Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Hope Is in the Lord (Psalm 16:9-10)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:9-10

Hope.

What brings you hope? I challenge you to stop reading right now and ask yourself this question.

What brings me hope?

Do you find hope in relationships? In your career? In your home? In your stuff? And what happens when that relationship ends? When the pink slip comes? When your house burns down (and yes, I've had friends who have lost their homes this way ...).

Where then do you find your hope?

For a long while, I found my hope in what I could do. I strove to accomplish everything in my way with my strength with my skills. Then, through bouts of depression and a lengthy struggle with infertility, I realized that I had no strength ... I had no hope.

I finally realized how hopeless I was, and it was only then that I found true hope in God.

I find hope in the confidence He has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and that plan is to bring Him glory and me good (Romans 8:28). I find hope in the knowledge that I'm not alone (Hebrews 13:5) and that the Holy Spirit is my Helper, interceding for me (Romans 8:26-27).

Most of all, I find hope in the security of eternity with my Lord (John 14:1-3). One day, I'll live with Him in the new heaven and new earth with no pain, no sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4).

My hope is in the Lord, and I can rest ... 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Be Still ... and Listen (Psalm 16:7-8)


Today's scripture: Psalm 16:7-8

I've never been one who hears an audible voice when God speaks, but I have heard Him. Usually, He speaks in that "still small voice" we read about in 1 Kings 19:12. Many times I have prayed for something, and I've heard His voice in my heart. He counsels me to do those things that please Him. He guides me down paths that lead to His purpose. He reveals His will to me.

Hearing God's voice, though, requires one thing, though. We need to focus on Him, without distractions:
The most important thing about listening for God’s voice is that, in order for Him to be heard, you must be silent. God doesn’t want to compete with the world’s noise, nor should He. We know God, we hear His voice, in the stillness, in the quiet. God tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). King David said with confidence that “the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him . . . Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:3-4). (The Best Laid Plans © 2005 Sauni Rinehart)
When we focus on God and truly listen to Him, He speaks to us. So, as The Message paraphrases verse 8 of today's scripture:

Day and night I’ll stick with God;
I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.


Friday, May 18, 2018

All I Want ... (Psalm 16:5-6)


Today's scripture: Psalm 16:5-6

I've written this many times, but I have to say again: I don't know how those who don't know God live ... seriously. Without the confidence that He is in loving, gracious, merciful control of my every day, I'd just want to crawl into a hole and die.

Seriously.

However, because I know He loves me and has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), I can surrender everything ... everything.

The Contemporary English Version paraphrase of today's verses especially touches my heart:

You,
Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.

Not only is God "all I want" in this life, knowing Him assures me that I have eternity with Him to look forward to. He protects me now and gives me strength each day, and one day, my "bright future" will be in the new heaven and new earth ... in His presence, forever and ever.

Lord God Almighty, be my all in all. Be my only choice. Use me as You will. And one day, usher me into your kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Cares of This Life (Psalm 16:4)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:4

So many people "hasten after other god[s] ..." The god of success. The god of pleasure. The god of wealth.

They put relationships and things and careers above the one true God. They think, "If I can just get this promotion or marry that person or have a solid retirement fund, I'll be fine. I don't need anything but [fill in the blank]."

The thing is ... none of that matters. No one will find true joy or peace pursuing these gods. In fact, as the psalmist writes, "Their sorrows will be multiplied ..."

Now, you may be reading this and think, "Nope. I have lots of stuff and good friends and take really good vacations. I don't have any sorrow. I'm doing just fine without that 'one true God' you mention."

Well, maybe that's true. Maybe you're living a happy, care-free life. But I wonder. Does the pressure to have the stuff, to have "enough," cause you to work more hours? And do those hours keep you from those you love?  Or does the stress of making certain you have a nice, big bank account keep you up at night?

Maybe, just maybe, your sorrows (the cares of this life) are multiplying, and you don't even realize it.

