Tag Archives: daily devotions

(Psalm 1) Blessed To Bless

I’ve never really studied the psalms. I’ve read them often and have been blessed and challenged by certain phrases that stand out to me as I quickly read over them. But I’ve never dug deeper into them as I have other places in God’s Word. I think it’s time.

So using the opinions written by Bible scholars like those who contribute to my Apologetics Study Bible, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful,” Matthew Henry, Josh Hunt, and others, I’m going to take one psalm at a time, word by word, and prayerfully consider this portion of Scripture like I’ve never done before. This could take a while.

I memorized Psalm 1 in the KJV when I was a youth. It’s taken decades to really look at what God would have me know through these familiar verses. In fact, as I’ve looked at this psalm for the past 2 1/2 hours, I am challenged to do what it says!

The first word in this psalm is “blessed,” or “happy,” and isn’t that something we all aspire to? I don’t know that anyone would say they just want to be miserable and to go through hard times. So, here is the key to happiness according to God’s Word:

First what not to do. Don’t go the way of the world. Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t take what your professors or politicians or rockstars or pro-athletes or peers or news anchors say as gospel. The loudest voices aren’t always the right voices, aren’t always the truthful voices.

Some of those voices mock Christianity, reject Truth, deny God. Do you want to be happy and blessed? Don’t walk with them. God would have us know that the blessed, the happiest people are those who don’t listen to the ungodly, are those who don’t align themselves with unbelievers.

Here’s the other aspect of the key to happiness: Love God’s Word. Yes, love the Bible. Read it, but don’t stop there. Pray about it. Think about it day and night. Let it become a part of you.

Commentaries and study guides help. I’m going to be looking at several while I study the psalms in the next few weeks (or months at the rate I’m going). But there isn’t a Bible teacher or Bible scholar who can replace the treasure that is God’s own Words.

In fact, if you need counsel, direction, advice for life, there is no better place to go than to the Giver of life! Happy, blessed, are those who make Scripture a priority.

The psalmist compares people who are grounded in God’s Word to a healthy tree, planted by water, and bearing fruit. It is a picture which demonstrates that our nourishment comes from spending time in God’s Word. Reading the Bible and allowing it to feed us produces fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now here is something Warren Wiersbe said, “We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it.” (Be Worshipful; by Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook publisher; 2009; p 22))

When we delight in God’s Word, we bear fruit that will bless others. That in itself is WHY we are blessed. If we want to be blessed so we feel blessed, if the blessing stays with us and becomes more important than the Giver of the blessing, that is idolatry. And idolatry is sin. (from page 21 of “Be Worshipful)

The prosperity the psalmist speaks of is the number of eternal souls saved by the fruit we bear.

The psalmist gives a warning to those he calls, “wicked,” those who follow the way of sinners and sit with the ungodly. Their judgment is sure. In the end, they will be separated from the righteous (not the sinless because none of us are without sin. But righteousness comes to those who delight in God’s Word and bear fruit for the kingdom as a result of an encounter with Jesus).

That separation is ruin. Loss. Pain. The antithesis of anything right. And it will never end.

I am challenged today. I do love spending time in God’s Word. I want to love it more. I am blessed by the Spirit’s gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But I don’t want to just sit here and get fat on my blessings. I want to bless others with the blessings I’ve received.

Well, this was a long post. If you are still with me, thanks! Not sure I would have done the same if I were you. I pray that you and I will delight in God’s Word every day, think about it throughout the day, let it nourish us and strengthen us so that we bear fruit today, and that someone will be drawn to our precious Savior because we are doing what Psalm 1 instructs us to do.

To we who are blessed, let’s be a blessing.

Just Can’t Get Enough (Luke 19)

because all the people hung on his words. (verse 48b)

Have you ever been in love? Did you think that person was the smartest, cleverest, most interesting person you had ever known? Did you hang on every word he or she said? You just couldn’t get enough, could you?

That’s how the people responded to Jesus when he was teaching in the temple. And that’s how I want to respond every time I read God’s Word.

