Delighted in You…

Psalm 149:4 (NIV)

For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory.

What an incredible thought for us this morning! The Lord takes delight in His peopleHe crowns the humble with His salvation!

Sometimes I find it difficult to believe that God would take delight in me. It seems too improbable … knowing that I fail Him more often than I dare to confess. But maybe His delight is something that I should consider. Perhaps, God delights in His people even when their performance falls short, yet there is willingness to receive correction and discipline. King Solomon wrote: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Cf. Proverbs 3:11-12) And I am reminded that God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) So, maybe it should not surprise us that the love of God moves Him to delight in those He has called to salvation….

I did a word search for “delight” in the Bible, and I found the following Scriptures that share how God delights in His people.  To be sure, there were plenty of verses that discuss how believers should delight themselves in the Lord, but I am more interested in what moves God to delight in us … to find great pleasure in us. Look at these passages and see if you find a common theme:

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 (NIV)

1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 Samuel 15:21-23 (NIV)

And He (God) sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

Psalm 51:15-17 (NIV)

15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 147:10-11 (NIV)

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior; 11 the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Proverbs 11:19-21 (NIV)

19 Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death. 20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but He delights in those whose ways are blameless. 21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

Proverbs 12:22 (NIV)

The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy.

We see in these passages that God delights in those who obey Him and keep His commands. God does not take pleasure in sacrifices as much as He delights in obedience.  And when we approach God with a broken spirit, with humility and contrition, it demonstrates to Him our acknowledgment of His holiness, righteousness, and justice as the Sovereign Creator. Yes, the Lord delights in those who fear Him – those who reverence and worship Him.  He delights in those who desire to walk blameless before Him; and that is why atonement through the blood of Jesus Christ is required for salvation. We are not blameless. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Cf. Romans 3:23-24) Even Moses affirmed that God will circumcise our hearts so that we may love Him with all our hearts and with all our souls! Indeed, it is His workmanship in us, created within our hearts, that bring us to covenant relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. And, yes, our love for His Son, is His greatest pleasure and delight!

One final thought is the wisdom that Moses shared with the people of God found in Deuteronomy 30 regarding their response to his prophetic word. And upon reading it, I was reminded that the Apostle Paul quoted this passage as well in Romans 10. The message is straightforward, and I think we should look at it:

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NIV)

11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Romans 10:1-13 (NIV)

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” (Quoting Leviticus 18:5But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” (Quoting Deuteronomy 30:12-14that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaimIf you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” (Quoting Isaiah 28:1612 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses (takes delight in) all who call on Him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Quoting Joel 2:32)

So does God delight in those who believe Him? I think so because we have declared with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. This profession of faith produces a righteousness that comes from God alone. It is His work from beginning to end … and it is the culmination of obedience to His commandments. Paul refers to this as the “obedience that comes from faith.” (Cf. Romans 1:5; 16:26) Indeed, it is not too difficult or beyond the reach of anyone. His Word is very near … in our mouths and in our hearts.  And this is the message we are to share with others:

Romans 10:14-17 (NIV)

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Quoting Isaiah 52:7) 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” (Quoting Isaiah 53:117 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 

Lord Jesus, how awesome it is to know that you take delight in your people … that you find great pleasure in those who love you and place their faith in you. So we delight ourselves in you! We take great pleasure in your Word … in your promises … in your passionate love for us! May our hearts be circumcised so that we may love you with all our hearts and with all our souls! May our hearts desire the obedience that comes from faith.  For we put our hope in your unfailing love! Thank you Lord for all you have done to bring us to you and to the Father! We love you and praise you forevermore. In your name we pray. Amen….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Praise and Prayer…

Psalm 138:2 (NIV)

I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.

