Saturday, January 31, 2015

Every Reason to Rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

Hey, how are you this morning? How are things going for you?

Going well? Glad to hear it. Rejoice!

Not going so well? Rejoice!


Well, God didn't say, "Okay. So you only need to rejoice when the sun is shining and everything in your life is all rosy."

He says, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."

You might be thinking, "Hmm... that's easy for you to say. I don't have anything to rejoice about."


If you know Christ as your Savior you have plenty to rejoice about. 

  • Rejoice in the love of God for you. 
  • Rejoice in His great mercy poured out on your life.
  • Rejoice in His promise of eternal life.
  • Rejoice is the knowledge that He sees, He knows and He cares. 
  • Rejoice in the security that you belong to Him and He will never let you go.
  • Rejoice in His still small voice that brings peace and assurance to your heart. 

We could go on and on, listing all the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ. We've been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, made alive, saved, brought near, and made a part of His body. (See Ephesians 1&2). 

No matter what your eyes may see in front of you, you know who lives within you. Sometimes you may feel defeated, but you know Who has already won the victory! There are days when you might feel you don't have the strength to keep going, but you have access to the Source of all strength. 

God, the all-powerful Creator of the universe has promised to hold your hand, never leave you, to go before you and to be your rear guard (Isaiah 41:13, Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 9:3, Isaiah 52:12). He's got you back, He's there with you and He's leading the way!

You have every reason to rejoice! 

I have every reason to rejoice! 

We have every reason to rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Walk Worthy

Did you know your walk says a lot about who you are? Some people walk tall and confidently, as if with purpose and direction. Some walk with their shoulders stooped and their head down, as if they are carrying a huge weight on their shoulders. Others walk slowly and hesitatingly, as if feeling unbalanced and unsure which way to go.

Most of us, if we're honest, would probably say our walk has reflected each of those examples at one time or another in our lives. 

The Bible has a lot to say about our walk, meaning how we live our lives before the Lord. Colossians 1 records Paul's prayer for his fellow believers in the city of Colossae. Part of his prayer is displayed in the picture above.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing... (Colossians 1:10).

What does it mean to "walk worthy of the Lord"? It seems the rest of the chapter provides us with some answers. We are reminded:

  • of the Father who has made us fit to partake in an inheritance in heaven (v12)
  • that we have been delivered from the power of darkness (v13)
  • that we have been taken out of darkness and brought into the kingdom of His dear Son (v13)
  • that we have been forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Christ (v14)
  • that Jesus, our Redeemer is the sovereign God and Creator of all things (v15-18)
  • that Jesus reconciled us to God and brought us peace by His blood (v20-21)
  • that Jesus died to present us, holy and blamesless, to the Father (v22)
  • that Christ, the hope of glory, lives within us (v27)

Walking worthy of the Lord means living our lives in such a way that we reflect Christ who lives within us.  

Walking worthy of the Lord means living as those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, taken out of darkness and reconciled to the Father.

Walking worthy of the Lord means surrendering our lives to the authority of Jesus, our Redeemer, the sovereign God and Creator of all things, for His glory alone.

My prayer for you and for me today is...

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing (Colossians 1:10). 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Even There

People who have followed a difficult path in life sometimes  wonder where God is in the midst of their sorrow, their pain, their troubles and their uncertainty. 

David, the writer of Psalm 139. ran for his life from a king with murder in his eyes. He was seared with the pain of losing a child. And, David's own son betrayed him and tried to take his kingdom from him. 

David knew sorrow, pain, trouble and uncertainty but he was certain of one thing. No matter where he went, no matter what happened, David was convinced in his heart that God would always be right there with him.

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:8-10). 

Even there. 

Even there in the pain. Even there in the sorrow. Even there in the trouble. Even there in the uncertainty. God is there. Even there. 

If you know Christ as your Savior, you can count on His promise:

I will never leave thee, nor forsake (Hebrews 13:5).

No matter how bad the circumstances you face may seem, you can be assured of His presence, His care and His love. Even there. Even there His hand will lead you. Even there, His right hand will hold you. 

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Even there. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Living Worship

Good morning. Thanks for stopping by the blog this morning. 

I know its not Sunday, but let's take just a minute to think about worship today, using 1 Chronicles 16:29 as a guide. 

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29).

...Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name...
Real worship isn't just what we do Sunday mornings in church. Real worship is a lifestyle. Real worship gives the LORD the glory due His Name every moment of every day.

...bring an offering, and come before him... We're called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). That's the offering God is seeking from each of us... a life lived for Him for the glory of His Name.

...worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness... We can't worship right if our hearts are not right before God. But, when we walk in obedience, He finds our worship a thing of beauty, an offering pleasing to Him that brings Him the glory due His Name. 

That's living worship.

Father, may our hearts and minds be focused on You as we go about our day today and every day. May we walk in obedience to You and worship You in all we say and do. Help us to worship You in the beauty of holiness and give You the glory due unto Your Name. In Jesus' Name I pray, amen. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Motivated by Love

Love. People so desperately try to understand it, but unless they include God in their description of it, they will never know what real love is.

In the ESV, Psalm 36:5 says,
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,your faithfulness to the clouds.
Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Why was it so important to Paul that they understood the greatness of this love? Because the love of Christ was his motivation in all of life and he wanted it to be theirs. To the Corinthian believers, he wrote...

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

 To his fellow believers at Ephesus, Paul said...
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Again, the love of Christ is the motivation to live a life of love.  Jesus Himself is the ultimate expression and example of love. His love was and is complete, with nothing lacking. His love for the Father was evident in the way He lived while here on earth, obedient in all things. His love for us was also expressed in how He gave His life for us.

Jesus' love for you and me is so huge, it cannot be measured. His love never fails. He is faithful to those He loves. And, nothing can separate us from His love.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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 8:38-39).

His great, endless and steadfast love for us should cause us to love Him in return and to live the life He died to give us - a life lived in love for Him and those around us - a life of service to Him and to others - a life motivated by love.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Honor thy father and thy mother...

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee (Deuteronomy 5:16).

My mom is currently quite ill, but even though she looks, sounds and feels awful, she insists it is merely a cold. She is so used to being a caregiver to my dad that she neglects taking care of herself at times. 

Saturday morning, after hearing my mom on the phone, I went to the store, then to their home. I got my mother some cold medicine, brought stuff to make  lunch (including chicken noodle soup for mom and dad's favorite cookies for dessert) and cleaned up afterwards. Before leaving, I made them both a cup of tea and got them settled in their recliners. 

After church yesterday, my youngest son and I brought lunch to mom and dad and cleaned up again so my mother wouldn't have to. When I leave work today, I'll stop by and see if they need anything. Those are really small things but I'm thankful they now live close enough so I can be of some help when they need it.  

Having worked with the elderly in a variety of roles for over 25 years, sometimes I see things in my parents that need a doctor's attention attention but do have to be careful how I approach the subject. There's a fine line between caring for one's aging parents and telling them what to do. That's an area in which I need to continually ask the Lord for wisdom and patience so I can obey Him in honoring them. 

Yesterday afternoon, while searching for something else, I found a commentary on Deuteronomy 5:16 which asks a series of questions to get us to think about what it means to obey God's command to honor our parents. 

"Hast thou not been irreverent or undutiful to either? Hast thou not slighted their advice? Hast thou cheerfully obeyed all their lawful commands? Hast thou loved and honoured their persons, supplied their wants, and concealed their infirmities? Hast thou fervently prayed for them? Hast thou loved and honoured thy prince, and avoided, as fire, all speaking evil of the ruler of thy people? Have ye that are servants done all things as unto Christ; not with eye-service, but in singleness of heart? Have ye who are masters behaved as parents to your servants, with all gentleness and affection? Have ye all obeyed them that watch over your souls, and esteemed them highly in love for their works’ sake?" -Joseph Benson, Commentary on the Holy Bible.

No matter how old we are, and no matter how old they are, honoring our parents is not an optional activity. It is a command of God we are required to obey, without exception and without excuse. 

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee... (Deuteronomy 5:16).

What can we do today to obey God in honoring our father and mother? 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Pain Will End

{Daily Selah} 

Pain. Whether physical or emotional, it has the power to rob us of sleep, mobility and focus. 

Before the fall, Adam and Eve didn't know what pain was. They lived in perfect harmony with God, fulfilling the purpose He had given them. Their lives were surrounded by beauty, completely secure, and filled with the joy of close companionship with their Creator. Sadly, that perfect existence was cut short by a choice. 

The Bible says, Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).

