Psalm 86, 2018

Do you hear me, LORD?  I need you to answer me.

I have faith and trust in you.  Guard my life.

You are my God, please have mercy on me.  I call to you all day long.  I put my trust in you to bring joy back into my life.

LORD, you are always forgiving and good to all who call to you.  Please hear me as I cry for mercy.  You always answer me when I call to you in distress – I know you will answer this time as well.

There is no one or no thing like you.  No one does what you do.

You have made all things and there will be a time when all things come to worship you, bringing you glory, LORD.

You are great and marvelous – you alone are God.

Teach me about your faithfulness, LORD, so that I may understand it.  Give me a heart that is dedicated to you so I show respect for everything you are.

With my whole heart I praise you, LORD my God.  I will praise you forever.

Your love for me is awesome!  You have saved me from the darkness that is all around me.  The lies of my culture try to attack my thinking, O God.  Satan is working hard to snuff out your light in this world.

There are so many fools around me who have no regard for you.

But you, LORD, show your compassion and grace.  You are so patient with us, so loving and always faithful.  Show me your strength and mercy.

You have saved me and I serve you only, just as my mother did.  Make your light shine in my life, LORD, so the lost ones around me can see you and know how you have helped me and comforted me.

You alone are God, Abba Father.

I Earned It

I work hard.

I got the degree.

I put in the extra effort.

I save it and invest it well.

There are a lot of I’s in those statements, aren’t there?  As James would say to us, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brother and sisters.”

The truth is – everything comes from God.  God owns it all.  My paycheck, my house, my car, my IRA – it’s all God’s and he has given it to me.  Just like he has given whatever you have to you.

God provides for us.  He gives us the ability to work for a living.  He helps us grow our skills and knowledge.  He gives us perseverance to get up every morning and the strength to complete our tasks for the day.

It all comes from him.

I love the visual I see in my head as I read 1 Chronicles 29.  King David is standing in the middle of huge mounds of gold, silver and bronze.  There are piles of precious stones all around him.

With his hands held high up to the sky, he praises God and says, “Everything in heaven and earth is your’s”.

It’s all God’s.  Everything we have and are comes from God.  I have the right perspective when I understand that I am totally dependent on God for everything.  Until I get to that place, I am deceiving myself.

“Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.”

Thank you, Abba Father.

If I Seek Him,

I will find him.

It’s true.  And the opposite is true.  If I don’t seek God, I can’t expect to find him.  I won’t know him.

It’s also true that I will never totally know and and understand God because he is – well,

God!

My 3 1/2 pound brain just can’t comprehend all of him.  My goal is to seek to know and understand more of him every day, every week, every year.  I have decided that I will be on this journey towards the Truth for the rest of my life.

And, when my journey on earth ends, I’m going to know God better than I know him now.  I am going to understand him better than I understand him right now.

Because, when I seek him, I always find him and it’s all good.

King David shared this wisdom in 1 Chronicles with  Solomon as he prepared to hand his throne over to his son. “If you seek him, he will be found by you.”

David knew this to be true from his own personal experience.  He also understood that Solomon would need to seek God for himself in order to be the king God wanted him to be.

David realized that Solomon would not hear God, not understand God, not know God unless he spent significant time and effort in seeking him.

The same is true for you and me.  There is no magic to growing in my knowledge of  and faith in God.  It takes a lot of time and effort.   I have to willing to open my heart so God can change the things I love to the things he loves.  I have to willing to open my mind so God can transform my thoughts –  etching his truth over old lies and self-centered thinking.  I have to read and study his Word and then let his Word come alive in my life – effecting the things I say and the things I do.  It takes perseverence and commitment.

But there is nothing that is more worth the time and energy and effort.

Nothing.

You are all I need, Abba Father.

It’s OK

That was not my intention.

Nobody’s perfect.

It’s not a big deal.

These are all things we tell ourselves when we realize we have done something wrong but we don’t really want to acknowledge it.  We often rationalize it away – never owning up to it.

We don’t admit our mistakes.

We move on like nothing happened.

People get hurt, we don’t trust each other and we struggle with our relationships.

One of the reasons King David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ was because he was good at admitting it when he did something wrong.  He was a little blind to how badly he had acted with Bathsheba until Nathan pointed it out to him.  We all need great friends who will lovingly point it out when we mess up.  As soon as David’s eyes were opened to his mistakes, he admitted them and repented.

That’s what God wants me to do when I’ve made a mistake  – own it and try not to do it again. (confess and repent).  God knows my heart so throwing “I’m sorry” around without meaning it doesn’t work.  God can see whether I’m sincere in my apology and serious about not doing whatever it is again.

God wants you to admit your mistakes and repent, too.

Let’s not rationalize it away.

