Saturday, February 28: Psalm 31- .

After reading the entire Psalm I sat reflecting on it. Particular phrases began to make connections. Once again David sings of his wondrous God who is with him in times of strife, hardship, pain and attack.

Even as I wondered which phrase God might have me dive deeper into, I reviewed the Psalm again. This time the opening 3 words provided a key to unlock what my heart was experiencing as I read this Psalm.

In you, LORD, …

It is one thing to cry out to the Lord, which is appropriate and good. But David begins In you, LORD. The ‘you’ makes David’s opening cry much more personal. The picture that forms in my mind is David sitting and speaking to the Lord face-to-face. The Lord is not some distant God whom he serves. The Lord whom he serves is present to him, real to him, and connected to him.

And from his connection to the Lord, David proclaims his fidelity and love for the Lord (5, 14-15). From his connection with the Lord, David can cry in pain about his present circumstances (7-13). Because of the Lord’s presence to David, he sings his way back to ultimate trust in the Lord and invites all people to know the love of the Lord that he experiences regularly…

Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD (23-24).

What an invitation! My soul cries…

Lord, I accept David’s invitation… I love You, Lord. And I lift my heart to worship You of my soul rejoice. Take joy, my Lord, in what You hear. Ay, my words and heart be pleasing in Your sight, my Lord and my God. Halleluiah. Amen.


Friday, February 27: Psalm 30- God, the Father who loves me.

One of my personal images for God is that of a beloved grandfather sitting in a rocking chair or overstuffed chair beckoning his grandchildren to climb up on His lap and snuggle in. They can share anything in life that is going on or just rest in the security of His embrace. I don’t know from where this image comes.  I never really knew my grandfathers… it is a construct of my mind. This image explains some of my relationship with the Lord, the one who offers security and a safe place in the storms of life.

I scribed these thoughts because today, as I journey through Psalm 30, I felt like I was climbing into Father-God’s lap. It was not as if any particular verse spoke to me, rather it was the feel of the entire Psalm washing over me. Yes, there were particular words…

His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; … I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken” (5-6)

To you, LORD, I called; … “What is gained if I am silenced, … (8-9).

But for me, this morning more than even these particular words, I had the deep and abiding sense that God had invited me to climb into His lap… to feel secure… to know I am loved… to know I am His and He is mine and to simply delight in the love of my Lord and God.

I hope and I pray that you know the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, too. If I can encourage you in your love relationship with the Lord, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Father, Daddy, God. I love You. Thank You for the serenity of today’s time with You. Thank You for the ever-present invitation to come close to You, to feel Your heartbeat and to know Your love. Thank You for Jesus, My Savior and Lord. Thank You, Jesus, for dying in my place to save me and all who believe in You. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your constant presence, Your guiding Words, Your teaching of the truth. I love You, Lord God, Almighty. Amen.


Thursday, February 26: Psalm 29- When I see the power of God, how do I respond.

This question flooded my thoughts as I read this Psalm, “When I see the power of God, how do I respond?” Let me get more specific…

When an earthquake rumbles, what do I shout?

When thunder claps roar and lighting crashes, how do I respond?

When storms rage upon the seas, what do I cry?

When God’s power is made manifest in nature, what happens in me?

The psalmist says when these things happen, all in the temple shout, Glory! GLORY! (9).

God is majestic. God is powerful. God is great. And when God acts… Lord, may I shout glory… Glory to the one who is Lord over all and Lord of all.

O, God, may I honor Your majesty. O, Lord, may I recognize Your manifestations and praise You because You are glorious, marvelous, all-powerful, all-mighty. All praise to You who lives on high. Amen.


Wednesday, February 25: Jude- Contend.

It seems from my reading this morning that the keynote to this brief epistle is the word contend, which Jude sounds right after his opening salutations. Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people (3).

As I thought on this verse and particularly the singular word contend, I noted that contend is a strong word. It is a fighting word.

When one of our children was struggling to reach their potential in school a teacher suggested we have him tested. My wife contended for her child until the services needed were provided. Don’t mess with a mama bear!

Jude says we are to ‘contend for the faith’.

Before I can contend, I have to know the faith. I have to be strong and sure of the faith that I have. Implicit in the call…to contend is to know… to give effort to build a solid foundation in the faith so that I can contend from a place of strength and understanding. Once the core is strong, we must be ready to stand firm and contend for it against any and all, inside and out of the church, who seek to pervert it!