I don’t want my quiet time to be just another thing on my daily to-do list. I don’t want to read with my mind on something else. Every time I open these precious pages I want to sit at Jesus’ feet and hang on every word.

I love Him! And I just can’t get enough!

October 17; Do You Wonder?

Mark 9:2-37; Matthew 17:1-23, 18:1-5; Luke 9:28-48

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year, I have the privilege of volunteering at Good News Clubs in two of our local elementary schools. Between the two schools, we are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with almost 100 children.

I wish you could see their faces and hear their comments and questions as God begins to reveal Himself to them, and draw them to Himself. Some children have never heard the Biblical accounts of real people with whom God walked and talked so many years ago. And some who have already heard the stories, begin to understand the meaning behind them. I’m telling you, it’s a blessing every week. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is contagious.

Jesus told His disciples that all of us must approach Him through the eyes of a child. Oh, to have that wonder, that excitement in hearing God’s Word, to have open hearts and uncluttered minds eager to learn.

I think sometimes we might open our Bibles after years of walking with the Lord and think, “I’ve heard it all before.” But friend, if we go to God with the understanding that we are as ignorant as children concerning spiritual things, God will continue to teach us. If we close ourselves off to more, we’ll stay right where we are.

Now, please, I am not talking about a new revelation that is extra-Biblical. I’m not talking about twisting what God says in His Word to come up with a new enlightenment, or new religion. But there are things we can learn from God’s Word that are backed up and true according to Scripture.

Let’s not miss what God wants us to know at this time in our lives, thinking we are already mature in the Lord. Oh, maturity is a good thing. We are told to grow in grace and knowledge, to study to show ourselves approved.

But let’s not lose the wonder, and the blessing that is God’s Word.

 

September 21; A Layer At A Time

Psalm 119:73-176

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (verse 130)

I like the word the NIV uses as the “unfolding” of the understanding of God’s Word. The truth is, no one completely  understood Scripture the first time they read it. No one. Not even Billy Graham or Ravi Zacharias. God unfolds understanding through His Word one layer at a time.

For years I would begin with Genesis 1:1 on January 1, determined to read it all by New Year’s Eve, only to find myself still in Exodus in May. Life, my job, stuff took priority over my time in God’s Word.

I began earnestly reading through the Bible every year when I retired in 2011. Before that I may have made it from Genesis to Revelation maybe four times total. But this year, before we welcome 2020 in January, I will have read the Bible cover to cover for the seventh time in eight years, God willing. (I slowed down in 2017-18 and read it through in two years. You can read that journey in the archive of this blog)

I have sat here and considered how God has unfolded understanding of His Word to me over the years. For many years I would read a passage and my thoughts would go to a sermon I had heard about those verses, or a lesson my Sunday School teacher had taught on the subject. I’d remember some author I’d read, and be assured that what I’d always heard was true, that my denomination had a lock on Scripture.

Even when I’d come across a verse that seemed to contradict what I’d always been taught, I’d get out a commentary from a like-minded theologian and rest in his or her take on it. I read the Bible through other people’s eyes.

But today as I consider what the psalmist said, I realize that isn’t the case so often any more. In fact, now when I am reading the Bible, instead of recalling a sermon I’ve heard, my thoughts often go to a parallel Bible verse I’ve read in the past. I recall a Bible story that illustrates the truth I’m reading. I realize God is unfolding understanding of His Word by His Word.

Verse 169 says:

May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

According to your word.

Folks, I am not an intellectual. I was never in gifted classes in school. I graduated from college right in the middle of the academic standings. I am a simple woman.

But God is unfolding the understanding of His Word one layer at a time, because I’m reading it. I’m thinking about it, praying about it. I write about it, but even that is just my personal way of recording what I am learning. The point is God is helping me understand Scripture because I am reading Scripture.

I promise you, if you read the Bible asking God to unfold understanding – HE WILL! He wrote it with you in mind. Of course He wants to help you understand it.

Read it. Then read it again.

