Monday, June 30, 2014

Extol Our God (Psalm 145:1-2)

Today's scripture: Psalm 145:1-2

Our God is great and greatly to be praised. He is the Creator of all things. He is all-powerful. All good. All loving. All knowing.

He is holy, righteous, and just. He provides and heals. He gives strength and shelter. He provides refuge and protection.

He brings joy in the good times and offers peace and comfort in the bad.

He is everything.

Yet, how often do we neglect offering praise and worship to Him? How many days go by when we don't bless His name?

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how crucial it is for me to spend time with Him every day. That time includes study and meditation of His word and time of prayer, interceding for those I love.

It also includes time of praising Him. Just praising Him. Blessing His name. Giving thanks for His blessings, yes. But also just giving thanks for Him.

Because He is everything.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:11

A couple of days ago, I wrote about hearing God's voice. He really does speak to us when we call on Him. So many verses state that we can call upon God, and He will answer (Jeremiah 29:12; Psalm 91:15, just to name two ...).

God will show us His plans for our lives. If we focus on Him and desire His will, He will "show [us] the path of life ..." He will give us what we need and what we desire because what we desire will be what He desires for us.

When we follow God's uniquely-designed paths for each of us, we will find joy—true, deep-in-the-heart joy. In fact, I submit that we can't find that true joy apart from Him. One of the topics about which I speak is entitled "Arresting the Joy-stealers." I talk about how this world is full of things that want to steal our God-given joy. I often say something like:

We who know God experience the greatest joy possible because we are able to stand in the presence of God Himself, and as the psalmist wrote, in His “presence is fullness of joy.” Our hearts can’t be truly joyful apart from God.

When we come to know God through the salvation of His Son, Jesus Christ, He promises that we will be filled with joy. The apostle Paul wrote that followers of Christ are given the Holy Spirit to help us walk through every day, and the Spirit helps us to live lives of joy: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23a).

God designed an incredible world for us, His beloved children. Flowers and sunsets, fluffy clouds and gentle rains, majestic mountains and calming seas. Beauty is all around us. Family and friends and children. God provided people to love and to love us. In these things, in these people, we find joy. Sometimes it’s the big things that bring us joy: weddings, graduations, holidays, reunions. Other times, it’s walking along hand-in-hand with our favorite person or seeing the wag-tailed welcome from our favorite pets. We can find joy anywhere . . . if we only seek it.

Yes, joy is everywhere, but again true joy cannot be found without God. True joy is found when we know that we have been saved by God’s grace through the acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Throughout the Scriptures, we see evidence of the joy that comes by knowing God.

Do you live in that kind of joy? Are you confident walking God's "path of life" in "fullness of joy"? Submit your life to Him. Give Him everything.

He will fill you with true, deep-in-the-heart joy. Really. He will.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Brings You Hope? (Psalm 16:9-10)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:9-10


What brings you hope? I challenge you to stop reading right now and ask yourself this question:

What brings me hope?

Do you find hope in relationships? In your career? In your home? In your stuff? And what happens when that relationship ends? When the pink slip comes? When your house burns down (and yes, I've had friends who have lost their homes this way ...).

Where then do you find your hope?

For a long while, I found my hope in what I could do. I strove to accomplish everything in my way with my strength with my skills. Then, through bouts of depression and a lengthy struggle with infertility, I realized that I had no strength ... I had no hope.

I finally realized how hopeless I was, and it was only then that I found true hope in God.

I find hope in the confidence He has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and that plan is to bring Him glory and me good (Romans 8:28). I find hope in the knowledge that I'm not alone (Hebrews 13:5) and that the Holy Spirit is my Helper, interceding for me (Romans 8:26-27).

Most of all, I find hope in the security of eternity with my Lord (John 14:1-3). One day, I'll live with Him in the new heaven and new earth with no pain, no sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4).

My hope is in the Lord, and I can rest ...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Lord Always Before Me (Psalm 16:7-8)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:7-8

I've never been one who hears an audible voice when God speaks, but I have heard Him. Usually, He speaks in that "still small voice" we read about in 1 Kings 19:12. Many times I have prayed for something, and I've heard His voice in my heart. He counsels me to do those things that please Him. He guides me down paths that lead to His purpose. He reveals His will to me.

Hearing God's voice, though, requires one thing, though. We need to focus on Him, without distractions:

The most important thing about listening for God’s voice is that, in order for Him to be heard, you must be silent. God doesn’t want to compete with the world’s noise, nor should He. We know God, we hear His voice, in the stillness, in the quiet. God tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). King David said with confidence that “the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him . . . Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:3-4).
(The Best Laid Plans © 2005 Sauni Rinehart)

When we focus on God and truly listen to Him, He speaks to us. So, as The Message paraphrases verse 8 of today's scripture:

Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

All I Want (Psalm 16:5-6)

Today's scripture: Psalm 16:5-6

I've written this many times, but I have to say again: I don't know how those who don't know God live ... seriously. Without the confidence that He is in loving, gracious, merciful control of my every day, I'd just want to crawl into a hole and die.


Because I know He loves me and has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), I can surrender everything ... everything.

The Contemporary English Version paraphrase of today's verses especially touches my heart:

You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.

Not only is God "all I want" in this life, knowing Him assures me that I have eternity with Him to look forward to. He protects me now and gives me strength each day, and one day, my "bright future" will be in the new heaven and new earth ... in His presence, forever and ever.

Lord God Almighty, be my all in all. Be my only choice. Use me as You will. And one day, usher me into your kingdom. Amen.