Thursday, April 29, 2010


“The revelation of Your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced.” (Psalm 119:130)

“Revelation” means to uncover, to reveal, to explain, to make known.

Someone who is “inexperienced” is someone who lacks the knowledge that comes from personal experience. We say that “experience is the best teacher” because in many respects we learn best from experience. We gain knowledge we are not likely to ever forget. But essentially, someone who is inexperienced lacks understanding. They are “in the dark” so to speak.

Thus, says the psalmist, the uncovering of the meaning of what God has said brings light into someone’s darkness. For those who do not know how to handle certain situations (and are, thus, inexperienced), the enlightenment that comes when the meaning of God’s word is made known to them brings the understanding of what needs to be done.

When Moses and the Israelites were surrounded by Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea, they felt trapped. That’s because they were trapped. Moses had no idea what to do, and neither did anybody else, but they clearly made their displeasure known to Moses. Moses did all he knew to do. He turned to God. Then, God spoke: “Get moving.” God revealed His word to Moses and told him to stretch out his hand over the sea, and it would part so the Israelites could go through. So, revealing His word to Moses brought light and understanding for Moses’ inexperience.

We often find ourselves in situations we don’t know how to handle. We could give up, but that accomplishes nothing. We simply need to turn to the Lord, and turn to His word, so that He may speak to us, enlighten us, and show us the way through to the victory.

Lord, May Your light shine on us through Your word this day, so that we may learn and follow You. Amen.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joyous Discipline

“There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous… The Lord disciplined me severely but did not give me over to death.” (Psalm 118: 15, 18)

Joyous discipline – sounds oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Those two would seem to be as compatible as oil and water. Yet, just three verses apart, we find those two thoughts expressed by the same man in the same context. So, what’s up with this?

Psalm 118 is a victory song. It expresses exuberant thanksgiving to God for a military victory. Israel defeated their enemies, and the faithfulness and power of God was extolled in this psalm. After the battle, back in their tents, Israel erupted with shouts of joy and victory, maybe much the way those attending a sports event erupt with shouts of victory when their team wins the game.

So, where does discipline fit into this?

The word translated as “discipline” can also be translated as “chastised” or “punished.” We normally associate discipline with painful correction. Correction isn’t very much fun, but we know it’s important. Pain is no fun either, but we know it is sometimes necessary. It can help to reinforce the correction. Those who have received discipline understand that they ultimately benefitted from it because they learned something important that strengthens them and improves their life.

If we look at Psalm 118 as an expression of what David learned through discipline, it clears up a bit for us. In the first four verses he called for Israel to give thanks to God for God’s faithful love, because God is good and His love endures forever. Maybe before or during the battle David lost sight of that. He went on to say that he called on this Lord in his distress, and the Lord answered and led to victory. Maybe earlier David should have sought the Lord’s favor before the battle, but it was only when he was in distress that he then turned to the Lord.

In verse 8 and following he notes that it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man or nobles. Maybe he had been putting his trust in the strength of his army rather than in the Lord, and then here he expresses what he learned – through discipline.

We do not know just what the chastisement or discipline was – maybe a severe wound, or the loss of trusted colleagues, or the loss of lives in general? – but we do know that whatever it was, God used it to teach and reinforce that He alone is the only real Source we have for joy and victory on any level or arena of life.

Lord, We recognize that You alone have the strength to lead us to the life victories we need. May we trust always in You first for our strength. Amen.

Monday, April 26, 2010


“The death of His faithful ones is valuable in the Lord’s sight.” (Psalm 116:15)

Death is a subject most of us avoid. We avoid it probably because we’d just as soon avoid death itself. We associate death with fear, hurt, sorrow, and pain. This may be why we feel a sense of “disconnect” when we read, “The death of His faithful ones is valuable in the Lord’s sight.” Some versions say “precious in the Lord’s sight.” How could that be? Why would the death of someone be precious in God’s sight, when we associate death with so many negative things? There are several reasons.

When someone has lived a faithful life dies, the Lord’s intent in that person’s death is to honor him or her before all the hosts of heaven. The Lord loves faithfulness, commitment, and integrity, and He honors that before the Father, the Spirit, the angels, and all others who have gone before us. Before everyone the Lord says to this person, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It is a homecoming of honor.

Second, death is a sobering reminder to all of us that everyone eventually experiences the death of the body. Those faithful to God then enter into heaven, while those who do not know the Lord face an eternal judgment. It is valuable to the Lord for those who remain in the body to be reminded of that which we all in turn will experience.

Third, the death of the Lord’s faithful ones actually provides him or her an opportunity to share the truth and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ through what we call a funeral service. A review of the person’s life and faith and commitments provides a venue for presenting the gospel.

