Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Lord Is a Stronghold (Ps. 9:9-10)

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
         A stronghold in times of trouble;
 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
         For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

(Psalm 9:9-10, NASB)

Oh, how I love the opening words of these verses: The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m not oppressed by a human enemy or tyrant, but living with chronic health issues can definitely be oppressive. Anyone who deals with the same problem knows exactly what I mean. So often, chronic ill health takes over one’s life. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, my body reminds me of its aches and pains. I can’t ever forget.

But I’m not alone in my pain. God is with me. And it’s that confidence that allows me to make it through each day. And not just make it, but thrive.

I put my trust in my Lord because He’s been overwhelmingly faithful. He’s never left my side. He’s never forsaken me. Even when I turned my back on Him, He never left me. He’s too loving and gracious to even think of leaving His children.

I hope you’re as comforted by these words as I am. Never forget your stronghold.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Lord Abides Forever (Ps. 9:7-8)

But the LORD abides forever;
         He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;

         He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

(Psalm 9:7-8, NASB)

These verses touch my heart. In fact, I want to add them to my list of scriptures I want to memorize. They’re encouraging and affirming and confidence-building.

The Lord abides forever. Our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God is eternal. He’s always been and always will be.

He has established His throne for judgment. Every single person who’s lived, is now living, or will live in the future will stand before God’s throne. Each of us will either be judged for what we didn’t do (accept God’s gift of salvation) or awarded for what we did do (those things believers did to serve God and others).

And He will judge the world in righteousness. God is holy, righteous. We can be assured God will judge each of us through His heart of righteousness, through His eyes of love.

He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. And in His righteousness, He’ll judge fairly. He’ll honor the decision many will make: to follow Him. He’ll equally honor the decision many others will make: to reject Him.  

So when you feel overwhelmed by life, when it seems the enemy is winning, remember: Our eternal God truly is in control. He is righteous and just. And fair. And loving.

What a good God we serve!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Very Memory Has Perished (Ps. 9:4-6)

For You have maintained my just cause;
         You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
         You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
         And You have uprooted the cities;
         The very memory of them has perished.

(Psalm 9:4-6, NASB)


I don’t know if David meant them to be, but these verses are quite prophetic. If you read about the nations that fought against Israel in David’s time, you’ll see that many of them don’t exist any longer.

I read these verses, though, and they become quite personal. I encourage you to read them the same way.

I’ve had “enemies.” I’ve faced the “wicked.” I’ve been attacked and abused. And even though I may not have seen it at the time, God always “maintained my just cause.” He always had my back, as they say. And although my own enemies may not have been destroyed, God has been gracious and has taken away the “very memory.” Or should I say, He’s taken away the power of those memories.

God continues to sit on His throne “judging righteously,” and I’m confident that one day anyone who hurt me, who hurt you, will be judged.

In the meantime, let God take the “very memory” of your own enemies from your heart and mind. Let Him remove the anger or unforgiveness you feel and replace it with His peace, His joy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

When Enemies Strike (Ps. 9:3)

When my enemies turn back,
     They stumble and perish before You.

(Psalm 9:3, NASB)

We think we live in turbulent times … and we do indeed. However, if you read the Old Testament, you’ll see what turbulence times really were. David certainly knew turbulence. Constant wars. Enemies chasing him, seeking his death.

But he also knew God’s faithfulness. He knew he was God’s anointed king, and even through his sin and its consequences, David was confident in God’s ultimate protection. Time and time again, David prayed for victory over his enemies, and time and time again, God answered his prayer, like He did in today's verse. God caused David's enemies to stumble and perish.

But not always. Sometimes the enemy won.

And sometimes the enemy seems to win against us as well. How often has someone hurt you or maligned you or tried to destroy you? You pray he’ll stumble, yet he doesn’t. No. Instead, the enemy wins—or at least it appears so.

At those times, the only thing to do is exactly what David did: Cry out to God and trust He’ll protect us—whether or not our enemy stumbles or turns back.

And no matter whether our enemy does win a battle or two, we can be confident in knowing that God is the ultimate Victor!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Praise and Gratitude (Ps. 9:1-2)

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart;
         I will tell of all Your wonders.   

I will be glad and exult in You;
         I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

(Psalm 9:1-2, NASB)

What a wonderful privilege we have to serve the Sovereign Creator, the one true God, the Savior of mankind! He—the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God—can be known by those who choose to follow Him. He is personal. He desires a relationship with us. He’s not some far-off, disinterested God. Rather, He allows Himself to be intimately known.

How can we help but praise Him?

That’s why I love so many of the psalms. The words of gratitude and praise are so encouraging—and sometimes convicting.

Take the opening verses of Psalm 19. I too give thanks to the Lord with all my heart. I am glad and exult in Him. I do sing praises to His name.

The conviction? Those words, “I will tell of all Your wonders.”

He is a wonderful, amazing God. He blesses beyond expectation. He carries me through the darkest valleys. He causes even the most difficult moments to turn out for good. He loves me as His own daughter.

Yet, how often to I tell others of “all [His] wonders”? Not often enough. I remember hearing someone ask, “If you had a cure for cancer, wouldn’t you tell everyone you knew?” I have the “cure” for soul cancer. I have the best story to tell.

And I need to tell it much more often.

Lord God, I do thank You and praise You. I do give You glory. Please continue to convict my heart to tell Your story to anyone who’ll listen, so they might give You glory as well. Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Made for Relationship (1 Cor. 16:19-24)

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The greeting is in my own hand—Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(1 Corinthians 16:19-24, NASB)

I just love how God made us for relationship. With Him. With others.

Paul certainly understood the importance of relationships. In all his letters, he began by greeting his brothers and sisters in Christ with joy and love. He so desired they grow in faith, and it’s clear he dearly loved them. He mentioned friends by name, like Aquila and Prisca, and he continually prayed for them.

I too dearly love the people with whom God has blessed me. Right now, this is especially true as I’m in rehearsals for a play with several of my “girls.” I’ve mentioned before that God chose not to give my husband and me children. But He’s blessed me abundantly with “children of my heart.” I have “daughters” who actually call me “mama,” and I love them so very much. Last night, one of them sat on my lap and just loved on me (even though she’s about ready to graduate high school!).

Then there’s my wonderful husband. Since I’ve been in rehearsals every night for the last week (and will do so for the next two nights before opening weekend), I haven’t really spent a lot of time with him. And I miss him. Because God has made me for relationship, and one of those relationships is with Russ …

If you’re reading this devotional, it’s probably because you’re my friend or part of my family. And so, I pray along with Paul: “Maranatha [Come, O Lord!]. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Supply What Is Lacking (1 Cor. 16:14-18)

Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors. I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
(1 Corinthians 16:14-18, NASB)

It bears repeating: We Christians are all part of one Body, and we’ve been created to serve our God in whatever capacity He’s designed. We all have gifts that “supply what is lacking” in others.

I cannot do what you can do in the exact way you do it. You cannot do what I can do in the exact way I do it. Together, however, we all do exactly what God wants us to do. That’s one of the greatest things about being a child of God: We’re not on this journey alone. Not only do we have our never-leaving, never-forsaking God (Hebrews 13:5), not only does He love us everlastingly (Jeremiah 31:3), but we also have our brothers and sisters to walk alongside us. Paul certainly did.

So we need to support one another, “acknowledge” each other. Celebrate each other. Show gratitude to each other. Submit to each other.

Love each other.