As I think about our time of corporate prayer last night, I find this Psalm to be an incredible affirmation of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to those who love Him.  For those who were gathered last night, I think you will agree that this Psalm captures what our hearts experienced before the presence of the Lord.  I will reprint its reflective words for our reference:

Psalm 138:1-8 (NIV)

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. Though the Lord is exalted, He looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, He sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

It is important for God’s people to “pray without ceasing” and to seek even greater intimacy with the Lord. Though we have always been admonished to continually pray at all times, there seems to be a heightened sense of urgency that has been revealed to His Church to emphasize the intercessory power of prayer.  As we contemplate the times in which we live, we need to embrace that prayer changes things … mostly because it inwardly changes our hearts to align with the heart of the Father.  It softens and molds our hearts to see the brokenness, oppression, injustice, and darkness that has over taken the lives of so many people around us.  God deeply wants to bring healing and hope; forgiveness and salvation; liberty and life to the world … but most often His work is done through people. This simply means the people He uses to address the evils in our world must have willing hearts to do the work needed. Believers need to press into the presence of God until we, like David, can proclaim: “When I cried out, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul!” Indeed, it is prayer that prepares us to be bold … to be courageous … to be servants to those God is calling to Himself….  Jesus shared this perspective with us:

Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”

Luke 10:1-3 (NIV)

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

When we pray … we “ask” the Lord.  And here Jesus tells us to “ask” the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field. Why? There is a vast multitude of people to be brought into the Kingdom of God, but there are few who are willing to work and make it happen. When Jesus said ask, it was not about asking the Lord to send someone else; rather, it was about asking Him to become one of the workers. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Cf. Isaiah 6:8) Oh, my personal prayer is be bold and courageous … to say, “Here I am. Send me!” What is your prayer?  When we pray and ask the Lord Jesus to change hearts and to change lives … to change the world … just what are we expecting Him to do? Exert His divine, supernatural authority and power? Indeed He will, but I believe He will do it through His people. Right? Are we not His Body in the world? Are we not the ones supposed to do the work in His harvest field?

James 2:14-17 (NIV)

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

So I encourage and challenge us to think more deeply about the role of prayer in our lives and in our walk of faith.  It is one thing to ask God to do something about the suffering in this world.  It is quite another to ask Him for boldness and courage to be a worker in His harvest field. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) Indeed, as His Body, we have been appointed to go into the harvest field. As Paul admonished, we have been asked to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is our true and proper (spiritual) worship. (Cf. Romans 12:1) We have been anointed with spiritual gifts to serve. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) And we have been empowered with boldness. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:7) Yes, it is prayer that will get each of us to that place of alignment with the heart of God to accomplish His work.

One final thought. How often have we heard people ask, “Why does God allow suffering in this world?”  Perhaps, you have asked this or a similar question.  I know that I have.  But the answer I have received was quite unsettling.  God asked, “Why do you allow suffering?” I had to stop and deeply consider His response to me. Do I allow suffering? How have I done so?  Well, in a word: “Inaction.” Yes, inaction is the opposite of what James and John admonished us to do. Indeed, there are many actions we can take to address the problems of this world if we will but take time and look for the opportunities. So, we need to get bold and get busy! “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Cf. Galatians 6:10)

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~ John 13:34-35

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Let The World Know….

Isaiah 12:4 (NIV)

In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.

Our verse today connects well with our previous look at Psalm 33.  So let’s look at the full context:

Isaiah 12:1-6 (NIV)

1 In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

What beautiful words the prophet has declared for us! And these words are from the breath and lips of God … foretelling our faith in His salvation and proclaiming the praise His people will have in their hearts “in that day.”  So I asked myself, “What day?”  “When will these things be or come to pass?”  So I decided to read what preceded this song of praise and turned back to Isaiah 11.  And then my spirit began to tremble within my heart as I read the prophetic word concerning Jesus … the root of Jesse:

Isaiah 11:1-5; 10-12 (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears; but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of his lips He will slay the wicked. (Cf. Revelation 1:16; 19:15) Righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash around His waist.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His resting place will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of His people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. 12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.

Oh, how I find great encouragement in the Word of God!  The light and truth of His Word instills peace within me. It inspires praise from the depths of my inner being.  So, yes, I want to sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things.  I want to join with His people and let this be known to all the world. Yes, I will shout and sing for joy because Jesus is the Holy One of Israel and He is with us!  Let His Name be exalted in all the earth! And “that day”?  I believe “that day” is here … that day is now.  Today is the day of salvation….