Let’s not say it’s ok – nobody is perfect.

Let’s not ignore it.

God wants us to have trusting, lasting relationships and dealing well with our mistakes is a big part of that.

Please help us to be quick to confess and repent, Abba Father.

A Direct Line

Have you noticed?

It appears that some people have a direct line to God.  When they call (pray), God always responds.   Stuff happens.

I believe it’s true – some people have a direct line to God.

Why?

Because they pray in line with God’s will.  When I pray for what God wants to give me, I always get it.  He has promised me.

God tells me in James 1, when I pray for wisdom, I always get it – in generous amounts.  When I pray for more of the Fruit of the Spirit, the Spirit that lives inside of me helps grow and nurture those things.  When it’s God’s will for me, he says yes every time.

The key is praying God’s will.  What does God want?  What is best for his purposes?

To do this, I need to know God well.  I need to have his word etched on my heart and mind so that it’s how I think.  And – a tough one for me – I need to put what he wants ahead of what I want.  There are times when God reveals to me through his Word what he wants done in a certain situation.  Other times, I simply pray Jesus’ prayer, “Thy will be done.”

I can’t give God a list of things I want and expect him to say yes to everything.  But when I pray for what God wants – knowing and trusting that what he wants is always best –  it happens.

This doesn’t mean I don’t ask God for things I want.  He tells us to pray to him all the time on every occasion about everything.  It does mean that the answer will not be ‘yes’ when I’m praying out of line with his will.

In 1 Chronicles, David was trying to bring the Ark of God back to Jerusalem but he was running into big problems.  One of his men died because he touched the Ark to steady it.  That scared David so he left the Ark with a local family and went on to Jerusalem.  There, he realized the issue with the Ark  was “we did not inquire of him (God) about how to do it in the prescribed way.”

So he consulted God and, when they did it God’s way, they were successful.  David danced with joy in front of the Ark as it entered Jerusalem, the City of David.

When I ask God to do things his way, my direct line to God is wide open.

And the answer is always ‘yes’.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Psalm 57, 2018

Hold me close, God.

I need to feel the safety of being held by you.  Hold me tightly in your arms while this storm roars through my life.

I cry out to you, Most High God, and you send your angels to save me.  The problems and trials which are overwhelming me are pushed away.  I feel your love and I trust your faithfulness.

People who do not want the best for me surround me.  They desire to take my peace and make me afraid.

But you, Father God, are in control of everything.  With power and love you rule the earth.

People around me try to snare me with their lies and tricks.  They dig pits with their evil mouths and then fall into the pits themselves.

My heart, Oh God, is your’s forever.  I will praise you all day long.  I will sing about your great love which fills the earth.  I will sing about your great faithfulness which reaches endlessly to the skies.

You, Father God, are in control of everything.  With power and love you rule the earth.

Psalm 34, 2018

God is good – all the time!

I will share this great news with everyone I know.  They all need to hear this = there is no one and no thing that compares to the LORD!

Say it with me – God is good, all the time!

When I talk to God, he answers me and takes my fears away.

The light of God’s love shines out of his children and they are never ashamed.  When we are lost in a pile of problems that we created, we can call on God who rescues us.  His angel protects us and sets us free!

Try him and see!  God is good!

He is a safe haven and a provider for everyone who has faith in him.  Those who look strong on the outside grow weak and empty on the inside if they don’t have faith in God.  God’s children have everything they need.

Listen to me –

respect and honor the LORD and you will live a life filled with good days.  Stay away from lying and all evil, be a peacemaker.

God watches over those who do what is right.  He hears our cries.  God is always close to the brokenhearted.

But God turns his face away from those who do evil.

When we have faith in God, we will still have trials but God walks beside us every step of the way – giving us peace and strength.

The wicked get what they deserve.  The LORD condemns anyone who opposes the people who love him.

God rescues his children – he is a safe refuge that is always available to them.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I know that Voice

Has this happened to you?  I’m in a crowded place where many people are talking and then one lone voice clearly sticks out of the noise.

I know that voice.

It’s somebody I know and I instantly recognize it and turn toward it.  In the past this voice has often been one of my children or my husband or a close friend.

That is also how it is for me with God’s voice.  His voice pierces through all the other voices around me.  Because I know him.

Little Samuel was just getting to know God in 1 Samuel so when he heard a voice in the middle of the night, he thought it was Eli, the High Priest.  So Samuel would run to Eli every time he heard this voice and Eli would tell him he didn’t call him.  The third time this happened, Eli realized that God was calling to the little boy.  Eli had heard God’s voice often so he told the little boy what to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”

And God spoke.  Samuel obeyed.

After that, God became Samuel’s constant companion as he grew up.

Have you heard God’s voice?

