Monday, February 28, 2022

Ready for a "pop" quiz?


Oh, those are words that struck fear into our hearts in high school. And in college, too. A pop quiz? A test without any warning? What was that teacher thinking? (Grin)

We are beginning a new psalm this week. Psalm 66. Here are the first four verses:

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”


It reads like a really great praise service, right?

Now, here is the question - just one question on this quiz. . . . 

Did those four verses sound like our lives last week? On a scale of one to ten, how closely did we match up?

Oh, dear.

Three? Seven? Nine? Zero?

I must admit that I have a lot of room for improvement on obeying the command in verse two, "Make His praise glorious."

We don't know for sure and for certain who wrote this psalm, or why. Was it written for an historical situation? Some scholars think it was written by King Hezekiah after God delivered Israel from Sennacherib. Remember when he invaded? He was conquering town after town with his huge army of Assyrians, and he was coming for Jerusalem next. The book of Isaiah contains the account of what happened next: the angel of the Lord struck down almost two hundred thousand of the soldiers overnight, and people awakened the next morning to see all those bodies. King Sennacherib fled, but two of his sons caught him and killed him. Kind of reads like a soap opera, but we see this and also God's deliverance of Hezekiah from death, reflected in the psalm.

The reason that the scholars say it may be written about these two events is that the first half seems to speak about many people praising God for deliverance in a severe trial. The second half seems to speak more individually, and the psalmist seems to praise God for a more personal answer to his prayers. 

But we don't know for sure.

What we DO know is that Psalm 66 is the second song that says the whole earth should praise God. He is the Lord and Creator of all the earth, and so we have the privilege and responsibility of spreading His praise.

Let's determine to read this psalm in our quiet times this week, so we are ready to study! And let's think about how we answered that pop quiz . . . are there any changes we need to make?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday slowdown

Seeking God.

Priority One.

He is our all in all. The center of our lives.


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Seeking God - the center of it all


The last thing David tells us in Psalm 63 is that when we sincerely seek God, we make Him the center of every area of our lives.

You see, we humans have lots of things that claim our attention. Spouses, children, church, witnessing, work, health, taxes, you know the drill. 

All of these are the spokes of a wheel. Twirling at a dizzying rate, sometimes. 

But God is not a spoke in the wheel.

He is the hub. The center.

The wheel doesn't stay together if the hub is missing. Our Father is not a "sometimes" or a "when we can." He is not optional in the life of a believer. 

He permeates every part of our lives. He should be at the center of every decision we make. He should be the center of every relationship we have. He should be the Lord of every money-management decision that we make. 

There should be no area of our lives, whether it's business, family, education, or anything else, where He is not an integral part. There's no separation of parts of our lives. Sacred or secular, He is at the center of it all.

So, here is David, the king, running for his life with his kingdom in disarray. It would be completely understandable if God were temporarily squeezed out of the picture. The NIV mentions clinging to God.

But the King James puts it this way in verse eight:

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. (v 8, KJV)

I don't know about you, but that image in my mind impresses me. David is not only seeking God, but he is running after Him. He's "following hard" after Him.  God was at the center of His life, and no part of David's life was off limits.

How is it with us? Maybe we casually say, "I'm serving Him!" That's great, but that's not what we are studying here. We can even be in full-time ministry and lose sight of seeking God Himself! We can put the work of whatever ministry He has given us, ahead of seeking God. We can neglect making Him the priority of our lives.

Let's pause for a moment and think. Ask yourself if your schedule reflected that seeking God was your number one priority? Sure, I get it. You've been under a lot of pressure. Stress has been crazy. 

Yep. I've been there, too. But pressure is what reveals our true priorities. And when we are under pressure, everything but the essentials gets shoved aside.

David is telling us, "Seeking God is essential!" And if it's not been a priority for us, then we need to join David, on our knees. We need to make God the center of it all.

We'll rise from our time with Him with a new joy in our hearts -- and unexplainable peace in the midst of our stresses. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Seeking God -- alone time

One of the most important parts of making God the highest priority in our lives is to spend time alone with Him -- on a consistent basis.