Isaiah 49:7-9 (NIV)

This is what the Lord says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—to Him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Love For God = Obedience

Psalm 97:10

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

I always love to read the Psalms and bask in the spiritual emotion David delivers through His inspired meditations.  As these verses from the Psalms come to us, I encourage you to read the entire and not just the verse or two presented.  I pulled the immediate context around the verse today to share both its wisdom and encouragement with you:

Psalm 97:9-12 (NIV)

For you, Lord, are the Most-High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown on the righteous (Cf. Psalm 112:4) and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.

Here, David affirms the supremacy of a single Holy Being … Yahweh … who is the Most-High God. His Being and power are infinitely above anything that could even be entitled a little god.  David wanted the people to know and to understand WHO they worship and the purpose for which He is to be exalted.  God is ultimately beyond our comprehension; and yet, He wants us to know Him and to love Him with the light that we have been given through His Spirit and His Word.

Love is the defining term of the relationship we are to embrace with our Most-High God. And there are qualities to love that we would do well to examine. We are commanded by God to love Him, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commandments, decrees, and laws. (Cf. Deuteronomy 30:16) Thus, to demonstrate love for God, we are to be obedient.  David exhorts that those who love the Lord will hate evil.  Thus, to demonstrate love for God, we must abhor anything that is against what is good – as God has defined and revealed goodness through His Spirit and His Word. And love for God is manifested through faithfulness.  What we profess to God must align with what we do for God.  The Apostle John made these very same points:

1 John 2:5 (NIV)

Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 5:2-3 (NIV)

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome….

Paul wrote in Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.”  Love hates evil in any form!  This is what we need to understand.  And those who love the Lord are protected by God – for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.  Faithful ones are those who love God and love others as He has commanded.  Further, we cannot walk in darkness and practice evil because “light is sown on the righteous.” (See Also Psalm 112:4) I love how that is phrased: “light is sown”.  The light and wisdom of God is place in the soil of our hearts … it is sown and watered by the Holy Spirit … to indwell us and to grow and to bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives.  And likewise, the joy of this experience is embedded within us!  This is why the righteous … those who love the Lord and hate evil … are able to rejoice in the Lord and to worship Him.  It stems from the deep love of God for us so that our response can be none other than love itself … a love expressed by worship in Spirit and in Truth … and demonstrated through love for one another.  

I hope that you will find something here that speaks to your heart … to either challenge you, encourage you, or both.

So Now You Know!

Have a Blessed Day!

Sing To The Lord

Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

There are moments and times when we each of us can feel that the world is crashing around us … when we feel overwhelmed and anxious about things beyond our control … and it seems that nothing is going right in life; at least not according to our desires or expectations.  Such are the situations and circumstances in our lives … often involving stress within relationships with others and within ourselves as well.  But I believe there is an overarching purpose God is using in each of those times or seasons of our lives. His purpose is to deepen our faith in Him … to build a foundation of trust in Him …  to increase our reliance upon Him. Because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Cf. Romans 8:28)

So I love this verse for us today … because it reminds us to shift our focus from the circumstances to the purposes. “I will sing of Your strength.” This inspires me to remember that there is power and strength available to me.  The resources of heaven are only a prayer away when I feel helpless to change the circumstances that I am going through.  It reminds me that God provides His strength … His grace to endure it and to persevere in faith.  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Cf. Isaiah 40:29) And Paul affirmed, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Cf. Philippians 4:13) And in 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul shared, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  God strengthens us with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience. (Cf. Colossians 1:11)

In the morning, I will sing of your love!” The love of God for me … for each of us … is the best knowledge of all to keep in mind.  For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” From Jeremiah 31:3, we have the assurance that God loves us with an everlasting love.  It is an everlasting covenant of love … and God is faithful to His Word.  So, yes, we should sing of His love … we should acknowledge that His love and His strength are a fortress and a refuge in times of trouble.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Cf. John 16:33) Indeed, Jesus is our fortress and refuge! And we should go to Him … not to escape the problems or circumstances we face, but to navigate them with the confidence and assurance of faith that He will work them for our good according to His purposes.

