Tag Archives: Daily devotions

Missing God’s Best

For years I lived in a state of divided worship. My main goal in life was to secure God’s blessing on my agenda. Sure, I loved him, but I’m afraid I loved myself more. Worship was all about me, and what I could get from him, rather than surrendering myself to him. Funny thing is that my agenda kept me in complete bondage, because idolatry leads us to a state of total fear. When we direct our worship to anything other than him, our peace and joy are totally dependent on the temporary circumstances we desire. We constantly fear losing the objects of our affection, and that fear controls our actions. True freedom is only found in true worship. When we surrender all to God, we have nothing to fear. He is never changing and eternal. He is all loving, and has a good plan for us, so when we learn to rest in that knowledge, we no longer feel threatened or afraid. We are free. God does not merely demand true worship for his sake, but for ours. He knows that all other forms of worship will lead us back into bondage. His ways are so much higher than ours, and following them is the path to blessing.

The passage that stood out in my reading this morning stressed that truth. Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. (Dt. 12:13-14)

 As the Israelites took possession of the land, it wouldn’t be a lack of worship that would be their downfall; instead it would be improper worship. The Lord gave specific instructions on how they should worship, but they had their own ideas of how it should look. God warned them not to take on the practices of the nations surrounding them, but it did not take long for them to follow their detestable practices. Within generations they would even be sacrificing their children in the fire.

God calls us to surrender all to him—that means giving up our own agendas. However, far too often our worship becomes an effort to convince God to bless our selfish plans. We sacrifice our children to idols of convenience and pleasure, and there is very little self-surrender involved. To the contrary, we end up surrendering everything good and holy to our desires for comfort and blessing. Basically, we are worshipping, but we are not worshipping God. Our idolatrous desires steal our affections away from him, and rob our lives of his blessings. We reach out for what we think we need, and all the while are throwing away his best for our lives.

Lord, I have wasted too many years focused on false gods, and worshipping in my own way. Help me to be fully surrendered to you, and to worship in spirit and truth. Do not let me be deceived into thinking that anything in this world can offer true satisfaction. Only you are the Living Water that can satisfy the thirst in my soul. Forgive me for ever trying to replace you by digging my own broken cistern that won’t hold water (Jer. 2:13). You are worthy and good. I choose your ways over my own. Amen

 

 

Finding Stability

Lord, I am so concerned for a loved one right now. It seems everything is out of control and unstable. I want to control it, but I can’t and even if I did I’d probably make it even more of a mess. So right now I ask You to take over. I ask You to help me resist the urge to try and become the director here. Help me surrender this to You every day, and every moment. Forgive my tendency to worry, and help me to keep my eyes on You rather than fearful circumstances. Please work mightily! Amen

Be still and know that I am your God and your loved one’s God. I will be exalted in this situation. This is not your battle but mine! I have begun a good work in this child, and I will be faithful to complete it. Remember, you’ve been here before? You thought if only you could your loved one to the right counselor, everything would be ok, and it never worked. You exerted your might, but it was never enough. It will not be by your might or power, but by my Spirit that this mountain will be removed. What is impossible for you is nothing for Me! Cease striving and leave this in my hands. You cannot add anything to your life by worrying. I see and I care. I have not abandoned you in this situation so do not be afraid. Trust in Me, believe in my goodness towards you. You are treasured, and the one you worry about is too. Do not look anxiously about you or seek answers from the arm of flesh. Find peace in my presence and wait for my salvation. I see your concern for stability, and I will help. I am the only true stability. Trust me.

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure. Is. 33:5-6

Oh Joy!

