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Looking to God – Charles R. Swindoll

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C2TV ministry is designed to strengthen your spiritual walk. This ministry newsletter began in 1999, first known as the Family Tree Ministry. The goal is to be a connection builder, serving as a spiritual connection between people and matters of faith. Our mission is simple: Connecting men and women to life-changing faith in Jesus – encouraging them to impact their community with His values, ethics and love. In the age of technology the newsletter has transformed into a blog with many more features that the old paper format couldn't provide. In November 2012, The Family Tree Ministry was renamed to "Connect to the Vine - (C2TV)" based on the Book of John, Chapter 15, where we are told to remain connected to Christ. In October 2016, this blog was renamed to "Connecting Champions to the Vine - C2TV." This change came about with the adding of the ADVOCARE bar at the top of the blog site. Originally focused on a ministry outreach to family members, C2TV has expanded to reach all those whom we come into contact with. Our prayer is that this blog becomes a means of illuminating God's work in our culture and encouraging one another to stand firm in Him! At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it is a journey. None of us are perfect. Once we become believers, we are not expected to achieve instant spiritual maturity. Rather, the Christian life is a process involving both our attention (2 Corinthians 7:1) and God’s work in us (Philippians 1:6). And it has more to do with opportunity and intentionality than with age (1 Timothy 4:12).

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As I read Psalm 13 and reflect on the section describing David on his face, overwhelmed with grief and hopelessness, I see two practical areas of application:

1. It was the length of the test that began to weary David. “How long” occurs four times in two brief verses. Let us remember that God not only designs the depth of our trials but also their length. Sometime soon, read the words of the ancient prophet Habakkuk, chapter 1. He too asked, “How long?”

2. In the first two verses of Psalm 13, David turns against everyone and everything except himself. What I learn from this is that when I try to handle a test in the flesh, I turn against God, my enemy, or my circumstance rather than first asking the Lord what He is trying to teach me in this situation. What wonderful lessons God wishes to teach us if our proud hearts would only be willing to melt in the furnace of affliction.

In the midst of his grief and sorrow, David makes a critical choice. Rather than continue the downward spiral of sorrow, he changed his posture. This brings us to the second section of the song.

David on His Knees

Consider and answer me, O LORD, my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. (Psalm 13:3-4)

Something happened to David between stanzas 2 and 3 of his hymn. Perhaps he listened to his own complaints and realized it was self-pity. I’ve done that, haven’t you? Maybe he paused in his composition and looked back over what he had just written . . . and became alarmed at the unbelief that began to surface before his eyes. We observe a genuine and marked difference now. He is up off his face. His despondency is beginning to lift. We find him, at last, on his knees—the place of victory. The martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, once wrote: “The saint who advances on his knees never retreats.”

Please observe how closely verses 3 and 4 are connected with verses 1 and 2. David seems to recollect and redirect his complaints as he talks to the Lord about them. Three changes become apparent.

First, instead of viewing the Lord as being removed and unconcerned (13:1), David requests that He “consider and answer” him (13:3). And don’t miss what he calls the Lord in verse 3—“my God”! The distance is now gone in David’s mind. He is embracing an altogether different outlook.

Second, instead of the despondency and distress that had become his heart attitude due to his attempts to work things out (13:2), he now asks the Lord to “enlighten my eyes.”

Again, the Hebrew gives us a clearer understanding of this. The word translated “enlighten” in verse 3 is in the causative stem, meaning literally “to cause to shine.” In Numbers 6:24-26, the identical term occurs in a benediction we’ve heard many times:

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The L
ORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The L
ORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.
(Emphasis is mine.)

David’s countenance had lost its “shine.” His face, and especially his eyes, had become hard, flat, and dull. He longed for God’s brightness to reflect itself once again from his eyes—his face had fallen.

I want to state once again that when trials are dealt with in the flesh, the eyes bear the marks of that fact. We cannot hide it. Our entire countenance becomes rigid and inflexible, lacking the “sparkle” and the “light” that once manifested itself from our hearts. When inner joy leaves, so does the “shine” from our eyes.

Third, instead of worrying about his exalted enemy (13:2), David now mentally releases his enemy to the Lord and lets Him take care of the results (13:3-4).

I notice this marked change in David occurred when he decided to lay it all out before God in prayer. Although it sounds like a cliché, our fervent petition is still the most effective oil to reduce the friction from the daily grind of despondency.


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May 2013
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