Tag Archives: daily walk

Living As I Should

Psalm 119

May this psalm be my prayer. And may these verses describe my life:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.

You have charged us to keep your commandments faithfully. Oh that my actions would consistently reflect your decree! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me. (Verses 1-8, emphasis mine)

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

Living in the Presence

Psalm 84

The Old Testament Jew had to physically go to the city of Jerusalem in order to be in God’s presence. God dwelt only in the Temple Solomon built. If you wanted to be in His presence, you had to go to Him in Jerusalem.

It couldn’t have been easy for the elderly or sick to travel over desert and mountain. It probably cost more money to make the trip than most people could have afforded.

Some parents today dread a two day road trip to Grandma’s with a few toddlers or teens in tow, even driving 60 MPH in air conditioning, a movie playing in the back seat, on paved roads and a McDonald’s every few miles.

Imagine a road trip on foot with whining kids, on hot, sandy paths with the sun blaring down, and rations of food and water on Daddy’s back. Bed time could have been on mats at the side of the road or perhaps a room in an inn in a town along the way. But if they wanted to be where God was, they had to make the difficult trip to Jerusalem. They had to go where God lived.

The writer of Psalm 84 longs to enter the courts of the Lord. In fact he wanted it so badly he said he was faint with longing. His whole being, body and soul wanted to be able to praise God to His face. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a sparrow that could build its nest right there at the Temple, to live close to God’s presence continually.

The writer of Psalm 84 would be blown away at the privilege we have after the cross.

We no longer need to go to God. HE CAME TO US! We don’t have to go to church, much less Jerusalem, to praise God face to face, to whisper in His ear, to walk with Him who is closer than a brother.

Of course, we know from Scripture, that privilege is reserved only for those who repent of sin, and receive God’s gracious forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. We live in God’s house, our bodies His Temple. I’m not sure we get the entirety of that truth.

Because sometimes we don’t even acknowledge Him, much less praise Him. It’s like that married couple who have been together for so long, they can go to a restaurant, enjoy a meal together, and not speak to each other the whole evening. They love each other. They are used to being in each other’s presence. But the old adage can be true: familiarity breeds contempt. (or at least apathy). The couple has grown comfortable with silence.

Does that describe your relationship with God? Are you so used to having His Spirit indwelling your heart you are comfortable with the silence?

I hope you’ll read Psalm 84, especially verses 10-12 and ask yourself if it describes how you view God’s presence in your life. Are you as passionate about being in the presence of God as the author of the psalm is?

I pray that you, and I, will walk with God today with the excitement of having Him with us. May we speak, think, act, with the blessed knowledge that our Holy God has come to us, to live with and in us in a real, vital, and amazing way.

Go with God today. Live intentionally in His presence. And rejoice for the privilege!

How Free Are We?

Proverbs 31

We will hear the word “freedom” a lot today, because today we celebrate the fact that more than 200 years ago, a group of people broke from the tyranny of an English king, and with thoughtful, prayerful consideration, implemented checks and balances to construct the republic we know as the United States of America. It is, in its truest sense, the absolute best form of government in the world.

From the very beginning, our founders recognized our inalienable rights, and insured our freedom from tyrannical rule. They not only set us free from England, they gave us the tools to keep us free from future tyrants.

It’s ridiculous for anyone to think that document, which ensures our freedoms in 2022, is outdated or irrelevant to modern society (a lie perpetuated by would-be tyrants).

How free are we? Not as free as we were when I was young. Not even as free as we were ten years ago. In fact, there are those who believe that unless you align yourself with the left, or are “woke,” you should have no rights, no freedom to speak your mind or take actions in support of your right to live free. We are looking in the face of tyranny.

How free are we? God has given us the freedom to choose. If we choose Him according to Scripture, we are set free from the judgment our sin deserves. We are free to live lives directed and protected by God Himself.

To the people who believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 9:31-32)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:7)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

If we choose, however, to reject God, we give up our freedom and become slaves to sin.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

I believe what we are seeing in the US is the result of sin, which leads to the eroding of freedom according to Scripture. We should not be surprised, considering the blatant sin around us, the unashamed depravity thrown in our faces at every turn. Sin is the opposite of freedom, no matter what we are being told.

When our freedom is gone, it won’t be just because of politics, but because of the sinful hearts of politicians. It won’t only be because of non-Christians, but because of weak, lazy, self-centered Christians who are unrepentant themselves.

I wonder what our nation would look like if the true Church in America lived like a Proverbs 31 wife of our Heavenly Husband. I wonder how free we would be if we, as God’s people, called by His name, would humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways. Because God promises in that case to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. (see 2 Chronicles 7:14)

How free are we? We are as free as unrepentant sin affords.

Your Faith

Isaiah 7

Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (7:9b, NLT)

What are your thoughts? God said this to King Ahaz when the kingdom of Judah was in serious trouble from Syria and Israel. Those two nations were primed and ready to attack the Jews in Judah, and they had the manpower to do some damage.

