Monday, February 19, 2018

Hold My Hand More Tightly (Psalm 6:6-7)

Today's scripture: Psalm 6:6-7

I've been keeping a journal for going on 24 years now. When I start a new one (I’m currently in #42), I try to read all previous journals again. It's a wonderful way to see how God has worked in my life.

And it hasn't always been an easy life ...

When I was meditating on today's verses (neither of which seems very encouraging), I was reminded of how often I've felt "weary with my groaning ..." I've dealt with pain of one sort or another for 39 years, and I often groan with pain. Yes, I even "drench my couch with tears."

For years, I would whine and complain about how awful I felt. My journals were filled with, "I hurt, Lord ... if it's Your will, please heal me."

For reasons known only to Him, God has chosen not to heal me ... but He has worked a wonderful miracle: I rarely whine and complain any more. Yes, I still write about days when I feel more pain than usual or am extra weary. However, instead of asking "Why?," I merely ask Jesus to either hold my hand more tightly ... or carry me through.

It's human to groan when we're in pain, but I've discovered that it doesn't help anything to grumble and murmur ... No, part of truly dealing with pain is to just give it to the Lord. I may not fully understand why I live this way. I do know God has used my pain to help others, and for that, I'm grateful.

I also know that He continues to work in and through me refine me and make me more like Jesus.

And so, I may still groan, I may still weep, but I also trust my loving Lord to give me exactly what I need to get through each day.

If you're in pain today, lift your hand and say, "Jesus, will you hold my hand more tightly?"

He will.

Friday, February 16, 2018

O Lord, Rescue My Soul (Psalm 6:4-5)

Today's scripture: Psalm 6:4-5

Many of the most touching, convicting, or poignant psalms are those that are cries from the heart. Wednesday, as we began meditating on Psalm 6, we cried out along with the psalmist.

Today's verses contain both a cry for deliverance and an heartfelt plea.

We only have one life to live—and our time on earth is so very brief. As I've written a few times over the last few days, this world continues to grow ever-darker. It's difficult to imagine it getting any worse ... and then it does.

I don't know about you, but I am longing for Christ's return with everything in me. Without the hope of His return (or my leaving this earth to be with Him), I would have no hope. None at all. And so, I cry the words, "Return, O Lord, deliver me!"

Then we read that "heartfelt plea" in verse five: "... in death, there is no remembrance of You ..." I have to admit that, at first, I didn't quite get this. I believe that everyone, whether in heaven or hell, will remember God. So, I referenced one of my favorite commentaries. Although the language is older, the truth is clear. Matthew Henry writes:

Lord, if thou deliver me and comfort me, I will not only give thee thanks for my deliverance, and stir up others to join with me in these thanksgivings, but I will spend the new life thou shalt entrust me with in thy service and to thy glory, and all the remainder of my days I will preserve a grateful remembrance of thy favours to me, and be quickened thereby in all instances of service to thee but, if I die, I shall be cut short of that opportunity of honouring thee and doing good to others ... (emphasis mine)
I completely agree that, once I leave this earth, my ability to reach others for Christ is gone. I cannot influence or encourage others to know my precious Savior.

My heart is burdened for those who are seeking fulfillment in the world. With enough "stuff," they think they can find hope and peace and joy. They reject the God of the Bible and figure they'll find their own way to heaven—if they even believe in heaven. They will never know the joy of a relationship with Christ on earth.

Although I long for Christ's return and truly believe that "to die is gain" (see Philippians 1:21), as long as I'm living, I can "remember" God and share His truth with others.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Cry for God's Grace (Psalm 6:1-3)

Today's scripture: Psalm 6:1-3

Some psalms offer comfort and peace, and others, like today's verses, well ... not so much. However, these verses are often true for me ... and perhaps for you as well.

One of the many things I love about the psalms is their sometimes raw honesty. The psalmists never hesitated to bare their hearts to God. It gives me the confidence that I can cry out to Him when I'm suffering or in pain.

You can too.

Are you feeling weak and incapable? Cry out for His mercy.

Are you in pain or dealing with physical issues? Cry out for His healing (and if, as in my case, the answer for healing appears to be "no," cry out for peace and comfort in the pain).

Are you confused and unsure? Don't be afraid to share with Him how "troubled" your soul is.

Are you wondering if your current storm will ever end? Ask Him "How long?"

God may not answer your prayer for healing today. He may not reveal to you exactly what His plan is for the foreseeable future. He may not tell you exactly why things are happening the way they are.

But one thing I do know: If you cry out to Him, He will hear you. He will give you peace even in times of pain and uncertainty. He will offer you grace and mercy. He will walk beside you through dark valleys—and carry you when the road gets especially rough.

