Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Your Evidence? (Psalm 4:2-3)

Today's scripture: Psalm 4:2-3

We followers of Christ use a long, sometimes confusing word when we talk about our relationship with our Savior: sanctification. Simply said, it means that those who have committed their lives to Christ and have accepted His gift of salvation are "set apart." Because we are "set apart" from the world, our lives should be different from those who are not followers of Christ.

We should love more, have more joy, patience, and kindness. We should practice self-control. We should pray continually, saturate our hearts and minds in God's word, and live as Jesus did.

I can't remember who asked it, but have you heard the question, "If you were arrested for being a Christ-follower, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Do people look at you and see love ... or hate? Do they see you patiently dealing with adversity ... or complaining about your "lot in life"? Are you guilty of doing what James wrote: "... with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right" (3:9-10, CEV).

This life on earth is so very short, and we must not waste it. If we are truly "set apart," then we need to live like we are. Instead of focusing on how the world says we should live, let's focus on how God's word says we should live.

One day, we'll all stand in front of God's throne and tell Him how we lived our lives for Him ... What evidence will you give?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hear My Prayer (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, two sweet four-legged "kids." I have the privilege of teaching and helping my students to become more effective writers—all from the comfort of my own home. I enjoy sharing the stage with amazing performers who love Jesus. I tell God's story when I speak.

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 (and sometimes literal) 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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Worship and Praise (Psalm 90:15-17)

Today's scripture: Psalm 90:15-17

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I take words for granted. What I mean is that I may use a word over and over, and in its overuse, forget what it actually means.

We Christ-followers talk a lot about worship and praise. We say we want to glorify the Lord. We sing about wanting to see God’s glory. And we read verses that talk about, as today’s does, God’s letting His glory appear to His children.

So what is glory? Webster’s Dictionary gives several definitions, but the one that I believe the psalmist is writing about is: “a state of great … exaltation” or “great beauty and splendor.” God’s glory is beyond our imagination. But He shows us some of how beautiful and full of splendor He is through His works, through His creation.

Who looks at the magnificence of the Grand Canyon or a towering redwood or the vast ocean, and doesn’t stand in awe? Even nonbelievers sense something beyond themselves when they look at creation.

Or who doesn’t hold a newborn baby in her arms, and see beauty and splendor? We’re made in the image of God, and if we see that kind of beauty in each other, imagine the beauty of God.

And because He is so full of glory, He deserves another definition of the same word: “worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving.”

Have you looked upon God’s glory recently? And then given Him the glory He deserves? If not, take some time today to worship Him with praise, honor, and thanksgiving.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mercy and Compassion (Psalm 90:13-14)

Today's scripture: Psalm 90:13-14

Oh, how my heart cries the same words as the psalmist: Return , O Lord!

I want so much to shed this earthly skin and see my Savior face to face. Nothing on this rapidly-declining world entices me to want to stay any longer than I have to. Absolutely nothing.

In fact, most of what I see happening in our world makes me want to leave this world even sooner. Depravity. Disregard for others. Blatant sin. Arrogance.

It’s pretty nasty.

But you know something? The psalmist cried out for God’s compassion and mercy. It seems like he hadn’t seen either. Yet we who know God, we who follow His Son, already experience both.

He showers us with compassion regularly. I certainly feel it. I feel it when He carries me through the difficult days. When He holds me tightly in the daily pain. When challenges seem to overwhelm.

And He shows mercy when He forgives us. So often, I fail to do what I know He wants me to do. I neglect Him. I lose focus. I let other things take priority over my relationship with Him. Yet, He is so very merciful.

So while we’re on earth, He shows undeserving compassion and mercy. And one day—soon, I hope—He will return.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Will You Spend Your Years? (Psalm 90:9-12)

Today's scripture: Psalm 90:9-12

Our time on this globe is fleeting. While we might live 70 or even 80 years, it’s just a blip on the radar of eternity. And sad to say, in a generation or two, most of us will have been forgotten. So why do we work so hard do gain on earth? To earn money? To buy stuff?

It’s all going to be heaped in a landfill some day.

I don’t know about you, but I truly want to use my time on things that matter—but I’m not always good at it. I want to spend time with the Lord in prayer and the study of His word—but I so often lose focus and waste that precious time. I want to serve Him—but instead I serve myself.

Then I ask myself: If I live to that 70 years, I have 20 years left. Twenty years to do what? Sit around and watch TV?

Or will I spend that time doing those things that really matter?

What about you? How many days can you number? And what will you do with your time?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wrath ... and Love (Psalm 90:7-8)

Today's scripture: Psalm 90:7-8

Verses like these are why some nonbelievers look at God a god of wrath rather than a god of love. They focus on verse seven without reading verse eight.

God’s wrath is for sin, not for us. He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), so much so that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). However, He is holy and righteous, perfect and without sin. He cannot abide with sin, and thus His wrath consumes the unrepentant.

And rightfully so.

Dark cannot exist with darkness, and sin cannot exist with righteousness.

Just as a loving parent hates when his child falls into sin and hates what that sin does to his child, so God hates sin and what it does to His children.

The heart of our God desires for us to come to Him, repent of our sins, and commit our lives to Him. When we do, we no longer fall under His wrath. Instead, we receive His abundant love.