Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Week Ten - Direct

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”  Psalm 5:3
The definition of direct as used here is: to arrange in rows or to put in order. Interesting.  Prayer is to have order.  I have heard people complain about grocery list prayers – the type where you simply move down a list of prayer requests – but with this definition it seems listed prayer requests have their place.  No doubt they do, because our prayers should have aim.  Like a marksman, we should have a steadiness of mind and heart as we direct our prayers to the Lord.  Keeping a list of prayers helps to give that purpose and direction.
Keeping a prayer journal is another way to direct your prayers.  As you record not only the requests, but also the history of the answers, and the things God reveals to you along your prayer journey, it becomes a source of encouragement and rejoicing.
However, I see another side to prayers that are in order.  Since God is a God of order we will find that in prayer He will reveal His direction, his orders, and his agenda for our lives.  Prayer should be the first place we go in the morning and throughout the day as we face decisions and circumstances.  This was the example of Christ and a worthy one for us to adopt.  By following his example in prayer we will find that God will set the agenda for our lives.  Our lives will take on more order and purpose.  We will become better marksmen not only in prayer, but also in living.  That steadiness of mind and heart will be honed as we get our sights in the right place – looking up.
Prayer is work, and thus, it requires direction. So, we are encouraged to have a plan in prayer. 
Is your prayer life aimless?  It is hit and miss?  Or, do you see prayer as a vital work of God with purpose and power?

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
 Proverbs 16:9

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
 Jeremiah 10:23

Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way” is well known.  As he recounts in song all the difficulties he has faced and the paths he has walked, he comes to the conclusion that he was victorious because he did it his way.  This is pure humanistic philosophy.  God is removed.
However, God’s Word reveals the sovereignty of God in all things.  Man may go his “own way”, but God is still in control.  When we look at the actual definition of the word, direct, in these verses we will understand more of what God is saying.  It means to establish, make firm, prepared or made ready.  So, while man’s heart may have a way it wants to go, only God can truly make a solid way forward. 
Man is like a fickle dove.  He is always chopping and changing.  He will go with his whims and fancies.  But God prepares a firm way for us.  We do not have to be blown about in life or allow our emotions to have total sway in our decisions.  God has a prepared path for us.  We have only to follow and acknowledge that His was is best.
It’s sorta like the toddler who is trying to learn a new skill.  They don’t want instruction.  They want to do it their way.  You have to sometimes leave them to it until they come to the end of their tether and ask for help.  God does the same with us.  He will let us have our “own way” for a time and once we see the futility of our struggle, He will step in and direct our steps into success.
How much better to start out on the path with God, than to waste valuable time and effort in trying to demand our own way?

“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”  II Thessalonians 3:5  
I remember the day when this verse came alive to me.  I was listening to a dear church member do his first Scripture reading during the morning service.  My heart was distracted with the burden of a sad situation, and then I heard this simple phrase that lifted my heart and restored hope to my soul – “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God”.  I had allowed this burden to shift my heart.  It was starting to draw me down that path of despair and worry. 
My thoughts were completely overtaken by the amazing strength and promise of this verse.  God will direct my heart into His love.  I, so, needed to be directed!  And God was standing there ready to do it! 
The word, “direct”, as used here, means to guide, to lead – with morally pure light.  God is the one doing the directing.  His direction is pure – totally pure.  There are no ulterior motives with God.  There is no “what if’s” or “if only’s”.  He knows exactly the direction our heart should take in every circumstance.  That direction is straight to Him.  We need not be tossed about or overly burdened.  We need not sit up at night wondering and surmising.  We have only to allow Him to direct our hearts into His love.
I never cease to be amazed at God’s ability to capture my attention.  His Word is so alive and powerful, so pertinent and exact.  He knows what my heart needs, and the direction it should take – straight into the love of God.
I don’t know about you, but I need directing.  My heart will get distracted and drift; I need God to be taking hold of me and directing my heart back to Him.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Proverbs 3:6 
I’ve heard people say the Christian way is rough and rugged.  And truly, sometimes things we face can be hard and challenging.  Yet, they can always be placed against the promise of this verse - “..he shall direct thy paths.” 
Surprisingly, the definition of “direct” here is not to do with guidance or arrangement, but rather with the actual consistency of the path.  It actually means to make straight, smooth, or do good. There are more promises of this kind throughout God’s Word.
Isaiah 45:2  “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”
Isaiah 45:13 “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways…”
 Proverbs 11:5  “The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.”
In each case the Lord is promising to make the way of his child straight and smooth.  I find there are fewer complications in life when I am walking alongside my Lord.  When I am looking to Him and looking for Him, He is there.  When I face what might seem an insurmountable problem, I have but to step aside and let Him sort things out.  I am not called upon to solve every situation or to control every outcome.  I have but to acknowledge that He is God.  I am not. 
I can do very little about the path I tread except to walk according to His Word in righteousness and believe in His best for me.  He will do good for me.  The roughness and ruggedness of the Christian life is often brought about by deviation from His Word, from the presence and activity of sin, and from my own failure to acknowledge Him. 
He has promised that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  (Matthew 11:20)  No matter how difficult life gets, when I take time to acknowledge His supremacy and power, I can find Him working on my behalf to sort life, to make it more bearable, to lighten my load – to direct my path.

“Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counseller hath taught him? “  Isaiah 40:13  

How many times do we presume to tell God how we want things to work out, instead of asking Him to allow us to see His hand in the situation and adjust ourselves to be walking aligned to His purposes?
We are often guilty of playing God.  We think we have everything figured out and God needs to move quicker, or in a certain direction, or to a certain end.  Yet, all of our assumptions are based on our personal reasoning and desires.  We are trying to second guess the Spirit and direct God.
The word, direct, means to weigh, estimate or understand.  We need to remind ourselves that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  (Isaiah 55:8) We are not God.
God doesn’t build in straight lines.  He cannot be “pinned down”.  Like the wind, His Spirit moves upon the face of the earth to an order that God alone directs.  Yet, He does not leave us without the direction or understanding that we need. His promises are solid and secure. 
In Jeremiah 33 he describes how secure his promises are as Jeremiah records, “Thus saith the Lord; if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant…”  (Jeremiah 33:20, 21)  Interesting to note that this same statement is made again in verses 25, 26.  Guess God really wants us to understand that though He does not work according to our selfish desires, He does work according to His eternal plan and He will be successful.
Jeremiah 33:2, 3 gives us another glimpse, “Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”  Though we are wasting our effort in trying to instruct or direct God, we are offered the invitation to come alongside and allow Him to instruct us – to show us what He is up to!  Asking God submissively will lead us to greater understanding, but it never gives us the power to direct.

Are you a presumptuous prayer?  Do your prayers sound like commands instead of petitions?  Do you think you could handle things better than God?  Better get back in your place!

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