When sin entered the world, it brought ugliness, fear, sorrow and separation. Sin also introduced the world to pain of body, soul and spirit. 

We've all known pain, in one way or another. Most of us have known what it means to hurt, both on the inside and on the outside.

The best way of dealing with pain is to remember it will end. For us, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that all our pain will end one day. It's a fact. It's a promise of God. 
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4). 

Take a look at the context in which that promise is given. The verse above Revelation 21:4 says this...

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God (verse 3).

The very next verse after the promise that we will have no more pain says this...
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

He makes all things new. In heaven, we'll have a new body -  a body free of injury, sickness and pain. We'll have a new heart - a heart free of sin, sorrow and pain. 

God's words are true and faithful. We can believe what He says. He will bring an end to our pain, and bring us into the joy of His presence forever.

But, you're still in pain right here in this moment and you know that's true for some day but you need relief today. I know. At 3 a.m., I was awakened by physical pain in my body and a huge concern for someone else in my heart. 

Listen, God has given us another promise regarding our pain, a promise that's in effect and effective for the here and now. Take a look at Psalm 55:22...

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee...

Whatever kind of pain your in right now, whether physical or emotional, give it to the Lord. Let Him sustain you. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isaiah 40:29). 

The pain will end. In the meantime, we should trust and rejoice in our God who is here with us to give us the strength we need to hold on to His promise to take away our pain, wipe every tear from our eyes and to be with us forever.

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Its Time to Put the Fire Out

{Daily Selah}

Children say the funniest things sometimes but they are usually also very bluntly honest. Kids need to be taught what is socially acceptable to say and what is not. They also have to learn when to say something and when to be quiet. 

We're quick to notice the slips of the tongue our children make, but often are not aware of our own.

As Christians, the representatives of Jesus Christ to this world, we should be very careful of what we say, when we say it and how we say it. James understood that though the tongue is a relatively small part of us, it has the capacity to cause great destruction.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (James 3:5)

As I was beginning to write this post, a thought crossed my mind regarding the events that took place on the Day of Pentecost. This post is not directly about how the Holy Spirit works in and through believers today, but take a look at Acts 2 with me for a moment... 

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:2-4).

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to give us power to live for and be witnesses of Him (Acts 1:8). (Again, this post is not about speaking in tongues. That's a discussion not relevant to this post, nor is it one I wish to have publicly here on this blog since it has a tendency to cause division. If you really want to discuss that topic please send an email to

When the Holy Spirit came, He did indeed and still does empower believers for victorious living. Speaking in tongues refers to speaking in other languages not previously known to the speaker. The body part - the tongue itself - was not set on fire.

The Holy Spirit does cause the fire of faith to grow within us. He does not set tongues on fire. Remember what James said?

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (James 3:5)

What sets our tongues on fire? Sin. When we sin with our mouths, we kindle a blaze that doesn't just affect us, but also everyone around us. 

The tongue of just one disgruntled, complaining employee can spread through an entire work force, creating a burning discontent. Just one disparaging comment about the pastor can grow into a raging fire of gossip with the power to destroy a ministry. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

You may think those are grossly exaggerated examples. Sadly, I've seen both happen. The tongue has the power to burn up marriages, destroy families and separate friends. 

James had even more to say about the tongue...

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:10). 

Our mouths were made to proclaim the praises of our Creator, not to gossip, grumble, complain or curse. It is easy to say the right things in church on a Sunday morning but what happens on the other 6 days of the week at home, at work, or out in public? 

The wonderful blessing you and I have is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit living within us. We have the power through Him to overcome the tongue because Jesus conquered sin and death and hell in His death, burial and resurrection. So, really, we have no excuse for fiery tongues. 

The psalmist knew the power of his own tongue and asked God for help controlling it. 
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

Our prayer should be the same.

Its time to put the fire out.

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Turn Your Feet

{Daily Selah}

Places like Milwaukee, Chicago and Atlanta are much larger but I have found them so much easier to navigate than Rochester, Minnesota. Last fall, on my way to an appointment, I found myself driving around in circles while in absolute dire need of having to "go." I'm quite certain the staff of a Chinese take out thought I was crazy when I dashed in, used their rest room, then waited in line only to ask for directions. Perhaps I should consider investing in a GPS system and avoid drinking Dr. Pepper when travelling that far.