As I ponder this morning, the Lord has been impressing upon me the need for me to continue to build my faith and my faith muscles.  Then I am to be willing to stand against those who seek to erode and change the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

Lord, develop my faith muscles and my combat skills that I might be of service to Your body, contending for the faith You delivered in Your Word, through Your prophets, apostles and most importantly, through Your Son, Jesus, my Lord. In His name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, February 24: 2Peter 3- Work at Your Faith.

There was intentionality in writing the books that make up the Bible. Peter’s intention for this letter emerges clearly throughout this chapter. Check out the verses below, which I noted as I read this morning:

Verse 1: Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.

Verse 11: Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives

Verse 14: So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

Verses 17-18: Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

What we think about matters. How we live matters. How much effort we put into building our faith matters. That we guard our thinking and doctrine matters.

Today God is reminding me to put my heart and soul and mind and strength into what I believe.  And who I am becoming in light of what I believe!

Simply said, God is reminding me, “Bill, work at Your faith!”

Lord, to this I pray for strength, determination, and heart that I might live for You all the days of my life this side of eternity. Amen.


Monday, February 23: 2Peter 2- Don't give up, keep on with Jesus.

God’s not kidding… judgment will come to those who don’t honor Him. Salvation will come to those who do. Such is the message of this chapter. Peter seems to be saying, ‘hang in there’. God will settle the score in His time. He did in the past and He will in the future.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment (4-9).

Sometimes I don’t want to do what I know God wants me to do. Sometimes I don’t want to be faithful. Sometimes I am tired. It is just for those times that Peter’s words work to encourage me, to keep on faithfully believing and living… to keep on being faithful to my Lord, Jesus.

God protected Noah. God rescued Lot and God continues to rescue His people. Keep on being faithful and watch what God will do, now or in the time of His choosing. So keep on loving, serving, and living faithfully… that’s what captures my heart as I ponder today’s Word!

Lord, I will keep on.  Lord, I am Yours now and always. Amen.


Saturday, February 21: 2Peter 1- All about Jesus.

As I was reading the opening of this letter and particularly verses 2-4 the phrase, “it is all about Jesus,” flashed in my thoughts. Our faith is born in Jesus, rooted in Jesus and will ultimately rest in Him for eternity.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Everything we need for a godly life…

Very great and precious promises so we may participate and escape…

Jesus has truly done it all and in Jesus we have all we need to be secure and effective in faith. Now this is not license to do as little as possible. Instead, Peter believes it provides motivation to give our faith in Jesus all we have!

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (5-8).

Am I working at my faith as best I can?... Are you?

Am I thinking, praying, and exercising the discipline to grow in faith?... Are you?

Am I giving my faith in Jesus my all?... Are you?

Lord, God, grace me with sober judgment that I might honestly look at my life and recognize where change and grow is needed. I pray in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Friday, February 20: 1Peter 5- Stand firm.

Two words came to mind as I read and reviewed this chapter… Stand Firm.  Everyone has a role….elders to shepherd, watch over and be an example to the flock…flock to submit and follow…and everyone is to show humility toward one another.

From our humble posture we can cast any care we have on the Lord because He cares for us.

And together we are to be on the lookout for the lurking devil who seeks to ravage the flock. But we can resist him by standing firm in the faith and realizing that although tough times will come the Lord is with us.

Standing firm then, has to do with belief, attitude and action, something I can watch in my life every day.

Another aspect of this chapter that hit me as I pondered and wrote was the corporate nature of it. I am not to be humble in a vacuum, but especially toward the others in the body. I do not resist the devil alone, but alongside the company of the body. I do not keep sober watch alone but again, alongside the company of the body.

The body of believers is a gift for my security, my activity, my care and my growth…

Do I treasure and treat the church, my brothers and sisters, as I should?

O, Lord, renew my love for Your body, the church and for the local expression of Your world-wide church I call my church. Show me how to love and submit to them, how to be watchful and to resist with them, and how and where to use my gifts and callings to serve them. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, February 19: 1Peter 4- How well do I treat others?.

How can I live my life so that it is pleasing to God?

I ask this question of myself and the text in various ways. And I am always listening for answers to this question in the Word? Today I came across another facet of God’s answer in verses 8-11: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Love one another deeply. Offer others hospitality happily. Use your gifts to serve others faithfully. In all these things God is praised.

Pretty straightforward.

