Thursday, July 31, 2014

Distractions ... (Psalm 40:16-17)

Today's scripture: Psalm 40:16-17
Praising God, rejoicing in Him ... one of my favorite things to do. And yet, I do often neglect to do so. It's not because I love Him any less; it's just that I get so caught up in "stuff." I was especially convicted of this very thing this morning.

A while ago, my small group went through Francis Chan's Crazy Love, and one of the study questions asked me to "List the elements in [my] life that keep [me] distracted [from God]. List both good things and bad things." As I went through this exercise, I recognized (not that I didn't already know this) that my distractions stem from pain.
Anyone who suffers from chronic pain or ill health understands what I mean about its being a distraction. When you're hurting, often your focus is solely on "what can I do to manage this pain?" Pain can easily cause a loss of focus. So, when I'm trying to just function, just get done what needs to be done, I can lose sight of God's work in my life. I fail to fall at His feet in praise and worship.

Yet, the irony is that when I feel the worse is when I need to cling to Him the most. I need to cry out in my neediness, knowing that He is my "help and my deliverer."

I can rejoice in Him. I can magnify His name. And, in fact, if I keep my focus on Him, those things that distract me lose their hold.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lord, Help Me! (Psalm 40:13-15)

Today's scripture: Psalm 40:13-15

I'm focusing on verse 13 today. Verses 14 and 15 deal with those who were "seek[ing] to destroy [the psalmist's] life," which is something that most of us don't experience. However, we have cried out for deliverance. From pain. From trials. From failing relationships. From financial difficulties.

We often need God's deliverance, and as The Message paraphrases, His "intervention."

While I don't feel attacked by human enemies or those "who wish me evil," I do know I'm in a battle. I know the enemy of my soul wants to drag me down and doubt God's love for me. Chronic pain can do that. It can make me want to give up. My health has fallen to a new "normal." This new plateau has brought a higher level of chronic fatigue and pain. More than once, I have cried out.

I have echoed the New Living Translation's interpretation, "Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me." On those days when I feel alone, I may use words closer to the Contemporary English Version's, "Please show that you care and come to my rescue. Hurry and help me!"

Although God doesn't remove the pain, He does remind me of His loving presence. He does give me enough strength to accomplish what I need to ... if just for that moment or that day. He does "show that [He] care[s] ..." He does help me.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by life, then cry out to God. Cry for His rescue, for His strength, for His help. He will hear you, and He will answer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Forgotten Sin (Psalm 40:11-12)

Today's scripture: Psalm 40:11-12

The Bible tells us that—when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, when we accept the gift of salvation through His sacrifice—we are forgiven. Sins we've done. Sins we will do. Not only are our sins forgiven, but they are also forgotten (Psalm 103:12; 25:7; Isaiah 43:25).

So, if we're forgiven and if God doesn't remember our sin, why do we often live in regret? Sometimes, we think, "If only I hadn't [fill in the blank]." Or "I wish I'd chosen this instead of that." We allow our "iniquities [to] overtake" us. Our "hearts fail" because we continue to remember our sins ... instead of our salvation.

This isn't how God wants us to live. He wants us to live with the joy of our salvation through Jesus Christ. He wants us to experience His "tender mercies." He wants us to feel His lovingkindness. He wants to "preserve" us with His truth.

Psalm 16:11 says,

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
This is how God wants us to live: lives full of joy as we live in His presence.

He doesn't want us to wallow in the pass or live in regret. He doesn't want us to be overtaken by sin. Rather, He wants us to be free from sin, living for Him.

That's true joy ... forever.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Great Assembly (Psalm 40:9-10)

Today's scripture: Psalm 40:9-10

One of the greatest joys I have in being a Christ-follower is that I'm part of His family. I have brothers and sisters all over the world, and I can rejoice with them when God works in and through them.

I love sharing stories of God's faithfulness. It's one of my favorite things to do. I love hearing stories of His faithfulness as well. When I'm feeling discouraged or doubtful, sometimes just hearing about how God has worked in someone else's life gives me hope.

I think this is one of the reasons God calls us to "assemble" with other believers. We certainly need to listen to God's word through the teaching of godly men and women, but it also gives us the chance to hear what God is doing.

This is also why it's important to be part of a small group. When you meet with the same group of people regularly, you share stories. You have a front-row seat to God's work. I had the greatest privilege of being part of a small group for two years. We knew each other very well. We saw God's hand through amazing blessings, and we saw His comfort through the deepest pain. Without fail, my heart was blessed when I heard of God's righteousness, faithfulness, and lovingkindness through their stories. Although the our season together has ended, and I'm now part of a new group, I keep in contact with many of my sisters ... and I still rejoice in their joys and weep in their sorrows.

We really do need to "proclaim" God's faithfulness and not "conceal" it. Through stories of God's faithfulness, our faith grows.

If you're not already in a church where you hear truth, I pray you find one. If you're not part of a small group of believers with whom you can share God's stories, again, I pray you find one.

Proclaim His truth. Share His stories. You will be blessed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Delight in the Lord (Psalm 40:6-8)

Today's scripture: Psalm 40:6-8

Sometimes, we Christ-followers focus on all the things we do. We go to church. We tithe. We read our Bibles. We pray. We serve the community. We're doing, doing, doing. Then we pat ourselves on the back and say, "Look at everything we're doing for you, God."

You know something? I'm not certain He's all that impressed. In fact, according to today's verses (and others like it), God doesn't "desire" our sacrifices and offerings.

What does He want instead? He wants us to surrender to Him. He wants us to "delight to do [His] will." He wants us to keep His "law within [our] heart[s]." Hosea 6:6 tells us that we should "delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." God wants us to love Him and others: "love Him with all the heart and understanding and strength, and to love one's neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark12:33).

Sometimes, we get so caught in doing that we neglect to just be. Just being in His presence, listening to His voice, desiring His will.

Delighting in Him.

I don't know about you, but I want to delight Him ... and so, I'm going to spend some time with Him. Delighting in His presence.

I invite you to do the same.