September 20; A Real Life Author

Psalms 111, 112, 117, 119:1-72

When I worked in the middle school, we invited one of our students’ favorite authors to come and spend a day with us. This woman had written a series of books about children which had captured the imagination of pre-teens all over the country. And she was coming to visit us!

The kids were in awe when that woman entered a classroom. I have to admit I was a bit awe-struck myself.

Here’s what I remember about that day. The students who had read the books were attentive, and asked great questions. It was almost like they already knew and loved her. They couldn’t get enough of this woman’s story. The students who hadn’t read the books looked bored, either didn’t participate or they asked silly, meaningless questions. And those who hadn’t read the books were the students who were first out of the door when class was over. The others had to be pried away from the author.

The author of Psalm 119 spends 176 verses writing about his love for God’s Word. He believes it, studies it, cherishes it, lives by it, considers it precious. The psalmist knows and loves the Author because he’s spent time reading and learning what the Author has written.

Sometimes I think we put so much emphasis on worshiping and serving God we forget to get to know Him. And the only way we can know Him is by reading what He wrote. I find that the more I read God’s Word, the more I love reading God’s Word. The more I get to know God through His Word, the more I love Him. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I want to worship Him in Truth, serve Him out of gratitude for the privilege of knowing Him through His Word.

As I look back on the day that real life author came to town, I realize some of the kids got to hear about her books, the plots and characters, through what other people said about them. But the kids who had spent time actually reading the books got to know the author, could understand the plots and characters because they had experienced them first hand on the pages of the books. It seemed they shared an inside secret with the author the others could not understand.

One day we will all meet the real life Author. Will I know Him as a result of having had the first hand experience of getting to know Him through His Word? Or will I look into His eyes and only know what others have told me about Him?

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit “publish,” and re-read these psalms today. I’m going to spend some more time with the real life Author.

 

April 13; How Much Better Would It Be?

I Samuel 13:24-14-52; I Chronicles 8:1-9

The Israelites were at war, and God gave them one victory after another. Saul had tunnel vision, which probably isn’t really a bad thing for a leader. But what I see here is that Saul’s tunnel vision had him wanting to defeat the enemy, without caring for the fighting men who were putting their lives on the line. The Bible tells us Saul was so intent on winning, he threw out an oath and cursed anyone who ate anything until he had “avenged himself on (his) enemies.”

“Fight!” he seems to say. “Attack and kill! And don’t you dare stop even long enough to eat anything until I have the victory.”

The Bible says the men were in distress because of it. I love what Jonathan said when he heard what his dad had demanded of them. In effect, Johnathan replied,

“That’s just stupid.”

Just a taste of honey made a noticeable difference in Johnathan’s appearance and strength. How much better would an entire meal be?

We are at war with our enemy Satan. And I wonder if some of us aren’t fighting one battle after another without stopping to feed our souls. We neglect our private time with the Bread of Life. We don’t drink from the Living Water when we don’t pray, when we don’t meditate on His Word.

Yet we’re out there fighting Satan, weak as we are. Johnathan asked, “How much better would it have been if the fighting men had stopped to eat…?” I’m asking the same thing of us.

How much better would our day be, how much more decisive would our victory be, if we’d take on every day, every battle, not in our own strength – but in the strength of the Lord? Thinking we can fight Satan without a nourished soul is, in effect just… well…

stupid.

 

March 9; I Got Nothing

Numbers 27-29

Have you ever heard someone say, “I didn’t get anything out of that sermon?” I confess I’ve said it myself a time or two, always intended to put the blame on the preacher. But I wonder.

It occurs to me, as I read these chapters, that God must place a high value on daily routine. Every day the priests were to offer a sacrifice, an orderly expression of worship. It’s the routine that spoke to me today.

How important is it that I spend a time of focused worship of God every morning? How important is it that I offer my body as a living sacrifice to God every day? How important is it that my time alone with God is my number one priority from the moment I wake up?

I think this picture I’m looking at here in Numbers indicates it’s extremely important.