Lest you think I'm completely directionally challenged, I have to tell you that the letter I received prior to my appointment directed me to the 3rd Street parking ramp. Seems pretty plain, right? Well, not in Rochester. There is a 3rd Street West, 3rd Street South, and a 3rd Street North, as well as multiple 3rd Avenues all in the same general area. 

 I'm so very thankful God always makes His directions very clear. Our verse for today, Psalm 119:59, shows how David found direction.
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
When the nice people at the Chinese take out told me where to go, I turned my car around and found my way. David also knew he was going the wrong way. He stopped, sought direction from God's Word, turned his feet and found his way.

Psalm 119 is all about finding the right way through God's Word. Take a look at the first 5 verses:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. 
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. 
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Today, I'm taking my son to an appointment about an hour away. Don't worry, we're going to a town I know well. We won't be driving around in circles today. But, I have asked the Lord to direct in this appointment and to direct my son's steps now and in the future. My son is at somewhat of a crossroads in his life. He knows what God says but feels the allure of this world. My prayer for my son is that, like David, he would think on his ways and turn his feet to the right way - God's way.

How can any of us make sure we're going the right way? Another passage from Psalm 119 (v 9-11) has the answer:

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

When I was younger, I wandered, directionless for several years. I strayed far from God and His Word (see God Didn't Walk Away - my testimony). Thankfully, He brought me to repentance and turned my feet back to His ways about 20 years ago. Now, as 50 is fast approaching, I still need His direction in my life to keep my feet going in the right direction - in God's direction.

No matter how long we've been walking with the Lord, we all need direction to prevent us from driving around in circles in our lives, going the wrong way. God's Word is our road map for life. In it, He provides answers to all of life's difficult questions and shows us which way to go - for our good and His glory.

Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit wrote, Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. In other words, "Don't be upset if I repeat the same things over and over. Its because I want you to be safe."

1 John 5:3 says, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. God doesn't give us commandments to grieve us our make our lives burdensome. He gives His commands to keep us safe from harm and the consequences of sin because He loves us so very much. 

Which way are you going, right now in this moment? Are you trying to follow God's direction for your life? Turn your feet. Are you still going in circles, try to go your own way? Turn your feet. 

I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies (Psalm 119:59). 

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fully Persuaded

{Daily Selah}

Promises. Sometimes we make them, but we're not always able to keep them. I'm so glad God is not like we are. He has no limits like we do. He never changes, neither does His Word. His decrees stand for all eternity. He always says what He means and means what He says. He has never broken a promise and never will.

(continue reading below the picture)

Abraham knew he served a faithful God. He didn't hesitate to trust his promises. 

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform (Romans 4:20:21).

God wants you and I to have an Abraham-like faith; a faith that never wavers; a faith that understands who He is and is fully persuaded that God will keep His Word. 

God always has, always does and always will keep His Word. 

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9). 

There is no reason for us to ever doubt Him. We serve the only true God, the Almighty Creator of the universe. Our God has conquered sin and death and hell. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and He is on our side. 

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32). 

The God of the universe loves us so much that He gave His Son to die in our place. He proved His love when Christ's blood poured down to the earth from the cross. We know He has never broken a promise so why do we ever doubt, worry or fear? 

We've seen Him at work in our own lives. We've seen Him at work in others. We've seen Him at work in His Word. God has never given us reason to waver in our faith. We have no excuse for our lack of faith. But, we have every reason to have an Abraham-like faith, fully persuaded that God will do what He says He will do.

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform (Romans 4:20:21).

Fully persuaded. 

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Believing is Seeing

{Daily Selah}

Many people say, "Well, I have to see it to believe it" in regard to matters of faith. However, there are many examples in the Word of believing then seeing.

Remember the woman with the bleeding disorder who just wanted to reach out and touch the hem of Jesus' robe? She had spent everything she had over the course of many years, going to doctor after doctor, trying to find a cure. Imagine how weak and tired and pale she was. Yet, she was determined to get to the Messiah. She knew only He could heal her.

Jesus' response was, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole (Mark 5:34). It was faith that brought her the miracle only Jesus could perform. The woman's mindset was not that of "I'm gonna be healed because I say I will." She was convinced that only Jesus could heal her. It was genuine faith that brought her to the feet of the Master. She believed and then saw a miracle in her life.

Right after Pharaoh finally let God's people go, he had a change of heart and decided to go after them. Moses knew that believing is seeing. He was convinced that only God could rescue them. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day (Exodus 14:13).

