Monthly Archives: May 2014

If only

A thought kept going through my mind this morning as I read the first four chapters of Proverbs. “If only I had…”

Solomon talks about paying attention to discipline. Trusting God. Not giving sin a foothold. Guarding my heart. 

If only.

I look back on my life and see the choices I made that led to sin. Had I listened to my parents, trusted God, if I had not ignored the warning signs I wouldn’t be wearing the scars from sins I have committed.

If only.

Now here is wisdom: I can’t repeat the past. There are no do-overs. But I have today. I have forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. And because I have asked for that forgiveness, my sins are washed away and God promises never to remember them ever again. When I confess my sin he is faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from all of it. I’d be foolish to reject this precious gift.

So what will I do with today? Am I going to guard my heart today? Am I going to shut the door on temptation? Am I going to trust God and obey his Word? If I do he promises to show me which paths to take, paths that will bring joy and contentment. If I choose God he promises to walk with me!

I don’t know about you, but I have committed enough sin for one life time. And believe me when I say the momentary pleasure of any sin I’ve committed is not worth the years of regret that follow.

Lord, make me sensitive to your voice. Help me to resist temptation. Defeat Satan in my life today. Grant wisdom and may I choose you.

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A Lesson From Solomon: Pray!

Solomon does some things in his prayer that convicted me this morning when I read it. (I Kings 8, 2 Chronicles ) His prayer began with telling God what he meant to him. God, there is no one like you. You keep your promises. Your love is unfailing.

Then Solomon lays down his specific requests. And while Solomon is asking, he’s still praising God. Solomon’s prayer ends in praise, too.

I have to confess I don’t have a good prayer life. Oh, I whisper short prayers throughout the day, thanking God for this, asking him for that. But I don’t often sit still and talk to my Heavenly Father. 

I want to pray like Solomon did. I want to remember to praise God every day for WHO he is and not just a quick, “thank you for today”. I want to lay my requests down at his feet with more than, “God bless so and so”. I want to learn to tell him how much he means to me with something other than a two word, “thank” and “you”.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to enter the throne room and have a private conversation with my King. I hope you’ll do the same.

Battles and Victories and Battles

Adonijah didn’t get what he wanted. He did everything he could to be king after his father David but we know God and David had other plans. Solomon was to be king. But Adonijah couldn’t let it go.

With Solomon on the throne and their father dead, Adonijah goes to Solomon’s mom. (I Kings 2) You know the people wanted me to be king, he tells her. So do this one thing. Go to Solomon and ask him if I can marry Abishag.

Sounded harmless enough. But when Bathsheba asked her son he was mad. Adonijah’s request wasn’t as innocent as it sounded. Abishag had connections and Solomon said it would be like handing the kingdom over to Adonijah. Solomon not only refused the marriage, he ordered Adonijah’s execution.

Satan wants your soul. And just because you may have had a victory over sin yesterday, don’t think for a minute he’s given up. He’ll try another route, another temptation. He’ll even make it appear innocent, try and trick you into turning yourself over to him.

Ours is a daily battle, a moment by moment battle. Sometimes we will defeat the enemy in our lives. But the war continues. We who know Jesus as our Savior know that he has won the war for our souls, that heaven awaits those who have repented of sin and accepted his grace.

But we need to put on the whole armor of God and prepare for battle today, this afternoon, tomorrow, right now. Satan is just as determined as Adonijah to be king. Satan wants to be king of your life. Beware. Be ready. Victory can be yours.

Father, I thank you that Jesus defeated Satan when he died on the cross and was raised to life again. I know that one day this life on this earth will be over and I’ll be in your Presence forever. Oh glorious day! But until then, may I never turn my back on my enemy Satan. May I never fall for his clever tricks, his innocent sounding temptations to sin. As I put on your armor today I ask that you go with me into battle. Grant victory today in Jesus’ name.

 

Change Me

I was reading what David said his enemies were saying about him and wondered if he wasn’t exaggerating just a little. (Psalm 109) I know he had enemies but were they really saying things like: I hope his creditors siege his entire estate, I hope no one will be kind to him, I hope all his kids die, I hope his mother’s sins are never erased from the record.

Maybe.  Or are we witnessing a self-absorbed pity party? I know I’ve said things, stretched the truth to make it appear my troubles are a bit worse than they really are in order to gain support from someone. Is that what David’s doing? I don’t know. But I like what he says in verse 21:

Deal with me, Lord, for the sake of your reputation.

When I am telling my woes to someone, even God, I often do so hoping to get them on my side, to avenge the wrong done to me. I want them to be as mad at my enemy as I am. But David says, what is it about ME that needs changed? Because, God, I represent you and if people are saying these awful things about me I don’t want it to reflect on you. I don’t want to be a snare that stops someone from finding you.

So deal with me, Lord. Change me. Show me how to love my enemies so they’ll learn to love you.

Don’t Mistake Kindness

Psalm 86 may have been David’s prayer, but in many ways it’s mine, too. It’s a plea for God’s protection and forgiveness, for his help in times of trouble and for happiness. Who doesn’t want those things, right?

David speaks of God’s greatness, his love, compassion, and mercy. It’s a psalm that spoke to my heart today. And it reminded me of something my nephew said to me this week.

