Monday, March 26, 2007

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 38:17-22 Esther 2:1-18; Romans 8:20-33

Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Deuteronomy 10:14 (NASB)

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

When we look at your world, mighty God, we see how wondrously it has been wrought. When we look for your kingdom, we find that we have not lived as you and your Son Jesus have taught. Help us to create a kingdom on earth where unconditional love prevails. Amen.

The title of this devotional comes from a short verse found in the second half Romans 8:31. It is preceeded by the often memorized verse of Romans 8:28, "all things work together for the good." But are either of these verses ones we really believe?

God's on our side. It isn't a debatable issue. We have God working on our behalf at all times. And that means everyone else, as the kids would say, is going DOWN!

When we get all wrapped up in troubles and feel like people are coming at us from every side, we need to remember that God is for us. He's cheering us on. But not only is he involved in our lives, he has the power to change things -- something nobody else posesses.

Lord, help me to remember that nobody can be against me if you are for me. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Running to God When we Feel Like Running Away

Psalm 37:34-40, Nehemiah 12:44-13:14; Romans 7:7-20

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long. Psalm 71:15

Paul wrote: The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:18 (NIV)

O God, we rejoice and celebrate what you have done for us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Make this day a truly joyful day as we pray and forgive those who may have hurt us. As we feel our own pulse and realize how alive we are, we are glad to give you the glory! Amen.

Do you ever feel like you want to run away, or at the very least, crawl into bed, put covers over your head, and hide from everyone?

In reading through the Psalm 37 passage this morning, I came across these words that are ones that I have to continue to return to time and time again.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

The Lord can be our refuge when we feel like running away, but the key is in our running to Him instead of running away. God is a place of safety and the only place we should head.

it's our tendency as humans, I think, to go to God AFTER we've tried everything else. When nothing else is working, then we pray. When all our other options have been exhausted, we turn to him. When nobody else can meet our needs, we finally decide to try God.

Instead He should be our first thought -- and running to Him our first idea. Just like attached children run to a parent the moment they skin a knee or bruise and elbow, we should run to God the moment we feel a need. And unlike any human being, God will NEVER fail to meet our needs and deliver us.

Next time I feel like running away, I gotta remember to run to God.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Being Just is More than Just Being

Psalm 37:27-33, Nehemiah 12:1-43; Romans 6:17-7:6

Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. Psalm 143:2

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18

O God, you have placed us in this world. There is a rebellion going on against your standards of righteousness. We all join that rebellion and alienate ourselves from you, from others and even from ourselves. We thank you for Jesus Christ who reminds us to live righteous lives. Amen.

The Psalm passage contains this verse:

For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Here are some of the definitions of just:

used especially of what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting;

equitable: implying justice dictated by reason, conscience, and a natural sense of what is fair to all;

fair: free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; or conforming with established standards or rules;

good: of moral excellence;

We know that God loves all of us. But it appears that the Lord makes a point of declaring that He loves the just.

But does being one of the "just" mean simply being a good person and being fair to everyone? Is "just" a being word or a doing word?

It seems to be me that being a just person would automatically lead to doing just things -- to battling injustice in whatever form it presents itself, to making a difference in situations where life, or the world, or our culture, are unjust.

Lord, help me to not only be a just person but to promoting justice throughout my world today. Amen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reverent Submission

Psalm 37:23-26 Nehemiah 10:28-11:36; Romans 6:5-16

My God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you. Psalm 42:6

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

We thank you, dear God, for those who felt life so deeply and expressed themselves so strongly through the psalms. They knew you were present and did not hold back their cries for relief and adoration. Inspire us to express our feelings through their words and know that you always hear us. Amen.

Interesting things to note from the verse in Hebrews:

Jesus cried out to the ONE who was able to save him from death;
He cried out loudly and with tears
He was heard
The reason he was heard was because of his reverent submission.
He didn't get the response we think he probably desired.

How differently we do things. We cry out to everyone else first, whining and moaning.
We often hide our tears from God.
We do not approach God in reverent submision.
When we don't get the desired response, we assume we were not heard.

But it is the very reverent submission that Jesus came to God exposing that led him to the place where he could accept God's answer. "Not my will but thine be done" was his heartfelt prayer.

May God help me to come in reverent submission to cry out loudly with tears and then to truly be accepting of the response.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Erring in Spirit and Grumbling

Psalm 37:1-6 Nehemiah 6:15-7:73a; Romans 4:13-25

Those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction. Isaiah 29:24

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses. Acts 1:8

O Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Equip us to live and express the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. May others sense that your Spirit indeed dwells in us, guiding people to the Savior. It is by your Spirit that we gain power and humility. Amen.

Wow, what a promise. "Those who err in spirit will come to understanding and those who grumble will accept instruction." I sincerely hope that the prophet was referring my children. Or even me for that matter.

Me, err in spirit? OK, I confess. I don't always have proper motivation. I don't always do things with a pure heart. I don't always feel like doing what I do.

And grumbling? I do it way too often. I find myself whining about many things..... Apparently all of us do, necesitating the concept of a complaint free world.

And teenagers? Errors in spirit and grumbling are their modus operandi.

But there is a promise that we will all come to understanding and we will all accept understanding. Thanks for a great promise.