My mother underlined this verse in her Bible. I can only say, Amen!
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.
My mother underlined this verse in her Bible. I can only say, Amen!
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.
This year I am reading my mother’s Bible. After she went to live with Jesus in 1996, I took her Bible home with me, and it’s sat on my shelf all these years. So this year, I decided to read through God’s Word and see the things Mom marked, the verses she underlined. Today I read the first of her underlined verses.
Mom underlined the things in chapter 6 that God said about Himself: “I am the Lord,” “I’ve heard your groanings,” “I remember my promises to you,” “I will free you,” “I will take you as my own,” “I am the Lord your God.”
I wish I knew what those verses meant to Mom, what was happening in her life when she underlined them. I wish I could talk to her. I can’t. So I asked God to speak to me about what He wants me to know about these verses that were special to my mother.
People have tried to deny that fact, but the truth is – God exists. He is exactly who He says He is. Fighting against that truth is as futile as arguing that the sun doesn’t produce light and warmth, that trees that lose their leaves in fall, don’t bud again every spring. You simply can’t argue against what is.
He tells us His name is I AM. He is what He is. Period.
When Mom read this passage in Exodus, she seems to have been touched by the personal involvement the Great I AM has with His children, the fact that He is our Lord who hears, who delivers, who calls us His own. He is not a god. He is The God. And He wants to be involved in my life, like a Father, or a Shepherd, or a Friend, and a Savior.
I am humbled at the very thought that the God of the Universe, the Creator God, the eternal, powerful, majestic, and holy God wants a relationship with me. I think I know my mom enough to believe she was blown away by the same thing.
Please take a minute to bask in the precious truth. God, who IS, was, and is to come, loves you, wants to fellowship with you, loves you more than you can imagine, and died so that a relationship can happen. The Great I AM loves me.
And loves you, too.
Ezra 2:21-70; Nehemiah 7:26-73a
Monday I shared that we had been evacuated from our island due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian. I’m thankful today to tell you we are able to go home. The storm has passed, and it’s safe to be on the island again.
The Jews we read about today in Ezra and Nehemiah are going home, too. Finally after seventy years of captivity, they were free. They didn’t know what to expect when they got there, but they were on their way home and, if they were anything like us returning islanders, they were excited. There is just something about going home, isn’t there?
The passages we read today are full of genealogies. Ezra reports name after name of people whose families were going home. And if reading the phone book isn’t boring enough for you, Nehemiah does us the favor of repeating the same list. So we get to read the list of name after name after name, twice! Woo Hoo!
What can we learn from these lists? Well, my friend, never blow off what God has breathed into print. He has something to say on every page of the Bible.
Here’s a blast from the past: “Newhart.” Bob and wife running an inn. A scraggly hillbilly comes through the door, followed by two more scraggly hillbillies. He introduces himself, “My name is Larry. This is my brother Darryl, this is my other brother Darryl.” (You are going to have to be a certain age to remember this one! Sorry, kids.)
I thought of them this morning as I read this genealogy record, then read it again. Because in Ezra 2:31, then again in Nehemiah 7:34 we meet “the other Elam.” Makes me wonder about the other Elam, or the first Elam, or the more important Elam. What would cause a person to be known as “the other?”
Most of us would admit that we like to be the one recognized as important, significant, talented, irreplaceable, whatever. We at least like to be recognized for what we have contributed to the work of God. But here we have a man who the only thing we know about him is, he isn’t THE Elam. He’s the other one.
This is what God whispered in my ear as I read this today. This Elam is going home. This Elam is listed with those who were freed from slavery, and he and his family were going home. He won’t be remembered for anything other than his freedom, and his destination. That’s all we need to know.
And that’s what needs to be known about each of us. Are you a Christian? Have you repented of sin and asked God to give you what Jesus’ death bought you? Do you know the Savior?
Then, friend, you are free! You are free from the chains and the penalty of sin. You are God’s child in every sense of the word, and you are headed home. Home! Eternity with God in glory.
And I know, without a doubt that when you look into Jesus’ eyes He won’t see you as just another Christian, or “the other” sinner He died for. You will look into His eyes and know He sees no-one but you, loves no-one more than He loves you, considers no-one else more important than you.
You won’t be “the other.” You will be “the one!”
I’ve had a very frustrating day. In fact, I’m sitting here at 5 in the afternoon instead of in the morning when I usually have my time in the Word. Oh, I started the day out with my Bible in front of me, but then it began… Just one irritating thing after another, and I ended up in a very bad mood. It’s been one of those days.
