Saturday, January 31

In the Morning

Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul."
Psalm 143:8

It's been about two months now since I started making a point to start my day with "quiet time." I still don't like calling it that because it sounds boring, and it's been anything but boring! But I haven't come up with a better name yet, and at least you know what I mean.

For years I wanted to do this, but it was out of a sense of obligation, rather than a true yearning to hear from the Lord. Gradually that shifted, but I still hadn't made it a priority. God told me in about 83 different ways (ok, slight exaggeration!) that He wanted to show me His loving kindness in the mornings and teach me how to walk. I finally obeyed, and it has already made such a difference in my day-to-day relationship with Him.

I love this verse, too:

"He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen
as one ready to take orders."
Isaiah 50:4b (MSG)

Isn't that great? He wants to talk to me in the morning, and help me get my day off to the right start. I used to wake up and go through my mental to-do list for the day; now I let Him tell me what He has on my agenda for the day. He'll even wake me up, and open my ears to hear Him. All I have to do is be ready to take orders.

Friday, January 30


"I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly..."
Hosea 14:4a (MSG)
As I've said before, I became a Christian at a young age, but spent years wandering wayward from the Lord. I did my own thing. I know I grieved Him. It's easy to kick myself and dredge back up all the yuck from my past. Once I've confessed and repented, however, it's not God that keeps reminding me of all I did wrong.

I love the way this verse puts it! God won't just overlook my waywardness; He will heal it! And He won't just love me a little; He'll love me lavishly! defines "lavish" this way (emphasis mine):
•To expend or give in great amounts or without limit
Characterized by or produced with extravagance and profusion
Did you get that? His love is without limits, and characterized by extravagance. There just aren't words for how grateful I am for His love. Even with all I've done, despite my waywardness, my Lord loves me extravagantly and without limit. And He feels the same way about you.

Monday, January 19

Heroes Aren't Perfect

I have a lot of verses and notes and great things I want to blog about here, but I've been busy, busy, busy! I WILL do it soon... but for today, I'm copying & pasting another great One-Minute Daily Devotion from Bryant Wright at Right From the Heart:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"Historians, gossip magazines, and the media are now beginning to highlight Martin Luther King's many flaws, weaknesses, and sins. And you know what? I'm glad.

Children read history that describes many of our heroes as perfect idols. Washington and the cherry tree. Lincoln freeing the slaves. Roosevelt ending the Depression. No flaws. And then our young people contemplate their role in our society and think, 'I have so many weaknesses, so many flaws. I could never have a life of impact for good.'

Wrong message. All the great figures in our history had flaws, weaknesses, and handicaps. And yes, even Martin Luther King had some deep flaws and committed many sins. And for these, we hope he dealt with God. But despite those sins, despite his weaknesses, King led a peaceful social revolution that brought dramatic, desperately needed change to our world.

One of the great things about the Bible is, it is so honest about the heroes of the faith - Noah getting drunk, Abraham and Sarah not waiting on God to have His promised child, Jacob's lies, David's adultery - yet all these men were used by God in an incredible way.

All of us have weaknesses. All of us are guilty of sin we regret, yet God's grace is available to all, when we seek His forgiveness in Christ. God can use any life for good, no matter how flawed, if we trust in the only One who had no flaws - His Son, Jesus Christ."

Monday, January 12


“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts." Thessalonians 2:4 defines "entrust" this way:
1. to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; charge with a specified office or duty involving trust: We entrusted him with our lives.
2. to commit (something) in trust to; confide, as for care, use, or performance: to entrust a secret, money, powers, or work to another.

Being entrusted with something shows that the something is considered important by the one giving it to us. We wouldn't use the word "entrust" for something unimportant or worthless. This verse shows that God has charged us with the responsibility and honor of carrying the gospel to others. It is a gift.

Our thoughts and our words need to please the Lord, no matter what anyone else thinks. When we speak of the gospel, do we treat it lightly, or do we revere it as the precious gift that it really is?

Sunday, January 11

Clean Heart

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
I've started a great weekly devotional for the year, and each week we have a verse to ponder. (Check out the link on my sidebar to "Create in Me a Clean Heart." You can join in, too, and it's free!) This is one I'm familiar with, but I don't think it's possible to revisit this often enough, because this is a hard one for me. I know from my own experience that depending upon the Lord is the wisest thing to do, but I still tend to take things back over. I have a little "Jamie's In-Box" and a "God's In-Box" on the imaginary desk in my brain, but I tend to only give Him those things that I know to be too big for me; everything else goes in my own in-box. That's a big mistake, though. It's a bad habit that I am fighting from back when I felt that God didn't want to hear about or deal with the minute things of my life. I figured life-or-death issues were His responsibility, but He was too busy to deal with the little things. I have learned that nothing is too big or too small for God. This verse tells me to acknowledge Him in ALL my ways. Not some of my ways, or the big ways, but ALL my ways. If I do this, He'll guide me in everything; if I don't do this, I'll get myself into big trouble, just as I've done before.

