Monthly Archives: April 2020

18 Reasons To Praise God, from Psalm 103

  1. He forgives my sin
  2. He heals my diseases
  3. He redeems my life
  4. He crowns me with love and compassion
  5. He satisfies my desires with good things
  6. He renews my strength
  7. He is right and just all the time
  8. He is compassionate and gracious toward me
  9. He is slow to get angry with me
  10. He overflows with love for me
  11. He doesn’t stay angry forever
  12. He doesn’t give me what my sins deserve
  13. He loves. (He is love)
  14. He removes my sin completely, forever.
  15. He is a compassionate Father
  16. He knows how I was made, understanding my humanity
  17. He sits on His throne in heaven and rules my life
  18. He loves and blesses all who fear Him

Praise the Lord!

Gatekeeping (I Chronicles 9)

Reading about the men who were assigned the position of gatekeepers for the Tabernacle, God’s house, convicts me. These men protected every inch, inside and out, day and night. No side or entrance was without someone making sure no unauthorized person had access. The treasures of God housed within those canvas walls were cherished and diligently covered with protection at all times. The Presence of God was guarded carefully.

Which makes me wonder how diligent I am about guarding God’s dwelling place in 2020. And according to I Corinthians 6:19, I am God’s dwelling place, His temple in the twenty-first century. Sadly, my gatekeepers aren’t always on the job.

Sometimes my heart isn’t protected from the enemy, or from unauthorized influence. I know there have been times when I’ve left a door unguarded, and allowed a thought, or a philosophy, or action enter because it looks harmless enough. Or maybe because I just wasn’t paying attention, the evil gets a free pass. Have there been times I’ve given the enemy access to God’s temple called Connie because others seem to think it’s ok and have given the enemy access to their hearts first?

Then, knowing God’s Church today is made up of individual temples like me, I have to ask myself how diligent I am about protecting her. Do I stand up for the truth of Scripture, do I hold my teachers and pastors accountable? Do I boldly stand up for what God has expressly stated as right, and just as emphatically reject what He says is wrong? Am I doing the job of gatekeeper over the treasures of Holy God, His Son Jesus, and the gift of grace?

Or am I a slacker? May God give me courage to be the gatekeeper He deserves. May I guard my heart, and the doors of my church with a boldness that honors Him and keeps His dwelling place pure.

I’m Not Feeling It (Psalm 88)

I was bothered by this psalm this morning. Heman the Ezrathite was in a bad way. I understand some scholars believe he was foretelling what Jesus experienced in the events surrounding the cross, and I can see some similarities for sure. But I read this psalm as from a man who was in despair himself at that moment. He is at the lowest point in his life, drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and friendless. In fact, the psalm ends with him saying that darkness is his closest friend.

Then to top it off, he feels abandoned by God. The psalm left me feeling uneasy. But I continued with my reading plan, reading other psalms that were uplifting and hopeful. I just could’t shake the feeling I’d gotten from Psalm 88.

So I went back to look at it again. “What is it You want me to see, Lord?” I prayed. I didn’t have to look very hard.

O, Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. (verses 1-2)

Heman didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy toward God. It wasn’t one of those times when the Presence of the Lord made him joyful, calm, and confident. It was one of those times when he couldn’t even feel the Presence of God at all.

But Heman KNEW God was his Savior. He KNEW God was present, even if it didn’t feel like it. And Heman was determined to continue to pray to the God he trusted.

God is asking me if I only want a relationship with Him when the circumstances of life are going in my favor, or do I trust Him in those times when I feel like I’m drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and alone? Do I pray expecting God to snap to it like a bellboy at a five star hotel, and grant me my wish as demanded? Do I give Him the silent treatment when I don’t think He’s paying attention?

Heman prayed to “the God who saves me.” Not to the God who makes me feel good. Not even to the God who loves me. And Heman didn’t pray to the God who CAN save me. I love Heman’s confidence in God in the midst of his trouble. The God who saves me! Period.

So when my life seems out of control, I like Heman, can know that as His child, God is the God who saves ME. He doesn’t depend on my feelings. But I can depend on His faithfulness. Even when things are hard. Even when I’m lost and alone.

Even when I’m not feeling it. God is the God who saves me!

Dumb As An Ox (Psalm 73)

In our economy, we have come to believe that good should be rewarded, and bad should be punished. Even in some Christian circles, it’s believed that obedience should result in material blessings and disobedience should result in suffering. Sounds logical.

Even David struggled with his own sense of fair-play. When David looked at the success of people who had rejected God, he went as far as to say:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vs 13)

The old pity party raises its ugly head. Been there. Done that.

But David comes to his senses and said something that made me not only laugh out loud, it got me thinking. Look at what he says in verses 21-22:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yes, God, when I find myself jealous of the prosperity of people who don’t give you a thought, I’m being ridiculous. I’m as dumb as an ox, as silly as a goose.