We can see David reminding himself (and us) of this in Psalm 63:

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water. v. 1

   my lips will glorify you. v. 3

I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands. v.4

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night. v.6

I cling to you; v.8a

He's determined! 

Even under the intense pressure of fleeing from his son, Absalom. Even while he was thinking about the needs of his loyal followers (they'd left the city and the palace with him, and now needed food and water in the middle of the wilderness). Even while thinking about his safety and the safety of his followers, he didn't neglect seeking God.

David is making it a priority to spend time alone with God.

During the daylight hours . . . . and during the night.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, right? We all make time to do what we really want to do. Consider the young man who is working a full time job to pay his way through college. He's carrying a full load of classes. It seems that every minute of his days and nights are "spoken for." 

The he meets the girl of his dreams. Suddenly, he's able to find time to spend with her! He will cut corners in other places if he has to, but he will make time to be with this young lady.

In much the same way, if we love God, and if we are passionate about seeking Him, we will make time to spend with him. It won't be a duty. It will be a delight, a pleasure.

We'll spend time in His Word, allowing Him to renew our minds.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

We'll look in His Word for ways to please Him.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day...... (Acts 17:11a)

We'll spend time in prayer, talking with Him about our own needs and the needs of others, and then listening as He tells us how to be more like Jesus.

 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

We'll also spend time in praise and worship - expressing our love for Him.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

If we are sincere about seeking Him, we'll make time for "alone time" with our Father. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Prayer requests


More and more, recently there have been words from believers and unbelievers alike -- "we are in a war." Or, "it's a cultural war." Or even, "our nation is at the brink of civil war."

I'm not going to get into politics today (maybe another day!) but have you heard the term "warfare prayer"?

Warfare prayer is a popular prayer concept today. It focuses on using prayer as a weapon against the spiritual forces of evil. It has a lot to do with our daily lives, our habits, and the things we struggle with daily. 

There is no doubt that spiritual warfare is real. Our enemy is Satan and his demons:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

And we are commanded to pray in Paul's letter discussing the armor of God:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  (Ephesians 6:18)

We do need to be careful, though, since there are a couple of things about "warfare prayer" that can be unbiblical.

First, folks who utilize warfare prayer often recommend prayers written by others, rather than just speaking to our Father from our hearts. They also stress that prayers must be said repeatedly to be effectual! Jesus told us some important instructions regarding prayer:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:6-7)

Warfare prayers often encourage the believer to have a "take control" outlook; boldness in prayer is valued. There is nothing wrong with praying boldly and faithfully -- as long as we remember Who is in charge. And it is NOT us. Statements that start with "I" like, "I decree," "I bind," and "I rebuke" make us the agent of action, instead of God. We must remember to rely upon Him and ask for His will to be done.

Some warfare prayers guide believers to speak to Satan directly. I have studied this, and I don't believe this is biblical. Our prayers are to be directed to God. Rebuking Satan is done by Him! Check out Jude 1:9 and James 4:7 for backup on this one. I believe it's best to pray for our Redeemer to rebuke Satan, and leave it in His strong hands.

The last thing I noticed about warfare prayer is that many folks who practice it focus on material and earthly things. They often zero in on the "You name it and claim it" kind of theology. They ask for wealth, for binding sickness, and sometimes even use the words "decree blessing" on someone.

The New Testament is clear that God is not obligated to shower us with material wealth; nor is He under obligation to heal our sicknesses. Don't get me wrong -- it's ok to pray for blessings (and to thank Him for them, don't forget!) but God knows what will really benefit us, and He knows the plans that He has for our lives.

Praying in the midst of our spiritual warfare is necessary. But we must remember the biblical instructions: praying harder or with more repetitions, or assuming authority we don't have, is not the recipe for the believer. Instead, we need to pray according to Scripture, trust in His strength and power, and submit our will to His.

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief. (Psalm 143:1)

If you have a prayer request that you can share, please add it in the comments below so that we may pray with you.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Back to Psalm 63

We took a short break for Valentine's Day week, and traveled to many spots in the Bible for our study. Today, we are getting back to Psalm 63.

