Friday, July 16, 2010

Psalm 74:16–19

"Both day and night belong to you;
     you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
     and you made both summer and winter.
"See how these enemies insult you, LORD.
     A foolish nation has dishonored your name.
Don't let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves.
     Don't forget your suffering people forever."
The latter verses describe the psalmist's experience of living at a time when God does not appear active. Before he prays about the plight of his people, he reminds himself of God's activity in nature. Then he calls upon this mighty God to act on his people's behalf. When you're in a state of "deliverance has not yet come," focus for a while on God's rule over nature. Then, ask this strong God to act on your behalf, according to his own nature.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Philippians 3:12

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me."
Here's a picture of perseverance, what author Eugene Peterson called "a long obedience in the same direction." Paul starts with the sure knowledge that, first and foremost, he belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus owns him, and Jesus has a goal for Paul: perfection. It's something Jesus, not Paul, brings about, and it won't be completed in this lifetime. Paul knows it's a process, and is willing to trust Jesus as the one who controls it. Persevere in the direction of perfection in Jesus—and remember, it is a process.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Isaiah 66:4–5

"'I will send them great trouble—
     all the things they feared.
For when I called, they did not answer.
     When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes
     and chose to do what they know I despise.'
"Hear this message from the LORD,
     all you who tremble at his words:
'Your own people hate you
     and throw you out for being loyal to my name.
"Let the LORD be honored!" they scoff.
     "Be joyful in him!"
But they will be put to shame.'"
This describes what brings God's judgment. He calls, but people do not listen. In fact, they deliberately do what they know God hates, and they scoff at those who do follow God. If you know such people, pray for them! And stay true to the Lord yourself, focusing on him and not on the rejection of others.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Philippians 3:8–11

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"
Paul could have depended on his own qualifications to make him "good enough," but he did not. He trusted God's work in Jesus alone. His goal was not to become perfect or even acceptable to God, but to know Jesus—even if it meant knowing Jesus through suffering. On what are you depending today for being at peace with God, yourself, and others?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Isaiah 66:2

"'I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.'"


Is it difficult to be in a position to be blessed by God? All it takes is a humble and contrite heart and an attitude of submission to his word. That's all God asks of us! No religious ceremonies, no acts of devotion. The acts come after the heart is right. God is after the heart. If you've not experienced his blessing in some area, check your heart, especially with regard to pride and humility. If God is speaking to you about something, listen and do what he says. Blessing will follow