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Becoming a Whole Me

I spent a lot of my life trying to behave perfectly to earn the approval and acceptance of God. Then for a few years, trying not to be smited because I had full scale run amok.

Truth is God loved me the whole time. He saw me. The real me. He knew the truth. He knew the lies I had been believing about myself and about Him. His heart broke for me.

I am clearly not fully living life to the fullest yet…but in reading Your God Is Too Safe today, I was reminded me how far I’ve come, and just how grateful I am for my relationship with Him. ❤ I continue daily to be in awe…

Holiness is not a bid to be noticed or loved or accepted by God. Holiness, rather, is acting out and acting upon the truth that God has noticed, loved, and accepted us long before we did anything to warrant that. It’s a discovery that we’re alive when we thought we were, and ought to be, dead. Holiness is simply living into and out that aliveness.” -Mark Buchanan (Your God Is Too Safe)

This whole book is hitting me where I live because I like my safe world with Jesus. I love it being me & Him.

But Jesus didn’t heal me so I could sit here be safe and hidden forever. For a season or two yes, but not forever. He healed me so I could live my life fully! Abundantly! He is the God of bigger than I can ask or even think.

He tells me repeatedly two things…

“You think too small.”

“Be open.”

Those two things are super scary…because I am very aware of just how BIG my God really is. I know what He is capable of doing with His kids…

Turning a shepherd into a king. (David)

Turning a barren old woman into the mother of a nation. (Sarah)

Turning a stutterer into spokesman who literally walked his people out of slavery. (Moses)

Turning an introverted girl into an outspoken Queen who risked her life to protect her people. (Esther)

Turning some guy from the sticks in a defeated country into a mighty warrior. (Gideon)

Turning an unknown wife living in a tent in the desert into a war heroine. (Ja’el)

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. ” 1 Corinthians 4:7 MSG

I believe that there’s potential in everyone to do amazing things. I can see the gold in people…even myself. I believe that the people above were born with everything they needed to fulfill the destiny they were born for!

Just like us, life kicked these folks down, and the world disappointed them. They were told no. The enemy lied to them. Maybe they believed it…maybe they didn’t.

But there came a point when these regular people stepped out of the safety of their little lives..and believed God. They chose to parner with Him.

As a result…a king, a mother, a deliverer, a queen, a warrior, and a heroine stepped out of the shadows and changed their world.

Knowing all this…I cannot help but wonder what will He do with me? And you?

You may not be a king…but maybe you’re a community leader, a state representative, or a mayor in the making.

You may not give birth to a nation…but maybe you’re one who empowers kids as a teacher, a mentor, or a foster parent.

You may be called to fight modern day slavery or sex trafficking.

Maybe you’re be introverted and shy…but you still have a voice!

Maybe you are designed to be a military leader or a police officer.

Maybe you are designed to raise a family and invest in those little people who will one day lead.

Whatever it is you’re designed for, walk in it! Live fully! That’s what freedom is. It’s why Jesus was resurrected!

Point to ponder while you wander… Freedom isn’t running amok and doing whatever you want whenever the mood strikes. It’s being able to be the whole you. Healed. Healthy. Real. It’s stepping out of the shadows and becoming who you were designed to be.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT

Life Awry

Who or what do you run to when life goes awry? David went to God…

I love you, God-You make me strong. God is a bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God-the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.” Psalm 18:1 MSG 

David made mistakes. Big ones. People died because of him. Yet God called him “a man after my own heart.”

Why?

Personally I think it’s 2 reasons…

1) David sought God first. He didn’t turn to wine, his friends, or anything else when life hit the fan. He took his mess to God every time.

2) David turned his rants into worship. “God the king is trying to kill me!! I’m hiding for my life in a cave! I am hungry! I an cold! But I know what You promised me. I know you’ll turn this around for my good. Because you are good. I love who you are. You are worthy of all worship, simply because you are God.”

Point to ponder while you wander… Life is not always a bowl of cherries, sometimes it is a bowl of pits. Sometimes we are the person responsible for that bowl of mess, sometimes not. Either way…when we are God seekers and God lovers He works on our behalf to turn that mess into something good. Only God can do that. That fact alone makes Him worthy of worship.

PS “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:27-28 NLT

PSS “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:5-6 NLT 

The David Principle

I know I haven’t been posting much lately. Sorry about that.

I have been working 10-12 hour days. But the bigger issue is that I’ve been struggling with sadness and motivation to do anything in this transition time. I’m frustrated. Soooo frustrated.

Frustrated with my expectations not being met. Frustrated because I have no idea  what God is doing. Frustrated that everything is in flux all at the same time and there’s nothing I can do unless I choose to stay put and not move forward. 

I want to move forward. 

I  need to move forward.

But it is not easy.

