by winston davenport, january 23 2014
I've been meditating on King David's words in Psalm 73:75. "There's nothing on Earth that I desire besides you."
That is a very devoted statement. Can we claim the same thing? Can we say with David that God is our only desire? Does this mean that we're supposed to stop desiring good friendships, a productive work environment, enjoyable vacations, or even a powerful ministry?
That seems extreme.
After all, I believe that God wants us to experience desire. He promises to give us the desires of our hearts (see Psalm 37:4), and that Scripture was also penned by David.
As I released my preconceived notions of this verse, opening my mind to the Holy Spirit's interpretation, here's what he told me:
"Winston, when you're in love with me as David was, any desire you have is automatically godly. To desire things like a healthy marriage, a nice vehicle, a successful ministry, or other earthly blessings, is to desire the Father."
These were fascinating words, and as I pondered them, it became clearer and clearer what God was revealing. Even the earthly things I desire are not separate from, apart from, or "besides" God. Of course I desire to prosper financially so I can provide for myself and my family, as well as give generously to others. But the revolutionary concept of David's devoted lyricism is this: I desire abundance because I desire God, for God is abundance!
You cannot truly know God without knowing abundance---He is Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. He is El Shaddai, God of more-than-enough. If you know God then you know His Word. And if you know and adhere to His Word, you will automatically make your way prosperous (see Joshua 1:8).
If you love God, your soul will prosper. And if your soul prospers, so will your health and finances (see 3 John 2). I have a desire to drive a Cadillac STS. At first, that may seem like I desire something on Earth besides God. But for the Christian, there is no separation between sacred and secular. My delight in my ideal vehicle stems from my delight in my Father, and His delight in me!
God does not and never has needed my worship, nor does He have any need to be served by huan hands, as though He doesn't already have everything (see Acts 17:25). On the contrary, His glory is displayed in my life when I have a need or desire, and look to my Father for its fulfillment. This, I believe, is why Jesus placed such an emphasis on asking and receiving from God---He mentions it over a dozen times in the Gospels.
In John 14:13, Jesus ascribes the purpose behind asking and receiving to the end of glorifying God: "Ask and you will receive, so that the Father may be glorified." Then, two chapters later, Jesus again exhorts us to ask and receive, but this time He says that its purpose is "so that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). This is a clear illustration that our joy being full brings glory to God!
The very basis and perfection of God's glorification in my life is when I allow Him to provide for me, give to me, and help me. He wants to be needed by His children. This characteristic can be clearly seen in earthly fathers who have an innate desire to fulfill their children, to give them a headstart.
To not ask God for things that we need or want is to deprive Him of His greatest glory. Jesus recognized that as God's children are glorified, so does He receive greater glory (see John 17:1). Denying this principle is to suggest self-sufficiency---to doubt His willingness and ability to provide. It is pride in a most subtle and dangerous form.
This pride was the sin of the older son in Jesus's Luke 15 parable of the prodigal. The father found such joy in giving and providing that not only did he grant the younger son's premature request for his inheritance, but he also gave a rightful portion of the inheritance to his older son. Then, in spite of the younger son's lasciviousness, the father joyfully celebrated the boy's homecoming by giving him even more wealth! Undoubtedly, this father was driven to give!
This allegoric father---a picture of God---is perfect and loving. And this love is defined by his joy in giving to his children, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Furthermore, he attributed the older son's bitterness to his unwillingness to ask for what was rightfully his (see Luke 15:31).
Yesterday, after lunch, I lay down on my bed and was greeted by a supernatural sense of God's presence and peace. He spoke these words to my mind: "Just allow Me to serve you today."
To some, that might sound like heresy, but Jesus's attitude was always one of servitude. He said, "The Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve." And He promised that one of the things He'd do at His return was recline us at His table and wait on us (see Matthew 20:28; Luke 12:37).
The Father's words to me yesterday reminded me of a hostess's pleasure in providing her guests with an evening of enjoyment, at no expense to them. It brings tribute to the hostess to receive gratitude for her hard work and effort ("The table looks wonderful! The food smells delicious!").
Or what if a loving husband wants to treat his wife to a day of relaxation and shameless pampering, attempting to serve her, relieving her of obligations and duties? But she won't cooperate. She is constantly jumping up, insisting on helping, worrying about this and that. it would be true humility for her to simply stop striving and receive her husband's goodness to her, even though it might make her feel vulnerable or not in control.
In the same way, it would be frustrating for the husband to ask, "Where do you want me to take you for a nice dinner?" and have her respond, "Oh, it doesn't matter---I'll go wherever you want." Her response deprives him of the joy of fulfilling her request and meeting her desires Likewise, it would be insulting for her to say, "Oh, Wendy's or Taco Bell would be fine." This pseudo-selflessness is an affront to the husband's generosity and emotional need to provide an delight his wife. His glory, his joy as a godly husband, is to take her out to the best place in town!
If it is known that I am wealthy, and yet people see my children wearing tattered clothing from a thrift store, or driving a rusted out 1985 Corolla, it brings me no glory as a father, even if---and listen to this!---the reason is that I reserved the money to give to poor people. It is understood that my primary responsibility and desire is to see that my own children are abundantly provided for.
