God is Delighted

Today we hear from Marlys Burgett, Director of Women’s Ministries.  These were her words to us October 19, 2010 during Titus Women worship time.

About 3 weeks ago, Shereen and I left Titus Women and went to visit Jill Truckee in the hospital. She had just delivered her new baby boy, Andrew. We entered the hospital room to see Jill sweetly looking down on the newest member of her family. Her eyes were bright blue and she looked beautiful, radiant. Her smile was huge and she was peaceful, serene, contented.

She handed Andrew to Shereen. And as you do with a new baby, Shereen carefully held his head and drew him close, laying him in her lap. I had the blessing of a Kodak moment of sitting across the room watching the scene unfold. Whispers of “isn’t he lovely”, “how sweet and beautiful” “Oohs and aahs”.  Jill watched Andrew being held by Shereen. Both were smiling and happy, overjoyed; enthralled in the wonder of creation; delighted by this baby boy.

And you know, this is how God views us.  He is delighted in us.  He is enthralled with our beauty for He delighted to create each of us, unique in His marvelous image.

Webster defines delighted:  pleased, happy, elated, overjoyed, charmed, enchanted, thrilled.

 Psalm 104:31 “Let the glory of the LORD endure forever; let the LORD be glad in His works.”      

He delights in what He has made; you and me!

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like You? Who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in loving-kindness.” 

He is delighted to shower us with love and kindness.

Jeremiah32:41 “And I will rejoice (delight) over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”                       

He is delighted to do us good, with all His heart and soul. Isn’t that incredible!

God is delighted!   Do you believe that?  Do you really believe He is delighted in you, His daughter? Are you delighted with Him?

Maybe you believe He could not be delighted with you.  Perhaps there are things too awful in your life; situations God could not possibly delight in; relationships that well, if you were to be honest feel hopeless. Maybe you do not sense delight in your relationship with God. You are disappointed, heartbroken, frustrated; life has not gone as you had hoped.

 A verse out of Job lends wisdom to these questions of delight and how to Thrive in this journey in life. This wisdom has been true for those of us here at Titus Women and for me in my life. After 32 years of flowing Jesus. He has never failed me.

 Job 22:25 “Establish His words in your heart….return to Him and be restored…for then you will delight in the Almighty and life your face to God.”

Susie, (name changed for confidentiality) a young single mom of 3 kids asked for an appointment to see me. She is a woman who has been transformed literally inside and out due to walking with Jesus. She used to look worried, fretful and always nervous. She talked in circles over and over about all her problems. And yes, there are many. Now, 2 years later she sits and calmly talks about God in her life. How He has changed her heart, her choices, her friends, her priorities.  She smiles and weeps with His goodness to her. But there’s one thing she is struggling with still, her past, it looms over her and robs her often of joy and peace. She knows Jesus has saved and forgiven her, but she is struggling to forgive herself, rehashing the sins, beating herself up.  One evening she is reading in her Bible. She desperately wants to establish His word in her heart.  She sees the verse: “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thus the appointment with me. She’s heard my story and has a similar story to tell; secrets she has never shared with another:  promiscuity, abortion, abuse of alcohol and drugs.  I’m honored and humbled to sit and listen to her share her past.  She continues reading her list:  yelling at her kids because she is so frustrated with life. Gossiping at work. Fear; will she be able to provide for her children?

Suzie, “you are no longer bound by a past identity of poor choices, but bound to Jesus, your new identity who is delighted by you”.

 Susie comes to the end of her list, we cry with tears of joy. We pray through Isaiah 61 (my favorite passage, here’s a synopsis);

“bringing good news to the afflicted,

binding up the broken hearted,

 liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners,

 comfort for those who mourn….so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified. Instead of shame and humiliation you will have a double portion and everlasting joy.”

We have a God who is delighted to shower forgiveness, mercy and blessing upon us!

 Susie tears up and rips the list of past sins. “Wow that felt so good.” We walk hand in hand to another room. We drop the shreds of paper into the toilet and flush.  We laugh, we say praise and glory and honor to God; delighting in Him and her freedom found in His loving arms. I sense the angels are rejoicing.  Another child of God free of the past — He is delighted.

