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The Lord delights in us?

About the Author: Darin Stalbaum is an elder that is active in discipleship, small group, and men’s ministries at ZPC. He and his wife Gretchen lead a Monday evening Home Group, and they are the proud parents of two high schoolers, Luke and Kyla, and one middle schooler, Teagan. Yellow labs, Tucker and Koda, round out their home of 7 in Zionsville.

Outside of church and home, Darin is a sales executive for an Indy-based company that serves utility and telecommunications companies nation-wide. Darin enjoys sports, just about any kind of friendly competition, and outdoor activities, namely hiking and kayaking. The home screen on Darin’s phone proudly displays a picture of him and Luke atop a 14K-foot mountain in Colorado’s collegiate peaks last Labor Day weekend. Darin aspires to someday be a golfer and fisherman, rather than someone who occasionally goes golfing and fishing. 

Today's Scripture: Psalm 149

During Jerry’s May 10 sermon on Psalm 147, he highlighted that “the Lord delights in those who fear him” from verse 11. Jerry emphasized that God delights in me. This struck me as I took in the COVID-19 friendly service video on my couch at home. I remember thinking two things; first, that is good to hear, and second, I am not sure I believe that is true. Theologically, I believe that he delights in me, but why was my heart struck with disbelief?

The next day my mind was occupied with a busy, full calendar day working from home. Business issues tied me up into the evening, later than I planned, so I was late to our Home Group meeting via Zoom video conference. Fortunately, the commute from my makeshift home office in the basement to my wife’s side and laptop upstairs is short, so I caught our Home Group’s discussion on Psalm 147 and the question about God delighting in us. Listening to others express similar “but we have to earn our keep and we are imperfect” reactions took my work distracted mind right back to the challenge of really believing God delights in me. 

The opportunity to reflect on this again, in honest and trusted community with other believers I know, trust, and love was a treasure. Others in our group spoke to the depth of God’s love, grace, and goodness. I was reminded that we are not the point. The point is not me and what I deserve or do not deserve. The point is the Lord. To doubt his love and ability to delight in us minimizes him. The goodness and depth of his grace is immense, and anything short of recognizing that minimizes the heart of who he is. He is God, and he is the Lord, not me. His Word tells us of his love, mercy, and gracious actions for us, for me.  If he provides all of that for me, and he loves me, how could I doubt his ability to delight in me?

If I am his, he delights in me. Period. 

I mess up. I let people down. I fail to do all that I can and should. I am imperfect. I doubt.

Yet, he delights in me. Wow.

Psalm 149 is titled a victory psalm. If recognizing the depths of his grace for me anew is not cause for victory, I do not know what is! Read verses 1-6 with this kind of victorious celebration in mind. Celebrate his grace and set aside your shortcomings and challenges, if only for a moment. It is not about you. It is about him, and he loves you. That is enough, and that is bigger than any “yeah, but…” you have.  

Wait!!!  Read verse 4 again, “the Lord takes delight in his people!"There it is again. If I am his, he delights in me. Wow, again.

Verse 6 also interestingly, references having a double-edged sword in our hands and how it leads to victory. My study Bible cross references that verse to Hebrews 4:12 which speaks to the living and active Word of God which is sharper than any double-edged sword, presumably even the victorious double-edged sword of Psalm 149. It penetrates the “thoughts and attitude of the heart,” including doubt and disbelief. Navigating through doubt and disbelief with the living Word of God, even with the support of a faith community, is not easy but I pray that we do exactly that, in his truth and grace. And, I pray that we find a new song and the praise, rejoicing, dancing, and joy referenced in Psalm 149, even during these unique and uncertain times.

Prayer:

God,
Penetrate my heart and allow me to hear your voice, so I may know you and be yours. Call me to you, so that I can celebrate the assurance that you truly delight in me as one of your own.
Amen

#digzpc | Fasting

Let’s be honest, fasting is simply not commonly discussed and it rubs against our modern day freedom to enjoy life and fill basic needs and desires. Not eating is generally considered a bad thing. Hunger is a real problem for many in our world, and the honest assumption is that no one would voluntarily choose to be hungry. My late mother loved her family by feeding us and she was good at it! When my wife and I have the opportunity for a date night out away from the kids and away from "all things mac-and-cheese", my first question is “where are we eating?”  And, when was the last time that you attended a church fellowship that didn’t involve food?

I attended a youth lock-in and fast at my family’s church as a boy. I recall being stressed about the goal of going 24-hours without anything but water. Would I make it? Would my stomach hurt? More than that…What will I get out of this? And, why would I go without food if I don’t have to? We were told that learning to go without teaches us to depend on God and it teaches us that God is the one who sustains us, but I didn’t easily buy into that at the time. 

When I made it through the 24-hours, the promised pizza party was the only thing on my mind! I envisioned stuffing myself. The physiological lesson learned was that your stomach constricts without food and less than one piece made me full. What?! Satisfied by one piece?! I guess going without does change us.

Greater than physical impact, what about spiritual impact? The truth is that we are easily consumed by what we consume. In Mark 12:30, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I now believe that fasting helps reveal what we love more than the Lord our God. The extremes, like drugs, alcoholism or other addictions that cause obvious destruction, are not the only potential problem. Food, control, money, freedom, clothes, sex, cars, video games, work, smart phones with cool apps, Sports Center, the internet…all of these things, essentially anything, can be a spiritual problem if we love them more than the Lord our God. A pessimist would say that this is our daily battle but an optimist would say that this is our daily opportunity to live a full life! 

In John 10:10, Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Honestly, going without food isn’t very appealing to me, but a full life in the Lord is the most appealing thing I can imagine!

I have not fasted from food for 24-hours since I was a boy, but I have temporarily laid things that consume me aside many times. Have you fasted from food or other things, maybe for the Lenten season? How did it impact you? What are your thoughts about the things that consume us? Based on this week's homework from Jerry, will you attempt to fast from two consecutive meals?

 

#digzpc is the title of ZPC's Lenten series about spiritual practices. We encourage you to make comments about your experience with the practice of the week, which is simplicity this week. Also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, if you participate in these media. When commenting there, please always use #digzpc so we can find your comments. Are you ready to dig?