In fact as I consider the great commandment, ‘Love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and love neighbor as self’, I thought Peter’s words offer a practical ‘how to’ for the neighbor aspect of the commandment. Love one another deeply. Offer others hospitality happily. Use your gifts to serve others faithfully.

As if a switch was flipped, I found myself thinking, ‘What could I do today to fulfill this Word?.

It is, after all, living the Word not just thinking about it that matters…

Lord, lead me today to put these words into action. How can I love those I meet today deeply? What hospitality can I offer today? Help me use my gifts, for others and not just for self. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 18: 1Peter 3- how we treat others matters.

I found myself thinking about how all-encompassing the life of faith is. God speaks about how we are to act as spouses, as well as how we are to treat other people in general, particularly when we are suffering for our faith.

Following Jesus, believing in Jesus, being a Christian should impact how we live and treat others in every area of our lives. All my social interactions from casual acquaintances to best friends and closest relatives changes because of my faith in and obedience to almighty God through Jesus Christ.

I found myself thinking about how I act toward relatives, friends and the ‘no-names’ who I meet in checkout lines and gas stations. I’m wondering if I reflect my Savior appropriately and well to these people. I am wondering if my attitude with and toward them is faithful to Jesus.  I am wondering if God is honored by these relationships I have.

This morning I am doing a lot of wondering… thanks to the very Words of God from 1Peter 3.

Lord I have pledged my obedience and servitude to You, when by Your grace, I started following You. My life has changed but there is MUCH room for more and continual change. Help me, Lord, to reflect You, to follow You and to obey You in all things. This I pray in the name of my God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tuesday, February 17: 1Peter 2- in whom there is no guile.

Again the opening words grabbed hold of my attention. Growing out of the call to live holy lives in chapter 1, Peter continues, Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. This recalls to mind Jesus’ comment about ‘living as innocent as doves’ (Mark 10:16).

We are to strive to live as genuinely good people, people in whom there is no guile (1Peter 3:10). For me this takes work, it is not a natural human impulse. I suspect this is why Peter seems to be hammering this point and the Spirit seems to be hammering it in me, too.

‘Rid yourselves’ is an imperative directed at me… I have work to do to get the vile God-dishonoring traits that live in me out of me…

Peter seems to set his point deeply in verse 12. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. The 4-letter word ‘such’ nails it. We are not to simply live good lives, but SUCH good lives… There should be nothing in us that allow non-believers to mock our faith or the Lord. They may disagree with us. Our faith may run counter to their faith, or way of life or even the culture in which we live to the end that we are accused of doing wrong.  BUT, even in their accusations our good deeds should be seen and bring glory to God.

Being a Christ-follower may cause us to be counter-cultural, but we should be so without malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander and the like.

To do this I must examine my life and work on those areas that are not good, excellent and God-pleasing… I have much internal work to do.

How about you?

Father God, all I can do in this moment is cry, ‘Help me! I cannot possibly do this on my own. I need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit overtime in my life.’

I pray this in the name of Jesus, my Lord, and Redeemer and the One to whom I swear allegiance. Amen.


Monday, February 16: 1Peter 1- Trinity.

I found myself thinking about God and the Trinity as I read the letter’s opening, so I circled back to it after finishing the chapter.

Verse 1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father: The Father is the initiator of our calling to faith. He chooses. He calls according to His foreknowledge. The Father initiates salvation.

Next Peter extols the work of the Spirit… whose work sanctifies us. Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit applies the choosing of the Father. The Spirit executes the choice and calling of the Father.

And all this is so we can live for Jesus; To be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. Peter notes two aspects of Jesus, His Lordship and the power of His blood. The Lordship of Jesus is implied in the statement that we are to be obedient to Jesus. Peter also notes that we are sprinkled with Jesus’ blood. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us.

I sat and marveled at our God.  The entire Trinity works to give us salvation. How much I owe my God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Holy Trinity, I praise You. Thank You, Father, for choosing me. How, why, is beyond me. All I can do is thank You and Praise You. Holy Spirit, thank You for applying the Father’s calling and cleansing me and sanctifying me. Your constant work in my life keeps me close to the Father, Son and You. And, Jesus,I praise You for the cross and I pledge my allegiance and obedience to You as Lord and Savior of my life! Halleluiah. Amen.


Saturday, February 14: Psalm 28- Remembering.

More cries to the Lord. The Psalms are filled with heartfelt prayers, prayers of hope, prayers of despair, prayers of pain, prayers of joy. I learn how to pray as I read and spend time in the Psalms.