 I ask you again, do you see God is delighted? Are you delighted in Him?

If not, I encourage you to spend time journaling on Psalm 103 and Isaiah 61. Ask Him to remove barriers to sense His delight for you. Find His character (attributes), who He is. Pray for your heart to be open to establish His word in your heart. Pray for restoration as you seek His face.

I don’t know about you but often I’m so prone to wander from Jesus. I want to be in charge, go my own way, be stoic and self-sufficient, not need anyone – that path always leads to frustration, anxiety and fear. But, when I return to Jesus, I am restored, safe at home…..delighted in Him and He in me.

Dear Lord Jesus, we bless you and thank you for being a God who is delighted in your creation….us! You pardon iniquities, heal diseases and You redeem our lives from the pit. You desire to crown us with loving kindness and compassion. You satisfy our desires with good things and renew our strength. Your compassion never fails for great is your faithfulness. All praise and glory and honor to You. Amen.

God is Aware

My favorite part of the newspaper is the comic page.  It gives a slice of life.  Baby Blues has some insightful family moments.  One in particular has stuck with me.  The mother looks in the mirror and exclaims in horror that she’s just found a hair on her chin.  Her daughter walks by and says, “Oh, you mean “Chinny”?  We named him last week.”

It can be embarrassing to be caught unaware!

I’m so grateful that God is always aware. He doesn’t just see what’s going on right now but what has been and what will be in the future. He perceives the long view of our lives and knows who we will become.

A very familiar story of God’s awareness in one man’s life comes to us in Luke 19:1-10.  Here’s how the story of Zacchaeus reads in the Message:

Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho.  There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich.  He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way – he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd.  So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.  When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down.  Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”  Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”

Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned.  He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.’”

Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home!  Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham!  For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”  

I notice a few things about Zacchaeus that could cause him to be ashamed:

  • Short.  I’m not sure what social stigma this may have caused but Luke did mention it. 
  • Head tax man. If you’re a Jew this is not a good occupation.  He worked for Rome collecting taxes but charged extra for himself.  Being the head tax man and quite rich, Zacchaeus must have been good at gouging his countrymen and family out of money. 
  • He would have been an outcast among this own people, the Jews.
  • He wasn’t welcome anywhere, pushed to the back of the crowd where he couldn’t see, he had one last option: Run ahead and climb a tree.

What kind of a wealthy businessman runs ahead and climbs a tree?  Seriously, think about what that would look like in today’s society.  Then realize that it was very improper for a man in Zacchaeus’ day to run at all for fear his robe would come open.  Then he climbs a tree on top of it!

Maybe he thought he could hide among the leaves. I’m sure he planned for everyone to be looking at Jesus, not up in trees. 

Imagine his surprise when Jesus stopped at his tree and looked up.

Imagine his embarrassment.

Until Jesus recognized him.

The one person in Jericho who everyone wanted to see, the man of the hour, that’s the One who called his name.  Not to scold him, not to embarrass him or make fun of him like so many in the crowd.

Jesus called Zacchaeus out of his place of shame and chose to spend time just with him.  No crowds, no pressure, just a friendly dinner in his home.

Jesus knew the root of Zacchaeus’ shame.  It wasn’t his job or his shortness, but the fact that he was an outcast.  Jesus knows shame has kept Zacchaeus in the trees.  The shame was erased when Jesus chose him.

Then, when the crowd complained and Zach tried to defend himself Jesus steps in again.  He called Zacchaeus out of his life of shame into salvation.  He confirmed his true identity and proclaimed him restored.

My friends, when we are ashamed our loving God is aware.

He sees how desperate we are to rid ourselves of the shame in our lives. We will climb our own trees in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Jesus. 

Perfectionism and control

Busyness and striving

Self-loathing and hiding

 What we don’t realize while we’re climbing higher and higher in our own strength is that Jesus planned in advance to visit us.  Not just for an evening meal, but for eternity.  We are the reason He came.

You are the reason Jesus walked into town.  He chose you.

