The part I’ve been missing is the context of the passage – even the several words preceding or following those well-known, favorite verses of mine.
According to Psalm 37:4, God will give me the desires of my heart. So why haven’t I seen those desires manifest? I conveniently forget the words preceding that promise – “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What does it mean to “take delight”? Delight is “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.” I wouldn’t exactly define those 15 minutes I’ve spent in His presence in the past few days as taking delight.
Rom 8:28 says “We know that all things work together for good – for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” I tend to stop reading after that first phrase. But the most important part is the next phrase – for those who love God. This promise is only for people who know Jesus, and for those who are called and following in His purpose for them.
Psalm 91:1 is a comforting promise of safety and rest. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” But guess what? Safety and rest is promised to those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High. Am I dwelling in His presence? Or just stopping in for the occasional coffee chat?
Proverbs 16:3 is another of my favorite promises – “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Am I committing my work to the Lord? The dictionary says that to commit is to pledge oneself to an issue; to bind or obligate; or to trust, especially for safekeeping. Am I all in with God? Do I have a right to expect Him to establish my plans if I’m not?
John 15:7 is a great verse of promise: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Along with that great promise, comes a great command – If you abide in me and my words abide in you. Am I abiding in Jesus? Abiding involves dwelling, submitting, residing. How much time have I spent pouring His Word into my life today, so that these words abide in me?
Even a sweet promise like the one found in Psalm 56:3 requires action on my part. “When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.” Do you see it? I will put my trust in you. I must actively place my trust in the Father. It is a choice. Fear is the issue; trusting in Him is the option. Should I expect Him to calm my fear if I’m unwilling to place my trust in Him?
I challenge you, friends, as you spend time in the Word this week, to study the context of passages. Begin to see what part you must play in claiming His promises. What is He calling you to do?
God longs to pour out His blessing on my life, but He also calls me to obedience. And not just a one-time, or convenience obedience, but an all-in, over-the-top, sold-out, full-on commitment to stand by, kneel at His throne, dwell in His shadow, listen to His voice, and rest in His presence. It is a place of joy; not obligation. An opportunity to intimately know and be known. A chance to live in His unconditional acceptance as His beloved and unique daughter. And who doesn’t want that?