Something more than the "sorrow" you may feel on earth, though, is the sorrow that will multiply—beyond description—in eternity. If you spend this life pursuing other gods, you'll miss knowing the God of the Bible, the one and only God. If you miss knowing Him now, you'll miss knowing Him forever.

That's true sorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Highs and Lows (Psalm 16:1-3)


Today's scripture: Psalm 16:1-3

The last few weeks have been a mix of highs (a wonderful 30th anniversary trip and being a part of our niece’s wedding) and lows (a couple of significant health flare-ups). All—blessings and pain—caused my soul to say to the Lord, "You are my Lord."

I know I've said this before, but I honestly don't know how people survive without a personal relationship with the one true God. Whom do they thank when things go right? And to whom do they run when things go wrong?

As I was mediating on today's verses, I looked at a couple of other paraphrases and translations. I was particularly taken with both The Message and Contemporary English Version's take on verses 1-2:
Keep me safe, O God,I’ve run for dear life to you.I say to God, “Be my Lord!”Without you, nothing makes sense. (MSG)
Protect me, Lord God!I run to you for safety,and I have said,"Only you are my Lord!Every good thing I haveis a gift from you.” (CEV)
Because I know that my loving, gracious, merciful God is in control of my highest highs and lowest lows, I can trust Him to keep me safe and protect me. I can be confident that everything has a purpose.

Indeed, with Him, I can rejoice on the mountaintop and seek refuge in Him in the valleys ... for without Him, nothing does make sense.


Friday, May 11, 2018

On the Holy Mountain (Psalm 15)


Today's scripture: Psalm 15

Wednesday, I wrote that I rarely try to cover one psalm in one day. How ironic because, today, we're going to take a one-day look at a small, but mighty psalm. I usually meditate on either the New King James Version or the New American Standard Bible, but today, I'm going to focus on the Contemporary English Version, a paraphrase I often use to emphasize or explain.

This psalm begins by asking a very important question:

Who may stay in God’s temple

    or live on the holy mountain
    of the Lord?

Honestly, the initial answer to this question is "no one." No person is worthy to stand in God's temple. We are all sinners, and Holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. Ah, but Holy God is also a God of love, and He is a God of mercy.

However, the psalmist gives a true and profound answer to his own question: "Only those who obey God and do as they should."

He then goes on to describe what "doing as they should" means: speaking the truth; not spreading gossip; treating others fairly; and not saying cruel things.

Well ... as I read this list, I have to ask myself, "Do I do as I should? Do I do—or not do—these things?" I certainly try, but I often fail.

Then I read on. One who obeys God also shows respect for "all who worship the
Lord." She also "keeps her promises, no matter the cost."

Hmmm ...

Convicted much?

I want to be a woman whom God looks at with pleasure, with pride. I want my Abba to smile when He sees my actions. I want to be one who obeys God and His word. I want to do all those things listed above.

And so I pray for strength to be Christ-like, for conviction when I fail.

Because, more than anything, I want one day "to live on the holy mountain of the
Lord."

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Fool Has Said ... (Psalm 14)


Today’s scripture: Psalm 14

It’s rare that I cover an entire psalm in one posting, but when I read this psalm, I’m always reminded of a play that we discuss in the course I teach for Liberty University Online: Everyman.

It’s an ancient morality play in which the title character represents all men. Another character, Death, is sent by God to inform Everyman that he is to face judgment because God is distressed by the way Everyman lives. God says:
I perceive, here in My majesty,
How that all creatures be to Me unkind,
Living without dread in worldly prosperity.
Of ghostly sight the people be so blind,
Drowned in sin, they know Me not for God …
These words echo the psalmist’s:  
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.
And today? I think we could say the same. Very few of the created follow the Creator. In fact, too many don’t even acknowledge that He even exists.

I often wonder how and why God still lingers. Why hasn’t Christ returned to bring everlasting peace to the new heaven and the new earth? Why does sin abound? Why are there so many that say, “There is no God”?

I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to be one of the “corrupt” that breaks God’s heart.

This psalm is a great reminder of what I don’t want to be … No. I want to live for Him and bring glory to Him.