Cry out to Him. Then feel His arms of love around you. He's there ... if you only cry out to Him.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Ever Sing for Joy (Psalm 5:11-12)

Today's scripture: Psalm 5:11-12

Last year when we focused on the topic of joy, we learned that joy isn't dependent on our circumstances. We can find joy (the fruit of the Spirit joy) no matter what's going on because true joy is a state of the heart.

We can be joyful in the storm because we know Who is holding us. We can be joyful in the pain because we serve the Great Physician, Jehovah-Rapha. We can be joyful when everyone around us seems determined to steal our joy because we trust in the God who is our shield.

Life isn't always easy ... and yes, that's an understatement. However, we can still find joy in the confidence that our God wins the war. One day, we will be with Him in heaven where there will be no pain or tears. We will spend eternity in the arms of our Abba, our daddy. We will rejoice and praise  Him forever.

We are abundantly blessed as followers of Christ. We are forgiven. We are given grace and mercy. We are loved beyond our comprehension. We are given strength to do as He wills.

Because we know the God of creation and have personal relationships with Him, we can, indeed, rejoice.

Take a moment to thank God for His blessings. Ask Him to help you find the joy regardless of the circumstance ... and then rejoice!

Friday, February 09, 2018

God's Lovingkindness (Psalm 5:7-10)

Today's scripture: Psalm 5:7-10

Wednesday focused on the wicked and evil ... the last two verses of today's scripture do the same.

I don't want to focus on wickedness this morning, though, so I'm going to focus on the first two verses instead (such is my prerogative as the writer!).

I've written before how I love the word "mercy." As we've seen before, grace is receiving what we don't deserve, and mercy is not receiving what we do deserve.

Our God is so patient and loving. I may be the only Christ-follower who slips up, who sometimes neglects time with the Lord, who battles habitual sin ... but, I sense I'm not alone. Yes, the longer I walk with the Lord, the less often I do these, but I still fail sometimes.

Yet, God continues to love me and bless me. Instead of the punishment I do deserve, He showers me with good things. He protects me and gives me strength. He provides for me and cares for my needs.

He guides my paths and gives me wisdom to make decisions. He allows me to serve Him and others using the gifts He's given me.

I deserve His turning His back on this flawed, fleshly vessel, but He invites me to climb on His lap and call Him, "Abba ... Daddy."

Ah, mercy.

Thank You, Lord God, for mercy. You continue to bless me beyond expectation, beyond anything that I deserve. Help me to serve You so that I can give You back even a fraction of what You've given me. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

No Pleasure in Sin (Psalm 5:4-6)

Today's scripture: Psalm 5:4-6

I wonder sometimes why Christ hasn't returned yet. For what is He waiting? Verses like today's make it clear that He hates sin. It must break His heart when He sees how perverted and corrupt His perfect creation has become.

Then I read about Noah and the flood, or about Sodom and Gomorrah. I reflect on the book of Judges. I'm reminded that there is indeed "nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

This world has seen evil rulers and wicked citizens. "Workers of iniquity" have abounded. "Bloodthirsty and deceitful men" have walked this earth.

All since Adam and Eve made the fateful decision to control their lives instead of letting the God of the universe do so.

God has waited through centuries of wickedness, so I shouldn't be surprised that He lingers still. Yet, I can't help but wonder if the clock is winding down. I certainly hope it is. There's nothing I want more than to leave this earth and be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.

We cannot know the day of Christ's return; we can only strive to live each day as though His return is imminent.

May it be so!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Give Ear to My Word (Psalm 5:1-3)

Today's scripture: Psalm 5:1-3

Growing up in church, I learned many of the old standards, such as "How Great Thou Art" and "It Is Well With My Soul." I also learned many (at least at the time) contemporary praise songs. Praise songs were a bit different "in the day" from what they are today. They were more hymn-like, and most seemed to come directly from scripture.

One that I loved was pulled from today's verses:

Give ear to my word, O Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, My King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. Thy voice shall I hear in the morning. Oh, Lord, in the morning,
Will I direct my prayer Unto Thee and will look up. (KJV)
Putting God's word to music is a wonderful way to memorize its truths ... and these verses certainly hold much truth.

God will always "give ear" and listen to my prayers ... and my cries. When I listen, He will speak to me. When crises hit, I can look up to Him, knowing He's there, just waiting for me to crawl on His lap.

There's one last truth that touches my heart:
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;In the morning I will direct it to You ...
In the morning ... in the morning.

I need to start each day, just talking with my Father God. Starting the day with Him is the best way to keep my mind and heart on Him.

O Lord, this morning, I direct my voice to You, knowing that You're listening.