Be honest with the Lord. That’s one thing I have learned from my time in the Psalms. Be vulnerable and open. God knows, so just speak with him honestly and plainly.

I have also learned that the deepest prayer grows from a place of trust in the Lord. Remember what God has done. He can and will do it again!

David prays in verse 7: The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. He prays that because he knows what God has done in the past. God truly has been David’s shield. I thought about all the times God protected and shielded David from Saul.

My thoughts flipped to the present. How many times God has been my shield. How many times the Lord showed up during a time of need or I could sense His presence during times of joy and blessing. These experiences are foundations for my prayers.

God lives. God enters our space. God protects. God blesses and corrects. God loves. All of this launches me to pray and speak with my Lord about my life and the things and friends that matter to me and to Him.

Lord, I am so thankful that You opened my eyes to see many of the things You have done in my life and in the world. You are an active and loving God and I can call out to You and You will hear and You will act according to You perfect will and plan. I love you, Lord.

Praise You, Father, Spirit and Son. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen



Friday, February 13: Psalm 27- The Lord is there.

Where do you turn in times of trouble?

The Psalmist, David, turned to the Lord.

Whether it is the shadow of death (Ps 23), or a cry for vindication (Ps 26) or now today, the wicked who advance upon him (2), David turns to the Lord for solace and safety and help in times of trouble.

Anyone who claims that Christ-followers do not experience trials, pain and hardship in this life has never read the Psalms, or much of the Bible for that matter. Trials will come for each of us but for the person walking with God we have a place to turn. We can turn to the Lord.

This is the message of this entire Psalm. I noticed how today’s Psalm opened and closed:

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident (2-3). …

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (13-14).

David’s trust and hope is God!

I circle back to my opening question, ‘Where do you turn in times of trouble?’ Or maybe better stated, ‘Whom do I turn to in times of trouble?’

God is there. The Lord is waiting with open arms to be shelter and refuge in times of trouble.

Such is my reminder this morning as I sit with my Lord…

Thank You, Lord for always being there. You have never let me down. EVER!!! Thank You. Praise You. Bless You Lord. In and through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, February 12: Psalm 26- God to the rescue.

We can never earn our way into God’s good graces. None of us will ever live such good lives that God is obligated by justice to reward us in any way. And yet how we live matters. How we live is our response to the grace, mercy and love God has shown us even though we did not deserve God’s grace, mercy and love.

David is in some kind of a pickle and he needs God to step in and save him. And so he cries out to the Lord in verse 1, vindicate me! Help me!

Then verses 2-11 are an example laden way of saying “I am Yours, Lord… I am Your child.” David’s works don’t earn him God’s vindication but they are a beacon declaring that He belongs to the Lord and his life is proof thereof.

Verse 12 is a closing statement of faith in the Lord, I will praise the Lord. Come what may, no matter what God chooses to do in this matter, I will praise the Lord.

It is one thing to say I believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Words can be cheap. Do the actions of my life declare that I believe in and love the Lord?

This is what I will chew on for the remainder of my day.

May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart and the actions of my life be pleasing in Your sight, O, Lord,  my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.



Wednesday, February 11: Psalm 25- Show me, teach me, guide me.

Like yesterday the source for my devotions leapt from the opening words of the Psalm. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust (1).

My heart grabbed those words as my mind shouted ‘Yes, yes, I trust in You, Lord. I put my trust in You.” These words captured the deepest sense of my life. I sat for a moment marveling how a few words could so capture me.

As I read on, I realized that trust was far more than merely a feeling… Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (4-5). Trust shows itself in action. Trust in God shows itself in obedience and not in bare minimum obedience. David prays to know the depth of God’s ways, the twists and turns of His path, so that he (David) might follow and obey the Lord exquisitely! Like an honor student, David wants to master more than the basics. He wants to know the ‘ins and outs’ of the Lord’s ways. He wants to be able to extrapolate God’s truth in areas not specifically mentioned…

Show me, teach me, guide me and teach me is David’s prayer.

Oh, Lord, that is my prayer as well.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God, my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long… Through Jesus, my Savior and Lord, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, February 10: Psalm 24- Resting in the folds of his love.

The morning I wrote this devotional was my weekly Sabbath. I have spent a leisurely morning, reading my thru-the-Bible-in-a-year readings, puttering and now eating breakfast and having my morning meditation in the Word. It was a wonderful and glorious morning. The sky is blue, the sun is high and strong, the temperature is cold and dropping, and the wind is whipping. Here I sit, God’s Word in hand, warm and toasty as I look out our great big windows into nature.

