VoV – The All Good

I have been re-discovering the Valley of Vision prayers lately.  Each time I do this, I wonder why I don’t read it every day.  (Forehead smacking soon follows)

Today I read “The All Good” – I’ve re-worded it below – updated the translation a bit, hopefully this still captures the main ideas:

My God, you have helped me to see that whatever good is in honor and joy, how good rather is he who gives them and can withdraw them.

That blessedness doesn’t lie so much in receiving good from and in you, but rather in me steadfastly holding and imitating your good and character.

It is an amazing thing to see God in a creature – speaking, acting, filling, shining thru it; that nothing is good but God, and that I am near goodness when I’m near God, that to be like God is a glorious thing.  That is my magnet, my attraction.

You are all my good in times of peace, my only support in days of trouble, my one sufficiency when life will end. Help me to see ho good your will is in all, even when it conflicts with my will, and teach me to be pleased with it.  Grant me to feel you in trials, food, and blessings – to see that your many gifts and creatures are but your hands and fingers taking hold of me.

You are a bottomless fountain of all good, I give myself to you out of love, for all I have or own is yours anyway – all my possessions, family, church, self is yours to do with as you will – to honor yourself by me and by everything that I have.

If it is consistent with your eternal will, your gracious purposes, and your glorious goals – then give to me the blessings of your comforts.  If not, please give me a heart and a will to remain steadfast in you – the All-Good.

 

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Prayability of Psalms (119:33-37)

Psalm 119:33-37 (NIV) says

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees, and I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands for there I find delight.Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes from worthless things. Preserve my life according to your word.

A great prayer to start the day and the week. May we truly seek to understand his word (the Bible) for therein is contained God’s truth, which in Jesus leads to a life of light and joy. Notice it’s in Him, not ourselves (selfish gain) also that the Psalmist is asking his heart to be redirected to.

I’m praying today that God’s will is my will – in other words that my heart is transformed increasingly to desire his ways, not mine and not sin.

As Valley of Vision says in “God the All” – “I am well pleased with you will, whatever it is, or should be…”

Canceled

We all have a past, some have more colorful pasts than others.

I, unfortunately, have a very colorful past. Recently, I’ve been rather painfully walking thru it, as God has been further working on me thru a trial.

Today, the Lord brought to mind, thanks in part to my good friend, John Piper, Col 2:13-14

13  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

I drew this picture today, and it really made this verse come alive.  I made a timeline on the left. And on it, I marked an X each time to represent roughly the periods of major sin that I’ve experienced, either by me to done to me.  I then drew a big red line at the end of that time period and a cross to represent coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  At that moment, the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross CANCELED everything to the left of it…so I colorfully…and therapeutically crossed it out so that I could no longer see any X’s.  I then wrote a big CANCELED across it and boxed it in in nice red Sharpie to represent the blood of Jesus spilled to cancel my sin, I also think red symbolizes STOP, in other words – no need to proceed here anymore.

We then have a choice of which side of the line to live on.

We can live in the red, or we can live in the light of the cross.

Above each respective area, if you can see on the pic…I wrote Eph 4:22 – “Put off your old self which belongs to your former way of life” and Eph 4:24 – “put on your new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”  – The Bible is clear which side of the line we are to live on.

Christ declares us righteous and HOLY from our sin – we are justified. We don’t live in the red, we live in the light of that truth.

It is hard though, I can’t tell a lie.  God is really challenging me here – “Do you really believe that I create NEW people, not just improved people? Do you really believe my grace is sufficient and my pardon complete?  Do you really believe that your sin, not in part, but the whole was nailed to the cross and you bear it no more?”

It is an active decision of the mind to obey God here, it’s hard, but we just have to. The alternative is to live in the past and insult the cross of Christ and damage relationships with those around us.  Man up kids and move on by faith, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I guess I’m not alone in thinking it’s hard – hundreds of years ago, the Puritans said the same thing “It is hard to practice what I believe.” The Valley of Vision prayer “Grace In Trials” is so amazing I loved praying thru that this morning.

I will include it below for your meditation…and another reminder for me, that in the valley…there is vision. (I took the liberty of updating the Old English for ya…)

Father of Mercies, Hear me for Jesus’ sake. I am sinful even in my closest walk with you; it is of your mercy I died not long ago; Your grace has given me in the cross by which you have reconciled yourself to me and me to you, drawing me by your great love, reckoning me as innocent in Christ though guilty in myself.