Let's refresh our memories . . . . before we talked about "X's and O's" we studied how important it is to make God the center of our lives. Making Him the top priority and seeking Him is like having the very best paddle as we navigate the rapids of life; it is He Who fills that "hole" in our lives and makes us whole.

But like in so many situations in life, we may want to "do" something but not know "how" to do it. 

How exactly does a person seek after God?

The first step is to know God personally through Christ. We begin a relationship with God when we realize that we have sinned against Him, the holy God, and we flee for refuge to the provision He made for our sin: the cross of His Son, Jesus Christ. We know from the scripture that no one seeks God unless He first speaks to their heart:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44, NASB)

So we are all undeserving; none of us can boast about it. We have simply received a gift we do not deserve! (If anyone reading here is unsure of whether or not that relationship has begun with our Savior, please look on the right-hand sidebar of this study blog. There is a tab there called "What is Salvation?" and if you click that, a page will open and you can read about God's plan for our salvation. He is a loving, merciful God, and He has compassion on us, the creations of His hands. I hope you will read and believe on Him.)

Once we have believed on Him, we will put love for Him at the center of our relationship with Him.

Let's check out how David said it:

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.... I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. (V 3,8)

David said that he valued God's love so much, it was better than life itself. And look at the balance in verse eight --he clings to God, but God's powerful hand is always holding him.

When I consulted the scholars (nope, I don't have any long-haired, bearded translators looking over my shoulder and advising me as I type these posts, but I often do look at commentaries and cross-references to help me, since I am not fluent in Hebrew!) I found that the Hebrew word that is translated "cling" in verse eight points to both loyalty and affection. Let's look at other places where this word is used:

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, RSV)

Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)

It's also translated in other spots as "joined" or "united." There are feelings of loyalty and also feelings of affection.

Our relationship with God is comparable to a marriage relationship. Why? Well, a marriage starts off with intense joy and a lifelong commitment. The commitment carries us through the hard times, when the joy may fade a bit! Sometimes we even have to "work" at keeping the joy in a marriage; we have to nurture the relationship.

In much the same way, seeking after God means keeping our passion for God alive. It's not just a matter of our heads -- it's a matter of our hearts, too! When we think on the many blessings and things that God has done for us in Christ, are we moved emotionally? As we reflect on His faithfulness to us over the years (in spite of our many failures) we should feel love for Him.

In a marriage, each spouse may have to say no to some things. Keeping passion and joy means we may have to put some things aside or place less priority on them. Our job, our time with friends, even our church involvement -- all of these are wonderful things. But they should not come before our commitment to our marriage partner. In the same way, nothing should come before our relationship with God. 

Seeking Him must be our highest priority. We must put our love for Him at the center of our relationship with Him.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Friday slowdown

 Oh, how He loves us all . . . . 

Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens;
    your faithfulness extends to the skies. (Psalm 36:5, GNT)

Thursday, February 17, 2022

X's and O's, conclusion

This one doesn't have to be a kiss . . . (grin) There are several places in the letters from Paul where he says "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

                     Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16:16, NIV)

Here's another from Peter:

 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ. (I Peter 5:14, NASB)

Now, today's equivalent would be a warm, hearty handshake or perhaps a hug. And perhaps Peter's instructions explain the motivation for this. This was a sign of true affection and of blessing to one another. These greetings would be the result of God-inspired love for one another - and Peter says that we will be more at peace with each other. 

In the KJV, it is translated "charity," and to bring it forward to our era, it means brotherly love - loving enough to see the needs of others, and to give to take care of those needs. Whether a person just needs a look-in-the-eye-warm-handshake, or whether they may need us to help financially in their crisis, it's all the same. Even though today's norms would tell us we don't need to go around kissing others, the requirement that we love one another is never out of style!

The final two kisses in the Bible that we will study are related to each other. Let's look first in Psalm 85:

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalm 85:10, KJV)

These four concepts: mercy, truth, righteousness, and peace, are all attributes of our holy God. These are His characteristics. Just think how difficult it is for our puny human brains to get mercy and truth together? 

Truth is the opposite of error. The opposite of hypocrisy. Absolute holiness. We know that our God is holy. 