Then I open Psalm 24 and read… The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (1). Even as I complete the Psalm, I knew I would return to Verse One to ponder the wonders of the Lord.

All the beauty outside my window, the shimmering colors, the blustering wind, the swaying trees, the flitting birds, the strength of the sun, wispy white clouds… it is all the Lord’s. He created it. He established it. His mark of ownership is embedded in everything I can see, hear, touch, smell and sense and everything in all creation that I cannot see, hear, touch, smell and sense. Everything in all creation is His.

I marvel and delight in the Lord, Creator of all things. And He has chosen to reveal Himself to everyone through creation.  And even more wonderful, God has chose to reveal Himself and His teachings and ways to me through the Word and through Jesus, the Word made flesh!

This morning I have no great insights, no big “Ah Ha’s.” I do not need that today because I am resting in the fold of His arms, marveling in His nearness to me and enjoy the beauty of His creation with the refrain of King David lilting in the background: The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…

Praise the Lord O my soul and all that is within me praise His holy name…

The Lord is good and His love endures forever…

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it

My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…

All this is thought, felt and prayed through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen


Monday, February 9: Psalm 23- He is with me.

Comfort, peace, protection, care, guidance… these descriptors flood my thoughts as I read this Psalm.

Is life perfect? No, there are times of darkest valleys.

Are there problems around? Yes, enemies exist.

Do I always want to do what is best for me? No, ‘He makes me lie down’…

Despite all this, this Psalm cascades with feelings of comfort, peace, protection, care, and guidance because the Lord is with me.

To this my heart cries…

Alleluia, the Lord is God and His love endures forever.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, Who is my Shepherd. Amen


Saturday, February 7: Psalm 22- Choosing trust rather than despair.

I cannot read this Psalm of David without seeing the cross in the background. Jesus prayed this Psalm from the cross.

It carries the tone of utter despair regarding the harsh situation of the one praying… feeling forsaken by God, mocked by those nearby, broken and bruised. It is a cry of desperation, of pain and agony, of brokenness…

And yet, the Lord is still out there. He is worthy of the Psalmist’s cry. God is always out there and always worth our cry for help.

For David, for Jesus, and yes, for me… God gets the last word. The Lord God is our strength. The Lord God is to be praised and will be praised. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations (27-28).

The world may be crashing around them but the Lord God is not out done.  He has not lost control. God alone will win and I will stand with Him cries David and Jesus from the cross.

My life right now does not feel the sting this Psalm presents, but if/when the stings come, I will pray with David and Jesus; But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me (19).

Lord, You are my strength and my song. In this life or the next, You will be my victory. I praise You, my Lord and my God. Through the name of Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen



Friday, February 6: Psalm 21- The blessing of presence.

In this Psalm of blessing for the king, I was touched by verse 6: Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

What captured me was the second half of the verse, made him glad with the joy of your presence. This is not a blessing that would have come to top of my mind… I am so earthly focused.

David projects deeper understanding of life with this thought. David understood that one of life’s great blessings is knowing the joy of the Lord’s presence in our lives. This realization convicts me. I truly am so earthly, this-world focused, that I think of things like health, stuff, good family life and influence. And even when I think of these in a benevolent way… money to give away or influence to make changes in our world for the good for all people… I still never considered the simple blessing of the joy of God’s presence in my every day life, the wonder of knowing God in a deep and appreciative way. That thought never hit me.

I am wondering why this concept never occurred to me.

·         Am I a “Martha”, so busy doing things for and even at times with God that I miss the simple pleasure Mary found at Jesus’ feet?

·         Am I so much of a ‘doer’ that I don’t understand the joy and blessing of an intimate relationship with others, even less intimate relationship with the Lord?

·         Am I too influenced by my world?

And so my musings went today…

How about you, how did this Psalm hit you?

Lord, help me grow to understand the joy of knowing You… the joy of Your presence in my life every day that I get to sojourn with You this side of eternity. Show me, Lord, here and now the wonder of what I will learn when I am with You throughout eternity. I pray this, Lord God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, February 5: Romans 16- It takes a team.

