Friday, January 19, 2018

So Blessed! (Psalm 4:1)

Today's scripture: Psalm 4:1

So many times, I sit in awe of how very blessed I am. I have a supportive, loving husband, a lovely home, a sweet four-legged fur-baby. I have the privilege of teaching and helping my students to become more effective writers—all from the comfort of my own home. I have wonderful friends. I enjoy fun things like performing at our local community theater.

I am so very blessed.

My life, however, isn't perfect. If you've read my devotionals for any length of time, you know I deal with a plethora of health issues, any of which causes pain. Between them, I honestly don't know a moment without of pain of some kind. Some days are better; some are ... well, not.

Because of my moment-by-moment pain, I often call out to God "in my distress." I often lift a figurative hand and say, "Jesus, will You hold my hand just a little more tightly today?" ... and He does. He hears my cry and holds my hand. Some days, He carries me.

Even though He doesn't take away the pain completely, He offers relief for that moment. He offers mercy, peace, and comfort.

Through the pain, in spite of the pain, I feel His presence ... and I am blessed.

So blessed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our Victor! (Psalm 3:7-8)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 3:7-8

I’ve written before how often it seems that the enemy is winning way too many battles. I scan the headlines, and it’s all about sex scandals, senseless killings, and mistreated children.

This world seems to be more and more corrupt, moment by moment, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope in sight. It’s enough to make me want to crawl into a hole and hibernate until Christ returns.

But then I read verses like today’s, and I’m reminded that God, the Creator of all things, is the Victor. Just as He conquered the enemies of His people centuries ago, He will conquer the enemy of this world one day.

Salvation, indeed, belongs to the Lord, and one day, all the sin and suffering of this world will be vanquished by God’s power.

Our Lord God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has “overcome the world”! (John 16:33).

Monday, January 15, 2018

Lie Down and Sleep (Psalm 3:4-6)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 3:4-6

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has problems sleeping. I’ve dealt with insomnia, in one way or another, most of my life.

Sometimes, I can’t sleep because of pain. Other times, it’s because I have too much on my mind, too many worries. Still other times, it’s because of noises or distractions.

When I can’t sleep, I sometimes “count sheep.” Or I read. Or I pray.

I wish I went to the last one first … Because God does hear me when I cry out to Him. And when I’m lying in bed unable to sleep, He reminds me that I’m covered by His protection. He sustains me. He gives me strength.

When I remember how He loves me, how He cares for me, how He provides for me, I can rest.

Not every night … but often enough.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Shield About Me (Psalm 3:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 3:1-3

Okay … So, I wrote on January 1 that I’d be going through the psalms and “meditat[ing] chronologically on as many as touch my heart.” I have to admit: Psalm 2 didn’t inspire me, so I’m moving on to Psalm 3.

I love any piece of scripture that reminds me of God’s presence, and today’s verses do just that.

The psalmist was writing about actual, physical adversaries, and even though we may not be fighting an earthly army, each of us has “adversaries.” We may be fighting with relationships, with job crises, with health issues. We may be fighting habitual sin. We may be fighting our own pasts.

And many may indeed be telling us, “There is no deliverance …”

Oh, but there is!

When the enemy—in whatever form—is lobbing its spears of lies, its grenades of pain, its missiles of inadequacy, we have a shield. The Shield.

God is our protector. He is our strength. He is the Victor.

We can lift heads of courage, knowing we are on the winning team!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Way of the Righteous (Psalm 1:6)

Today's scripture: Psalm 1:6

I love verses like this … the first part, at least.

“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous.” I speak often about how God has a plan for each of us. And when we seek His will, He’ll reveal that plan.

Knowing that God has a plan founded on His love, grace, and mercy, I’m confident that He’ll do His perfect will through me.

But God’s “knowing the way” means a bit more. As I’ve written before, I like to look at other versions and translations of the Bible to give me a bit more insight into how God speaks to us. One paraphrase I like interprets today’s verse as:

The LORD protects everyone who follows him,
but the wicked follow a road
that leads to ruin. (CEV)
I love knowing God protects me and guides me.

Then we move to the second part of the verse. And I actually prefer the CEV version: “… the wicked follow a road that leads to ruin.” The Bible talks about a “narrow gate” (see Matthew 7:13-14). The road that leads to salvation is narrow and often costly, so many will choose the broad path that seems to provide more … here on earth, that is. But that road truly leads to ruin: the outer darkness I wrote about yesterday.

So what can we learn from today’s verse?

First, we who follow Christ have a wonderful Heavenly Father who guides and protects us. When we prayerfully seek His will, He’ll lead us on a path that glorifies Him and makes us more like Christ.

Second, those who don’t follow Christ will one day experience eternal separation from God.

What’s the bottom line? We need to do whatever we can to help those who don’t know truth to find it. We need to help the “wicked” to find salvation through Christ so that they too can know God’s will on earth—and that they too can know they’ll spend eternity with God.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Abundantly Blessed (Psalm 1:4-5)

Today's scripture: Psalm 1:4-5

We who follow Christ are abundantly blessed in so many ways. Even if we are going through difficult times, we are still blessed with grace, with mercy, with provision.

Yet, sometimes it seems the wicked are blessed as well. We see those who flagrantly sin revel in wealth and all their “stuff.” We see them prosper … according to the world’s definition. Flashy cars. Sparkling jewels. Designer clothes.

It’s true. Many people who ignore God’s truth or blatantly oppose it are very fortunate in what they have here on earth.

But one day, they’ll stand in front of God’s throne, and just “like the chaff which the wind drives away,” they’ll be “cast into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12), eternally separated from God. They won’t join those of us who have committed our lives to Him. They won’t spend eternity “in the assembly of the righteous.”

Like most of us, sometimes I wish I had more of the “stuff” others have. Sometimes it looks like the sinners are winning. But then I remember what I have to look forward to, and I don’t want their “blessings,” in any way, shape, or form.

I’ll take the blessings I do have, and I’ll eagerly anticipate the blessings to come.

Friday, January 05, 2018

True Prosperity (Psalm 1:3)

Today's scripture: Psalm 1:3

People blessed by God don’t spend time with those who ridicule God. They do spend time delighting in God’s word, and when they focus on God, he “firmly plants” them. He nurtures and helps them grow into people He can use.

When we focus on God and His will for us, He uses us in ways we cannot even imagine.

I never expected to speak for Him. I never expected to be able to mentor young women. I never expected to write a devotional.

Yet, because I’ve learned to keep my focus on Him, because I’ve learned to delight in His word, He’s chosen to allow me to do things I absolutely love in service to Him

Even more, He’s allowed me to see some fruit from my efforts. I won’t know everything He’s done through me this side of heaven, but I’ve seen enough. Comments made. Tears of joy shared. Lives changed.

By Him. Through me.

As I’ve watched Him work, I’ve seen the areas of ministry He’s given me prosper. No, not prosper financially, as some would define that word. But prosper spiritually. Emotionally.

And I am blessed.