Just One Opportunity

Do you think to yourself, if I could just start with something small and prove myself faithful?!? I have been praying recently that each day God would give me just one opportunity to share Christ with another person — even in the smallest, tiniest, faintest of ways, but to at least bring Him up or bring scripture into a conversation.

“A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in the little things is a great thing.” — Hudson Taylor

And I prayed that He would give me the words and be there in the conversation so that it would not be in my own strength and power. Just as the Lord encouraged Zerubbabel in the rebuilding of the temple (Zech. 4:6 ESV), so I have been asking the Lord that it all be fueled by Him:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit….”

This Makes Me Nervous…

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Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 7)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
    and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
    you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
    spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
    though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
    for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
    the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

This section of the Psalm teaches the wicked will meet with their due end and the righteous will live in the peace and refuge of the Lord.

Keeping the Lord’s Ways

David’s ongoing belief was that he would continue to see God working good out in his lifetime as we see from this earlier psalm:

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! [Ps. 27:13-14 ESV]

We love these verses in Psalm 27 because we so need God’s strength and courage for daily life! We need to remember He will bring His good out of all that we face. Continue reading

Psalm 37: A Wise Walk in a Wicked World (Pt. 6)

Psalm 37 is a study in contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. It encourages us to trust in God, devote our lives to Him, and know that He is sovereign. All things will ultimately be resolved by Him, if not immediately then in the final judgment. It’s a content-filled psalm and I’ll be unpacking it in several parts. Enjoy the journey.

Find the whole series in Psalm 37 here.

27 Turn away from evil and do good;
    so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
    but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
    and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
    and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous
    and seeks to put him to death.
33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power
    or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

This section of the Psalm teaches that God holds eternity and true justice in His hands.

Pursue Godly Ways

Verses 27 through 29 hold together as one lengthy discourse on the results of following (or in the case of the wicked not following) God’s ways.

We begin with an immediate exhortation that speaks into our daily walk with God. Turn from the wrong path, from your sins, from (ethical) evil, and do good (the Hebrew is towb, that is, moral good). It’s not just turning away from wrong behavior, but also replacing it with good behavior, turning toward what God sees as good.

Our good should be to the glory of God. It is all too easy to fall into that error of thinking we are doing something for God and in reality we are doing it for ourselves — to look good in front of others, to seem more holy, to earn merit with God. Examine yourself, it is a good exhortation.

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Of Fleas and Sin

As the weather has gotten warmer, the dog’s old arch nemesis has begun to appear: the flea! Fleas make me seriously crazy. I hate them! I hate them for what they do to the dog. And they can bite me, too.

So I fly into action. Fighting fleas is an all-out, ongoing battle for me, one of regular, consistent effort. I start by immersing my bewildered (and not too thrilled) puppy in warm, soapy water. Immediately there’s a small victory: one or more fleas float off into the water. soapy water

Photo credit: kidsrelaxation.com

Hurray! But that’s just one skirmish. Continue reading

Refresh Friday

Why is it that God leads us in this way, allowing such strong and constant pressure on us? One of His purposes is to show us His all-sufficient strength and grace more effectively than if we were free from difficulties and trials. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. [2 Cor. 4:7 NIV]

Ancient greek jugs

Photo credit: blog.oneveryword.com

Another purpose is to bring us a greater awareness of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us how dependent we are on Him — that we are held completely by His hand and reliant on his care alone.

                                                         Days of Heaven and Earth, A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)

Are you feeling weak and helpless? It’s possibly the best place to be. I pray for you today that you will lean into Him more during this time and know abundantly more of His strength in your life. He knows exactly what you need. He is there with you.

Run, Walk, Stop – The Life of a Believer

I’ve been a runner on and off throughout my life. Mostly due to the heavy fatigue from window cleaning, the last three years it has been “off.”

So when I wanted to restart, I knew it was going to be slow. Much slower than I wanted. The Runner’s World plan I found said to start by walking for a month, then start a run-walk combination until eventually you were running more than walking. Sounds simple, right?

Those of you who are runners know that when you haven’t run in a while, restarting can be tough. You can be running fine one minute and have shin splints or muscle aches the next. That means you have to be ready to adjust. You have a few choices:

  • Slow your running pace.
  • Walk.
  • Stop and stretch until you can go again.

It’s so similar really to our life with the Lord! Continue reading

God Delivers

(Part 5 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort
Part 3: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings
Part 4: Depending on God

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

– 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

God could just as easily not have delivered Paul here. Paul could have been killed in Ephesus by angry mobs — or anywhere. Indeed in his ministry travels, he was stoned and left for dead, but by God’s grace, he got up again and returned to the place to preach more [Acts 14:19-20]. The word in Greek for “deliver” here is rhýomai, to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer. What that means then is God delivered Paul because He had a continuing purpose for Paul; He was not finished with him yet.

And that didn’t preclude Paul suffering more for the gospel. In fact, by saying that he has an ongoing (present and future) hope of deliverance, Paul is basically saying he expects continued suffering and tribulation from preaching the gospel. And his only hope to be delivered from it again rests in God. This is his great comfort. Continue reading