Last night, my husband and I spent a few minutes with the kids playing one of our favorite games. We all sat down in the living room floor and played UNO. We dealt the cards and began playing. The game is pretty simple to play so it works for a wide range of ages. One just has to match either the color or the number of a card to play it on the discard pile. When we play sometimes it goes pretty fast. Someone will play a green 2. The next person will play a green 5. The next person will play a red 5. If the following person isn't paying attention, in their haste they will try to play a green card, like a green 7. The problem is that the color has been changed to red. The card doesn't match. We all get a good laugh and the person has to pick their green card back up.
Do you play green 7's to cover up red 5's?
Psalm 28:3 "Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts."
David said one of the characteristics of a wicked person is that their words don't match their hearts. They say kind things to their neighbor's face, but in their heart they have a secret and selfish agenda. They have wicked motives. They are workers of iniquity. They cover their wicked "red 5" heart with pleasant "green 7" words.
Is that how we want to be? Do we want to imitate the character of workers of iniquity? The solution is to let your words match your heart and your heart match your words, let it all match the mind and heart of Christ. Be real. Be genuine. Don't speak kindly to someone while harboring ill will, bad feelings, or selfish motives toward them. In God's UNO game, He doesn't want you to take up the green 7. He wants you to get rid of the red 5 you are trying to cover up.
I love conversation-starter questions. I actually have a jar that I use with my children when we have private snack time. The jar contains slips of paper with simple questions on them to help us grow in our fellowship and keep our lines of communication open. We take turns drawing a piece of paper out and reading it. Then we both answer the question.
Some of the questions:
There are twenty questions in the jar. That jar has helped us have amazing times of fellowship. In Psalm 27, it's almost like someone asked David a conversation-starter question.
"David, if you could only have one thing, what would it be?"
Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple."
Of all the things David could have said...
David says, If I could just have one thing it would be to dwell in the place where God meets with His people. He longed for constant, close intimacy with God. He didn't want to just have a temple. He didn't want just to visit the temple. He wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord! He hungered for God. There was nothing in the world that held his heart the way his God did. He would willingly set everything else in life aside for the Lord. It was his love and his pursuit.
Where is my heart? If I could only have one thing, what would it be? Material things like a house, land, wealth? Would I long for beauty, power, or fame? Would I choose family or friends? Would I long for health and long life? Would I ask for safety for my family? Would success be my heart's desire? If I could only have one thing, would I choose, without hesitation and with honest desire and longing, to live out the rest of my days in intense, close, intimate fellowship with my Saviour, Jesus?
Several years ago, our family had a video game we enjoyed playing together. I am not much of a video game person, but I really enjoyed that one because it was a simple game we could all play together. In the game, each player had armed vehicles and a home base. The goal was to take your armed vehicles and destroy your opponent's home base while still protecting your own base. If the enemy was attacking your home base, a computer voice would announce, "Base under attack." That would warn you to go back and fight the enemy to get them off your territory. Your home base would have battle scars, soot, and sometimes a small fire.
As the game progressed, if your home base sustained significant damage, the computer would give you a countdown. "Structural integrity 30%." I loved the warnings because sometimes I get tunnel vision. If I was busily attacking vehicles or the opponent's home base, sometimes I would forget to protect my own base. When the warnings came, I knew to change my priorities: protect the home base.
If the attack continued, the announcement would come, "Structural integrity 15%... Structural integrity 5%... Structural integrity failing." If the attack was not stopped, my home base would be destroyed and I would lose the game. (I hate to lose!)
Integrity: Completeness, innocence (in the Bible, moral innocence.)
In a video game, integrity means that the base was unharmed and not defiled. It was complete, strong, and in great shape. In life, it means we are not defiled. We stand in moral innocence, strong and clean.
Psalm 26:1 "Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide."
David was declaring that his home base (self) was at 100% structural integrity. His spiritual integrity had not been marred or defiled. He was guarding his integrity and didn't want to give any part of it away. He knew that if he guarded his spiritual integrity and kept it at 100%, he would never hear the countdown slide, "Spiritual integrity 30%... Spiritual integrity 15%... Spiritual integrity failing..."
How did he guard his integrity? He didn't let the enemy hang out at his home base!
Psalm 26:4-5 "I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked."
He didn't hang out with corrupt people and people with wicked agendas, time wasters and people who were morally defiled. Separation was a big deal to David. It's also a big deal to our God.
James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
We don't reach the world for Christ by being like the world. We don't have intimate fellowship with ungodly people. We don't seek their counsel. We don't embrace their close friendship.