I’ll admit to all y’all that I’m emotionally and spiritually exhausted and I’m fighting the urge to complain and be a full on spewer of negativity about this time of transition.

So two days ago I decided to read a Psalm a day…to reinforce what I refer to as The David Principle. 

The David Principle is when you take all your negative feelings and the real true crap of what’s going on in your life and vent only to God about it. Like David did in the Psalms.

Then, when you’ve gotten it all out…you worship God. There by reminding yourself that God is glorious and merciful, and able to turn around the worst parts of your life for your good. Here’s a jam from my current worship playlist, Chainbreaker.

In my sadness, I’m struggling with my “be bold and courageous” right now. And I really need to be brave because everything in my world is in flux right now. My only security and stable thing right now is Jesus. Literally everything else is in flux.

Anyway…here’s a snippet of my Psalm of the Day:

But in the depths of my heart I truly know that you have become my Shield; You take me and surround me with Yourself. Your glory covers me continually.  You alone restore my courage; for you lift high my head when I bow low in shame. I have cried out to you and from Your holy presence, You send me a father’s help.” Psalm 3:3-4 TPT

I needed this reminder. 

I needed to be reminded that He is always here for me. I just need to focus my my attention to Him. Even just reading this Psalm and told me what I needed to hear today. My daily bread from Heaven today!! 

I needed to be reminded that this is only temporary but God is permanent. He loves me, and I am going to get through this.
Point to ponder while you wander…”My true Hero comes to my rescue, For the Lord alone is my Savior.” Psalm 3:8

Facts vs Truth

Sometimes your situation just sucks.  You look at the facts and you’re like, yep, it’s over for me now.  This is the battle I’m not strong enough to win, and you start looking for the surrender flag.  Well, before you start waving that little white flag think about King David.  II Samuel 15 tells the story of Absalom betraying and rebelling against his father, King David.  Rather than fighting, King David chooses to flee Jerusalem with his close followers, hoping to spare the city.  I’m guessing he didn’t really want to fight against his son either.  As David flees, he writes Psalm 3 to capture exactly how he’s feeling.

What I appreciate about this Psalm is David is vulnerable with the Lord, sharing his raw emotion about being betrayed, being the subject of ridicule, and feeling like everyone and everything was against him.  He feels all his feelings, as my roommate would say.  But David doesn’t allow himself to be trapped in his “feelings.”  He acknowledges the facts of the situation, but then reminds himself that God is bigger than his circumstances.  He declares the truth over the facts.  Facts are facts.  But truth….ah truth.  Truth is bigger than facts.

Here’s what I mean:

The facts say:  My son has betrayed me.  Many of my own people have sided with him against me.  The rest of the kingdom are talking about me.  Telling each other that God’s against me.  I’ve had to go on the run, AGAIN.  First from Saul and now from my own son!

David could have looked at the reality of the facts and given up.  He could have admitted defeat.  He could have sat under his little cloud of depression and let the lamentation pour out of him.  “Poor me.  Nothing ever goes right for me.  I’ve done what I was supposed to do, I don’t deserve this.  My life is over.  It will  never be good again.  I might as well give up.”  But he didn’t!

Psalm 3:1-2 is David acknowledging the facts of his situation and feeling his feelings.

O Lord, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”

Psalm 3:3-6 is where David shifts to declaring what He knows to be true.  He reminds himself who God is and who he is to God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side.

Psalm 3:7-8 is David asking the Lord to change the facts based upon the truth.

Arise, O Lord!
 Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
 Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O Lord.
May you bless your people.

David’s situation was real!  He was in a life or death situation here.  There was a real army invading his city, led by his own son.  I’m not making light of the seriousness of this situation.  I wouldn’t make light of anyone’s situation.  I get that facts and reality are real.  I’m not trying to sugar coat and say that bad things never happen.  We live in a world that has evil in it.  Good stuff and bad stuff happens to EVERYONE.  Tragedy and difficult situations occur whether you are at the top of the heap or closer to the bottom.  Jesus, Himself, said, “The father gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 4:45)  God only gives good gifts, because that is all he has to give.  But because of the state of this world, everyone will face issues and hard times.  It’s just the way that it is right now.

I don’t know what your facts are.  You may be facing foreclosure on your home.   You or someone you love may be fighting for your life against disease or cancer.  Or like David, you may have been betrayed.  If you’re struggling, I am sorry.  Truly.  But if you get caught up in your feelings over the facts, your battle will be harder and longer.  I’m not saying ignore your feelings, because you need to acknowledge how you feel about the situation.  What I’m saying is don’t stay there.  I’m also not telling you to dismiss reality and put your head in the sand and wait for the situation to go away.  I’m far too practical for that nonsense.  What I am saying is that facts change!  You may get a check tomorrow that catches up or pays off all your bills.  You may be healed this very day.  You never know how the goodness of God will show up in your life.  He’s the source of all creativity so it may not be in the way you expect.  Something could happen in 5 minutes that completely changes everything.