Today dear Lord, I choose to rejoice in You. There are so many grievous things happening in this world, and even in our lives, but I am choosing to allow your joy to strengthen me. Joy is second fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5, and yet far too often it is not a characteristic in my life. Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Lately, I have felt completely weak and powerless, and I’m beginning to see the connection. In your presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). I will rejoice in the Lord always, and take joy in the God of my salvation in spite of circumstances (Phil. 4:4, Hab. 3:18). I will remember that I am blessed (which is a state of happiness) whenever I am poor in Spirit, hungering for righteousness, and even persecuted for the kingdom’s sake (Mt. 5:3-11). Lord forgive me for forgetting to walk in your provision of joy. No matter what I face, I have You and that is enough.You are my victorious warrior who rejoices over me (Zep. 3:17). I find that completely amazing! If you can rejoice over such weakness and imperfection, then I should rejoice constantly that the perfect One has entered death to bring me life to the fullest (Jn. 10:10). Thank You so much Father! I love You with all I am, and ask You to be the center of my life. Help me shine for You today, and to spread your love, hope and JOY to a lost and dying world. Amen

Psalm 63

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,

To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,

My lips will praise You.

So I will bless You as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,

I meditate on You in the night watches,

For You have been my help,

And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

My soul clings to You;

Your right hand upholds me.

Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life to destroy it,

Will go into the bdepths of the earth.

They will be adelivered over to the power of the sword;

They will be a bprey for foxes.

But the king will rejoice in God;

Everyone who swears by Him will glory,

For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

 

Lord, don’t you care?

Good Morning Lord. Here I am sitting at your feet waiting to partake in the good part of life. Everything else is temporary, and yet too often I get a wrapped up in things that will not last. Help me to live for your eternal kingdom today by loving You and others first. There are many things that have to be done, but just help me to see life through your eyes, so I know what is truly important. When I put too much emphasis on circumstances, it can make me question your goodness. I think about the story of Martha and Mary.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

I used to see myself as a Mary, and it’s true that I love You fervently! But nothing in this passage indicates that Martha didn’t love You just as much as Mary. The difference is that she let the demands of life take precedence over the eternal, and when circumstances became the most important thing, she suddenly questioned your goodness. “Lord, do You not care…?” is one of the most telling lines in scripture. It’s a question I used to ask all the time when things weren’t going my way. I would never go so far as to mouth the words, but each time something negative happened—when people didn’t meet my expectations, or when negative things happened, I would sure wonder whether or not you cared. Then the worst trial of my whole life happened, and in the midst of that I realized that You not only care, but You share in my suffering. You care immensely, but your agenda is so much greater than merely making my life pleasant. You have used suffering to teach me so much! I have found your goodness in the midst of extreme pain, but I had to choose to seek You rather than instant relief. In those dark times, sitting at your feet offered the only peace and comfort.

Now that life is a little easier, I find myself acting a lot more like Martha than Mary again. “To do” lists tend to run my day rather than your Spirit, and I find myself anxious and bothered about many things. I know it is possible to live in this world, but not be controlled by it, yet I seem stuck serving “urgent” demands rather than waiting on You. I know part of the answer is figuring out what is truly urgent, and the other part is making the decision to sit at your feet and tune everything else out at the beginning of each day. Some days my efforts are just pathetic. I’m like a horse raring to get out of the gate, and trying to look away for a minute to focus on something else. I have it backwards! The race I should be running is towards You, not life demands. I need to keep my eyes focused on You. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).

Father, today I ask You to help me lay aside every weight, every urgent “to do” on my list, and run towards You. I know that is my calling. My relationship with You is the most important thing, “the good part,” that can’t be taken away. So help me focus on the eternal side of life rather than the temporary (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Thank You that I actually know there is a good, eternal part to life. I can’t imagine how people live without knowing there is more to life than things that pass away—it seems so futile and hopeless. What an awesome honor and privilege to understand there is more, and to be called your child! Yet I focus on the lesser things in spite of what I know and the One I know. Forgive me Lord, and right now I choose the better part that can’t be taken away. Amen

Come to Me and find rest. You are weary and heavy laden because of your choices (Mt. 11:28). You wear yourself out over lesser things. In my presence there is rest and peace that the world cannot comprehend. You know it, and have experienced it many times. I am not standing over you ready to condemn. I am standing before you asking you to come and partake of the living water that gives true satisfaction. There is nothing that can compare. I long to help you find rest for your soul. Taste and see that I am good! (Ps. 34:8). There is nothing that compares to Me, so remember all the benefits of knowing Me (Ps. 103), and come into my presence. You need your time with Me! It will give you strength and wisdom to face each day. Without Me, you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). Remember that and come freely. Do not come out of guilt or obligation, but out of love and passion—just as Mary did. Sit at my feet and partake of eternal truths that you will need to overcome the problems of life. Sit at my feet and bask in my goodness. Breathe deeply and experience my great love. It will carry you through the day in a state of rest rather than anxiety. That is my desire for you. It is not about doing, it is about being with Me. Come dear child, come.