Warren Wiersbe says, “The way to become more spiritual is to strengthen the regular worship day after day, and then the special times of worship will do us more good.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 102)

So the next time I’m tempted to think I didn’t get anything from a sermon, I need to review my routine. Am I in the habit of worshiping? Or is that something I reserve for Sunday mornings? Because, God can certainly speak to me through the poorest of sermons, if I’m used to hearing His voice.

 

February 7; Miracle Food

Exodus 16-18

Did you eat breakfast this morning? I sure did. I can skip lunch, and an occasional dinner, not so much breakfast. Even if it’s just a bowl of cereal like this morning. I’ve been known to say my motivation for getting out of bed is breakfast! And if you see me in a restaurant that serves all-day breakfast, you’ll most likely see an omelet and bacon on my plate. What can I say. I love breakfast.

The chapters we read today introduce us to manna – the miracle food God provided for His people very morning while they were on their way to the Promised Land. Every day the people received exactly what they needed for the day at hand. Not too much. Not too little. And they could not live on the manna they had collected the day before. If they wanted nourishment, they had to gather the manna every morning.

Did you read your Bible today? It’s the miracle food God has provided for His children. The thing is, some of us are malnourished because we partake only occasionally, or not at all. We put ourselves on a spiritual diet and expect to be fed once a week by a preacher behind a pulpit. We are starving our souls.

Now I don’t believe morning is the only acceptable time for believers to read God’s Word. The Jews ate manna for lunch and dinner, too. But if you are like me, days can get busy. Schedules are interrupted on a regular basis. And often, time alone with God’s Word is the first casualty.

Let me suggest that you take the time every morning to open your Bible and hear God’s voice, read the words He wrote to you before you jump into your busy day. Even if it means setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. The Jews gathered the manna every morning, then used it throughout the day. Doesn’t that seem like a good pattern to follow when applied to time in the Word? Gather its treasure in the morning, then use it throughout your day.

I’m glad you are reading this post today. It humbles me to know you are taking time to read it. I know there are lots of great blogs, and books, and articles that enhance our understanding of God’s Word. But, dear one, there is no substitute for God’s Word. I’d rather you stopped reading what I write, if you use it instead of reading the Bible. Don’t live on snack food.

God’s Word is that miracle food that will give you exactly what you need for today. Don’t neglect it, don’t try to substitute it, don’t even nibble at it. Devour it. Every. Day.

Jeremiah 21-25; It’s That Serious

God has quite a lot to say to shepherds in these chapters of Jeremiah, doesn’t He? But before you think you’ve dodged a bullet because you aren’t a pastor or teacher in your church, remember God commanded all of us to “Go,” to share the Gospel with our world. What Jeremiah writes to the shepherds of God’s flock, applies to all of us who are called by Jesus’ name: Christian.

We have a message from God to tell. And God takes it very seriously that our message be truly His. The only place you will find His message is in the pages of the Bible. Not the Bible plus anything. Not someone’s opinion of what the Bible says, not a new revelation. God has given us all the Truth we need to know right here in these precious pages.

We need to know what it says. Because not only does God place a great deal of responsibility on the tellers of His Truth, He places responsibility on listeners as well. Yes, false prophets, preachers, and teachers will pay dearly for their lies. But those who follow them will not get a free pass, either. The Bible is clear. You either believe God or you don’t. Believing anything other than what God has given us is a death sentence.

It’s that serious.

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word every day. We’ve got to be memorizing it, thinking about it, testing everything we hear according to what is in there. We’ve got to recognize a lie and reject it, not go along with it because it sounds good, and everybody else is following it.

Satan can be pretty subtle. His lies often sound Biblical. His lies can sound like love, and tolerance, and compassion, and praise, and success, and happiness, and health. His lies often are accompanied by a Scripture or two.

But they are still lies. And if you go along with those lies you will be held accountable. If you spread those lies God will show no mercy.

I’m honored that you read my post today. But if this is the extent of your “devotions,” I’d rather you didn’t. Instead, pick up your Bible. Put all the other books and blogs away. Turn off your TV or radio preachers. And get in God’s Word. YOU get in God’s Word.

Because you are going to be held accountable for what is in there. It is that serious.

 

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)