Tuesday, July 8, 2008

HE SAID, SHE SAID TOO // With the Help of Francis & Brooke

***This might not be a new thought but it’s at least a refresher. It’s something I’ve been dwelling on quite a bit in the last few weeks.

Words and Music by Brooke Fraser

This is my prayer in the desert when all that’s within me feels dry.
This is my prayer in my hunger and need. My God is the God who provides.

This is my prayer in the fire, in weakness or trial or pain.
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold so refine me, Lord, through the flame.

I will bring praise. I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain.
I will rejoice. I will declare. God is my victory and He is here.

This is my prayer in the battle when triumph is still on its way.
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ so firm on His promise I’ll stand.

All of my life in every season you are still God.
I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.

This is my prayer in the harvest when favor and providence flow.
I know I’m filled to be emptied again. The seed I’ve received I will sow.

© 2008 Sony/ ATV Music Publishing Australia (Aust. & NZ only), Hillsong Publishing (Rest of world)

Here is a story about “Desert Song” and the song performed:

This is a worship song coming out on the new Hillsong album This Is Our God. This is a good Sabbath song (more coming on Sabbath soon). But something I heard inside me when I was listening to this song: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV). And I thought about what “for good” meant – for the good of whom? For those who love God and for those called according to his purpose.

“Well,” I thought, “that puts us in the center of the story and we’re not the center of the story. God is.” So while God works all things together for good for us, there must be another step in which God’s name is known, in which God is prized above everything, in which “for good” takes on a bigger meaning than just comfort for us here on Earth. Isn’t that what we often take this verse to mean? That God is going to make a bad situation better, that he’s going to change up the bad hand you’ve been dealt, that he’s going to ease the pain here and now?

In the context of Romans 8, suffering is necessary to be a co-heir with Christ in his glory (vv. 16-17) (being a co-heir in glory is quite an image to ponder). Paul talks about creation groaning with the children of God as we wait for the day that we are released from pain, suffering, death and decay, and look forward to the new bodies and freedom that God promised. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit comes alongside us and groans. He helps us in our “distress” or “weakness” (v. 26). This distress or weakness is a continuation of us waiting for the glory that was promised, the freedom from these bodies. It’s not about a trial that comes upon us Monday morning at work. It’s a distress about awaiting the bigger picture “patiently” and “confidently” (v. 25). The good (v. 28) is about that fulfillment of the promise – not about a temporal or material good on Earth but an eternal good. We suffer here but “the good” doesn’t mean relief comes now. Relief comes when God sets us free from the body.

Then we have the question: What do we do with the suffering we experience now? “We suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (v. 17). How to handle suffering is also seen in Romans 8:28. God’s promise to work all things together for good is for those who (1) love him and (2) are called according to his purpose.
- Love him: The Shema is the most basic command: “Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH is one; and you shall love YHWH your God.” Those who love God are the true Israel.
- Called according to his purpose: God’s purpose as seen throughout the Bible is to restore creation, to be the all-sufficient one, to have the glory of his name known throughout the Earth. His purpose for Israel was that the nation would show the praises of the one true God in the world.

God will accomplish the good (release from suffering, death and decay) for those who are the true Israel: those who love him and show his praises to the world. If we love him, we’ll do our job, our purpose, and we’ll praise him. Here God becomes the center of the story!

So then I hear songs like the above and I think that no matter the season, no matter what happens, I will praise, I will rejoice, I will declare. It could be famine, fire, battle or the good harvest, and I will praise because that is what I am called to do. My purpose is to show forth God’s praise to the world. I have victory in God and HE is here. God is my victory. That third verse (“This is my prayer in the battle…”) is Romans 8 – in the battle with suffering, this decaying life, as a child of God and co-heir with Christ, I can stand firm on the promise that God is working for the good, the ultimate good. That deserves a shout, a smile on the face, overwhelming gratitude and JOY! It shouldn’t matter what my situation looks like, because in every season I am to do one thing: praise.

It’s seems so obvious; why don’t more people get it? As my pastor Francis reminded us on Sunday, we know the ending – we win! (David Crowder Band said it a couple albums ago, too.) Francis said, “There should be an attitude of victory about us. There is no fear, no sting in death. I know how this thing ends. I know there is tragedy here but in the end we win. So why stress about world with pain? Do you walk in this kind of confidence? Do people look at you and see you as powerful, confident and not to be overtaken?”

He told the story of Solomon. Rather than asking God to get rid of all his enemies, Solomon asked for wisdom. He could have had all obstacles removed, all of his enemies wiped out, but instead Solomon asked for wisdom. We shouldn’t pray for obstacles to be removed but we should pray for wisdom. The easy way out would be to remove temptation but God wants us to be mature. Romans 5:3-4 says to rejoice in our sufferings because they are good for us.

“YES! That’s what I’ve been thinking!” I said to myself. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen people walking in worry or defeat. I look around church and see people singing songs that speak volumes about God, his power, his greatness, his glory but look so blah while they’re doing it. I talk to friends that seemingly have very little passion for their church, for proclaiming the glory of God in their lives. And I think, “How can you say that the Spirit of God dwells in you but you look lifeless and act lifeless?”

Romans 8 closes with, “If God is for us, who can stand against us? Who will dare accuse us before God? What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing and no one can.” If we know that win and we know that death, life, angels, demons, fear, worries and the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love from us, then we should carry an attitude of power in us. We should be able to hear and/or sing the song above with absolute confidence, belief and power that God is the victor and the world needs to know about it.

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