Tuesday, January 31, 2012

With all that is in me

Psalm 103.1.ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

This is the Bible verse I am memorizing this week, and after Sunday's sermon about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength I began thinking about what it looks like to bless the LORD with all that is within me.
How can we bless the LORD anyway? Seems He is the one who is keeper of all blessing; and what could we possibly give to Him to increase His worth? Surely our God is infinitely worthy, and we cannot improve His nature or character in any way, and yet we are told to bless Him repeatedly.
In this passage we are to bless Him with all that is within us!
Here is the main takeaway for me - when I take everything I am (my body, my mind, my heart, my energies, my passions, my dreams) and I exert them all to declare God as the beautifully supreme God that He is - I am blessing Him.
This must bring Him joy, and while it doesn't "improve" His character, it does shine glory on Him, which is why I'm here.
And why shouldn't I give all that is within me for His honor and blessing? Let us remember "all His benefits", how He "forgives all our iniquity", how He heals the disease of selfish sin in us, how He "redeemed our life from the pit", and how He "crowns us with steadfast love and mercy".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Responses to the Gospel

Last night we talked about different responses to the Gospel, and this morning I read Matthew 26 for my devotions.
I am always amazed by the stark contrast between the woman who lavishly and literally poured out everything for Christ, and Judas - who greedily gives up Jesus for some shiny silver.

Those who embrace the gospel and love Jesus will give up whatever it takes to have him. However, those who reject the gospel will ignore Jesus and embrace other things as their savior - and some of these individuals appear to have walked with Jesus for years.

How do we view possessions - to be used up for Christ's glory and fame, or to be sought after at any cost?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When God brings poverty

14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.

When we are confident in our abilities and resources, we wrongly assess that we don't need God. And so we live our life selfishly and extravagantly - not extravagance for the glory of God but for our own desires.
This of course saddens God's heart and is a major attack against His glory - which is why we have all been created in the first place. In fact, that is the  very reason that we are given abilities and resources -to make much of Him.
An inheritance like the one the prodigal son received was intended to be invested, and yet it was squandered on self-gratification. How many times do we do the same?

It is in these times that God awakens us to our real need for Him. Without his provision, we find ourself bankrupt and impoverished. In our independence we are reduced to the position of a farm animal.
I don't believe it brings God joy to bring this poverty into our life, but He brings it all the same so that our focus shifts from us to Him and the richness of His salvation.
At the end of the day it matters very little how much is in our bank account or how much spending money we have. Instead, the real question is - are we in communion with our Father, feasting on the bounty of Jesus Christ? That is true extravagance.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Something Old and Something New

Our hope for this new year can be found in:

Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

I love the last 6 words in this passage - "Therefore I will hope in him."
Why do we hope? I find two key reasons in this passage.

First, hope in something old -The steadfast love of the Lord.

I am so thankful that year to year, God's character never changes. He remains faithful to His promise, and this is something we can take refuge in.

But there is also hope in something new: The fresh mercies of God.

While God never changes, we do all the time, and sometimes our life seems upside down. Whether we are going through the valley or we are on the mountaintop, we have access to the grace of God, which is supplied each new morning.
Great is His faithfulness!!