The truth is, those people who reject God, yet seem to have it all, are on a slippery slope, heading for destruction, and they don’t even know it. What looks like success and happiness is, at best, temporary. And probably, most likely, it is a smoke screen for what is going on within. Money, and things, are not what we were created for.

On the other hand, I have God Himself! It is God who holds me, gives me direction, and blesses me in ways the world cannot understand. And I am heading toward eternity with God in a place too wonderful for words.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (vv 25-26)

 

 

Slow To Learn (I Chronicles 3-5)

In one place we see God’s people defeat their enemy “because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.” (5:20)

Yet a few verses later, we see those same people unfaithful to God, worshiping idols, and living in harmony with the very people God had defeated earlier. Why would God bother to answer their prayer during the battle when He knew it wouldn’t be long before they turned from Him, and joined the enemy?

Because that is who He is! God is faithful to answer the prayers of a repentant heart every time.

We read that the Jews will pay a price for choosing sin. But what speaks to me is God’s faithfulness to His children. To me.

The truth is, God always blesses me, always defeats my enemy, always draws near to me when I trust Him and am obedient to His Word. It’s at those times when I choose sin, even in the privacy of my heart, that God removes His blessings, and I must face the consequences.

I can shake my head at the rollercoaster ride the Jews lived in the Old Testament, and wonder how they could trust God one minute, and blatantly sin the next. But God is reminding me today that they aren’t the only ones slow to learn.

My Wedding (Psalms 43- 45, 49, 84-85, 87)

I’ve never been a bride. I’ve witnessed others experience their special day, and I’ve longed to put on my own jeweled white gown, a veil over my face, and know what walking toward a man who loves me above all others feels like, to hear him declare his love to an entire congregation, and to give myself totally, exclusively, eternally to him. I imagine that is a pretty awesome experience.

God, in His love letter to us we call the Bible, often describes His relationship with His people like that of a husband and wife. You can find references to that in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and in the writings of Paul and John. Jesus called Himself the bridegroom in Mark 2. And the Revelation of John specifically speaks about “the Lamb’s wife.”

Psalm 45 is a wedding song. And, in a very real sense, it describes my future wedding. On that day my robe interwoven with gold will be Jesus’ perfect robe, the one He bought for me with His very life. I’ll be wearing His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. No designer dress will compare with the glory of my future wedding gown.

I’ll draw near to him “with joy and gladness,” like a girl on the arm of her father walks down the aisle, and I’ll look into the eyes of Someone who loves me more than any man can possibly love. I’ll hear Him proclaim in front of the whole world that I am His forever. I’d like to invite you to my wedding.

But more than that, I pray when your time comes, you will experience your own glorious wedding day. I pray that you will allow God to place Jesus’ righteousness over you and be united with Him forever, with joy and gladness.

That will be your experience if you have accepted what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, and rose again to prepare your honeymoon in heaven. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Then begin to plan you wedding. What a day that will be!

A Name On A List (I Chronicles 1-2)

My reading plan has me in the first two chapters of I Chronicles this morning. I spent some time trying to carefully pronounce all of those weird names as I read. “Why?” you might ask. Why not just skim over the names of people whose stories are not even recorded? Well for one thing:

All Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16)

I know nothing about most of the men whose names I read in these chapters today, except maybe the names of their dads and their sons’ names. And the fact that God placed their names in His Holy Scripture.

Not all these people were obedient servants of God. Not all did amazing deeds, or won great battles. They were ordinary people. Yet all of them have a place in the history of God on this earth. All their names have been preserved for centuries. They were God’s children as part of His chosen people.

When you think about it, this is a pretty amazing list. What a privilege to be counted among God’s precious ones for ever. But this list is nothing compared to the list where you’ll find my name.

Scripture often talks about the Book of Life, or in Revelation, the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s where you’ll find my name.

I know my name is there because I have believed that Jesus is the Christ. I have recognized my sin and confessed it. I have received forgiveness for those sins through the blood of Jesus, the resurrected Savior. And because I have been redeemed, my name was added to the list of God’s precious ones, His children for whom He is preparing heaven!

The Lamb’s Book of Life is filled with pages and pages of ordinary men, women, and children. Not all have done great deeds, or won great battles. Not all have taught Sunday School or preached in front of thousands. Not all have given their lives for the Name. But every name on that list has something in common.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name in heaven or earth that can save except Jesus. Jesus Himself told us that He is the Way and no one goes to the father except through Him. John 3:16 tells us whoever believes that Jesus died for the sins of the world will be saved and have everlasting life.

The names of the people who have accepted Jesus are listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. My name is there. I pray yours is as well. But it’s more than a list. It’s a relationship with God Himself. It’s the joy of sins forgiven. It’s truth and life, and eternity.

Now that’s a list!