In His “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus asked, “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to our life or another inch to your stature?” (Cf. Matthew 6:27) Further on, Jesus instructed:  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Cf. Matthew 6:34) The Apostle Peter likewise advised, “Cast all of your cares and anxieties upon Him because He cares for you.” (Cf. 1 Peter 5:7) Here Peter must have had Psalm 55:22 in mind which reads:  Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”  How well King David knew … and wrote for our admonition: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. (Cf. Psalm 34:17-20)

We do not have to be shaken with all the problems and troubles that come into our lives. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Cf. Romans 8:37) So, I encourage us to embrace God’s love for us … to receive His strength through the Spirit … and to express in our hearts the delight of His fulfilled promises.  Yes, sing of His strength! This morning, sing of His love!  He is your fortress … your refuge … your strength.  The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Cf. Proverbs 18:10) Indeed, your prayers to Him acknowledge His sovereignty over your life and bring you to a position of submission … of trust … of faith.  Yes, God is glorified when you enter His presence and seek Him for every need and aspect of your life. That is His purpose … because He does not want to be a part of your life; rather, He is your life.  Amen.

So Now You Know!

Have a Blessed Day!

God Is Faithful….

Isaiah 25:1 (NIV)

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

This verse from the Prophet Isaiah is a call to praise and worship … exalting God for His “perfect faithfulness” toward His people.  We first find this gratitude for the faithfulness of God in the Book of Genesis – so this understanding of His nature has been affirmed at least since the time of Abraham.  Let’s look at that passage and some others:

Genesis 24:27 (NIV)

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned His kindness and faithfulness to my master. 

Exodus 34:5-7 (NIV)

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulnessmaintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Psalm 57:9-11 (NIV)

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 71:22-23 (NIV)

22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.

So I think you get the point.  The earliest believers recognized and praised God for His manifested love and faithfulness toward them.  So I think we need to be mindful and grateful ourselves.  As you look back on your life and all of your relationships and experiences … can you see the hand of God in your life?  Can you see the faithfulness of God in sustaining you through all the challenges, hardships, and sufferings of life … creating the unique story of you?  I know that I can.  In fact, without the faithfulness of God to guide me through the pitfalls and challenges I have faced, I would not be here to share this testimony. I have absolutely no doubt about the faithfulness of God in our lives.  So the question is whether we have been faithful to Him.  Ask yourself, “Have you been as faithful to God as He has been to you?”

I’m sure we all feel indicted by that question.  None of us have lived a perfect life.  All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Even after we came to a knowledge of the truth; received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior; and experienced rebirth through the Spirit; most of us have stumbled at best to walk the narrow road and to love one another as He has loved us. I think of Peter who boldly and rashly proclaimed that he would die for Jesus at the time of His arrest … only to swear that he “did not even know the man” just a few hours later. (Cf.  Matthew 26:74-75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:60-61; John 18:27) So zealous was his boast and so vehement was his disownment.  And note how every Gospel writer recorded what happened! Oh, I’d say each of us has wept as bitterly as Peter at some point in our life because of our own unfaithfulness to God….

What amazes and encourages me, though, is that Jesus takes the initiative to comfort Peter and restore him to fellowship.  You can read about it in John 21.  And when we find ourselves in despair over our sin and unfaithfulness to God, the Apostle John shares with us this word of encouragement: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) John reminds us of that timeless truth: God is Faithful.  And so I repeat that message here because someone needs to hear it.  Someone needs to know that the discouragement and despair of unfaithfulness that has been defeating their life can be overcome.  Yes, you ARE forgiven! Your life and fellowship with God will be restored! God is faithful even when we fail….  Like Paul, I am convinced that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Cf. Romans 8:38-39)

One thing that caught my attention about this passage was the phrase “things planned long ago.”  I thought about that a moment.  I thought about the plan of salvation that was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world.  I wondered, “What other things did God plan long ago?”  Well, He planned my birth.  He determined the date, the generation, the place, the nation, etc.  God knew when and where He wanted me for His plans and purposes.  And despite a time of rebellion during my youth … in spite of the disobedience, failures, and unfaithfulness in my life … God planned my reconciliation and salvation.  I am His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And each day of my life becomes another revelation of the things He planned long ago for me.  Yes, God is faithful over your life and mine….

