Monday, April 23, 2018

The Lord Is Righteous (Psalm 11:7)

Today's scripture: Psalm 11:7

Our God is perfect. Holy. Righteous.

He is sinless ... and we are sinful. We are flawed and frail and fickle. To think we can be in relationship with God is amazing ...

How can He look at our filth? How can He possibly love us?

Because, not only is He righteous and holy, but He is also love.

He looks upon us—in all our willfulness, sinfulness, and rebellion—and He sees His dearly-loved children. Through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, all those stains of our sins are wiped away.

Because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, righteous God sees us as righteous.

It's astounding. Just astounding.

And when I think the God loves the righteousness in me, I want to honor that. I want to live to bring Him glory; I want to do what is right. I want to be like my Savior.

I want to please my righteous, loving God.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Lord Is in His Temple! (Psalm 11:4-6)

Today's scripture: Psalm 11:4-6

On Wednesday, we talked about how we who follow Christ are in a battle, just as Paul described to the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 6:12). We ended with the reminder that we just need to trust the Lord.

God never changes. Never. He is always with us. Always.

He is, as the psalmist writes, in His temple and on His throne. He will never "slumber or sleep" (Psalm 121:4). He knows each step we take, each valley we descend, each mountaintop we conquer.

He also sees the acts of our enemies. He sees the wicked and unrighteous. He sees those who deliberately turn their backs on Him and persecute His children. While, indeed, the wicked seem to be winning battle after battle, one day each and every person who ever lived will stand before that throne ... no, they will kneel before that throne and confess Christ as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

Tragically, those who seem to be winning battles now will lose the final war, and they will be separated from the One whom they denied ... forever.

Now that I think about it, our fight shouldn't be against those who demean our faith. No. Our battle should be against a mutual enemy: the one who would love nothing more than to drag people to his own fate. We need to fight him for the souls of unbelievers.

We know who wins the war (John 16:33), and we who follow that Conqueror need to reach as many as we can to the winning side.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Trust in the Lord (Psalm 11:1-4)

Today's scripture: Psalm 11:1-3

We are in a battle. A very real battle. And it's not the "wars and rumors of wars" that were prophesied about (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7). No. We who follow Christ are in a war with those who would demean or destroy our faith.

Throughout the world, Christ-followers are being ridiculed, persecuted, and martyred, just because they choose to proclaim the truth of the Bible. Many, many times, it seems like the enemy is winning ... and it feels like our "foundations are destroyed."

Today's psalm asks a question: "What can the righteous do?" We'll elaborate on this more on Friday, but the answer is already there: "In the Lord I put my trust ..."

When the battles are fierce, when everyone around us tells us we're wrong, when the world's values seem to be overtaking everything ... then the only thing we can do is trust the One who created all things. The One who is in loving, sovereign control. The One who knows exactly what's happening in each and every life.

The One who loves us more than we can imagine and far more than we deserve. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

The God of Justice (Psalm 10:16-18)

Today's scripture: Psalm 10:16-18

Yes. It seems the bad guys are winning battle after battle. Corruption. Perversion. Immorality. It can make even the most faithful hang her head in despair.

Ah. But we know Who wins the war.

Read the first line of today’s scripture again: "The Lord, our Lord, is King forever and ever." He has heard—and will hear—"the desire of the humble." He has heard—and will hear—our cries.

And He will one day do justice. One day, we all—each and every one of us—will stand before His throne, and those of us who follow Him will receive rewards according to how we’ve served Him.

One day, those who chose not to follow Him will receive judgment. Those who have oppressed, those who have lived thumbing their noses at God, those who have flagrantly lived in ungodliness will be judged.

Now read the last line of this psalm. I’m no theologian, and again, this psalm seems to be more about man than Satan, but wouldn’t you agree that the enemy could be described as “the man of the earth”? And if so, one day, he will oppress no more.

Find hope in these words today, my friend. Be encouraged, knowing that one day, all the pain and suffering you’re facing today will be over. We will be face-to-face with our King—forever and ever.

Friday, April 13, 2018

A Plea (Psalm 10:12-15)

Today's scripture: Psalm 10:12-15

Have you ever felt forgotten? Have you ever suffered through a season and felt alone? The last few devotionals have focused on the wicked’s pride and arrogance, and how they seem to be winning. They say God has forgotten.

Today is where hope begins. I said on Wednesday that our God never forgets us, and I believe that with all my heart. Even when I “forgot” Him, He never forgot me. He never forgets you.

All we have to do is cry out to Him.

I’ve always found real comfort reading the psalms—that's mainly why I decided to focus again on the psalms in 2018. So often the writers cry out to God for intervention, for protection, for salvation. And they did so with the assurance that God listened. Always.

We too can cry out to God. We can plea that He not forget the humble. We can ask for His help, knowing He will help us.

He really will.  In His time. According to His plan.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Has God Forgotten Me? (Psalm 10:8-11)

Today's scripture: Psalm 10:8-11

Monday, I wrote that sometimes it seems like the enemy is winning. Psalm 10 continues that thought. According to the New American Standard Bible, this is a psalm praying for the overthrow of the wicked, and I agree. But I also see it as how the enemy of our souls behaves. The enemy—prideful, arrogant, a liar, a murderer—seems to be described quite well in today’s verses.

Lurking. Murders the innocent. Lies in wait secretly.

God has forgotten …

And sometimes it seems like God really has forgotten us. When the pain is unrelenting. When the checking account is empty and rent is due. When the doctor says, “I’m so sorry.” When that prodigal is far from home.

God—at times—seems so far away. Prayers—at times—go no further than the ceiling. What do we do then?

I often speak of the gift of hindsight. I’ve experienced a lot in my five+ decades on this earth. Abuse. Infertility. Chronic pain. And many, many times, God seemed to have forgotten me. But with that gift of hindsight, I can see He never, ever did. Even through twenty years of rebellion, He never, ever did.

And everything that’s happened—even those things my enemies did for evil—God used for good. Everything.

Be strong through whatever season you’re going through, my friend. And know one thing: God never forgets you. Never.

Monday, April 09, 2018

When God Seems Far Away (Psalm 10:1-7)

Today's scripture: Psalm 10:1-7

Sometimes, I watch the news or read the headlines, and it seems like the bad guys are winning … a lot.

The writer of this psalm described our world really, really well. It’s full of people who are prospering and prideful. Even more, countless deny the existence of the one true God.

Deceit. Cursing. Renouncing the Lord. Sound familiar?

It’s almost painful when it seems like those of us who follow Jesus are losing—jobs, health, relationships—when the “wicked” are thriving. And we cry the words of the psalmist, "Why do You stand afar off, O LORD?”

I’ve asked the same question. Days when I drag myself from bed because the pain is so intense. Days when politicians are caught in lies—but “spin” their way out. Days when people die in catastrophic natural events while celebrities talk of their triple-digit car purchase.

The psalmist continues, “Why do You hide in times of trouble?”

Yes, sometimes it seems like God is far away, hiding in times of trouble. Sometimes it feels like the enemy is indeed winning. And it’s really hard.

During these times, my hope comes from a favorite verse. I pray as you face your own enemy, these words will give you hope too:
 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NASB, John 16:33)
Our enemies may be winning a battle or two, but our Lord Jesus Christ has already won the war!