Every morning I must choose to submit myself to Christ anew. I'm asking Him to search my heart and show me what areas of my life I'm still keeping to myself. I'm asking Him to show me what kind of changes I need to make in my life, and asking for His help to make those changes.

Thursday, January 8

Making Wealth (and Apple Pie)

You may say in your heart, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth." But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth. ~Deuteronomy 8:17-18
One day, not long ago, I received a completely unexpected but very appreciated monetary gift. I was rather overwhelmed with all the ways that God provides, and then I came to my computer and this was the verse-of-the-day on my sidebar! God certainly wanted me to really "get" this point: there is nothing I can give Him that isn't already His. No matter what I do, no matter what kind of wealth I acquire, it all comes from the hand of God. He made the earth I live on, He made the sun that warms it, He made the universe in which it sits, and He made little ol' me. Anything I acquire is because He allowed it, He gave me the skills, abilities, power, health, and so on that I use to do anything and everything.

I love this quote (by Carl Sagan):
"In order to make apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe."

Doesn't that put it all in perspective? Even the smallest of things I do--like baking a pie--are only possible because God created everything I needed, and then allowed me the honor of doing it.

I think I need to go bake something now, and ponder the scope and size of the universe and the Creator of it all...

Sunday, January 4


Have you made your new year's resolutions? Jonathan Edwards made some back when he was a teen. This is a mighty impressive list. I love how he starts out, before his actual list:

"Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake."

It's a long list (70 resolutions), but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God...
4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God...
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one...
17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
42. Resolved, Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God...
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
58. Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity.
70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

If you have time, read all of The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. I think you'll find a little inspiration for yourself there, too.

Friday, January 2

Lying, Stealing, Anger, & Slander

Notes from a sermon on Ephesians 4:25-32
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
This excerpt comes after we've been told how to live the new life in Christ (Eph 4:17-24), so this is what we ought to be doing:
  • Vs. 25: We should speak the truth.
  • Vs. 26-27: Anger is an emotion we will always have, but Satan is ready & waiting to tempt you to sin in your anger. Losing our temper is sin; bitterness and hatred is sin. The only righteous anger is being angry when people are disrespecting God; it's NOT righteous anger when we get angry about something done to us.
  • Vs. 28: No stealing. The most common way Christians steal is by not tithing. All that we have belongs to God; the tithe is acknowledgement of God's ownership of all we have. Not reporting taxes, etc., is a way that many steal from our fellow man. We work so that we may share.
  • Vs. 29: No rotten talk. This includes having a critical spirit, slander; we should edify and encourage one another. No gossiping! No profanity; rotten talk comes from a rotten heart (see Matthew 12:34-35). We must account for every word we speak (Matt 12:36-37).
  • Vs. 30: Doing any of these things grieves the Holy Spirit. It disappoints the spirit of God living inside us, much like when we as parents are brokenhearted over poor decisions of our children. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit, so our salvation can't be undone, but we break God's heart when we do these things.
  • Vs 31: We must put away these thing (the rotten talk, stealing, anger, & so on).
  • Vs 32: We must consider the needs & feelings of others. Be compassionate & empathetic. And we must forgive; this is not an option. God has forgiven us for murdering the son of God with our sins, so we must forgive others.
Even when we fall short, He is still going to be our Dad, and He will never send us away.

Thursday, January 1

An Example

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life."
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is one of my favorite verses, but one I had never seen (or else had skimmed over & missed) until just a couple of years ago. If I had seen it before, I would not have truly understood it with my heart. I'd always known--in my head--that Christ came to save sinners, and I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't have full comprehension of that until I had become broken. I realized that without Christ, all my good intentions were worthless; I did things I swore I'd never do, even though I'd always thought poorly of people who had done those things. When I finally faced my own sins, God's mercy seemed SO much greater than it ever had before. Realizing Christ died for me became almost incomprehensible because I now knew what I was capable of, and it wasn't pretty.

I very seldom delve into my specific sins when talking with people; confession is good for the soul, but if there are "juicy" details involved, people tend to get distracted from the main point. All of my past sins can be summed up in saying I was stubborn and did things my own way. I did what God commanded only when it was convenient for me. I asked Him to get me out of messes I'd created, and tried to rationalize to Him about all the wrong things I was doing. There was never a time I didn't believe in Him, but I didn't trust Him to know what was best for me. A person can convince themselves that just about anything is ok if they *think* they are in control of things. God showed GREAT patience with me, just as in the verse above. (Note: In situations where I feel that sharing specifics will help the person I'm talking to, then I'll do so.)

I've learned that I must make a choice anew every morning about whether I'm going to follow Christ that day. I must depend on Him daily, because depending on myself (or anyone else, for that matter) will get me into trouble.

I--the foremost of sinners--received mercy so that Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.