Does that mean we just sit at our home base to keep ungodly people off? No. We go out and reach the world with the Gospel. We love them and reach out to them. Our desire is to be used by the Lord to help destroy the hold that sin has on them by sharing the truth about salvation with them. Separation should never become isolation, but we should heed the warnings from God's Word and from His Spirit when our home base is under attack.
Psalm 26:11 "But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me."
Guard your home base.
My youngest child is an adventure every day. He is fun, unique, and a lot like his Dad and Grampa. He has many traits that I love, but there is one trait about him that is my favorite. He is teachable.
Gabriel is a sponge! He loves to learn new things. Right now he is learning piano from his piano teacher. He is learning how to be a better artist from his sister. He is learning about tools, bicycle repair, cars, and machinery from his Dad. From me, he is learning how to cook, how to be a better writer, and how to make good outlines. His heart's desire is to be a pastor one day, so learning to make good outlines would be a handy skill.
Psalm 25:4 "Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths."
When I read Psalm 25, I was amazed at how many times it mentions the word "teach". The word "teach" is used five times. The word "shew" is used twice, and the words "lead" and "guide" are each used once. One of David's greatest traits was that he was teachable. What makes a person teachable?
Our God is a willing Teacher. Why? Because He is good and upright!
Psalm 25:8 "Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way."
I love when Gabriel comes in the kitchen and asks if he can help. What he is really saying is, "I want to learn how to do that, Mom." It thrills my heart to take those moments and work with him. It brings great joy to a teacher when a student has such a willingness to learn. God is the same way with us. He greatly delights in teaching us. He loves when we crawl up in His lap and say, "Teach me."
On the flip side, there is nothing more frustrating to a teacher than to try to help someone by teaching them when they are convinced they know everything they need to know. As a teacher, it literally pains me to watch someone struggle unnecessarily when they could simply humble themselves and admit they don't have all the answers. I wonder how God sees me when I refuse to look to Him and learn instead of struggling on my own path with my own plans, ideas, and logic. Know-It-All Christianity is a painful road.
How teachable are we? Are we hungry sponges, soaking up all that we can as He teaches? Or are we convinced we already have all the answers?
Psalm 25:5 "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day."
There is an adorable little girl in our church. We love her so much. She is around 4 years old, and she is the cutest little thing you have ever seen. There is a small problem, though. She is undisciplined, so she can get into trouble quicker than you can catch her to stop her. One of the nasty habits she has picked up is rummaging through other people's bags at church. We guard our pocket books closely because if we don't we will find her wandering around the church carrying our sunglasses, water bottles, or wallets.
I have chosen to use the opportunity to teach her authority and respect for the property of others. When she goes to reach in my bag, with a firm but loving voice I say, "Dina, no. That's mine." Inevitably, she reaches in the bag again every time. I grab her hand, firmly push it away, and again say, "Dina, no. That's not yours. That's mine." Sometimes I will bring things to share with her like a toy. I will wait until she is looking and then I will reach in my bag. I grab the toy and give it to her. "Dina, here. Take this. You may play with this."
Sometimes she gets a pen from someone's bag. As I am sitting in church, I turn to see the young girl wielding the mighty object of destruction. With a songbook as her coloring book, the young child happily makes her mark in the world. I jump up and take pen and book from her. "No, Dina. That's not good." She must learn to take care of other people's things.
She is learning, but it will take time. She is worth the effort.
Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
I am sometimes am just like Dina more than I realize.
Everything in the earth is the Lord's. It all belongs to Him. Sometimes I want to take things that are His, and He says, "No." I get upset and keep trying because I really want it. He continues to push my hand away and says, "No. That's mine and you may not have it." Honestly, I really would love a dishwasher, endless supply of cheddar cheese, Krispy Kreme donuts, and vehicles that never break down. I would love my oldest child sitting at the Thanksgiving table, and to hear my Dad's voice once more. But those things belong to God. He has chosen to say, "No, you may not have it." Do I keep grabbing at those things like Dina grabbing in my bag?
Sometimes He lets me have some things to "play" with. They are still His, though. Sometimes He finds me destroying His property and not taking care of it like I should. I think of my time. It's actually His time because I belong to Him. Sometimes I waste time. Much like Dina coloring in the hymnal, I abuse His property of time.
I think of my husband and children. They really don't belong to me. They belong to Him. Am I treating them with the respect I should? I would never color in the church hymnals, but do I color on the hearts of my family with my words?
I think of the home He has allowed me to live in. Am I taking care of it? Am I using it for His glory?
I think of the ministry. It's not my ministry. It's His. Do I give my best? Do I do damage to His ministry with my actions?
The "fulness" of the earth is His. That means whatever is in the earth belongs to Him. Do I respect His property? Do I take without permission? Do I damage His property?
Just as I think Dina is worth the time and effort to train, God also thinks that of me. I want to be teachable.