Monthly Archives: April 2018

Psalm 118-122; A Treasure

Have you spent enough time in God’s Word to get it? When you read a passage that refers to another passage, do you recognize it? Like, did 118:25-28 remind you of anything?

I will say I look forward to reading God’s Word every day. Being retired, I have the luxury of opening the Bible any time of the day or night. It’s already 10:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, pouring over Scripture and praying. What a privilege.

Over the years I have highlighted some verses in Psalm 119 that spoke to me. You probably know this psalm is about God’s Word to us. The psalmist loves Scripture with a passion. Verse after verse talks about this amazing gift we have in God’s written Word. I’d like to share some of the verses that I’ve highlighted at various times in my life:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (vs 11)

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (vs 24)

My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life. (vs 50)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (vs 105)

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (vs 114)

This book is a treasure. In it is everything we need to know, every answer to every question. It’s a love letter straight from the heart of God.

Take time to read it today… and tomorrow. Love it. Use it. You won’t want to miss precious verses like these:

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (121:1-2)

 

 

Psalms 107-117; The Downcast Soul, Part 2

Yesterday I shared that my soul was downcast. I was discouraged about some things, and downright sad about others. I told you what I felt God’s Word said to do about that.

So I prayed. God revealed some things I needed to confess. So I did. And with that confession I repented, asked God to forgive me, and thanked Him for His faithfulness to me in the past.

Then I told Him what was on my heart. I told Him everything. I know He already knew. But I needed to say it, to put into words the things that were breaking my heart so that I would know exactly what it was that I was handing over to Him. Then I thanked Him again for His faithfulness, and I told Him I trusted Him with each and every situation.

During the day, as those feelings came back, I knew those thoughts weren’t from God. So every time I picked up one of those cares, I prayed and laid it back at the feet of Jesus. It seems that I spent most of the day reaffirming my trust in my Heavenly Father.

Now here is why I love being a child of God. This is why I can say for certain that He is Who He says He IS, that He is intimately interested in every aspect of my life:

Last night I got a text from a friend who gave me a word of encouragement over one of the things that had been heavy on my heart just that morning. My sister in Christ did not know my source of distress. I never hinted to her my discouragement.

But I had poured my heart out to God. He heard. And He prompted my friend to give me a word straight from His heart without her even knowing.

Oh, dear one, do you know Him? Do you trust Him? Are you confident He hears and answers the prayers of His children who pray according to His will?

This is my testimony this morning. I hope it is yours as well:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)

Psalms 102-106; A Downcast Soul

The other day I wrote about unspeakable joy that is ours through our relationship with God. I thank God for that gift that is ours through the precious blood of Jesus.

But today, with some things heavy on my heart, my soul is struggling to grasp the joy. I’m sitting here thanking God for that, actually. Because sometimes I read old posts of mine and think, do my words make this Christian walk seem too care-free? Do I give the impression that I have it all together, and I never struggle? That’s not even close to the truth. I don’t want anyone to think it is.

Honestly, sometimes the cares of my world do get me down. Sometimes it’s really hard to feel the joy with a downcast soul.

So today, feeling the unrest in my soul, I read these psalms and came away with two thoughts:

  1. Is what I’m feeling God’s hand of conviction ? Is this unrest a result of sin in my life? Is it because I have taken a step out of God’s will and into my own? Is this God’s way of getting me out of Egypt? Then I need to confront that sin, repent, and obey God’s leading even if the Red Sea is up ahead. God’s been faithful in the past. I can trust Him with today. There is joy in knowing that.
  2. Have I told God my concerns and then left them in His capable hands, knowing He hears and answers prayer? There are hundreds of examples in Scripture where God answered prayer. Abraham for Lot, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Hezekiah, Hannah, Daniel, and on and on and on. There are examples in my own life of God’s faithfulness. Why should today be any different?

So I’m going to pray, repent, tell God what’s on my heart. Then I’m going to trust the God of the universe, the Great I Am, the One who loved me enough to die for me. I’m going to stop focusing on circumstances, and focus on my Heavenly Father. I’m going to praise Him, not because of what He can do for me, but because of who He is.