So, while we tend to have some negative associations about death, the Lord sees it from a different perspective. That’s because He is on the other side of that “veil of invisibility” and knows what joy our loved one is going to know.

Lord, You know our hearts and minds, and You know that the idea of death is unsettling to us. But we recognize that You see the great reality we do not. Help us to see the death of Your faithful ones as You do. Amen.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


“In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groaning.” (Romans 8:26)

One of the great encouragements in the Bible is this statement the Lord gave us through Paul, as he sought to encourage the Romans in their walk with the Lord. The Holy Spirit within us, Who knows everything there is to know about us, including that which we ourselves do not consciously know, intercedes on our behalf before the Father and the Son with deep groanings that express an unspoken reality.

Is there a “groaning” in your heart today? Is there some matter going on either within you or somehow in relation to your life and relationships that you can’t quite identify? Is there something you want to say to God but do not know how to say it or express it? If so, then keep listening. You may hear a spiritual groaning in your mind and heart. That is the Holy Spirit who is expressing this for you.

Whatever you face today, know that the Spirit of God is right there with you, and He will be interceding for you in ways you cannot.

Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


“All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.” (Romans 8:14)

Women, too? Interesting that Paul would say something like this. Women might read that statement and think that Paul was biased. That’s the kind of thing that happens when we take Scripture out of context, though. So, let’s look at the larger context.

Paul says that we have been adopted. We received the Holy Spirit when we were adopted by God. He goes on to say that the Spirit Himself “testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (verse 16) That doesn’t say “sons” but “children.” What all of this means is that as God’s sons, looking at the teachings of the Old Testament, we are therefore “heirs” because inheritance was normally passed on to sons. Then, when Paul says “children,” the idea is that all of us – both men and women – are counted as God’s sons in terms of inheritance. We are all heirs.

Being an heir also means we have a responsibility to live as a child of God. In part, this means that if suffering is involved, we endure it faithfully. It also means that we will inherit the glory of Christ as well. And in that regard, Paul went on to say, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed.” (verse 18) Then he says that we know that God works all things together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes, and that nothing has the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All this is true because God “counts” us as His sons through adoption. All believers are now co-heirs with Christ.

Lord, Your children thank You. Amen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Return

“For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Life in the Spirit is relational, built on a personal relationship with the Lord that began with our faith commitment, which itself was established with our repentance from sin. So, what is repentance?

A young girl had much hurt in her life, mainly because of hurtful relationships in her older childhood years. Her life sometimes felt like an open, festering wound. Deep inside she felt alone in the world. Some days the hurt was overpowering. Sometimes she behaved in ways that were self-destructive.

This young lady had a dog she loved dearly. There was no hurt from him, and he became her “confidant.” When she didn’t feel anyone could understand, she would often just talk to him. She knew he was just a dog and could not understand, but still, she felt no judgment from him. He was more like a friend, and being around him made her feel better.

One cold winter day the dog needed to go out for a walk. She was very sick that day, and even though she didn’t feel up to it, she put his leash on and took him outside. Everything was fine, but somehow the leash came unhooked, and the dog took off. She chased him to try to catch him. He seemed to think it was a game, so he just ran off. She ran until she couldn’t run any further. One of her greatest fears was losing this dog. Exhausted and nauseated, she finally just sat down and began crying. But the dog was not as far away as she thought, and he heard her. So, he walked quietly to where she was and sat down beside her. She was able then to re-attach the leash and return home.

A thought came to mind after this. She realized how angry and sad she was when her dog ran away from her, and then how relieved and glad she was when he returned. That is when a truth came: that must be a little of how God feels when people run away from Him but then return to Him. That’s when she decided that, like her dog, she had run away from the Lord, and that she needed then to return to Him. For the first time, she understood that God is glad when His children return to Him.

Repentance is returning to the Lord.

Lord, Make us aware every day of our need to keep returning to You. Amen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wounded Heart

“My heart is wounded within me.” (Psalm 109:22b)

Someone whose “heart is wounded within” is suffering at the very core of his or her being. The specific reasons always vary from person to person, but some hurtful event has happened or is about to happen, an event that always involves some sort of loss. The person feels weak and helpless to do anything about it. When it happens to us, all we can do is turn to the Lord and pray, “Help me, Lord my God. Rescue me according to Your faithful love.” (verse 26)

The Lord responds in one of two ways. Either He will come and change the situation and rescue us, thus bringing healing to our heart, or, if His will is otherwise for reasons we cannot understand, He will come alongside us and wrap us in His strength to sustain us through the event, thus bringing healing to our heart over a longer period of time.

The point is that we need to trust the Lord through all of the hurtful events we face, understanding that He will, in fact, rescue us in one way or another.

