“O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” Psalm 119.5
My life has been so enriched by repeated reading of the Psalms. Psalm 119 is no exception. When I read this psalm, I try to put myself in the psalmist’s place and understand his cries for help and his intense desire to keep (God’s) statutes. In this verse above, he longs to do everything God wants him to do. What would it take in my life and years for us to be able to accomplish the thing here for which the psalmist seeks? We must understand that the Holy Spirit had not yet come to earth to inhabit believers like He has in our spiritual culture today. The blessing that we enjoy that the author of psalm 119 did not know is that we have God’s Spirit not just WITH us but more directly IN us to guide us in our daily journey with God step-by-step.
So, what must change in our lives for us to be able to “keep (God’s) statues” – to have a deep longing to obey everything that God and His Word tells us? The place of beginning for us is the issue of “control” – who controls what in your life? If I control my every whim, thought, desire, decision, action, and attitude, God will allow me to do the best I can WITHOUT His help. However, when I come to realize that “my control” is blocking “God’s control” in my life, and I am willing to surrender all of me (and I mean all), the outcome is totally different and it is a God-glorifying moment. When was the last time you consciously said to God, “OK God. I give up. I surrender control of my thought life, my attitude, my desires, and my behavior to you. I want my life to GLORIFY you and MAGNIFY your Son, Jesus.” That prayer is easy enough to pray, but it takes a mountain of self-control to put God in TOTAL CONTROL. Why not give Him full access to all you are? His BEST for you is always better than your BEST for you. Just My Thoughts …
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. ” Galatians 5.13
Does anything in that verse just jump off the page and grab you? The words of the last phrase do that for me: “by love serve one another.” We know that Paul is speaking to believers here by the use of his opening words, “For brethren …” He prefaces his remarks in the last phrase by reminding us of two significant truths: (1) you have been called unto liberty (freedom). What does that mean? In Christ we have liberty or freedom. The TRUTH has made us free when we realize that our service for God and to God is not done in order to gain God’s favor, but in order to demonstrate to the world that we BELONG to God. (2) do not use your liberty or freedom for an occasion to (please) the flesh. If we are not careful, Satan will succeed in convincing us that since we have this great freedom in Christ, we can DO anything we want. After all, you DO have ETERNAL life. But Paul speaks to us about intentionally serving others BECAUSE of this liberty we have in Christ. Since Jesus came “ … not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Mark 10.45), we have the privilege of doing something just like Jesus when we CHOOSE to “serve one another.” Would it be possible, even profitable, for us to determine that TODAY we are going to “serve one another” because that is what Jesus did and that is what Paul instructed us to do? I’m in! How about you?
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4.8
It is very easy to skim through this verse and make some clever remark about maybe needing to exercise. But the meaning found in this verse goes much deeper than a casual thought about “bodily exercise.” Take a close look at this phrase: “godliness is profitable unto all things …” In 1 Timothy 6.6 Paul addresses this concept of godliness again: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Some people hear the word “godliness” and run from it because it seems far too confining for life to have any fun in it. But we CANNOT gloss over these two appearances of the word here in 1 Timothy. First, “godliness is profitable …” So, what is godliness? Is it some pious look with somber face and and serious look for others to see? Or dos it have something to do with WHO controls my life – my decisions, my desires, my thoughts, and my actions? If my life reflects “godliness,” then God must be in total control of all that I am. Paul’s second statement further embellishes the idea of godliness: “godliness with CONTENTMENT is great gain.” “How does contentment reflect godliness?” you ask. To find contentment in Who God is, How God operates in our lives, How God supplies each need, How God protects us, and How God demonstrates His unconditional love, is to find such peace and joy in just “letting God be God in our lives.” Let’s not RUN from the concept of “godliness,” but rather let’s seek God’s face and ask Him how we CAN be more like His Son each day, and thereby demonstrate to this lost world the “godliness” of which Paul speaks. Just My Thoughts …
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.39
“The love of God” – can we even wrap our heads around the concept of God loving us? Can we grasp the magnitude of God’s love? Look at the words Paul uses to describe the things that CANNOT separate us from this love that God has for us: (1) death, (2) nor life, (3)nor angels, (4) nor principalities, (5) nor powers, (6) nor things present, (7) nor things to come, (8) Nor height, (9) nor depth, (10) nor any other creature. There is NOTHING that Paul can possibly name that qualifies as a deterrent to God’s love for us. His phrase: “nor ANY OTHER CREATURE” covers all the bases.