Soaring Above the Limits

Father, I give you this day. I give you my ears and my eyes, and ask You to help me hear your voice, and to see through your eyes. You know my limitations, but I ask You to work beyond them. Surprise me with little miracles that would never happen if it depended on Me. You have done that so many times over the course of my life, and I love telling people about how You care about even the small details of our lives. What an amazing privilege You have given your children- to have a personal relationship with You! It is remarkable and wonderful. I am so blessed to be your child. Help me share this great blessing with others. I thank  Father, overcome my tendency towards distraction. Help me to shine your light in this dark, dark world. Amen

Come boldly to my throne daughter. Some days you forget that I understand and sympathize with your weaknesses. Do not let them keep you away from me. Come to me in confidence, and you will find mercy and grace to help in your time of need (Heb. 4:15-16). I see your desire, along with your self-condemnation. I am much more gracious than you are. Come—don’t beat yourself up. I see the desire of your heart, and will honor that. Yes, the world is filled with distractions, but if you will come and rest a while in my presence, the distractions will fade away. I do not condemn you for distraction. I am not measuring our relationship in terms of time. You are time-bound and put so many demands on yourself based on that, but I exist outside of time. I look beyond time limits to the heart. I see the desires of your heart, and they mean so much more to me than your self-imposed demands to make your quiet time look a certain way. Coming to me out of obligation does not please my heart as much as spontaneous moments of praise. It blesses me when you praise me throughout your day, when you are obedient to share with the people I put in your path, and when you stop to read a passage of scripture I have laid on your heart. It blesses me when I am never far from your thoughts. It blesses me when you sing praises as you drive down the road, and as you pray for those I put on your heart. It blesses me that you are so grateful to be my child. So many of my children take it for granted. Just know that I am with you in all your time-bound moments, but I am also with you outside of time. Today take on an eternal perspective. Do not fret over the limits of this world, but rejoice that I have overcome them for you. You are my child, and our relationship is eternal. Never let a time limit cause you to forget that. As you wait on Me, you will rise up on wings like an eagle, and you will soar above these earthly limits (Is. 40:31).

Overcoming Myself

Lately I have realized that I am a complainer! I complain about the weather, complain about the demands of life, and just complain about far too many things. The other day was one of my least favorite sort of days—cold and rainy. I grumbled every time I had to get in and out of the car. It was a particularly busy day, so the excessive complaints finally caught my attention. It seems I had spent the better part of a day whining. I guess it takes a lot to get my attention, but that day I realized I have a problem. If I am complaining excessively, it means I am focusing on the negatives in life rather than the greatness of my God. I thought about Paul’s command in Philippians 2:14. We are to do everything without grumbling or arguing. That day, I barely did anything without grumbling. Obviously, I was created with the will to choose my attitude, so I realized it needs an adjustment.

Today Lord I will choose to set my mind on things above, and will filter my thoughts through Philippians 4:8. I will not allow my mind to dwell in things that are untrue, dishonorable, unfair, impure, ugly, negative, shameful, or unimportant. Instead I focus on the better part of life—my relationship with You and your goodness. I know You are in control of everything. You allow trying circumstances and even lousy weather to mold my character. Help me to stay aware today, and not to default to my natural tendency to whine and complain. I surrender to You. I choose to praise You now. Amen.

