Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Merciful and Gracious God (Psalm 103:8-10)

Today's scripture: Psalm 103:8-10

God is holy and righteous. He is perfect. He is all-good. He created the heavens and the earth, and they too were perfect. Even the first man and woman were created without sin.

However, where there is capacity for good, there is capacity for evil. When Satan, who himself had fallen from perfection, tempted Adam and Eve, those created beings chose evil. Sin entered the created world.

God cannot abide sin. When man rebels against the goodness of God, he chooses a life apart from his Creator. God has every right to judge and to punish.

Yet, because He is merciful and gracious, He offers salvation. He gives each and every one of us the opportunity to repent of our sins and come back to Him, to choose to follow Him. And when we do, He forgives us and offers us grace. He does not “punish us according to our iniquities.”

Praise God that He is “slow to anger.” Because if He weren’t so patient with us—so loving, so gracious, so merciful—each of us would receive what we deserve: judgment. Instead, each of us can receive what we don't deserve: salvation. Each of us can be in relationship with our loving, merciful, gracious God.

Such is amazing grace!

Friday, March 28, 2014

God Makes His Ways Known (Psalm 103:6-7)

Today's scripture: Psalm 103:6-7

Every once and a while, a self-proclaimed "prophet" predicts some catastrophic event (the world is going to end) or even Christ's return. Of course, those predictions never come true.

There was a time genuine prophets walked the earth. God used prophets in the Old Testament to speak to His people. He communicated directly to men He chose to be His voice. God “made known His ways” through men like Moses, Isaiah, and Micah.

But how does God reveal His ways today? Through His word, the written, inspired account of His-story. We are so blessed to have something His people never had. We can read about how He’s worked. We can learn of fulfilled prophecy.

And even better? We have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is there to speak the words of the Father to each of us. We don’t need to have someone tell us what God is saying.

God speaks directly to us ... yet another benefit to knowing and being in relationship with God!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bless the Lord (Psalm 103:1-5)

Today's scripture: Psalm 103:1-5

It would be quite enough if the only “benefit” we received from knowing God was the forgiveness of sins. It would be more than enough if, after we accepted the gift of salvation, He just took us to heaven.

But He—gracious and loving God that He is—chooses us to bless us abundantly here on earth.

He heals our diseases. Some might say, “Wait a minute. I’m not healed.” I don’t think healing always comes with the alleviation of the ailment—physical healing. In my case, healing is emotional and spiritual. Yes, I live in constant pain, but it’s through that pain my heart and soul are healed. What I mean is that my pain keeps me in contact with Christ—all the time. I sincerely believe that my pain has drawn me closer to Him, and I know I can’t handle life without Him.

He redeems our lives from destruction. Those of us who know Christ are often supernaturally protected. This doesn’t mean no Christians ever face disaster. Christians die in natural disasters and man-caused accidents just as non-Christians do. But if we do lose our earthly life, we gain so much more—being in the presence of our Lord and Savior!

He crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies. This one is so very true for me. He is so merciful to me. He covers me with His love and tenderness. When I just don’t think I can take another step, He’s there to pick me up. When even the simplest movement causes pain, He wraps His arms around me.

He satisfies our mouths with good things … and it’s not just food. Yes, most of us who live in the United States are blessed with plenty of food. Really good food. But we Christians are blessed with His word, and we can feast on it. We are renewed by it. We are encouraged by it. We are affirmed—and often convicted—by it. It is the very bread that sustains us.

Oh, yes! We are so very, very blessed. So how can we help but joining with the psalmist:

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

At His Throne (Psalms 47:8-9)

Today's scripture: Psalm 47:8-9

Days like today make me long even more for the day when I can bow before God’s throne and bask in His presence. When I feel particularly weak or when the pain is particularly intense, I picture myself face down in humble reverence, just whispering His name over and over. Pain-free with supernatural strength to serve Him.

And one day, all of us who follow Christ—“the people of the God of Abraham”—will gather together at His throne.

We’ll life our voices in praise. We’ll exalt His name. We’ll worship, lifting holy hands.

When this fallen world gives you one too many moments of stress, when the pain is unbearable, when a relationship breaks your heart … picture yourself in the presence of your Lord God. Picture yourself surrounded by all your brothers and sisters, just praising God.

One day, that’s exactly where you’ll be. Exactly where I’ll be.

Oh, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sing With Understanding (Psalm 47:5-7)

Today's scripture: Psalm 47:5-7

I know I’ve written this before, but one of my favorite things to do is singing praises to the Lord. Traditional hymns. Contemporary songs.

But I have to say, I’m a bit convicted with the last part of verse seven: “Sing praises with understanding.” Sometimes, I fail to think about the words I’m singing. Or I sing just because I like to do so. Or because I have the words memorized, I think of other things besides the words.

Just as I sometimes become distracted when I pray, I can become distracted when I sing praises.

That’s just not right. It’s a privilege to lift my voice in praise, knowing the Lord is pleased when I make that “joyful noise” (Psalm 66:1). And when I focus on the words—many of which come directly from scriptures—I’m not only praising the Lord, but I’m also gaining more understanding about His attributes.

His faithfulness is great. He is mighty to save. He is God of all creation. His grace is amazing. He is worthy.

So sing praises to God. But sing them with understanding.

Monday, March 24, 2014

God Reigns (Psalm 47:3-4)

Today's scripture: Psalm 47:3-4

One day, the Lord of all creation, the Sovereign King of the universe will reign. Everyone will acknowledge Him as the one true God—Father, Son, and Spirit.

Paul wrote these words of affirmation: One day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus Himself said that many would call Him “Lord,” but would not truly know Him (see Matthew 7:21-23).

God will conquer and “subdue the peoples.” Those of us who follow Him, those of us who are His children through the death and resurrection of the Son, will inherit eternal life. We will spend eternity with our Lord and Savior. We too will be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

So as we live our day-to-day, moment-by-moment lives, we can be confident that we’re on the winning team. We don’t have to worry about this world and its sins. We can be assured by the words of Jesus: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).