Now, God’s love for us is NOT determined by any thing we do or do not do. His love for us is an act of His WILL – He chooses to love us JUST THE WAY WE ARE. There is NOTHING we can do to make God love us MORE. Nor is there anything we can do to make God love us LESS. So we can STOP trying to perform for God in order for Him to love us more. That allows us to SERVE Him our of a heart of love and devotion – not with any compulsion to perform to make Him happy with us.
What is YOUR motivation for serving God? Or what is your excuse for not serving God from a willing heart? Put aside the idea of service for love and in its place embrace love as your motivation for service. Watch what God does then in your spirit! Just My Thoughts …
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11.25-26
Jesus is in the home of His friends and they are mourning the death of their brother, Lazarus. His words to Mary bring the words of hope to every one of us. “I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE … ‘ WOW – their brother is dead and Jesus is talking about resurrection. Suddenly Mary is all ears. “He that believes in me, though he were dead, YET shall he live.” This promise of hope seems to sound so IMPOSSIBLE but this is Jesus talking. He has already demonstrated His power to work miracles. Would we stand in awe of such a statement? This is not an empty promise. None of His promises are empty.
His next words are almost as shocking as what He has just said: “whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” NEVER DIE! How can this be possible? It is ONLY possible because of Jesus. HE is the author of ETERNAL LIFE. Then notice His words: “Believest thou this?” Do we REALLY believe everything that Jesus says? Either He tells the truth EVERY TIME or His words are suspect ALL THE TIME. On THIS special day, as we celebrate the Risen Christ, we are remembering what the women discovered that first Easter morning. We are remembering the words of the angel to the women when they came to the empty tomb: “He is NOT here. He is risen AS HE SAID!” If Jesus tarries His coming, you and I will be in the grave one day – in anticipation of the RESURRECTION! Just My Thoughts …
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8.11
Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Strip away all the commercial accoutrements that our culture has attached to Easter and we are left with this single truth: The tomb is empty. He is not there, just like the angel said. And He is alive and well. Now, what does that mean for us? Take a look at this first phrase written above: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you …” The moment you and I received Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead) took up residence inside us. Since this Spirit dwells in us, we will get to experience the same RESURRECTION POWER the Jesus experienced on that first Easter morn. Most of us have stood beside the open grave of a loved one (if you have not, if you live long enough, you will) and heard words something like this: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The comfort comes in knowing that one day God’s Spirit will make alive the bodies of our loved ones who have gone before us in death. So the RESURRECTION of Christ from the dead is our GUARANTEE that if we die, we too will be RESURRECTED from the dead. THAT is a hope that no one can steal from us and that will allow us to look death in the face and say, “Give it your best shot. I will be back someday.” Don’t allow the pain and heartache of a life plagued with sorrow and disappointment steal your hope. Just My Thoughts …
“Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” Psalm 54.4
Sometimes you read a verse and think, “Wow. I bet that could be a blessing to someone.” And then there are times when you read a verse and think: “Wow, that is exactly what I needed to hear from God today!” This verse above is that verse for me today: “Behold, God is my helper …” In 50+ years of ministry, I have stood beside families as they have been asked to do the impossible – unhook all life support for a loved one. God was there with us! I have heard moms and dads cry out, “This isn’t fair. I raised my child right. Why did they do this?” And God was there with us. I have watched families – literally on the steps of the funeral home – as they argued over who would get what from “the estate” and then walk away so angry they don’t want to see family any more. And God was there with us!