Put simply, the message the Lord gave the people through His servant Moses was, "Don't be afraid. Believe and you will see what your God will do for you." That same encouragement can be applied to any situation or circumstance you and I face in our lives.

Personally, I've never ascribed to "name it and claim it" or, as one pastor I know says, "blab it and grab it" theology. There are those who say we should declare our own destiny, speaking what we want into our lives. This post is about living by faith, not on presumption.  Let's take a look at 1 John 5:14-15 for a moment...

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

The key here is to ask according to His will. Obviously, it is not God's will for us all to live in a mansion or drive a Ferrari. But, God has promised to meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Asking Him to provide food for our family or to help us meet the bills or to have enough left over each week to be a blessing to others - these things are all in accordance with His will. (Bear in mind that He usually requires some work on our part to get us there.)

James 1:6 is written in the context of asking God for wisdom, but the principle found there can be applied to asking God for anything we need. We are told:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering...
Check out that verse in the ESV:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting...

God has made exceeding great and precious promises to us (1 Peter 1:4). Being convinced that He will do what He says He will do is the life of faith. It is believing and seeing. Remember Thomas? Thomas was an "I have to see it to believe it" kind of guy. He was not willing to believe Jesus had done what He said He would do until he saw the risen Savior for himself.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29). 

1 John 5:4 says, For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us believing is seeing. Take a look...

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Did you see that? Faith first, then reward. Believing then seeing. 

Want victory in your life? Need God's provision in some area? Don't know which way to go? Don't be afraid. Ask God. Believe and you will see what your God will do for you. 

Believing is seeing. 

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Go...and be glad

{Daily Selah}

When I was growing up, our family took a lot of vacations at the beach. My brothers and I so looked forward those trips and enjoyed every moment splashing through the waves and searching the sand for hidden treasures like shells, starfish and driftwood.

Most of us have a favorite place we like to be. We look back to certain places and times with fond memories. King David had a favorite place, a place that made his heart glad whenever he had an opportunity to spend time there. He said, I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).

People say, "Well, I don't have to go to church to know God." They're right. You don't. But, there is so much we miss out on if we neglect gathering together with other believers to worship the Lord. Take a look at something else David had to say about God's house...

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4). 

David's desire was to spend every moment in the house of the LORD.  As king, he had other duties and responsibilities to attend to just and you and I do, but David really looked forward to the time he could spend in God's house. 

David prayed, sang and worshiped the LORD at other places and times, but he so enjoyed being in the house of the LORD that it made him glad whenever he had opportunity to go. 

Some easily dismiss the importance of believers gathering together in corporate prayer and worship, but God has made it a high priority for every one of His children. Hebrews 10:19-27 expresses God's thoughts on the matter of being present in His house...

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Read that again slowly. Do you see the point being made here?  The context speaks of spending time with other believers, Jesus being high priest over the house of God, reminds us we must assemble together in that house, and gives us and important warning that is all part of the same thought.

We're told to continue meeting with other believers (i.e. going to church with them and having fellowship with them) and to encourage one another. Then, the writer says, For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins... Sin makes Christ's sacrifice on our behalf ineffective for us because we have chosen to sin instead of living as those who are blood-bought children of God. This statement is made right after the exhortation to assemble with, fellowship with and build up our fellow believers.

Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the writer warns us that refusing to be the functioning member of the body of Christ God has designed us to be is sin. Neglecting His house, and neglecting other believers is sin.

What should we do then? Go... and be glad.

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Worthy is the Lamb

{Daily Selah}

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12). 

Have you ever noticed how much importance our society places on concepts such as self worth, and self esteem?  Did you know God never mentions or even hints at either one in His Word? 

Both ideas are the result of humanistic thinking. In other words, it's me-focused thinking. God has never once told us to focus on ourselves. He has never told us to worry about how we feel about ourselves, nor has He told us to focus on ourselves in any way. In fact, He has told us the opposite. The only One who is worthy to be esteemed is the Lord Jesus Christ. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Our attention should be always focused on Him and what He has done for us, not on ourselves. 

Jesus is worthy of far more than just the praise of our mouths. The apostle Paul had experienced an encounter with Jesus that transformed his life. He lived out the rest of his days with one goal in mind: to esteem Christ by living for Him and proclaiming Him to the world. Paul wrote...