Take David’s model and apply it to your situation.  Here’s an example for someone who is unemployed and facing foreclosure of their home:

Facts and feelings:

Lord, I am terrified.  I don’t have a job and I am six months behind on my mortgage and only a few days away from my house being foreclosed on.  Not only will my credit be destroyed by this, but I could lose my home.  I don’t want to be homeless, especially in the winter.  I don’t know what to do!!!

Shift to the truth:

I know I am Your child, Father, and that You love me!  I know that You are my provider.  You have blessed me with well paying jobs in the past.  You have provided for me during my unemployment.  I’ve always had food and money to pay my gas and electric bills.  Thank you for being my provision.  You are good.  You are faithful.  You are Yahweh Yireh!  The God who provides.  The last time I was unemployed you provided me a place to live and provision.  I know that you will continue to provide in this time of unemployment.

Prayer and Declaration:

Arise O Lord and Rescue me, my God!  I cannot do this without you, I need a miracle.  I believe you will provide!  I will receive your provision no matter which way it comes to me.  I thank you for the provision you’ve given me in the past and I thank you for what you are doing now on my behalf.  I declare that my house is paid off in the Name of Yahweh Yireh.  Even though I fear poverty and homelessness, I know your love is bigger than my fear.  I know that your goodness and mercy are bigger than my situation and mistakes.  Thank you for blessing me Father!

The facts in your life may be dire, but those facts are subject to change.  Your identity, who you are in Christ Jesus, does not change because of your circumstances and situations.  Truth is that you are a beloved child of God.  Truth is that greater is He that is within you, than he that is in the world.  Truth is that you are valued by God.  Your worth and value to Him does not change because of the mistakes you made or your circumstances, even if they are bigger than you can handle.  Truth is that God is bigger than any circumstance or situation, and He loves you passionately and unconditionally.

Not Moved By Circumstances

There’s a difference between knowing in your head that God’s able to be your rock, salvation, defense, provision, refuge, strength, and etc. . . and standing firm in that knowledge no matter what your circumstances look like.  I turn to the Psalms a majority of the time when I am stressed out or my circumstances are not so hot.  David went through a lot of trials and he is a good example on how to vent your emotions and then declare what the Lord says over your circumstances.  David also shows us how not to be swayed in the wind by every single thing that happens to us and around us.  Even when the thing happening to us originated with someone close to us.

Here is the first two verses of Psalm 62:

Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.” (NKJV)

The I shall not be “greatly” moved, to me, is like saying I am really bothered by this but I will not let it wreck me.  It’s the knowing in your head that God is for you.  Biblical scholars believe that King David wrote Psalm 62 during the time of his son Absalom’s rebellion (Beginning in II Samuel 15).  I can see how the first few verses could be written during the events of II Samuel 15:13-14:

Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”  So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” (NKJV)

This beginning of this Psalm is David’s way of convincing himself that God is still for him and not against him.  It’s David remembering what God had done and in his head asking, “God’s still for me, right?”

Later in II Samuel 15:25-29, David tests that theory by sending the Ark of Covenant back to Jerusalem.

Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”  The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.  See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.” (NKJV)

It is then, I believe that David chose to stand and declare “I WILL WAIT RIGHT HERE FOR THE LORD AND I WILL NOT BE MOVED BY THIS!”  It’s when his head knowledge became practical and he decided to stand no matter what.  Believing that God would defend him.  Then David wrote verses 5-7:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.” (NKJV)

David continued on with verse 8, reminding all of us that we can fully trust God at all times.  No matter the circumstances.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.” (NKJV)

God did deliver David from Absalom’s rebellion and he continued to rule the people for the rest of his life.

True Wisdom

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peaceable, gentle at all times. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17

This is exactly the opposite of what we want to hear when we are afraid, angry or our emotions are running high. Truth is that our feelings aren’t good or bad, they are just feelings. But letting our feelings run the show often leads to rash behavior and bad decisions, usually followed by guilt and regret. SO not worth it!

David is a great example of how to deal with our emotions. In Psalms it’s very clear David was an emotional man. But he took those out of control feelings and vented them to God. Then sought the Lord’s wisdom to handle the situation.

The times David didn’t do this were the times he made the worst decisions. But when the guilt & regret came, he realized His error and took those feelings to God. He didn’t stay trapped in condemnation.

God is always willing to give wisdom when we need it. He won’t think less of you for asking for help. He will simply give you the wisdom you need.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

Seek out God’s wisdom the way David did in Psalms. Vent to Him & move on so you too can live with no regrets. #wisdom

Being Real with God

Deep Thought Thursday: God’s not looking for a show.