My Child, I stand ready to help you overcome your own nature. I inhabit the praises of my people, so choose to stand in my presence rather than getting tripped up by human emotion. Let my word dwell in you richly, and maintain a heart of gratitude. Whatever you do, do in my name giving thanks to the Father. You cannot just force yourself to stop bad habits; you must replace them with new habits that flow out of a heart of love for Me. My Spirit gives you the ability to do all things, and to be an overcomer in this life. Do not focus on your weakness, but rather on my strength that is best revealed in your weakness. Rely on Me and not yourself. Otherwise, you will stay trapped by your human nature, even though I have given you my divine nature. You are no longer obligated to your sinful nature, so choose abundant life today. Set your mind on things above and you will find yourself soaring above the pitfalls of life. 

 Psalm 22:3, Col. 3:16-17, Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9, 2 Pet. 1:4, John 8:44, Col. 3:2

Running the Race

Lord, time truly flies. I know that it won’t be long before I am standing in your presence. That is why I cannot grieve long over those who have gone ahead of me. I miss them, but know that they are free from the struggles of this earth and would never want them back here. I will see them in the blink of an eye, and I know that all that counts on this side of eternity are the eternal things—loving You and loving people. Yet, I feel that I am not consistent in anything. Life gets in the way of my best intentions, and though I desire to put You first, the constant demands of life tend to drown out the eternal. I know that much of the problem is just me. Scripture tells me to love You with all of my heart, soul, and strength. That last word hits home as I think about my weak attempts at physical strength training. I may get to the gym once or twice a week, and when I do there’s really no plan. I run back and forth in the water, and use the resistance weights on and off, but there’s no real strategy to achieve my goal. In fact, I don’t even set goals. I see the same problem across the board—from physical exercise, to work, to personal life, to spiritual life. I build no strength, because I lack the self-discipline and consistency needed to build it.

Athletes are consistent. I am consistent with nothing. It takes so little to get me off track. It doesn’t help that my schedule changes from day to day, but that was my choice—a choice that fits my impulsive personality. I hate routine, but it’s quite apparent I need it. Paul often compared the Christian life to competing in an athletic competition. “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Every day of my life feels like an exercise in futility—like beating the air. I call it spinning my wheels. Lord, please help me overcome myself! Help me run with endurance the race set before me, and help me to see the goal! Actually, Hebrews 12:2 tells me I should run it by keeping my eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of my faith. I must look at his example of endurance, and his determination to finish the work the Father sent him to accomplish. Make me resolute Lord. Strengthen me in this weakness of mine, and teach me how to overcome my inconsistent nature. I surrender it to You now. I am desperate for your help! Amen

My child, you did get some athletic training when you were growing up. Remember how you couldn’t wait for baseball season? You practiced every chance you could, because you loved it. The same was true of tennis. Yes, it required self-discipline, but it was born out of a love for the games. Keep that in mind, or you will quickly become legalistic. Everything you do must be born out of love. You must run towards Me, and I will give you the strength you need. I did not make you a “type A” personality, and I intend to use you with the gifts and strengths I have given you. Yes, you must “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God,” but in order to do that you must have Me in your sights. You need only make yourself available to Me consistently. I do not ask for more than that. Do not turn this into a list of requirements, or you will fail very quickly. Run the race because you love Me, and because you love people. Set your goals with that love in mind. Even your physical exercise should be born out of love for Me, and a desire to honor Me in all you do. Make the time and I will do the rest. This means you cannot give in to every demand life throws your way. You must make choices, but that is easy when your priorities are correct. The real battle is choosing what is most important. Put Me first, and everything else will fall in place. I will bring order as you run towards Me. 

Still Waters…

Father, I am amazed at how easily distracted I am. It’s ridiculous really. I guess part of it is life in the modern world, because honestly I don’t remember struggling this much before the days of smart phones and computers. I suppose the answer is to put them away, and carve out the time, or to rise much, much earlier so there won’t be interruptions. Either way, it is time for a change. It’s time to stop talking about it, and start doing it. I ordered the book on time management, and haven’t had time to read it! Oh my, You are so patient with me, and I so appreciate that, but I also know You are calling me out, and into obedience. Help me learn how to quiet my soul. Lead me by the still waters and let me drink from the streams of living waters today. I am parched. Let me drink freely without distraction, knowing that You are with me. Then let me lie down in green pastures as You restore my soul. It gets so beat up in this world. Thank You for times of refreshing.  Amen