Ryan is a nice guy. He has a gentle spirit, he’s compassionate and kind. He loves the Lord and is burdened for anyone who needs the Savior. I’ve known him to befriend a homeless man in Jesus’ name. He’s encouraging, patient and tender. When I tell you his career choice it might surprise you.

He’s a sergeant in the US Army Reserves, did a tour in Iraq, and is a full time policeman in a tough inner-city. Recently he realized one of his long time dreams by becoming part of that city’s SWAT team.

Ryan was sharing about a problem he was having with a fellow officer in the police force. This younger, less experienced man was disrespectful and argumentative toward Ryan, making it very difficult to work with him. Ryan was patient. He made it a practice to compliment the young man when he did something well. But that didn’t seem to be making a difference in his attitude or behavior toward my nephew. 

One day, when this officer refused to cooperate, Ryan lost it. The two ended up in a loud argument in the parking lot of the police station. Needless to say, they ended up in their sergeant’s office and were told they had to work it out. Each of the men aired their differences in front of their boss.

Ryan said his co-worker has the makings of being a good cop. In fact, Ryan said he has strengths Ryan wishes he had himself. But he is inexperienced and has a lot to learn. He told the officer his tone of voice was condescending and disrespectful and that he didn’t want to continue to argue every time an order came through. Ryan said he was done accepting this behavior. Then he said, “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.”

I thought of those words when I read Psalm 86 this morning. Verse 15 says:

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

 

I praise God for the truth of those words. I’m so thankful for his compassion and mercy toward me. I depend on his unfailing love. But may I never mistake any of that for weakness.

This loving God is a fierce warrior. He hates – HATES – sin with a burning passion. And he will punish every sin ever committed. Not overlook it. Punish it.

His compassion doesn’t allow him to turn a blind eye to sin but it did send him to the cross to die for that sin. Once again, I am reminded God is first of all holy, holy, holy and he demands holiness of us. But because as sinners we can never be holy in and of ourselves, his compassion and mercy clothes us with his own. I am holy before him only because I accepted his holiness when I asked him to forgive me.

Yes God is love. Yes he is merciful and kind. But don’t ever mistake that for weakness.

God, I pray that your people will recognize you for who you are: holy, holy, holy. Forgive us if we would rather talk about your love for mankind and overlook that important fact. Your holiness cannot tolerate sin. Period. May we realize the significance of that fact and fall to our knees, repent of sin, and accept your forgiveness. You are kind and compassionate, slow to anger toward those of us who know you as our Savior. 

Joy

I am a sinner. And if I read Scripture correctly, so are you. Romans 8:28 says ALL have sinned so I’m pretty sure that includes us both.

Sometimes the guilt that comes from sinning is overwhelming. David, in Psalm 32:3 says: When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away and I groaned all day long.

Have you experienced that intense grief over what you’ve done? The sad thing is that some people get used to living in that state. Conviction turns to grief which leads to depression which convinces that person they deserve to be miserable. And they get so used to feeling miserable they are a bit afraid to try joy.

Someone once said, I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.

What a tragic place to live.

Here’s what David says in verse 5 of Psalm 32:

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord”.  And you forgave me!  ALL MY GUILT IS GONE!!!

David goes on to say that God is his hiding place, his protection from trouble, his song of victory. David reminds us God promises to guide us and watch over us. Unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord! Then David tells us to rejoice! Be glad, all who obey God.

We have reason to live in joy. My heart breaks for those who choose to live in great sadness because of a sin they refuse to confess, to let go. Understand that Jesus is waiting with open arms to take you in. He’s already died for that sin. He is just asking you to accept his forgiveness.

I pray that today will be the last day you live with the guilt of unconfessed sin. Let God wash you clean of whatever it is. Repent. Then you can say with David, All my guilt is gone! 

Father, I pray for people who are overwhelmed with guilt. I pray that guilt will drive them right into your waiting arms. I pray that they will confess, repent, turn from that sin and know the release that comes from being washed in your blood, wearing your righteousness, forgiven. I pray for those who have lived with that guilt for years, maybe decades. I pray that today they will come to you and know the joy that comes from giving it all to you. Thank you for what you are going to do in hearts and lives today.

 

Psalm 22

God revealed to David what Jesus would experience hundreds of years later. There is such detail in Psalm 22 that I am amazed anyone would think the disciples could orchestrate Jesus’ death as a hoax. 

David tells us Jesus’ enemies would lie about him. Beat him. Pierce his hands and feet (and that was written before crucifixion was an accepted form of capital punishment). David saw Jesus thirst. His strength gone. His life poured out like water as Jesus’ side was pierced. God showed David the guardsmen casting lots for Jesus’ clothing. And David heard Jesus cry out to God – why have you forsaken me?

Coincidence? I think not.

Only God could have whispered those details in David’s ear. Is this book I am reading alive, active, powerful, true? Absolutely! Does it reveal a God who loves me and gave himself for me? On every page!

Dear God, may your Holy Spirit find fertile ground as people read your Word today. Touch hearts. Break wills. Hear our prayers as we cry out to you. Forgive us in Jesus’ name. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for your Word.