Lord, Help us to trust You today the rescue us in ways that most glorify You. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


“As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth.” (John 9:1)

We can only imagine what it would be like to be born blind. The man Jesus encountered had never seen even a glimmer of light. He had never see the faces of his Mom and Dad, or brothers and sisters if he had them. He had never seen the Temple though he sat there daily begging. He had never seen animals, trees, buildings, road, rivers – nothing.

Then, Jesus healed him.

Suddenly, all those unreal imaginations became real. He saw the aged faces of his Father and Mother, and the Temple in its sparkling grandeur, and trees, fountains, buildings, animals – and all of it in color! Sight changed his entire life.

Not to allegorize this story, but there is a symbolic and spiritual application. What happened to this man is what happens to us when we decide to believe in Jesus, when we come to the faith that brings us into relationship with God (we call this “salvation”). It’s like we had always been blind, and then suddenly we could see the truth. In coming to faith, we became spiritually sighted, and that changed everything in our lives.

Our world is filled with those who are spiritually blind. We, therefore, need to pray for the spiritual sight of our world, and we need to continually speak the truth of the gospel of God’s love, because truth is the key that opens eyes and sets people free.

Lord, We ask that You will open the eyes of those who are spiritually blind, that they may see the truth of the spiritual reality that is all around them. Use us to help open their eyes. Amen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Than Dust

“He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses.” (Psalm 103:10)

God could have dealt with us according to our sins and repaid us according to our offenses, but He did not. Instead, here is what He did: “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8)

The psalmist expands on this: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us… for He know what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.” (Verses 11-14)

What a glorious, encouraging, healing, and liberating thought! By the blood of Christ, in our response of faith, the verdict is in: “Not guilty! Forgiven!” Remember what Jesus said? “If the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (John 9:36)

Now, we are free to live, to walk with God in a life that is more than dust. Now, our lives have substance and purpose.

Father, You created us, and now You have re-created us by Your grace through our faith response to You and Your truth. Help us to live lives of purpose and substance. Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Victory

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith…” (Romans 5:1a)

There are at least 13 concept words in Romans 5:1-5 that are worthy of note, and among them at least 4 concepts stand out: peace, grace, joy, and hope. Faith is the key that unlocks all 4 of these doors. Faith is the victory; not some nebulous, generalized kind of faith that has no grit, but faith in Jesus Christ, based on what He did for us on the cross. Faith is a commitment, a “believing commitment.”

Because of our “believing commitment” to Christ, we have been declared to be in a fully right relationship with God, such that there are now no relational barriers, and that now peace with Him reigns over our lives.

Our “believing commitment” to Christ has now ushered us into a great arena, into a state of existence called “grace.” This is where we live now. Grace is our new residence.

Our “believing commitment” to Christ has released a relentless joy in us, authored by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to rejoice regardless of the obstacles or afflictions we may have to endure.

Our “believing commitment” to Christ has produced a rock-solid hope in us, the certainty of God-honoring outcomes in all of our life events. God uses this hope to sustain and energize us, to keep us moving forward.

Lord, Let us walk by faith and experience its victory today, and not be quite so concerned about what we see.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deadly Combination

“But Pharaoh responded, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey Him by letting Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and what’s more, I will not let Israel go.’” (Exodus 5:2)

“I do not know the Lord” – that’s a sadness. “I will not let Israel go” – that’s a mistake.

Not knowing the Lord leads to decisions that are regrettable and consequential.

There are no sadder words than “I do not know the Lord.” That saddens the Lord’s heart, and it saddens ours as well because we do know the Lord. Knowing Him makes us complete and releases joy in us. It’s like joy was in a frozen state until we came to know Him, and when He entered our hearts joy thawed out and was released. So it saddens when someone does not know the Lord.

Consequentially, there is no greater mistake than saying “I will not…” before the Lord when there is something He wants to happen. To do so is to invite the judgment of God. And, this has general application as well in that not knowing the Lord always leads to decisions of dire consequences, sooner or later. If he could, Pharaoh would be glad to testify to that. In reality, his story testifies to this truth.

Thus part of our task as believers is to help people know the Lord and find the release of joy in their lives, and to help believers come to understand and follow the will of the Lord for their lives. Our task is to lead people to completeness.

Lord, Help us to lead others to know You and to follow You. Amen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow deep within him.” (John 7:38)

Looking at a landscape you might not know that there is an underground river running silently below, providing a source of life-giving water. On occasion we might see an artesian well bubbling up from below, indicating a water source to refresh life on the surface. Such sources of water below provide resilience for the life expressions above.

Jesus spoke of how those who believe in Him will have streams of living water flowing deep within. John commented that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who was given later.

