Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Psalm 119:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8
English Standard Version (ESV)

  I doubt that many of us would say out way is blameless.  Most of us would probably claim that we desire to follow the way of the Lord, but that so many distractions get in the way.  It's like a diet -- we start out with the best of intentions, but old habits are hard to shake.  Ever try to diet around Christmas?  Every sugar cookie and piece of chocolate will find its way to you!  Even when we don't dramatically fall off the wagon, it's easy to let things slide a little.
  And so we pray -- and there are two sides to this prayer.  The first is for the courage and wisdom to seek the Lord above all else.  The second is to recognize the benefits of doing so.  If we can see how rich our lives will be when we seek God, we're more motivated to set aside time to praise him.  If we can recognize that the peace and blessings of God will be more palpable the more we focus on him, it helps focus our minds and hearts on serving and praising the Lord.

Monday, December 11, 2017

2 Kings 19:14-19

2 Kings 19:14-19
English Standard Version (ESV) 

  So King Hezekiah has received a letter threatening destruction at the hands of the Assyrians.  He is faced with the greatest empire of the time that is coming after him -- it's clearly something he is not prepared for.  His first instinct is correct -- to go to the Lord.
  We all face opposition.  Maybe you're facing something right now, or maybe there is something in your past.  If not, there is something in the future -- something will rise up that you're not prepared for, that you don't know if you can face.  At that moment, our first response should be to go to the Lord in prayer.  He has promised to  hear every prayer, even the ones we can scarcely manage to put words to, and his strength can get us through every trial and tribulation, even death itself.  Our prayers may not be answered exactly as we desire, but he will never let us out of the palm of our hands, and our future is secure in him, even if that future looks different than we can imagine. 
  So when we face opposition, let us pray and trust in the God who will lead us through fire and death, into an abundant and eternal life.  Our joy is in the abundance of life that Christ offers, and he will be our peace in the midst of every moment of life.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Psalm 4

Psalm 4
English Standard Version (ESV)

  I heard a preacher recently say that joy is the flag that flies in the castle of our hearts when the king is at home.  I love that image -- that joy is the evidence we display when Christ is King, because when he reigns in our hearts, we can have peace and joy and fullness.  There is no joy like the joy we get in Christ, for his joy is complete and comes with the power of God, and his joy has promised to endure, no matter what the world may throw at it.  His joy is eternal, and we shall reign with Christ in the heart of it.
  Joy can be challenging, but remember that it's deeper than happiness.  Joy rests within us and can be steadfast in the face of the waves and the storms.  Joy endures.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Psalm 3

Psalm 3
English Standard Version (ESV) 

  At one point, the disciples asked Jesus to pray.  There was clearly something about Jesus' relationship with God that led the disciples to ask about how their own relationship could be transformed.  He came to give his peace, a peace that transcends understanding.  It's the kind of peace that leads a man to sleep when surrounded by thousands of enemies, so confidant is he in the protection of God.
  Have you ever seen pictures of children asleep in the most chaotic of situations?  There are pictures of children asleep in their parent's arms during thunderstorms and other loud, chaotic events, and it's overwhelming for me -- such is the child's confidence and trust in their parent that they can fall asleep.
  And so we should pray for that kind of peace, for the kind of trust where we, in the face of overwhelming circumstances, can rest in God, confidant that the outcome is in good hands, because we are safe with God.  The Lord hears our cry and answers us, and nothing can tear us from his hand - and so we need not fear.  Salvation belongs to the Lord!