Righteousness and peace are difficult to reconcile, too -- sinful humans find it extraordinarily frustrating to achieve righteousness, but we cannot have true peace without it.

But this verse says that these apparent opposites have "met" together.

Only our Savior, Jesus Christ, can make it happen.

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (John 1:7)

Christ Jesus was able to "weld" God's holiness and righteousness together with His overwhelming love. That is how our Father is both righteous and merciful at the same time! He sees our sin, but instead of rejecting us, He is merciful.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1)

Both "sides" of God's characteristics were brought into harmony through the salvation that Christ brought to us on the cross. 
And that forgiveness is what we see in our final kiss from the Bible.

So he set out and came to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

The kiss of forgiveness. The kiss of God's compassion for us.

In Luke's gospel we have this final example: a beautiful picture of the love of God. The prodigal son expected to hear rebukes and reprisals. He thought he would hear an "I told you so," at the very least. 

Instead, he was greet with joy and welcomed with open arms.

And God stands ready to accept our repentance right now. Even though we might feel like we are very far away, when we turn away from our sins and turn toward Him, He is willing and waiting to run toward us and restore us to Himself.

Valentine's Day means many things to many people. This week we have studied kisses in the Bible, and we have seen what kisses can be. At one end of the pendulum swing, it can be an affectionate sign of love. At the other, a hypocritical sign of betrayal. But an honorable kiss to God, an attempt to bring honor and glory to Him, can bring blessings and benefits. We will receive a kiss in return, when we are blessed with His compassion, mercy, and salvation from sin. We'll have a life with Him to enjoy eternally.

Much love to all! Glory to our God and Father!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

X's and O's, continued


We began on Valentine's Day being spectators to some "bad" kisses; we have more kisses to look at, and some will be negative while others are positive.

Let's dig in again!

One of the most famous kisses in the Bible was a truly infamous one: Judas' kiss for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)

This was truly a kiss of hypocrisy . . . not only was Judas identifying Jesus as the one to be arrested, but he was pretending he had affection for Jesus. The Lord called Judas on it, and asked if he was betraying Him, which of course, he was. In Proverbs we read that the "wounds of a friend" are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. It's true: the kisses (the affection) of a false friend hurt very deeply when that false relationship is uncovered. Talk about hurting in your heart! So much pain when we find a person whom we thought was our friend and confidant is actually our enemy. Betrayal in any relationship is evil, whether in marriage, in business, or in secular friendships; Satan will use every trick he can to deceive us and bring us low, so beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing!

Remember when Jesus was having dinner at the Pharisee's house?

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke 7:37-38)

Simon the Pharisee was upset by all of this. Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach him about forgiveness. The woman had taken it upon herself to honor Jesus.

When we receive salvation from God through Jesus, His Son, there is a difference in our heart. In our soul. In our lives. We look for ways to honor Christ with our life, and each of our attempts to honor Him, to bring glory to His name, are our ways of showing our affection. Are we too "grown up" to show Him affection? Have we lost the first, glowing relationship where we wanted to badly to show Him honor? I hope we never get tired of showing our affection to the Lord.

There are sad kisses, too.

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. (Acts 20:36-38)

The Christians in Ephesus surely did love Paul! They had followed his teachings and received salvation. They had hung on his every word and learned and grown. Saying goodbye brought sorrow to them, and they hugged and kissed him goodbye. We do have to say goodbye sometimes. Our son or daughter heads off to school or to a job in another state. Maybe our child or spouse is going to serve as a soldier or sailor and is headed to a foreign land. Perhaps a friend is headed toward the mission field. And sadly, sometimes we are standing by the coffin of a loved one to say goodbye. A goodbye kiss is one we remember for a long, long time.

We'll finish our study tomorrow . . . . 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Prayer requests


Recently, I've been frustrated with my fellow man. I keep thinking that I and the other leaders of a civic group are making ourselves abundantly clear. 
We lay out the concepts and the reasons and the examples. We think we have made everything super easy to grasp......

.....Only to discover that the next time we speak to a member, we need to repeat what we thought was so easily understood!