Ahaz was understandably nervous about the situation. Maybe nervous isn’t a strong enough word. Terrified might be more accurate. The king and the people “trembled with fear like trees shaking in a storm.” (vs2b)

God saw the fear, but He also had a plan that was much bigger than the fear the people were experiencing. So He sent Isaiah to Ahaz to encourage him.

Don’t worry, Ahaz. God’s got this. You don’t need to “fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers.” Sure, they are plotting an attack, but it will never happen.”

Now you’d think those words from God Himself would alleviate any uncertainty Ahaz was having. He had been looking at his enemies as formidable foes, but God saw them as has-been, ineffective weaklings. Ahaz had been looking at his enemies, thinking he needed to face them in his own power. God told him they had no power!

God said this about the threatening kings:

Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. (vs 8)

Israel is not stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. (vs 9)

But then he said the words I quoted at the beginning of this post. The King James version says it like this:

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Ahaz had a choice. He could trust God to come through like He’d promised. Or he could face his enemy in his own strength, and take his chances. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. But I’m not so sure it was.

In our present culture we celebrate self-reliance, don’t we? We admire people who have worked hard, who’ve overcome obstacles by sheer will, and who are self-made men. Yet I think that’s been true since the garden when Adam thought he didn’t need God, that he could make up his own set of rules and do just fine.

I read a post from a fellow-blogger, Darryl Dash (DashHouse.com), entitled “In Whom Do You Trust?). He said something that has me thinking:

“Whatever we trust in place of God will eventually turn on us and destroy us.”

Money? Popularity? Relationships? Power? Self? What is it you trust for your happiness and well-being? What is it you trust for your eternity?

Pastor Dash says, “Self-reliance is deadly.” I think Adam would agree.

If you read on in this chapter of Isaiah you’ll hear God say, instead of looking toward armies to protect you, look toward a child. A virgin will be with child…

There’s the crux of the matter. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, you’re putting your faith in burnt embers and has-been kings. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, God cannot and will not make you strong.

But, my friend. If you let go of self and shut out all the other voices out there, if you put your faith in God alone, there is no battle you need to face alone. There is no enemy too strong for God to defeat. There need be no fear, because God’s got this.

I hope you’ll take a serious look at your faith today. You might say you have faith in God. In fact, I hope you do. But do you really have faith in God? Or do you have faith in God, plus something else. You know, just in case God doesn’t come through.

Can you have equal parts of faith in God and in yourself? What could be wrong with that?

Simply put, that’s not faith in God.

And unless your faith is firm, God cannot make you stand firm.

Who Are Your Friends?

2 Chronicles 24

What kinds of people do you surround yourself with? The old saying, “You are who your friends are,” is true.

Ben Franklin, in his Poor Richard’s Almanac wrote: “If you lie with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Studies show that people who hang out together eventually adopt each other’s clothing styles, opinions, hand and facial gestures, and even voice intonation. I bet you’ve noticed some of that in siblings. Do you recognize it in your group of friends? It’s probably there.

When King Joash hung out with Jehoiada the priest, he did amazing things for the Lord. The people restored the Temple under Joash’s leadership, and true worship of God was once again filling those walls.

But it seems the minute Jehoiada died, Joash moved on. He surrounded himself with the “leaders of Judah” (vs 17) and reinstated idolatry. The nation would suffer God’s judgment for that.

We ought to follow Jesus’ example. He went to sinners, ate with them in their homes, touched them. But He didn’t park there. He surrounded Himself with believers, those who had left their old way of life to follow Him.

Jesus commands us to GO and make disciples. But Scripture also tells us to be separate from unbelievers, to not neglect the fellowship with believers. We are told to join together as children of God so that we are ready to venture out into the world to share Jesus with the lost.

But we aren’t to look or sound like the world, not to accept or copy their sin.

I believe if we spend more time surrounded by non-believers, we run into the danger of looking and thinking like them. It’s human nature.

So again, what kinds of people do you surround yourself with? If your closest friends aren’t born again Christians, if you aren’t spending quality time in church and in small groups studying God’s Word with friends who will hold you accountable, you need to do better. Choose friends better.

You can pet a flea infested dog, you can feed it, and not get fleas. But if you lie down with a flea infested dog, you’ll get up with those little buggers on you.

And there’s a price to pay for that.

All or Nothing

Reading 2 Kings 10 today, I wondered why Jehu went through with sacrificing the burnt offering to Baal. I mean, I get why he called the prophets and worshipers of Baal to the temple with the promise of a big corporate worship service. Get them all in one place, then kill them all while you have them cornered.

But why go through the worship before destroying everything Baal?

Then I read on and it made sense. Jehu never intended to actually give up Baal. Oh, he obeyed God. He destroyed the idolators and their idols. But Jehu kept Baal in his heart.

He mostly obeyed. But mostly obeying is disobedience.

In fact, Scripture tells us “he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.” (10:31)

It’s possible to look like an obedient servant of God, to go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, maybe teach Sunday School. It’s possible to abstain from alcohol, show love to your neighbor, and say, “Praise Jesus” twenty times a day, and still be disobedient.