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” -Jesus (as quoted in Matthew 6:1, Message Version)

So if God doesn’t want us to “play righteous” or to “be good”? What does He want from us?

He doesn’t want anything FROM us, He wants US. He wants the real us. The REAL YOU. The REAL ME. No one can have an authentic relationship with someone who is fake and pretending, including the Almighty God.

I remember the first time I really got real with God. I was in a class called Healing for Women.* We were supposed to come to class and journal every week. And I’d been faking it the whole time. Meaning I was showing up, participating in class, and doing the journaling BUT…I wasn’t really being real. I was telling people what I thought I was supposed to say. Speaking Christian-ese. Then one Saturday night I got real. I filled pages and pages in the notebook I was journaling in. It was ugly and it hurt like all get out, but I was real for the first time. Then I read it and sobbed. One of the things I realized was that I was livid at God. And I just “knew” that being angry with God was a sin and I was going straight to hell. That being said I still went to church the next morning (maybe my church attendance would help me with the hell problem). During our hug and handshake time, I had a full-fledged breakdown. I went to the bathroom to finish my breakdown out of the presence of my pastors, friends, and church family. No one needs to see that.

On my way to hide out, I literally ran right into my friend Michelle because I couldn’t see through the tears. Here’s the gist of our conversation:
“Jilly, are you alright?”
“No. I’m going to hell.”
Looking confused. “Um, why do you think you’re going to hell?”
“Because I’m angry with God.”
“You don’t think God knows you are angry with Him?”
Me looking confused. “Um?”
“Jilly, He knows. But now that YOU know, He can deal with it. Just admit it and apologize to Him and move on.”
“I can do that?”
Nodding head. “Definitely.”
“Wow.”

Now I “knew” that God knew everything. Hello, He’s God. Duh. But it never crossed my mind that despite the fact that He knew I was angry with Him and falsely accusing Him of causing every bad thing in my life- He loved me unconditionally anyway. Who is this God who loves whacked out broken people who blame Him for all the bad stuff, take credit for the good He does, and generally disregard His Word? He must be crazy, that God.

But something happened right then. Something changed in me. I got hungry. For the first time I wanted to get to know this “crazy” God. I knew of Him, but I didn’t know Him. It’s like Job at the end of the story having his eyes opened, and seeing God clearly for the first time. The God I thought He was would have smited me outright. But this God knew my mess and still loved me. Wow. I was wrong. I misjudged Him completely.

My being real with myself led me to be real with God. Being real with Him, led me to seeking Him, to really know and have a relationship with Him. I began to seek Him. And when I sought Him, I found Him.

I found Him to be trustworthy, faithful, loving, kind, and welcoming. He’d always been that way. He’d always been right there, as close as the air I breathe. Even though I turned my back on Him, He never left me. He never gave up on me. His arms were always open to me, I just didn’t know. That’s who God really is. The real Yahweh. He cannot lie. He cannot be anything other than who He is. And that is what He wants from you. To be straight up real with Him.

He wanted a real relationship with Adam and Eve too, but they chose knowledge over Him. He wanted it from the Children of Israel too, but they chose religion and the law over Him. This is what God had to say about their choice of the law over being real with Him:

I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living
.” Amos 5:21-24

God does not want another performance or a faux show from you. He wants you to be raw and real with Him. He doesn’t want you to pretend to be good or act happy. He wants to give you real joy and real peace. He wants you to come to Him broken and honest, so He can heal and help you. He can heal any broken place that you open up and give Him. He can restore anyone and anything that comes to Him. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

But He can only work within the confines of our choices. So if you choose to wall yourself in and pretend that you are fine, He’ll honor that choice. It’s not what He wants, but He’ll respect your choice.

While I chose to keep myself shut up and not let Him in, He respected that. He never left me, but He didn’t interfere either. He never forced His way in. But when I opened up a smidge, and let Him in a little. He healed the area that I let Him in. Then I let Him in a little more and a little more. Each time I invited Him in, He brought healing and peace with Him. He’ll do the same for you.

Choose to be real with Him. David was real with God. And God called David a man after his own heart. Did you hear me? God called the man who got another man’s wife pregnant (AND was responsible for that same man’s death) a man after His own heart. Why? Because of their relationship. He saw through David’s behavior to his heart. He knew David, the real David, because David never held anything back from God. Good, bad, ugly. He gave it all to the Lord. Don’t believe me, read Psalm 51 where He lays the Bathsheba debacle before the Lord. That Psalm shows a real relationship with God.

To be real or not to be real. Choice is yours.

*If you are a woman living in SE Michigan and want to take Healing for Women, go to this link for information. This session is closed but the next one starts 11/25/13. It will change your life.