I am blessed. I have the Holy Spirit right here with me. I am forgiven. I am promised eternity with Jesus Himself. And He IS my joy.

Psalms 96-101; Joy Unspeakable

Have you ever experienced joy to the point you thought your heart would burst? The day you looked into the eyes of the love of your life and said, “I do”? Holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time? Taking that dandelion from chubby fingers, stretched out to present you with their treasure? Receiving an “all clear” from your doctor? Watching a sunset?

What do you do with that joy? These psalms tell me that praising God is the steam value on a pressure cooker. Praise is a natural expression of heart-filling joy. If you read these psalms you’ll see dozens of reasons to praise God.

96:4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…

97:1 The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

97:9 For you, O Lord are the Most High over all the earth…

98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things…

But let’s be careful. The joy we receive is a result of God’s grace, His mercy and love. When we understand that, we can only respond like Ebenezer Scrooge did after spending the night hanging out with the spirits: “I don’t deserve to be so happy, I just can’t help it.”

Because true happiness, real joy comes from a right relationship through the precious blood of Jesus. Knowing your sins are forgiven, having fellowship with God can bring joy unspeakable. But let’s not make joy or happiness our goal. If we do, we are worshiping idols.

Praise God for who He is. Worship God because He deserves it. Recognize how blessed you are, and tell Him so. Let Him know how blown away you are at the thought of Him. Then experience that indescribable joy that does not come from things or circumstances. That indescribable, unspeakable joy is God Himself.

 

Psalms 90-95; The Chutney Chicks

I like to golf. Before I moved to Georgia I would get together with some women from work and golf fairly regularly. I love these women. We are not great golfers, but we’re pretty good at laughing at ourselves. Golfing with them is fun and relaxing.

These women know I go to church. They observe that my lifestyle is different from their’s. So when we golf, they tend to clean up their vocabulary out of respect for me. I appreciate it, but I tell them I want them to just be themselves around me.

Anyway, one afternoon one of the ladies missed what should have been an easy putt. She began to use the “S” word, but stopped herself, looked at me, and said, “Chutney.” As I’m sitting here writing this I am laughing out loud, just remembering the sheepish look on her face. I laughed that day, too. So did all of us. And from then on, whenever one of the girls felt a vulgar word coming out of her mouth, we’d hear, ‘Chutney!”

In fact, when our school district did a team-building activity, we were Team Chutney Chicks. As I recall we didn’t do well in that completion, either. I digress.

This came to mind today as I read these psalms. Listen to 90:8:

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Then the psalmist goes on to say in verse 11:

Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

It’s not my wrath anyone should fear. Not my ears people should have respect for. It’s God’s. He sees it all, and hears it all anyway. We can’t dress up our secret sins in a harmless word, or action, and think we got away with something. God is not a fool.

If you act one way around Christians, and another around non-believers you have a problem. Why do you care what Christians think about you? We’re not your judge. But there is One who is, and He’s watching and listening. He is the One of whom your actions should reflect your respect.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. (Psalm 95:3-5)

Yep. That God. He is the One who deserves… no, demands… our consideration, our respect, our fear, and our devotion.

Psalms 84-89; Today

Priorities. Pain. Praise. A personal relationship with God. All are familiar themes in the book of Psalms. Some psalms express a longing for the past while lamenting over the present. Some psalms question God, plead with Him for deliverance, or nearly burst at the seams with praise.

As I talked to God about these psalms today, He reminded me I can’t change the past. And worrying about tomorrow is a fruitless exercise Jesus told us to stop.

But I have today.

I ran across something Oswald Chambers said in regard to Psalm 85:

“It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been. Base all on your relationship to God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was.”

Do you trust God enough to stand square where you are today? Is your relationship with God that solid ground on which you face very challenge, ever opportunity? Or are you content to sit back and wish things were like they used to be (when if you’re honest those times had troubles of their own).

Let’s let God have today. Let’s look for ways to serve Him, to draw closer to Him, to further His will.

THIS is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in…

TODAY!