You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again… Psalm 71 The other day I went to a large retail beauty supply store to get a facial cleanser. Much to my delight with my purchase, they were offering a free .5oz of “Hope in a Jar,” an intense moisturizer for all skin types. It’s always nice to get something for free until of course it runs out. The assumption is that I will enjoy this product and be willing to buy more. However, the cost of more is about twice that of other name brand moisturizers. My reality is that I can always afford free! I bless God everyday that the everlasting hope of my faith in Christ, the true original formula for all skin types, is already paid for.
Give the king your justice, O God and your righteousness to a king’s son. Psalm 72 What we choose to hand down to upcoming generations is for us to consider. In the midst of all his troubles, setbacks and mishaps, King David chose righteousness. This encourages us because it shows us that doing what is right has little to do with perfection. Rather returning to God through faith has its reward. No one knows the number of days God gives. Whether the the days are many or few, people will remember how you made them feel. God has the same memory.
Return, O faithless children,…I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:6-18
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land . . . So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
…if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Philippians 3:13-21 Paul, a Pharisee believed in the resurrection. When the spirit of Jesus Christ himself appeared before him while on the road to Damascus, his self righteousness turned to self-loathing for condemning God’s people, the ones whom Christ was sent to save. Paul reached a position in his life that few in his culture achieve and when he started rounding up believers before the Roman authorities to be put to death he turned against God. As much as he believed that what he was doing was right before God, from a spiritual point of view he was convicted. From an “earthly” point of view he had the power and the authority, however, had Paul’s spiritual heart for God not been stronger, that visit from Christ may not have occurred when it did. Paul’s heart for God, I believe was predestined to be used for God’s glory even though he used his power and authority to sin against God. Knowingly or un-knowingly we don’t always think in deference to God before we act. Fortunately for our sake, like so many before us, God knows the heart. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or what we think we’ve done. Through Christ, God will tap the repentant heart that seeks after Him and it will be redeemed and transformed for His glory. Through Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1-11).
Thus says the LORD: I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Jeremiah 2:1-13
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; …For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith… Romans 1:16-25
I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61
…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead… Philippians 3:13-21 Perhaps, at the time, nobody had more to forget than Paul. Still God used Paul’s passion for the law to glorify His name. Paul’s testimony is one to which we can all cling and be assured that God can and will use us if we just open our hearts to God’s commandments. Press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Know that as we journey on in our relationships, people can be quite complicated, but God’s love, even in its simplicity is greater than the complications.
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest… Hebrews 4:11-16 We ask ourselves how much longer must we wait for the Lord when it is God who asks the same of us. Through Christ every door is made to be opened. This doesn’t mean that we have to walk through them all. We do however have to discern our gifts to understand which ones will draw us forward in Christ and not in some other direction. The good news is that even if we find our selves astray God’s grace and mercy awaits the repentant heart. Unfortunately, we won’t always walk through the right doors. Fortunately, our life in Christ is as much about what we believe as it is about what we do. This is the confidence we have in the Gospel; if we believe in the truth about the Gospel of Christ, then we must make every effort to walk in that truth. To walk in that truth, like Christ, is to walk in God’s rest.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:20
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:18
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Deuteronomy 10:12-22
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:1-10 This is the third time in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews that he encourages them to listen to the voice that speaks the truth about God’s love and God’s mercy for those who believe. He encourages them not to be like their ancestors in the wilderness. Today we work so hard at building our relationship with our children because we want to spare them the struggles that we experienced. Yet there are times when they refuse to listen. There are things we say that simply go “in one ear and out the other.” So too, I believe that God has given us his Word through Christ that we may not struggle. Each day given is an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. As I think of the numerous things my mother has shared with me to which I payed little attention, I am thankful that God has given me today, that I may listen. Today I seek to hear. Today my heart is open to respond.
Let us continue to pray and encourage our children and one another to hear and obey according to God’s truth and we too shall enter His rest.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” Hebrews 3:12-19 Today I attended the funeral for the grandmother of a dear friend. She was 103 when she took her last breath. I never met my friends grandmother but I wish that I had. Just three years before she was dancing on the dance floor as she and her family celebrated her 100th birthday. Then, three years later, her spirit is lifted up. When you think about it life can be long or life can be short but there’s always “today”, a gift from God that comes with or without us, like the Spirit that moves without respect of person. Today is given so that we have every opportunity to love as God loves. I’m guessing that my friend’s grandmother loved a lot of people. Today, it’s our turn.
O Lord, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word. Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes. Psalm 119:65-68
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…” Hebrews 3:1-11 Here Paul is speaking about the rebellion of the Israelites who when Moses went up the mountain for forty days and forty nights, had created an image of God which they began to worship. A hardened heart is a heart that doubts, a heart that fears and a heart that ultimately trades the hope and glory in what is unseen for something that gives a temporary satisfaction to meet an immediate physical need whether it be things or people. I believe Paul really wants his hearers to understand that we should not forget that our praise and worship is a very valuable gift from God. What sense does it make if I receive a gift from my sister and I in turn praise my brother for the gift? This is kind of what we do when we go astray and turn our attention towards things and people other than God. Yet because God loves his creation he is faithful to it. So why not give your faith a heartfelt chance and praise God today. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Psalm 31:5, 7-8
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God…
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
If you are the Son of God, command this stone; If you worship me it will be all yours; “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here… Luke 4:1-13 How many times have we heard the expression “If your friend jumped off of a bridge, would you jump too?” In most cases the answer would be “no”. Of course literally we wouldn’t do it. However figuratively, we’ve probably done it many times. The key to not jumping off that “bridge” is not because of the action itself, but rather the thoughts that precede the action. The enemy of what is good and right is not really interested in what we do. The enemy is more interested in what we think and believe ourselves to be. Satan approached Jesus when he was hungry and believed him to be “vulnerable”. So too, he approaches us in the same way. Our reality is that knowingly or unknowingly, in our humanness, sometimes we choose to “jump off the bridge”. The good news is that our God always loves. Our God always cares. Our God always forgives. We must always remember what Christ remembered in times of vulnerability; who we are (identity), to whom we belong (inheritance), and why we are called in spiritual relationship with Him (mission).
Psalm 31 In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. It seems clear to me that Psalm 31 is written out of distress. Some scholars believe that it was probably penned by David himself sometime after having been convicted by God as relayed by the prophet Nathan. Whatever our affliction today one must be confident in God’s mercy and grace to bring forward such a plea before God. The good news I believe is that God is always ready and waiting to receive such a prayer and looks favorably on the one who takes concern for reconciliation of the soul within. Somehow the body always seems to want what it wants; today one pair of shoes, tomorrow 200 pairs of shoes and so forth. Yet, like David, even in his imperfectness, the heart for God always longs for God. Lent is our opportunity to work at bringing our desire for God into the forefront of our life so that we may be able to meet every weakness face to face and refuse to be tempted by it. However, in those times when we fail, we always have Psalm 31 because through Christ we can be confident in God’s mercy and grace.