And when Jesus is your savior, He doesn’t just call you what everyone else does.

He confirms that you are a daughter of the King and proclaims you restored.

I found Romans 9:25-26  in the Message and it just might become my life verse.

“I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;

I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.

In the place where they yelled out, ‘You’re nobody!’

they’re calling you ‘God’s living children!” 

Is there a place in your life where you hear the voices of the crowd yelling, “you’re nobody, you’re unlovable!”?  Maybe, like me, it’s right in your own head.

Trust God with me to hear His voice above the crowd. 

Listen for the many ways He calls you Beloved.

God is Sensitive

We worship God most honestly when we know who He is.  Jesus shows us just that, doesn’t He?  In Jesus, God came near to men and women in the 1st century and He still comes near to us like that today. 

Mark 7:32-35 shows us one of those times when Jesus came very near to one man:

“And they brought to Him (Jesus) one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and the entreated Him to lay His hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude by himself, and put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ that is, ‘Be opened!’  And his ears were opened and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.”

We see a man who is stuck on a very difficult situation; he can’t hear.  And because he cannot hear, he also cannot speak very well.  Today, I would be frustrated to live that way, but I could still function very well.  In the 1st century information was given by word of mouth; not much was written down.  No sticky notes on the fridge, no planners, no laptops, no written anything.  So, if you couldn’t hear, and no one was writing it down for you … you were really stuck. 

Notice with me that when this man was stuck Jesus was sensitive.

He doesn’t take the advice of the crowd and just lay a hand on the man.  Maybe Jesus did that sometimes.  Maybe He just passed through a crowd and grazed their heads with his palm.  I doubt it.  The stories we read are of how Jesus personally interacted with each broken person.

Jesus took the man aside — one-on-one and face-to-face — to explain what was going to happen next.  He’s telling the man through sign language “yours ears are the problem and I’m going to fix that.  Your mouth is a problem so I’ll make your tongue work like mine does.”

He prayed to His Father. 

And what comes next is the most sensitive of all:  Jesus sighed deeply.  One translation says He “groaned mightily”.  Jesus had a guttural, visceral response to how this man is stuck; how all of mankind is stuck in sin.  Jesus knew that this was not how life was meant to be lived.  We were not meant to live stuck like this.  So He groaned.

And He commanded – “Be Opened!”

And the man was unstuck.

My ears and my mouth both work just fine. But I can really be stuck sometimes too.  I can be spiritually stuck in a place where I don’t hear the truth.  When I don’t hear it I don’t speak very well either.

Have you ever been stuck like that?

  • Bitterness can really get us stuck in a cycle of blame.
  • Anger can really get us stuck being self-righteous.
  • Fear can freeze us to one spot so we can’t move, no matter how much we want to.
  • Sin, in all of its forms makes us unable to hear Jesus speaking in our lives.

But when we are stuck, Jesus is sensitive

He will take us away from the crowd.  Don’t be surprised if you feel lonely as you pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Feeling lonely draws us into solitary times and quiet places away from our crowded lives where Jesus can speak one-on-one and face-to-face to us.

He will touch us and show us where we are stuck.  Sometimes self-discovery can be overwhelming.  Choose to read God’s Word in small, meaningful pieces.  Look at Mark 7:32-35 and ask God to weave that simple story into your life.

He will intercede to the Father.  Remember Hebrews 7:25 says, Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for us.  Count on it! 

He will command what’s stuck to be opened.  I wish I could promise that this will happen in an instant like it did with this deaf man.  I cannot.  But I can truly say that as you pursue Jesus and your relationship grows those things that were sticking points will loosen up.  And one day you will find yourself fully free.

If you are stuck will you trust Him to do that for you today? 

If someone you love is stuck will you trust Jesus to sensitively enter their life rather than trying to unstick them yourself?

Loving Lord,

Thank you for coming near to us through Your Son.  Your sensitivity is amazing.  Your grace is overwhelming.  Your touch is transforming.

For all the things of earth that have us stuck in wrong living, make us aware of Your words of truth that can set us free.

Amen