I love reading all of the people named in this chapter and I love the way Paul has a word for each one of them. I sometimes think of Paul as ‘The Great Lone-Ranger Apostle’, going around by himself converting people all over the world, founding churches, and the like. But my’Lone-Ranger’ image isn’t really supported by the text here or anywhere in the NT.

I re-read the opening 16 verses, paying attention to all the appellations to the names… deacon, co-workers, converts, worked hard for you, friend, worked hard in the Lord, a mother to me, and so on. For the church to flourish it takes a team, many people playing her or his part so that all the work is done. Plus. these appellations indicate that there were significant relational connections between people, too.

The team isn’t just so work gets done; the team is so people are relationally supported doing the work of the Lord and living their lives in the Lord. Notice again the relational connection of the appellations… mother to me, my co-work, and dear friend. Paul, the great missionary/apostle, was a team player and he understood the power and need for team, emotionally, relationally and functionally.

This got me thinking… am I a ‘Lone-Ranger’ believer or am I part of a team, a family, a church, a community… a body of Believers, living with and living for Jesus in the world?

How about you? Think about it…

Lord, as I turn from the Word to prayer, I ask you to give me a deep appreciation for the team You have placed around me.  Even more, Lord, help me to press into those You have given to me to do life in Jesus, to grow with them and to serve with them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 4: Romans 15- Neighborly love.

The words of verse 2 stepped off the page and grabbed hold of me. Simple and straightforward for sure. And yet, at the same time, they deeply challenged the general ‘me-centered’ nature of my life.

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up (2).

I soak in those words…

Each of us should please our neighbors: so I (we) should live to please our neighbors. To do that means I cannot live to please myself, which is so often how I live life! This is a radical approach to life!

… for their good: these words put an exclamation point on Paul’s message but also provide some ordinal direction. My heart hears that I am to please my neighbors for their good. I hear echoes of faith in that statement. I should please them in ways that directs them to or strengthens them in the Lord. It is not simply doing what they want and allowing myself to be walked over… but shining Jesus out to them.

… to build them up: this seems to confirm my hunch about ‘for their good’. I am to please them to build them up, to strengthen them, to bless them, to encourage them.

And so this is how I should live.

The nudge of the Spirit is to set my sights to live like this today…

Lord, this requires a reorientation of my thinking. Strengthen me to make this change today. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Tuesday, February 3: Romans 14- Faith and Disputable Matters.

The hinge for the chapter rotates on the opening sentence. Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters (1). And the key to this sentence is understanding what are “disputable matters.”

As the chapter unfolds it is clear that food & drink and the observance of sacred days are disputable matters. These embody the issues Paul is speaking about to the church at Rome. But are there other matters that could be disputable that are not listed here?

As I considered this, I realized that naming any non-disputable matters is also important. Paul has labored in Romans, chapters 1-11, to explain the way of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. Clearly this is a non-disputable matter. Also, anything which is explicitly taught to be sin (the various sin lists) are indisputable. Another indisputable matter would be the action or behavior that is everywhere, taught in scripture to be wrong or right. So it seems that disputable matters are those that are not core to the Christian faith… secondary matters of behavior which a person can do which does not break the law of love (Chapter 13) and which can be performed to the honor of God.

Disputable matters we are to leave up to the individual Believer and not judge them by what we think and follow regarding these matters. Food/drink, sacred days… these are listed. Others could be length of hair, playing cards, dancing, cultural dress, greeting codes, and the like.

As I mulled this over I realized that I must be careful not to fill my heart with judgment on these disputable matters, which say nothing truly about one’s devotion and faith in Jesus.

Lord, help me to accept sisters and brothers, who on disputable matters, think differently but who, on the core of faith and scripturally defined behavior matters, follow You as Lord, Savior and God. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, February 2: Romans 13- Love.


The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (9-10).

‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself’, the Golden Rule, is the summation of all the commandments. It is the fulfillment of the OT Law.

If you are ever wondering what is right in a given situation, ask yourself what LOVE would do? What would you do to care for yourself in that situation and then do that for your neighbor/the other person. As Paul says to help clarify love, Love does no harm to a neighbor.

It sounds so simple, but loving others as we love ourselves is hard going, at least for me. It is easy to watch out for my own interests, but applying that to others is not. And I don’t think it is just me (!), which is probably why this truth is repeated over and over again in the scriptures…

Father in Heaven, help me to be more loving toward the other people in my lives. Help me, Lord Jesus, to look past myself to the needs of others. Help me, Holy Spirit, to be more like Jesus, my Lord. I pray in His name. Amen