When I finally sat down and opened my Bible this afternoon the first words I read were:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to (Connie) and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (40:1-2)
Yep. That was just one of the hugs I got. God comforted me. He reminded me of His sweet gift of salvation, more precious than anything. He continued to encourage me with words like:
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (verses 4-5)
God knows I have a bad day here and there, and He wants me to trust Him. He wanted to remind me I can trust Him.
Oh, there’s more. God loved on me so much today through the words Isaiah intended for the ancient Jews. God showed Himself to me, and assured me He is bigger than any problem big or small that comes my way. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to anything that would steal my joy or cause me pain.
“Be silent before me,” He tells me. “Hope in Me and and let me renew your strength.
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
I am ashamed to tell you the sources of my frustration today. They are petty and insignificant in light of what some of you are going through. But I want you to know God loves me enough to want to encourage even me in days like today. I want you to know he wants to do the same for you.
I pray that you will open the pages of God’s love letter to you every day. I’m here to testify that He can and does speak to hearts that are open to hearing from Him. I am so glad that my devotional time was postponed today. I’m not sure I needed those verses as much this morning as I need them this afternoon.
Does God care what kind of day you are having? Oh yes He does!
I King’s 17-19
The more I read the Bible the more I realize people haven’t changed all that much since the beginning. Take the widow woman, for example. During the famine God miraculously provided her with flour and oil so she and her son, and the prophet Elijah, could eat. She didn’t do anything to earn God’s provision – except obey. She obeyed, and God kept it coming.
But then her son got sick. What did she do? She blamed Elijah and, in turn, God. “Is that why you’re here?” she asked. “Did you just come so you could kill my son?”
Elijah’s not any different than the widow, really. He asked the same of God (who had just spared his life, too, with the never-ending flour and oil). The son did not die. And the miracle came through Elijah.
Later Elijah, who had demonstrated great faith in God, who watched God do amazing things, unexplainable things, who was protected by God, fed by ravens and angels, had doubts. King Ahab was out to get him, and Elijah felt all alone. It was too much. He wanted to die.
Can you relate? We are so blessed by God. We see evidence of that every day. Some of us have witnessed extraordinary ways God moves. But when tragedy, or hardship comes, the first response of many of us is to blame God. Or question Him. Or at least give Him the cold shoulder for a time. It’s so much easier to recognize God’s blessings in the good times. It’s a bit of a challenge to see those same blessings when we are hurting
But I am reminded today about God’s great love for His children. The flour and oil kept coming for the widow and her son until the famine was over. God encouraged Elijah by assuring him he wasn’t at all alone. In the midst of trouble, God was still keeping His blessings coming.
And that’s His MO still today. I don’t know what life is like for you right now. You may be going through a really hard time. Maybe you, like the widow find yourself striking out at God. Or like Elijah, you might be feeling abandoned by everyone including God. But hear God whisper in your ear, “I’m right here.” Open your eyes to the ways He demonstrates His love for you right now while you are struggling.
Because I know, as evidenced in Scripture and in my own life, even in the darkest nights, God keeps His blessings coming.
Bad things happen. Good things happen, too. We have successes, and we have failures. Some days the sun shines, and some days the sun hides behind clouds. Let’s face it. There are just some things that are out of our control.
Solomon says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecc 7:14)
We who have placed our faith in the Lord know that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. We count on that with assurance.
Some people question why God allows sin, or tragedy, or hardship. Honestly, I don’t see how He could have done it any other way. If it wasn’t for the night, would we even notice the day? If it wasn’t for sickness, would we appreciate health? If it wasn’t for bad times, we’d take good times for granted. If it wasn’t for sin, how could we understand grace?
Solomon seems to be saying, let God be God. “Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Quit fighting against God, or wasting your time being mad at Him. He is God. And He’s got this.
King Solomon has a dismal view of life. I don’t. And you don’t have to, either. Do you trust God? He absolutely can be trusted with every detail of your life. You can rest assured that, whether the sun is shining, or if you are in the middle of a storm, God wants to show you what He can do, He wants to draw you to Himself.
Good things happen and bad things happen. Trust God in every circumstance. He can be trusted.
Psalms 31, 56, 40; I Samuel 27:1-12; 28:1-2; 29:1-11; I Chronicles 12:1-7,19-22
I hope Psalm 40 is your testimony. David waited on God, and God heard him, lifted him up out of the depths of sin, and put a new song in David’s mouth. David knows how blessed are we who put our trust in God, who hide His Word in our hearts, who obey Him, and tell others about Him.
David is honest to say life was still hard for him. But even in that, he proclaimed God’s mercy, God’s love, and God’s saving power. Knowing God was in his life gave David reason to rejoice.