I was thinking about this one night and I was sharing my frustrations with the Lord. And what do you think happened?

He used this to help me understand that I do the same thing, when He works to make me understand something important from His Word. 

Ummmm, yep. He has to repeat things.

I don't "get" it the first time.

Sometimes the second time. Or the third. I sometimes appear to have sawdust for brains.

Especially when I think that things should happen more quickly. Like, right now, Lord!

And then my Bible opened up to Psalm 27:

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13-14)

I read and re-read that passage; and let it sink deep into my heart. My Savior was reminding me to wait. Wait for Him. Be strong, and wait.

On my knees, I tearfully told Him that I repented of being impatient, of being a worrier, and of sometimes giving up before His answer came. I asked Him to help me rest in His many wonderful promises, and I also asked Him to show me His joy again while I wait. I thanked Him for not giving up on me! And I promised again to give Him the glory when the answers came.

Do we all need to pray a prayer like that today? Sometimes it's hard to wait on the Lord. But He promises He will never leave us, never forsake us. He promises to make all things work to our good, if we are seeking Him.

Amen! Thank you, Lord!

Monday, February 14, 2022

X's and O's

Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope that everyone who pauses here has a lovely day with those who care for them, whether it be human beings here on earth, or the One Who gave all to redeem us. Valentine's Day has evolved into a "day of love," synonymous with chocolates, roses, love letters and Hallmark cards!
We see "X's and O's" everywhere!

We also see kisses in the Bible! I have seen devotionals on this in the past, and I had some thoughts in my own rock-filled head that I would like to share. (Grin)
After all, there are many kinds of kisses. Of course, there's the romantic kiss, but there's also the kiss from aunt Mabel - we usually wriggled away from her. There's the kiss on the cheek for your sibling, the kiss goodnight for your child. I think we should look in the Bible and see if we can learn some principles that will help us in our daily lives.

Ready to dig in?
First we will be spectators for some kisses with negative results. These are the ones that we don't want to imitate.

 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, (Genesis 27:26-27a)

I may be wrong, but I think this is the first kiss in the Bible. Y'all can let me know if this is incorrect. Jacob has been coached by his mother, Rebekah, to trick his father Isaac and receive the best blessing, the firstborn's blessing. Isaac's eyes are failing, but he does say that he's wary about the voice sounding like Jacob, instead of sounding like his firstborn son, Esau. He feels something is amiss. Still, he eats the game and prepares to bless him. This kiss is a token of family affection - it's deceptive on Jacob's part, but on the part of old Isaac, it's a gesture of endearment and love.

Yes, kisses can be deceptive . . . 

Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. (II Samuel 20:9)

The lives of King David's relatives really read like a soap opera, no? Consider the two cousins, Joab and Amasa. As grown men, they each commanded an army: Joab the army of David, and Amasa the army of Absalom. As kids, they probably played in the palace of their uncle, David. 

Joab gave his cousin a diabolical kiss. A kiss with evil intentions. His lips were not far from Amasa's cheek when he slipped the knife into him. Amasa thought he was giving him a sign of trust and companionship. Joab's motives were evil, and caught Amasa by surprise.

We see kisses of idolatry in the Bible, too.

Now they sin more and more;
    they make idols for themselves from their silver,
cleverly fashioned images,
    all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of these people,
    “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!”(Hosea 13:2)

In the time of Hosea, the prophet, the people had become completely consumed with idol worship. They would even wear little idols around their necks and kiss the idols to show reverence and honor to them. How foolish! We wouldn't consider bowing our knee to kiss an idol. Would we? 

Idolatry is not dead . . . it just looks different. Today, we have our gods of sports, entertainment, wealth, and power. Believers must be on guard to avoid idolatry, like the faithful ones in Israel:

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18)

This is when Elijah sought the Lord for refuge, when Jezebel was pursuing him, eager to kill him. Despondent at first, Elijah was encouraged when God told him there were seven thousand who had not kissed the idol, Baal.

Today, let's determine to give our affection, our "kisses" of loyalty and faith, to our Redeemer. Jesus Christ is our Lord, Who redeemed us with His life given in our place. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2022


Seeking after God.

