Archive for June, 2019
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
I imagine a protective hand in front of me and a strong, admonishing word, “Wait!” Wait is a powerful word, abounding with vivid imagery and the promise of “more to come.” While you may be tempted today to run ahead of your circumstances and to act in a reactionary way; driven by the emotions of the moment, perhaps the greater path of wisdom is to wait.
“The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:25-27).
From the time they were able to start praying as children, and continuing through their high school years, Aaron’s blessing was one of two blessings I would interchangeably pronounce over my children every evening before they went to sleep. I desired for them the awareness of God’s presence and working in their lives. Nearly 10 years ago, when my son moved fifteen hours away to attend college, I wanted to continue a daily offering to his life and spiritual development; just something short and sweet—a sound-bite of God’s Word to start the day, if you will. Thus, the creation of this daily devotional. What started as a daily verse and thought from a father to a son has evolved into a daily offering to anyone desiring to receive, read, and share an encouraging and challenging devotional thought. It’s a great way to start the day. God bless you!!
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Verses of promise display God’s sovereign power and providential timeliness in ways you may not have yet realized. Psalm 55:22 was a verse of promise that ministered to me greatly as a twenty-one-year-old new believer. The things I thought were so burdensome at that season in life seem laughable now in the light of what life would later have in store. Who knows, in the providential purposes of God, what was once the favorite verse of your naive adolescence may be the very promise that sustains you in the brokenness and frailty of your later years. The Lord truly goes ahead of you.
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
We have all imagined what it would be like to run away from our problems. When examined under the scope of objectivity, it becomes obvious that the things most troubling in life, whether difficult people, challenging circumstances, or negative emotions, are concerns over which we have no control. Such things are neutral when they cross our path. Our response, however, can be proactive. The language of casting is an expression of trust; a trust that accomplishes a sustaining Divine reinforcement.
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself” (2 Corinthians 12:7)!
Having been given a glimpse of eternity’s heavenly paradise (v.2), Paul now views his suffering in a different light. He has come to understand that both his life and suffering is but an infinitesimal moment in the unfolding purposes of God. This isn’t to diminish the significance of our lives nor our pain but, rather, to reframe both with the reassurance that God is working through our present circumstances in ways far exceeding anything our finite minds could ever imagine or comprehend.
“He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who strive with me” (Psalms 55:18).
It’s as the psalmist commits to pray continually (v.16-17) that he will come to be sustained by an inward peace that only the fellowship of God’s presence offers. Those who turn to prayer only when the circumstances of life turn against them will never know such peace and will be destined, instead, only for frustration and disillusionment that their quid pro quo transactions with God continually go unfulfilled. Peace comes to those who pray because of who God is, but never for those having reduced him down to a divine “Jack-in-the-box,” who performs on demand.
“As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice” (Psalms 55:16-17).
While everything in him screams, “Run away” (v.6-8), the troubled Psalmist decides, instead, to pray unceasingly. Prayer is the decision to stay and not run away. Prayer may not change your circumstances, but it will transform your heart and perspective. Prayer is my conviction that God is doing something now, and that the “now” of eternity, having no beginning and no end, is vastly different from the “now” of my calendar. Only by continuing in prayer will you know God’s sustaining mercies.
“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and will not leave them undone” (Isaiah 42:16).
By its very definition, the life of faith is a forward journey into not knowing. The path we pursue is followed by faith and not by sight. It is a pilgrimage away from the man-made structures that frame one’s life with a sense of manageability and predictability. Faith is an exchange of our systems for a Savior.
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12).
In A Farewell To Arms, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” Out of great loss and abject failure emerges the redemptive possibilities of renewal and restoration. Grace is the means by which God makes strong our broken places.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Success in the things of this world breeds an arrogance that blinds one to the realities of accountability before God and the Judgment that will inevitably come. Loss enables one to see things from a perspective long lost by those that have known only victory. David’s failures and subsequent brokenness opened his eyes to the effects of sin and the consequence of thinking oneself the exception to the rules.