What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Answered Prayer: Psalm 13

Sometimes it seems like the people in the Bible had a huge amount of faith and trust in God. When I read the Psalms, I see a lot of praising God and trusting God. I don’t always feel or think that I can trust God and get discouraged by the faith other people show in God. My faith wavers and dips. Sometimes I have more faith and sometimes I have less.
When I think of King David, I think of a man whose heart was completely for God. In 1 Samuel 16 it talks about how God picked David because God looks at the heart and found David’s heart to be devoted to Him. Does that mean that David never doubted God? If that was the case then relating to David would be very difficult, because I am full of doubts.
In Psalm 13, David begins with a statement that tells me that he did in fact doubt that God would come through for him:
“Long enough, God –
            you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
            long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
            lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
            have looked down their noses at me.” [Verses 1 – 2, The Message]
David questioned God’s care for him. He doubts that God will take care of him and protect him from the arrogant enemies. He complains of feeling alone and ignored. He complains of having a ton of trouble. He complains of living with pain in his stomach, possibly from nerves, anxiety and/or hunger. I can relate to this David. I’ve felt alone and ignored and like there’s a ton of trouble just waiting for me. I’ve struggled with anxiety that has left me with pain in my stomach. I can relate to the David in this Psalm.
The question that comes to me is this: Does God really ignore us? I don’t think so. I think David thought God was ignoring him but God was at work somehow. David comes around to acknowledging God’s work in his life by the end of this Psalm. David keeps talking to God and eventually comes to a point of trusting God. Verses 5 – 6 say,
“I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms –
            I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
            I’m so full of answered prayers.”
I think that many of my prayers are like David’s. I start off complaining and worried but as I focus on Who God is and what He’s done for me, I come around and end up praising Him. Eventually, I can end up throwing myself into God’s arms and celebrating the way He rescues me from the trouble I face. Sometimes it doesn’t happen right away. It may take a few days or a few months or even a few years, but eventually I see God’s answered prayer. And if there are things that I pray about and never see the answered prayer, it doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work. It may mean that in God’s plan there was something better going on than I could see.
I’ve seen enough of God’s rescues to know He’s at work. I can trust Him for the things I cannot see. I can trust Him not to be ignoring me, as I might think He is. I just have to remember the things He’s done and praise Him for the answers I’ve seen. Like David, I can be singing at the top of my lungs about the answers to prayer I have received and trust Him for the ones yet to come.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Refined Truth or Lies: Psalm 12

King David usually has something good to say about God. In this Psalm he says something very encouraging about God’s Word. I love God’s Word, and so did David. There are many reasons to love God’s Word. David gives a few of them in this Psalm, especially in verses 6 – 8, where he compares God’s words to the words of the wicked:
“God’s words are pure words,
Pure silver words refined seven times
In the fires of his word-kiln,
Pure on earth as well as in heaven.
God, keep us safe from their lies,
From the wicked who stalk us with lies,
From the wicked who collect honors
For their wonderful lies.”
God’s words are honest, pure, holy, perfect words. His words have been tested in fire and proven to be refined and pure. This is like silver being heated up and purified. His words come out as pure silver without any impurities in it. And, His words are pure in our world just as they are in heaven. Nothing deceitful or wicked is contained in His Word. Every word, sentence, line, and statement in His Word is truth.
That is compared to the words of the wicked. The wicked in this world and in the spiritual world try to get to us with their lies. Unlike Scripture and God’s words to us, the wicked tries to confuse us and pollute the truth with lies. Whereas God’s words are truth, the wicked only spout good sounding lies. And, according to this passage, the wicked get away with telling lies and win awards for their wonderful lies.
This cautions me to be reading the Word daily and to make sure I don’t allow the good sounding lies of the wicked confuse me. The lies are not always obvious. Sometimes the lies are subtle and sound like they could be the truth or could be from God. But I have to be careful to not be fooled. I think that’s harder to do than many realize. There are so many good sounding lies whether it be from politicians, friends, or even preachers. Sometimes we have to take a step back and really search the Scriptures to see what God would have us believe or how God would have us behave.
I don’t like to get political in my blog but I think an example may be necessary here. For instance, there are many who say abortion is wrong, yet feel capital punishment is right. Both involve taking a life. In my book you are either pro-life, in every situation, or you are choosing whose life is worth something and whose is not. I choose to leave it up to God. I choose to let Him decide whose life is worth sparing, without my help. If I believe He is a totally capable God, and I do, then I know He decides who lives and who dies. I hope I’m never put in the position of having to decide. I already know how I’ll decide. I decide to let God make the choice.
I’m not saying someone who believes differently from me is wicked. I’m just saying we have to be careful about what we purport to be God’s truth. Are we sure we are believing God’s Word or are we being confused and mislead by the wonderful lies of the wicked? Just something to ponder.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Psalm 11