Faith in Jesus brings the Holy Spirit. He comes and resides within the heart, mind, and soul of the one who believes. We could never describe all that the Spirit does within us, but we do know that He becomes an unending Source of life, power, and refreshing. He provides the water of life that gives us resilience that sustains life. As flowing water is a source for electricity, the Spirit’s movement within us provides us with spiritual energy, spiritual power for God-sized tasks. The presence of the Spirit provides us with a spiritual refreshment that brings us renewal like an oasis in life’s journey.

Lord, Whether or not we perceive it, may Your Spirit within us flow and produce the life, energy, and refreshment we need for this day. Amen.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


“But Moses asked God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11)

The question Moses asked God is one that many who are called into full-time ministry ask. Who am I, that God could use me in this way? We know from the results in Moses’ life that it has less to do with us and far more to do with God, that is, with who He is and what He can do with these “clay vessels.” An old axiom says it this way: “God doesn’t need our ability; He just needs our availability.” He enables us and empowers us for whatever task He gives us.

Let’s take this a step further. The New Testament reality is that God gives spiritual gifts to each believer. Every Christian has at least one ability that is given by the Holy Spirit for ministry. Some Christians have more than one. That means every one of us are called to minister in some fashion. We each have a commission from God to work for the advance of His kingdom.

What sometimes happens is that folks will take that early Moses stance: “Who am I, that God could use me?” Believers will sometimes hesitate because of some uncertainty about whether they can do this or not. But what we need to understand is that this is a spiritual calling from God, and God is looking for a simple faith response: “Lord, Your will be done.”

So, what has God commissioned you to do in His kingdom? And how is that going?

Lord, Help us to be spiritually perceptive to understand Your leading, and help us to serve in the work of Your kingdom based on Your calling, laying aside our hesitations. Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Experiential Worship

“Come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.” (Psalm 95:6-7)

“John” comes to church every Sunday for the worship service. He sings the hymns along with everyone else. He listens as leaders pray. He enjoys the choir’s music. He listens carefully to the pastor’s message, and tries to implement it throughout the week. He leaves the sanctuary glad he came, but some days when he leaves he feels something he can’t quite put his finger on. It’s like there is some place in his life that feels kind of empty. As he thinks about it, he realizes that on those days he more or less went through the worship motions, while his mind was on work, or family, or the lake. He is still glad he was in the worship service those days, but he wishes he didn’t feel like something was still missing.

John’s experience is all too common. More people have that feeling than are willing to admit it. So, what is the problem? Why does this happen to people when they come to church hoping it won’t?

Part of the reason is that sometimes too much emphasis is placed on form rather than content, on the mechanics rather than the experience. Whether or not someone likes or approves of contemporary worship, what we see in that style of worship is mainly younger people, dissatisfied with the mechanics of worship and wanting to focus more on the experiential side of worship. They seem to be needing and even crying out to experience the presence of the Almighty God. Does that mean that a traditional form of worship does not focus on the experience? Not at all. The style of worship is not determinative. The quality and substance of a worship experience is dependent partly on those who lead it and whether they are focused on the mechanics over substance, but mainly on the worshiper. Those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth. That is what Jesus taught the woman at the well.

The psalmist show us two principles that can help our worship be more experiential than mechanical. The first principle is humility. Genuine worship always begins with humility, where we bow before God. The second principle is recognition, and there are two aspects to this principle. We recognize first that He is our Maker, our Creator, and our Shepherd, and we recognize second that we are His people, loved by Him. When we focus on humility and recognition, that then causes the mechanics of worship, regardless of style, to become more experiential and produce worship substance.

Lord, May our worship today be truly experiential and substantive. Amen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Remarkable Life

“When Jacob had finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and died. He was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 49:33)

What a remarkable life! Who among us has ever – literally – wrestled with God? No one could ever say that Jacob failed to live his life: contending with Esau, running for his life, visions of heaven, a trick marriage and suddenly two wives, eleven sons and a daughter, vast wealth, tragic loss, providential and miraculous restoration, experiencing the very presence of Almighty God, and grandchildren (and beyond). Jacob lived this life for 147 years.

Maybe what is most remarkable about Jacob’s life is that all of this came by the blessing of God. Credit where it is due: this was the grace of God at work in a human life. If not for that, we would never have even heard the name Jacob. Apart from God he would have been more or less a “John Doe.” But it was his walk with God that made the difference in a non-life and a truly remarkable life.

It’s no different for us. Walking with God, experiencing His grace and blessings, turns our life from little more than dust to a life of significance, a remarkable life.

To God be the glory.

Lord, We thank You for Your grace and mercy, which are new every day. Amen.