Giver of all graces, I look to you for strength to maintain them in me, for it is hard to practice what I believe. Strengthen me against temptations. My heart is an unexhausted fountain of sin, a river of corruption since childhood days, flowing on in every pattern of behavior; You have disarmed me of the means in which I trusted, and I have no strength but in you.

You alone can hold back my evil ways, but without your grace to sustain me I fall. Satan’s darts quickly inflame me, and the shield that should quench them easily drops from my hand: Empower me against his wiles and assaults. Keep me sensible of my weakness, and of my dependence upon your strength. Let every trial teach me more of your peace, more of your love.

Thy Holy Spirit is given to increase your graces, and I cannot preserve or improve them unless he works continually in me. May he confirm my trust in your promised help, and let me walk humbly in dependence upon you, for Jesus’ sake.

In the Valley

I have been a fan of the “Valley of Vision” for a while now – I love to read it in the morning…usually right before I go to prayer and reading the Word.

I’m going thru a season now…a bit of a painful season. God is really digging up some painful things – that he wants to bring to the top of the pot and scoop away – but my bold (crazy?) prayer is that God not let the darkness/pain lift until I can soak in all the knowledge I can – to come thru this looking, smelling, acting more like His Son, Jesus.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together(A) for good,[a] for(B) those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he(C) foreknew he also(D) predestined(E) to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be(F) the firstborn among many brothers.

BEWARE! – you can’t look at v28 without v29!  That is the “good” – it’s not just the good for US – the “good” is our sanctification – I pray that I come out of this looking more like my Saviour!  So many folks stop at v28 and call it a day…

I also LOVE Sovereign Grace Music – they have written an entire album based on the Valley of Vision book.

One of my favorite tracks is “Valley of Vision” – the first cut on the album.  The point is that in the valley – in the lows of life – there is VISION – vision to see the Lord, his lessons – when we are broken and empty of ourselves – then he can use us – and he promises that he is near to the broken-hearted!  (Ps 34:18)

Enjoy.

[Here is the original poem below from the book…]
LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from
deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter
thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

(In case you need to click  directly to the YouTube video)

You can’t (and shouldn’t) always get what you want

As Mick Jagger says…you can’t always get what you want…

So, how do we react when the things we pray for intensely get answered with a big fat NO?

Have you ever experienced that?   In my daily reading today,  in the Valley of Vision I came across this wonderful little paragraph:

I thank thee for the many prayers that have been refused
I have asked amiss and do not have,
I have prayed from lusts and been rejected,
I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness.

About a year and a half ago I was inches away from relocating to take a job.  I prayed intensely about this, Melanie was on board, I had gone thru 5 (count ’em) FIVE interviews, we were really starting to get excited.

Then I get a cold, cruel e-mail from the admin simply saying, in form-letter-like fashion – “Thanks for your interests, but we are pursuing other candidates.”

In a word – I was near devastation. I was looking for the quickest route up to the roof in order to jump off.  I recall reading the e-mail out of the corner of my eye, and having someone come in my office to ask me a question and I didn’t hear a word they said.  I just needed to go and call my wife and start the old  “Can you believe that!?” routine.

A year and a half later,  I am very thankful that God didn’t say yes to my request – for a variety of reasons.

king-julien-whoareyouThis isn’t going to be one of those “See, everything has a reason” posts.  I really get kinda nauseous when I hear that. The reason is that we need to submit to God and his sovereignty, and following him has a high cost – because ultimately it’s not about us, it’s about Him. We are like King Julien who says “It’s all about ME.”

Today I was in Luke 14 where Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship.  In a word – if you want to follow me, it’s not going to be about you, it’s going to be about ME – so you’d better really seriously consider that before you become my disciple and understand what you are getting into.  Luke 14:33 says:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Look at what Christ renounced for me?  His LIFE.  Temporarily…His GLORY, when he came to Earth on mission to be our payment, our justification, our righteousness. He calls us to be ready to do the same for him. For in losing our very life for Him – we will actually save it.

So, do I always understand and accept that perfectly? Oh heck no. But these passages are such good reminders of what we are called to as followers of Christ.

It goes against our own selfishness, right?

I think that may be why Jesus uses such strong language here, he knows our selfish hearts.