There are so many verses that we spiritual leaders tell those following us: “You just need to believe God. He’s got this!” And then God says, “Ok, you told everybody else I’ve got this. What about you? Do you believe I’ve got this?” And the answer is, “Yes. God’s got this!” What’s this? I heard my doctor say, “You have colon cancer.” He went on to explain what would be happening in the days ahead. He was shaking my hand and I said to him, “So doc, heads I win and tails I win.” He looked at me with this puzzled look – gripped my hand tightly and walked out. But that was the moment when Psalm 54.4 was real: “Behold, God is my helper.” Is He your helper? Just My Thoughts …
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20.28
Of all the examples that Jesus set for us, the ONE thing we can do like Him is “minister” to others. One translation uses the word “serve” here. Serving God through serving others is a worthwhile task for each one of us. There may be a number of things in this world that we cannot do, but one thing that ALL of us CAN do is serve others by praying for them. We toss that word “prayer” around carelessly sometimes. We say, ‘I’ll pray for you.” But do we make a record of the request? Do we stop at some point and actually breathe a prayer for that person and his or her need? I have found that having a “prayer list” enables me to remember the ones for whom I promised to pray and the matter that I have committed to remember in prayer. A prayer list can be a simple as a small spiral notebook we keep with us or close to our Bible so we can record the requests. If you are techie kind of person, there are specific apps that are just for recording prayer requests. I don’t care how you choose to do it, I just want to encourage you to JUST DO IT (thanks to Nike).
When you see one of God’s children in need and there is something that you can do specifically to help them, use that servant’s heart and reach out to “serve” them. We are never more like Jesus in His earthly life than when we are serving others. As you walk through this day, take time to to observe those around you and as God gives you opportunity, show your servant’s heart and serve someone. Just My Thoughts …
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it..” Isaiah 25.8
I am secure in the truth of this first statement: “He will swallow up death in victory …” Our world is plagued with the reality of death – everything from terrorist bombings and suicide attacks to drive by shootings to death that results from natural causes. Death is a reality in our world. But One day, death will be gone. Hallelujah! And this next promise speaks to all of us as well: “and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces …” It seems like nearly every day I hear a new story of a broken heart, a broken home, a shattered life, or some catastrophic event that brings tears to my eyes. While most of us don’t like to weep publicly, sometimes we can’t contain our emotions. There is a precious verse in Psalm 56.8 tells us this: “put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” God is mindful of every tear His children shed. But one day, He will “wipe away tears from off all faces.” Our compassionate God gives careful attention to every event in our lives every day.
“And the rebuke of his people shall he take away …” God’s people have gone through so much from a world that does not understand. But ONE DAY that “rebuke” will be gone, because “the Lord GOD” will be in charge. So I echo the words of the Apostle John when he says, “Even so, come Lord Jesus …” Just My Thoughts …
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6.23
Recently I was talking with someone about their relationship with the Lord and I was explaining this verse. I said, “Satan has promised you a deal. You live for him all your life, never having a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and his wages for this life is ‘death’. Not simply the cessation of life in your body, but eternal separation from God.” Satan always keep this promise to anyone who chooses him over Christ. I have NEVER known anyone who was in his right mind who did not want to spend eternity with God in heaven.
On the other hand, God does not promise us a “wage” but rather a “gift” and that gift is ETERNAL LIFE. This is a kind of life that we can NEVER know apart from knowing God. While most people reading these words are already Christ-followers, I am not certain that we have grasped all that this ETERNAL life has to offer. Nor am I capable of putting it into adequate words. But ETERNAL LIFE is just that – eternal, it never ends. Just as God has no end, this life He offers has no end. In addition to being eternal, it makes me a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. (Romans 8.17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”) Can we comprehend this position of being a joint-heir with Christ? Whatever He has, we have also – we share His inheritance. Peter states it so well: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1.3-5) I have chosen God’s “gift” over Satan’s “wage.” Just My Thoughts …