In my life, the more I study God’s Word and know what he says, the easier it has become to hear him.  I have heard him teach me and reveal truth to me for many years as I have read and studied the Bible.  I know his voice.

I have also been seriously memorizing chapters in the Bible for several years so I have God’s Word etched on my brain.  When he wants to give me direction and wisdom, he will highlight some of the verses I have written in my mind and speak to me through those verses.  There is no doubt who is speaking to me when he’s speaking God’s word.  And I know it’s the truth, not some whispered lies of Satan.

There are occasions when a person is speaking to me about something in the Bible and God will say in my head, “You know that’s not true.  You have read my Word and you know this is not what I have said.”  Sometimes God will give me an opportunity to ask where this person has read this in Bible so we can discuss it and sometimes I don’t get a chance to ask.  Either way,  God is helping me keep in line with his truth.

There are situations where God does the exact opposite.  Someone I’m talking with will share a new understanding or experience they had with God and it will immediately ring true in my brain – that’s  God!  And then I get to celebrate with this person because they are getting to know God better and they will continue to have more and more of these experiences when they stay on this path.

A critical part of creating this open communication with God is what happens after he talks to me.  I need to obey.  If I don’t listen and obey, I will not hear God as clearly next time.  Just like Samuel, I need to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  And then I need to do what God says – that’s how it works.

God’s voice is the most important voice in my life.

I know his voice.

Do you?

Please open our eyes and ears, Abba Father.

I’m Waiting

I know what I want for myself and for others.  I know who is in control of everything.

So I pray to the Creator of the Universe.  My dad.

Right?

And God responds – yes, no or wait.  I like the ‘yes’. I don’t like the ‘no’.  And the ‘wait’ is the hardest answer of all.  I’m not good at waiting, are you?

Why wait?  Did he really say ‘wait’?  Is he ever going to change his answer to ‘yes’?

Hannah was in this same situation in 1 Samuel.  She was in misery because she had no children and she wanted a son.  Women at that time were looked down on if they had no children.  What’s wrong with her?  Other women picked on her.  And “this went on year after year”.

It sounds like Hannah was consistently ‘pouring out my soul to the LORD.”  “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”  Lots of conversations with God.  She didn’t give up.  She kept asking.  “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.”

It might have seemed like God was saying ‘no’ to Hannah because it took years.  But he was waiting for the right time.

God knows the right time – I don’t.  So I have to wait.

This time of waiting is not wasted.  When I am faithful and tuned into him, he uses this time to grow my faith and grow my wisdom and grow my understanding.  I see that with Hannah – God was preparing her while she waits to be the mother of Samuel – a great man of God.

So I will wait.  I will pray for God’s will to be done in my life.  I will trust that, at the right time, he will give me what is best for me.  He has always been faithful in the past, he is faithful today and he will be faithful for eternity.

Thank you,  Abba Father.

When It’s Big…

and bad…

and scary,

even people who don’t love God will turn to him, pray to him, cry to him.  Because our souls know who he is even if our minds won’t acknowledge it.  He created us and the heart he molded inside of us cries out to its maker when we’re in significant trouble.

In Judges 10, the Israelites are on one of their downward spirals of sin.  They have stopped serving God and have started serving Baal…..again.  So God let the pagan kingdoms who also served Baal crush them and oppress them.

It was bad.

So the Israelites cried out to God and he replied, “Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen.  Let them save you when you are in trouble.”

Sometimes, as a Good Father who wants to teach us life lessons, God says that to us today.  If we have placed things other than God as our top priority, they are our gods.

There are situations where God lets us learn the hard way that money is not our security.  It disappears, it turns into a nightmare when we use credit, and the stuff we buy with it only makes us happy for a little while.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Relationships – people are flawed.  Unconditional love only comes from God.  My husband, my wife, my friends, my children cannot be my first priority.  God didn’t create it to work that way.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Careers – money, recognition, power, prestige often distract us from God.  Sadly, tragically, we can find that we were struggling so hard to climb a ladder that was up against the wrong wall.  At the end, there’s a huge, disappointing fall.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Anything we put before the One True God in our lives becomes a false god as we serve it and love it and focus on it.   These false gods will be no help when the bottom falls out of our lives.   Then our hearts will cry out to their Creator God just like the Israelite’s hearts did.

The Israelites had been taught well and they knew exactly what to do to get back in line with God.  They repented and got rid of their false gods.  And God responded by helping to deliver them from their enemies.  They still had to fight and struggle (consequences for their bad decisions) but God gave them victory.

God has told us he is a jealous God and he will not tolerate his people serving other gods.  When its big and bad and we need help, none of these false gods are going to of any use to us.

Have you and I learned this yet?

You are the only God in my life, Abba Father.