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27). Do not let the noise of this world drown out my voice. You have my Spirit, which means you have everything you need for victory. I will always lead you in triumph so that you will manifest the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God to a dying world (2 Cor. 2:14). That is why you must be diligent to listen for my voice and follow my leading rather than the multitude of other voices that call out for your attention. When you fail, do not waste time in self-condemnation, but come humbly in repentance and let me hold you in my arms. I do not condemn, I restore. I bore your condemnation on the cross; so do not take it up again. Little one, you are mine—fully loved and precious in my sight. Never let anything keep you from running to Me. Come now, sit beside the still waters and find rest for your weary soul. There is healing here in my presence. The world inflicts damage on your soul daily, but a moment in my presence can repair it. Come and drink freely. Rest in my love. That is all you need in this moment. Let go the cares of this world, and gaze on the beauty of the Lord. Let me hide you in the shelter of my wing as you go through your day so the blows of life will not hurt you. I will take them for you. Learn to abide in Me my child. It will come as you fix your gaze on Me.  Turn your eyes on Me, and come.

 

Flawed People, Broken Relationships & God

Lord, I want to bless others as You have blessed me. Let the abundance You have given flow out to others. I know your sweet goodness and love, and so many who claim to know You live in fear and defeat. They do not know your perfect love that casts out fear. They don’t trust in your goodness, and they are in bondage. Many I love are among that number, and as much as I would love to fix it, I can’t. I have to trust that You will use brokenness to draw them to yourself, and to teach them that your ways are higher than theirs. It is so hard to watch them flounder through life, and missing your best. Please, Lord, open their blind eyes! Help them see your great love and goodness.

Life lived with flawed people is not easy. There is always something to stress over. Yet, in your wisdom You chose to make us to live in relationship. In recent years, You have helped me see how often I contribute to each messed up relationship, and have called me to “take the log out of my own eye.” When it comes right down to it, nobody ever does anything worse to me than what I do to You regularly. I neglect You and focus on myself way too often. Please forgive me, and help me to always look at my own heart before I start judging others. Then help me to show the same grace and mercy you show me when dealing with those who are blind to their own flaws. I know relationships are the best instruments of change in our lives. The problem is that we are too often resistant to your agenda. We do not let our conflicts and relational struggles drive us to You. Instead we frantically grasp for control, and push You away. You stand ready to redeem, but we choose self-destruction. Lord, I pray for all the people I love who are in self-destructive modes right now. Help them to see their need to surrender— to humble themselves before You and others. Show them the power of yielding their broken relationships to You and finding only You have the power to redeem. Help them see that praying for an answer while striving for control is self-defeating and help them turn their lives wholly over to You, because You are good and worthy.

Dear child, be careful that you also surrender. You must give your loved ones to Me. Understanding what others need to do is wonderful, but you must remember that every teacher must lead by example. I see your stress and concern for those you love, and stress is a sure indication that you have not fully surrendered them to Me. Come to me with uplifted hands, letting go of all the cares that would weigh you down. I stand ready to carry these burdens for you. I love these little ones more than you do, and my love is perfect. Yours is flawed and mixed with selfish motives. Let go. I am able. My hand is not shortened that I cannot save (Is. 59:1), but I am fully able. Let go of the sins that block the flow of my blessings—your self-serving agendas, your worry, and your desire to control it all. I long to give you rest. Come lie down in my green pastures. Come stand beside the still waters of satisfaction in Me. Let me restore your soul, and undo the damage the world has done. Enjoy the banquet I provide for you in the presence of those loved ones who act more like enemies sometimes. Let my goodness and mercy follow you as defining characteristics of your life. Come away with me my beloved, and I will make your feet like hinds’ feet to scale the high places of life. You do not have to stay in the Valley of Defeat when I am your shepherd. Walk with me and do not fret. I am mighty to save and redeem. Leave them all in my able hands.