God’s not fooled by what we do or say. God sees our hearts. You can read your Bible every day, and be as disobedient as an atheist if you are refusing to totally submit your heart to the Lord.

You can’t mostly obey, and think it balances the scale. It doesn’t. True Christianity – the heart that God approves – is all in. It has to be all or nothing.

Perspective

2 Kings 3

It was just water.

The Jews were heading toward battle and had run out of water for themselves and their horses. Of course, their first reaction was to blame God for “calling” them to war just to kill them.

God delivered them anyway. And without any rain, God filled the valley with water enough to satisfy their need.

Here’s what struck me this morning. The Moabites were positioned on the other side of the valley. When the rising sun reflected off the water, it looked red and the enemy thought – blood!! “Those stupid Jews just killed each other. Let’s go collect the plunder!”

But the Jewish armies weren’t dead. They were armed and ready for battle and soundly defeated the unsuspecting Moabites who’d mistakenly thought they had won.

Christians and non-Christians are on opposite sides of the valley. We look at the events of life, the state of our nation, our health, our struggles, and the world from different perspectives. Non-Christians can see something as a victory, not realizing it will end in defeat. Non-Christians can fight the battle by their own logic and strength, but they will end up looking foolish when they do not win.

We Christians know that a battle is not the war. Things might be hard, we might lose a battle with evil here and there. But the war is already won. Jesus wins. And as His followers, we are on the winning side.

So, on which side of the valley do you stand? What is your perspective on the events of life? I pray your feet are firmly planted on the side of God, according to His Word the Bible, and through the blood of Jesus. Because, my friend, that is the only winning side. I don’t care if you’re seeing something else from a different perspective.

What Have You Done To Me?

1 Kings 17:8-24

When I think about the prophet Elijah, certain pictures come to mind: ravens, a soggy altar on fire, the starving widow, etc. Today I read about the miracle of the flour and oil in the hands of that widow. During a time of famine in the land, the little bit of flour and oil she had when she met Elijah never ran out. She had enough every day to feed herself, her son, and the prophet. Every day she was reminded of God’s power and provision. Every day she had tangible proof that God is greater than her need.

What rejoicing must have gone on in that house!

Until her son got sick and died. How quickly she seems to have turned on Elijah and, in turn Elijah’s God.

“What have you done to me?” she asked. “Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

When God shows up, answers prayer, reveals Himself in tangible ways, it’s easy to get on board. It’s easy to believe in a good miracle-working God who meets our needs, then goes beyond to shower us with blessing after blessing.

But what happens when disaster strikes? The death of a loved one. A cancer diagnosis. The loss of a job or a relationship. What happens when we suddenly find ourselves drowning in sorrow or uncertainty?

“What have you done to me, God?”

Now, I am not assuming the widow’s question was a sin or showed lack of faith. Elijah doesn’t scold her for it. It may have been a natural question to ask considering the circumstances. We don’t know her heart.

But we know God raised her son to life again. The death of that boy gave God the opportunity to reveal that even death has no power over Him. Talk about a tangible object lesson!

So the next time trouble comes, ask. Go ahead and let God know your sorrow, your frustration, your questions. Then follow it up with, “Now, what do you want me to do about this, God? What do you want me to do, to say, to be so that You can be glorified?”

James 1 tells us to count it a joy to face trials of any kind. Read what the apostle says about that if you don’t believe me.

Paul, in Philippians 1 tells us he welcomed imprisonment because his troubles advanced the Gospel. Again, read it for yourself.

These men knew God can use the worst possible situation to pour out his greatest blessings. And, when we ask, He gives us the ability to do and be what He intends for our good, and in order to bring Him glory.

What have you done to me, God? Let’s do this!

A Sad Tale

Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, I Kings

I can’t read the Song of Solomon or the book of Ecclesiastes and not be sad at how Solomon turned out. 1 Kings tells us he loved God when he first became king of Israel, and I have no doubt he did. But 1 Kings 3 tells us Solomon loved God, BUT…

We find him offering sacrifices to God on the pagan high places. He may have loved God sincerely, but he wanted to worship God in his own way. He loved God but he wanted things the way he wanted them.

Like marrying an Egyptian woman, expressly forbidden by God. I believe Solomon loved this woman, especially if she is the main character in the book of Song of Solomon. His marriage to her even put the nation of Israel at peace with Egypt. That had to be a good thing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want world peace?

The problem was Solomon’s way wasn’t God’s way. Solomon’s way was disobedience. And God takes a dim view on disobedience, no matter who you are, and no matter what your intentions are. Solomon’s way led him down a path toward despair and destruction. It couldn’t lead anywhere else.

What started out as a hopeful reign for Solomon over Israel ended up with pagan worship and a king’s heart turned away from God. It ended up with the nation of Israel split in two, with both sides at each other’s throats for generations that followed.

It’s such a sad tale. It didn’t have to be that way.

If we want life to mean something, if we want to walk with God and be blessed by Him, we have to live life according to God’s way. Anything else is like chasing after the wind.