Where do we find refuge from the wicked? I only know one place. In God’s arms. I strive to keep focused on God’s ways and on God’s help in times of trouble. That’s what David says we should do. In Psalm 11:1 in The Message, David says,
“I’ve already run for dear life
            straight to the arms of God.”
This was David’s response when people were telling him to run from the evil people who were after him. David says, he’s already run to God and will trust God to take care of him. He went on to say why would he run away now just because there is evil aimed at him. God is fully capable of protecting David (and me) from all the evil that might come his (or my) way.
I take comfort in knowing that God has already protected me from all possible harm. Sometimes I get afraid of what’s coming at me and I want to run. However, I usually realize there’s no place to run to. And, God is able to take care of every detail of my life. He’s in control of everything and I can be confident that no matter what comes my way, whether it be evilness, wickedness, or just the normal temptations of living in a sinful world, God is setting things straight and making things turn out the way He has planned.
Verse 7 of Psalm 11 is more assurance of God’s care in times of trouble:
“God’s business is putting things right;
            he loves getting the lines straight.
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
            We can look him straight in the eye.”
Putting things right and setting things straight is His business. I don’t have to make everything right. That is a good thing because I don’t always know what right is or what right looks like in every situation. He’s in the business of setting us straight. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do my part. My part is to be asking Him for insight and discernment that I may know what is right. And I need to be open to whatever it is He is trying to tell me. And I need to respond in obedience so I may end up standing tall and will be able to look Him straight in the eye. He provides the guidance and instruction necessary for me to be right with Him, but I have to respond by turning to Him.
Lately, in my life, I’ve been questioning what to do in certain situations. I don’t hear God’s voice telling me what to do. I wish that I did. What I have instead is God’s Word to give me guidance and instruction. So by reading His Word and studying it, I gain insight into what He wants me to do. This passage of Scripture gives me the assurance that God will show me what to do even in the midst of turmoil in my life. I can and should run to Him for my dear life and know that He will give me the direction I need to end up standing tall.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Psalm 9

I’m not feeling very positive these days. I haven’t been feeling much joy for some time now. Back in April, when I read Psalm 9 for my daily devotion, I was not feeling the happiness I think I should be feeling. I realize that not much has changed with the passing of time. I’m still not feeling very happy.
But, Psalm 9 recounts a time in David’s life when he was feeling the joy and thankfulness of knowing God. Verses 1 and 2 in The Message say,
“I’m thanking You, God, from a full heart,
            I’m writing the book on Your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
            I’m singing Your song, High God.”
I should be this joyful for all God has done for me. But, I tend to dwell on the negative far too much. I need to be thanking Him from a full heart. I do try to write of His wonders in my blog articles and sometimes I even succeed. I also try to write words that express joy in letters and emails to friends. Sometimes I even succeed.
But lately, I’m struggling to feel good and struggling to see God’s wonders working in my life. I want to see where God is working in my life and through my life, but I’m struggling.
I don’t know if I can force myself to be whistling, laughing and jumping for joy, but I can sing along with the stereo as I play songs that thank God for what He’s done in this world. Sometimes when I do that, I feel a little more thankful and can feel a little more hopeful. Maybe that was David’s secret to such a joyful life: that whatever else was going on in his life, he found things about God worthy of singing about. David wasn’t always in the best positions. He was often being hunted and was in fear for his life. However, he often found something for which to praise God.
In Psalm 9 in The Message, David was focusing on his enemies turning tail and running away. He noticed that his enemies stumbled and fell on their faces. He noticed God taking charge and setting everything right. What am I missing? Why can’t I see my enemies running away? Sometimes I don’t even know who or what my enemies are.
Regardless of whether I can tell who or what my enemies are, God can still provide a relief from the troubles in this life. Verses 9 and 10 in this same Psalm tell us,
“God’s a safe-house for the battered,
            a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
            you’re never sorry you knocked.”
How I long for a safe-house. Today I pray that I will experience His safe-house protection and be relieved of the troubles during bad times. Maybe the bad times will still exist, but I can find relaxation by coming to God. Maybe that’s where I can find the joy and happiness I need to live another day.