It does the same for me. God is our help and deliverer.
The Lord be exulted!
That’s my testimony. I pray you can say the same.
It had been Judah’s idea to sell Joseph into slavery, rather than killing him. He was part of the cover-up, to take Joseph’s coat, splatter it with blood, and tell their dad Joseph must have been killed by wild animals. Judah and his brothers watched their dad’s soul die that day. Jacob would never get over losing Joseph.
Now years have passed. The boys are grown with children of their own. But I wonder what Judah thought every time he looked into his father’s eyes, and saw the unspoken grief that was always there. Judah had to know he was responsible, and that he had the ability to return hope to his father, if he told the truth.
Something had changed in Judah according to what I read today. Where earlier, his father’s welfare was of little concern to him, now his father’s welfare was his only concern. In fact, Judah was willing to give up his own life to protect his father from any further grief.
Have you ever done something shameful, or hurtful toward your parents, and seen the hurt in their eyes? Have you ever watched your mom’s shoulders slump, or your dad silently fighting tears, knowing their pain was a direct result of something you’ve done? Have you watched your parents grieve, knowing you could change their grief into joy if you’d only make a different choice?
Then I want you to look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father. You might think the choices you make to sin has no effect on Him. But look closer. Our Dad is heart-broken, and we have the ability to do something about that.
If you’ve never repented of sin, do it. If you are a Christian battling a sin, confess it. Put on Jesus’ righteousness bought for you with His blood.
Then look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father, and see the love, the forgiveness, and the pride He has in those of us who choose Him.
He loved her. He wanted to marry her. They’d been dating for over a year, but he knew she deserved better. She was from a good home, educated, smart, and beautiful. His mom had never married. He’d graduated from high school with marginal grades and, with no money for college, had gotten a job as a welder in a bodyshop in town. He was still a welder in that bodyshop in town.
But today, he’d picked up the diamond he’d been making payments on for several months. He was going to do it.
She took his hand and gave it a squeeze as they slowly walked on the beach at sunset. He knew his hands were sweaty, his heart was in his throat. He stopped, and turned to look deep into her green eyes. Then, he dropped to one knee and pulled the velvet box from his pocket.
“I know people look at us and wonder what you are doing with a guy like me. I’m not rich. I don’t have an impressive career. No one has ever said I’m handsome. But I love you. I’m down here, looking up at you, knowing I have nothing to offer you but myself. But I promise, if you say yes, I will be yours forever. Will you marry me?”
She knelt in front of him and took his face in both her hands. “Don’t you understand? When you give yourself, you are giving me the most precious thing of all. Yes, I’ll marry you.”
On the surface, when you look at the men Jesus called to be his disciples, you’d wonder what he was doing with those guys. They were ordinary men. No impressive pedigrees. Uneducated. But when Jesus called, they dropped everything and followed Him.
They had nothing to offer Jesus but themselves. And Jesus saw that as the most precious thing of all.
God’s not looking for perfect people to follow Him. He’s not interested in bank accounts or public speaking abilities or even Bible knowledge. God wants people who understand that all we have to offer Him is ourselves, broken, sinful, worthless people that we are.
God wants you! He wants me! He wants us to empty ourselves, fall at His feet, and give ourselves with all our imperfections to Him just as we are.
Dear one, in God’s eyes YOU are the most precious thing.
I love the psalms that talk about resting in God. These same psalms may be describing hardship, grief, confusion, frustration, but in the midst of turmoil we are reminded there is a place of rest in the arms of our Father. Listen to some of the verses from these psalms today:
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. (62:1)
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (62:5)
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (63:8)
Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; (64:10a)
I wonder how often I ignore this rest while I lie awake at night with worry? Or when I replay that incident where someone treated me unfairly, over and over in my mind? Or when I get too busy to read God’s Word and pray? How often do I ignore that rest when I pursue my own agenda without giving God a thought?
One of the great joys of my life has been in being an aunt, and now a great-aunt. Is there anything more precious than when that little one climbs up into your lap, the smell of summer sunshine on his or her skin, and closes their eyes? Their breathing slows, their muscles relax, and soon you are holding that little person you would die for, while the cares of this word drift away?
Sometimes I just want to crawl up in my Father’s lap, lay my head on His shoulder, and just breathe. I can do that by opening my Bible, by shutting out the rest of the world, and talking to the One who loves me more than I can even imagine.
I am reminded my Heavenly Father receives as much joy from my times wrapped up in His arms as I do. Why would I not want to crawl up there every single day?