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2). 

Our "reasonable service" could be translated as "it's the very least we can do." The very least we, as recipients of the grace of God because of the Lamb who was slain, is to live for Him, esteeming Him in every area of our lives every day. 

Its not about our self worth. Its not about our self esteem. Its about esteeming the Lamb who alone is worthy. 

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12). 

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Friday, January 16, 2015

So, let's get out of the way

{Daily Selah}

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me (John 15:4).

Christians often wonder what Jesus meant when He said, Abide in me, and I in you. Entire books have been devoted this subject and some are well intentioned and useful. But, our human minds tend to over-analyze and complicate even the most basic of scriptural principles. For example, God tells us that salvation is a free gift of His grace for all who will believe yet millions have tried to add their own thinking, works and even ritual to His grace. 

The apostle Paul clearly understood Jesus' meaning when He said, Abide in me, and I in you. Take a look at Galatians 2:20:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul understood that, at the very moment he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, Jesus came to live within him.  He understood that his life was not his own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul realized, like John the baptist that he needed to get out of the way. John said, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

Abide in me, and I in you. Jesus wants us to simply get out of the way and allow Him to live His life out through us. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc) is evidence of a life lived out in this way. When we abide in Him, we allow Him to love others through us, to express His joy through us, and His peace is expressed both in us and through us, in our relationship to the Father and to the world around us. 

Abide in me, and I in you simply means we have to get out of the way and let Jesus live through us, for our own good and for His glory. 

So, let's get out of the way. 

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Redeemed? Proclaim it!

{Daily Selah}

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). 

The first couple of chapters of the book of Ephesians are among my favorite passages in all of scripture. They detail all the blessings given us in Christ. 

The Bible makes it clear that we could never do anything to meet God's standards of righteousness on our own. In grace, mercy and love, God chose to step in and make way - a way for us to be forgiven, a way to be redeemed, a way to be forgiven, a way to be free, a way to know Him and to be assured of a home in heaven. 

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Ephesians 1 and 2 tell us that all those who have placed their faith in Him for salvation have been made alive, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, given the Holy Spirit, seated with Christ, been saved, brought near to God, granted access to the Father, been made part of the household of God and built up together with other believers to form a dwelling place for Him. 

None of this is based on who we are or what we have done, nor could it ever be. 

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot...  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 1:7). 

Many years ago, Fanny Crosby wrote the now beloved hymn, Redeemed...

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose way I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

When Jesus said, "Go ye...", He was telling us to tell the world about redemption through His blood, the riches of His grace and His great love.

We have been granted great and precious spiritual blessings in Christ. As those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we shouldn't be keeping God's wondrous grace and love to ourselves. We need to proclaim it.  

Redeemed? Proclaim it!

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lead me to the Rock

{Daily Selah}

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

Very few people enjoy being led. Most of us want to take the lead. It is human nature to want to direct our own course. We tend to think of that choosing our own path leads to freedom. Sadly, most don't realize such thinking leads only to bondage, chained to our own human desires and controlled by the flesh. 

Davis was king of Israel, the most important and powerful man in the land. If anyone had the freedom and the right to choose his own way, it was David. A few times he did just that. One day Nathan the prophet visited David in the the palace and confronted the king with his sin (see 2 Samuel 12). David was heartbroken over his sin and came to God in humble repentance (see Palm 51). 

(continue reading below the picture)

The king had no desire to go back to his sin and no desire to steer his life back into a sinful state of bondage to his own fleshly lusts. More than anything, David wanted to follow God's path for his life and thereby, experience true freedom. That desire for real freedom in his life and relationship with the LORD God of Israel led David to write many Psalms, of praise, worship, adoration and prayer. 

Psalm 61 reveals the cry of David's heart. He asks of the Lord, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. David understood that God's ways are so far above ours that we need to be led to Him, led to His Word and led to His ways. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

We can't find God on our own, nor can we live for His glory our own way. 
 A Saviour would have been of no use to us if the Holy Spirit had not gently led us to him, and enabled us to rest upon him. To this day we often feel that we not only want a rock, but to be led to it.  -Charles Spurgeon

The cry of David's heart should also be ours. No matter how long we have known Him, we all still need to be led to the Rock, to His Word and to His ways each and every day. 

Lordlead me to the rock that is higher than I.

{Daily Selah} is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.