So I am certain there is someone who needs to know that God is willing and ready to restore your life just like He did for Peter – a man who disavowed even knowing the Lord Jesus … just like He did for Paul – a blasphemer and a murderer … just like He did for me – another wretched sinner saved by grace through faith.  God planned your day of reconciliation long ago.  God knew just the right time … when you would bitterly weep … and open your whole heart to Him.  God knew your moment of confession would come, and He is faithful and just to forgive your sins because you have called on Him.  He is at the door of your heart … knocking.  And I can assure you, it is an indescribable feeling to experience the great love and faithfulness of God poured out in your life!  I urge you to open the door and bid the Lord Jesus to come in … and let your healing begin!

Father, I thank you and I praise you for your perfect faithfulness.  You have done wonderful things … too many to count as well look back over our lives.  Each one is a testimony of your surpassing kindness and your steadfast love.  Help, Lord, each one of us to embrace that you have been faithful to redeem us … to give us a hope and a future … to give us eternal life.  These promises were established long ago … and we can receive them by placing our faith in you.  You have proven yourself trustworthy, and I pray any person who has questioned the deep of your love will see the truth found in your Word.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  Great is Thy Faithfulness.  Morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy Faithfulness … Lord unto me. ~ Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/04/19

Psalm 18:1-2

[ Psalm 18 ] [ For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:] I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Another Psalm of praise for us to reflect upon … perhaps even sing within our spirits.  Beautiful words of affirmation that God is indeed the refuge for our souls.  He is trustworthy!  He is a sanctuary to all those who love Him.  I sense someone reading this blog needs this verse for confirmation! Someone needs to feel assurance that God is for them! My friend, if you ever doubt that God is for you … just read this Psalm of salvation and know that your enemies are defeated!  Call upon God in your distress. Ask for help.  He will hear from His holy temple.  He knows your voice.  He knows your name.  He will deliver you.  Trust in Him!  His love is faithful.  It is unfailing.   It is everlasting.  He is worthy of all praise!

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/03/19

Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

This is a beautiful excerpt from Psalm 59.  David wrote this Psalm when King Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.  If you read the entire Psalm, you will see the context is a plea for deliverance from his enemies.  It is a petition for God to deal with his enemies and to bring consequences for their evil intent.  But at the end of his prayer, David sings praise and thanksgiving to God for His power, love, and protection.  Look at Verses 16-17:

16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.

Though I find little eloquence in this Psalm (much of the tone is harsh to me), I do find a zealous message of reliance upon God … a sense of dependence upon God … and a profession of faith and trust in His vindication.  My observation is that David sees God in control of the situations he faces, and he trusts God to protect him.  David praises God because He is reliable and faithful to meet his needs.  So while the passage does not have great theological weight, it does convey two important aspects of how to exercise our faith: Prayer and Praise!

So when you come under duress or under attack … when you face physical, emotional, or spiritual battles … find a quiet place to get still before God and ask Him to deliver you.  Share with God your concerns … your feelings … your hurts … your needs. Then humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care (anxieties) upon Him, for He cares for you. (Cf. 1 Peter 5:6-7) And then remember to praise Him.  Praise Him because He is your fortress … your place of refuge. Praise Him because He is your strength.  You can rely upon Him to bring you through the situation you face!  For Jesus Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So you can boldly say: “The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Cf. Hebrews 13:5-6) Oh my friend, you CAN trust Him!  God has your back … and He loves you far beyond all you can imagine or conceive….

I am thankful that David was transparent and shared his own personal experiences for us. His writings enable us to draw upon the inspiration God imparted to him.  I hope each of us will endeavor to seek God with the same boldness that David did.  You might just be surprised at what honest prayer and joyful praise might do for your life…. Maybe we just need to realize it could be a great time to reset our mindset!  I pray we will … and that we will submit to what God has desired to do in us and for us all since the foundation of the earth … enjoy oneness with Him.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!