Perhaps this is a difficult concept for some people to grasp. It can be challenging to see God in this light, to make yourself vulnerable to Him to this extent. But instead of viewing your desire for God as something separate from your other godly desires, recognize that in the light of a heart that's truly after God, like King David's, God's glory, love, and selfless generosity can oftentimes be expressed the clearest through His willingness and paternal need to satisfy your desires. After all, "The Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you" (Isaiah 30:18a, AMP).
by winston davenport, January 23 2014
by winston davenport, jaunary 15 2014
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These three words sound wonderful. No talk of judgment, sin, or repentance. The Kingdom of God means we live above all our frail efforts to earn something that was freely given to us.
Jesus told the disciples that "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
At hand means "within reach," or "readily available." That means that we should not be waiting for the Kingdom of Heaven in any sense. Not waiting to die in order to go there. Not waiting for Jesus to come back to bring Heaven here. Not waiting for God to approve some sort of revival. The Kingdom is here and has been here all along.
Jesus also said, "The Kingdom of God is within you."
Doesn't get much clearer than that, does it? The Kingdom is quite literally the presence of the Father. And His presence dwells in you and me right now. No wonder the Bible says, "In the presence of God is fullness of joy." Because the Kingdom is His presence, and joy is one of the three components of the Kingdom, it's easy to see the connection.
So why these three words? Righteousness. Peace. Joy.
Sometimes Christian words get tossed about arbitrarily, and they lose their significance. I have read many a devotional that sounds something like this: "His glorious love will rain upon you with his mercy and presence in the grace of His abundant lovingkindness." These are just religious sounding words scattered on meaningless sentences to create a sense of piety. But not with the New Testament. These words, righteousness, peace, and joy were deliberate. Let's discover what they mean.
Righteousness means "right standing," and in biblical context is referring to our right standing with the Father. A revelation of righteousness causes us to know where we stand in relation to the Father. That seems awfully important. You probably have some understanding of this fact: Jesus came to deliver a new gospel. A message of good news. That nothing is separating you from the Father. That because of a revelation of Jesus, you have become aware of your intrinsic connection, your latent oneness with the creator from whom you came. Righteousness means that it doesn't matter where you've been, what you've done---you are in right standing with God. You came from Him, are an extension of Him. If you are living in a revelation of righteousness, you are experiencing the first facet of life in the Kingdom.
Next we have the word Peace. Ahhh...peace. Makes you think of tall grasses blowing in the breeze, ocean beaches and pina coladas, or perhaps a cozy fireplace setting with a hearth, good book, and cup of cocoa. While these notions seem peaceful, peace is so much more than a setting or a feeling. Peace, especially biblically, has to do with a state of being, not a state of circumstance. Jesus gives us peace, not as the world gives. Peace is a state of being. Peace has to do with what realm of existence you are living in. If you are allowing life to happen to you, you cannot live in the realm of peace. If you realize that you came to this earth to create your own experience, to subject life around you to the obedience of the Kingdom, you will walk in a supernatural confidence and authority that is described as peace. This is most clearly seen in the story when the disciples are desperately bailing water out of the boat in the storm. Eventually they wake Jesus up and He calms the storm. The disciples were living in the world's peace, which was clearly disrupted as soon as the storm started trying to kill them off. Jesus was in the same set of circumstances, but He was operating from another realm---a realm where a storm wasn't a threat at all. He was asleep! No wonder he possessed the authority to stop the storm. Because peace is a state of being, not a state of circumstance, it cannot be disturbed. If you have a revelation of peace, you are experiencing the second facet of life in the Kingdom.
Finally the Bible mentions Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy is an emotion. While we usually relate it to excitement or running wildly around the room, it can be much deeper. Joy is a product of righteousness, because when you are aware that you are an uninhibited extension of the Creator of the universe, it's difficult to not experience positive emotion. When you are operating in peace, aware that there is no circumstance that can threaten you because you are a creator of circumstances rather than a victim, you will experience positive emotion. Positive emotion is nothing more than this: thinking thoughts that are in alignment with who you really are. If you are thinking thoughts that are congruent to the Kingdom, you will feel joy. If you are sick and you are thinking thoughts of being sick, you will feel sadness, because your thoughts are out of alignment with the Kingdom of Heaven (sickness doesn't exist in the Kingdom of Heaven). If you are sick and you are thinking thoughts of being well, you will feel joy, because your thoughts are in alignment with the Kingdom of Heaven (well-being exists in the Kingdom of Heaven). Basically, emotions are a gauge to tell you how near or far your thoughts are from Truth. If you have a revelation of joy, you are experiencing the third facet of life in the Kingdom.
Righteousness is who you are in relation to God.
Peace is who you are in relation to the world around you.
Joy is who you are in relation to yourself.
That pretty much covers it! The Kingdom of Heaven is awesome, it is here, and your only pursuit should be to live in a perpetual revelation of this Kingdom, this government, this "God's method of existence." It is who you really are and it is why you came to this world: to live in the Kingdom and to infect everyone around you with it. If this is what you seek, two things will happen. You will find it ("Those who seek, find"). And everything else you desire will manifest ("Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you").
by winston davenport, january 15, 2014