Our first, most important priority in life.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Seeking after God, continued

Psalm 63 tells us that the person seeking after God has inner satisfaction and inner joy. Let's keep going and find out more.

Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.

 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced. (Psalm 63:9-11)

The person who is seeking after God will understand how to "stay in their lane."


When we read those verses, we can see that David wasn't obsessing over getting even with his enemies. He wasn't worried about how to prove them wrong. He didn't allow his thoughts to be consumed with how to show other people that he was the victim.

As David looked at the situation he was in, he realized that God is just. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that God would judge fairly, and that the wicked would not prevail in the long term. 

So, David knew he could commit the situation to the Lord and then "stay in his lane." He would make it his business to seek God and rejoice in Him.

It would be up to the Lord to deal with David's enemies and to vindicate the king who had fled his palace. He knew in his heart that God would be certain to accomplish all that concerned him.

I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
    rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. (Psalm 57:2-3)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

If we are seeking God, we will have inner joy and peace; we will be empowered by God's strength; we will be able to "stay in our lane" and rejoice in God -- we will leave the justice and the judgments to our Lord Who is faithful to save us and rescue us. We will be prepared for the crises of life.

Now we've arrived at the most important question. How do we seek after God? We can write it on our "paddle" so that we can remember to seek Him in the rapids and torrents of life . . . . but surely there is more? Some guidance? 

You bet there is! Hang in there, and we will study that, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Placing God in the center of our lives, continued

Yep, that's an archery target.

Reminds me of junior high school physical education class. 
But I digress.

It needs to be our highest priority to place God in the center of our lives, just as an archer is going to strive to place the arrow tip right in the center of the yellow circle up there!

Psalm 63 is teaching us that seeking after God is our highest, most important priority in our lives. So far, David has told us in this psalm that a person who seeks God will have an inner satisfaction, a peace. This shepherd boy turned king puts it in very simple terms - satisfaction like after a wonderful meal. Great taste in his mouth, a full tummy, and a drowsy feeling of being totally satisfied.

Kind of an "all's right with the world" feeling!

The person who is seeking after God also has inner joy. Check this out:

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.

But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced. (vs 5,7,11)

I love the picturesque language of the stressed but serene king.

"Singing lips," singing in the "shadow of your wings," and the king who will "rejoice in God." Amen! 

David's joy wasn't based on where he was. On the run, far from his palace.

David's joy wasn't based on who he had for company. No wives or kids to chat and play with. Just army guys.

David's joy wasn't based on his creature comforts. He was in the middle of the wildest of lands, with very little to eat.

Nope, he didn't base his joy on his circumstances. His world was falling apart, but David had the Lord and His love. That meant he could sing and rejoice in God! There's no way to explain that except for the presence and comfort of God.

A person who is seeking to put God in the center of their life also has a remarkable inner strength. And it's not theirs, actually. God is their help. God is their strength.

Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me. (vs 7-8)

David could take shelter under God's "wing" just like a baby chick hides for protection under the mother hen's wing.  David had confidence in God's powerful hand holding him and sustaining him. 
David could be steady in the storm because he had a remarkable inner strength. The resource of God's strength.

Lord, help us to hold your strong hand in faith, and rely on the strength that you give us, because of your great love for us!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Verses that inspire

Favorite verses.

You have yours. I have mine. Some of them are the same!

I'm sure that we have all seen the lists of verses that people have compiled with labels . . . this one for comfort when afraid, another for when we are sad. Here's one for when we are feeling angry. Here's a favorite for when we are anxious.

You know, there's nothing wrong with that!

It's not a bad thing. It's not a crutch. Because there are times when we are so stressed, and so crushed by the pressures of life, that we can hardly tell someone our names. Much less remember the verse that would help us at that moment. 

With that in mind, please look over this short list and feel free to comment and add a verse of your own. 

Are we stressed? John 14:27

Are we happy? I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Are we sad? Psalm 147:3

Are we anxious? Philippians 4:6-7

Are we excited? Romans 15:13

Are we discouraged? Joshua 1:9

God's Word is such a blessing to our hearts!

What's a verse that has helped you lately?