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His Mercy

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Proverbs 25:2

Heavenly Father, King above all kings, you know my sinful heart and yet you love me.  You know my sinful ways yet you love me.  You know my idolatries that I struggle to get out from under yet somehow you forgive me and love me.  I reach out to you Lord in all your mystery and glory and thank you for the mercy only you can give.  Amen

I was asked in a study to write down all the reasons why I pray.  I listed thankfulness, requests, intercession, praise and repentance.  I was then asked to circle the reason that comes up most in my prayer life.  I have to admit “repentance” wasn’t one of them.  Thankfulness is probably the most frequent expression I find in my prayer life.  And it’s usually related to blessings – not for keeping me from the fires of my sinful ways.

A few years ago, I finally grasped the concept of God’s mercy with this helpful saying, “Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve and grace is when you get something you don’t deserve.”  Boy, should I be constantly thanking God for His mercy!  

"Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions." Psalms 51:1

The problem is we sometimes lack of awareness of our destructive swaths we create through sin.  Realizing that, we should find it even more amazing that God gives us believers His mercy.  He doesn’t always save us from earthly consequences but we know that when Jesus returns to judge the earth we won’t be thrown into the fire.  What a glorious and loving God!

God has not asked us to wander bewildered by our transgressions and consequences.  From beginning to end He has set the stage for our success.  Through first giving us the Law, therefore defining sin, then sending Christ to teach us about God, how to live the Christian life and best of all, cleansing us of eternal punishment, He has taught us how to align ourselves with His ways.  The Holy Spirit, which He left to dwell in us, provides us a daily conduit to keep us on track.  

Friend, He thought of everything because He is our Glorious God!  His mercy is our safety net.  He knew we would struggle, and boy do we ever!  Maybe you, like me need to tune in better to the Holy Spirit before we pray today.  Ask Him to search our hearts and minds, like only the King of Kings can do.  Have Him show us those corners of our life that seem blind to us.  Let His glorious light shine to cleanse you.

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Open Communication

“Then Moses said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” Leviticus 9:6

Holy God, it amazes me that you, in your infinite and powerful ways wants to talk to me.  That the God of the universe wants me to come to you each and every day with my needs and my fears.  Today I come to you with praise and thanksgiving that you love me so much.  Amen

I heard a description of an early  “church service” the other day.  The first half was open to anyone and featured scripture reading and the teaching of the gospel.  Then the pastor would call out, “the doors, the doors” and it was the message to those who were not baptized or confessed believers to leave.  The doors would then be closed and the second half of the service commenced.  This is when the holy gift of communicating with God began.  The church membership would have an “upper room” type meeting with breaking of bread and prayer to the Most Holy One.

What I like about this is that shows reverence to the second greatest blessing God bestowed on us (the first being Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins) – a loving, two-way path communicating with God.  A gift given to believers by Jesus and spurred on by the Holy Spirit that lives in the children of God.  I’m not suggesting only believers should pray, it’s just an acknowledgement of the seriousness of this gift we’ve been given.

In the Bible verse today, we see the seeds of God’s desire to communicate with us in the priestly ministry of the ancients.  God spoke through Moses on how to address Him through sacrifices and other holy activities.  He tells the priests in training that when they take these steps, they will see God’s glory revealed to them.  The same is true with the gift of prayer.  

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

The disciples, just as in Moses’ day, desired to learn how to communicate with God.  How to open up the heavens so they could see the glory of the One Almighty.  And so Jesus taught them the prayer I mentioned yesterday, what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It starts with reverence, placing God in our hearts and minds rightly where He belongs.  It moves on to acknowledging God as the provider of all our needs and our submission to Him.  We then ask for forgiveness and to forgive others.  And finally for daily guidance.

The gift of prayer is God’s message to us that we are not believers of a god who is unable to do all things, or a god who can’t be trusted, or a god to whom we need to beg to hear us.  Before we pray we need to be fully informed of how we view Him.  If we don’t believe He is merciful then we might believe He will punish us if we bring our sins to Him.  Our prayers should always include a request for wisdom about Him so that when He answers our prayer – which He always does – we will understand the answer and see the glory in His ways.

Today, I want to leave you with this beautiful prayer from King David showing us how to glorify and praise God in all His magnificent ways.

Psalm 63

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
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Our Father

“ In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12

Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen

Awhile back I was listening to a podcast that broke down how and what to pray.  They started with what we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” (Luke 6:9-16) the beginning of which was my prayer for today.  They looked at the use of the word “Father.”  Our Christian faith is so unique in this view of our most Holy God.  We don’t pray to some mysterious, unattached, non-relational being.  In fact, one of Jesus’ missions while on earth was to show believers this new relationship – that of a loving father.  

I have read other people change the word “Father” to “Daddy,” and that seems to go a bit far as the pastors on the podcast also agreed.  It’s almost too familiar, without the reverence God deserves.  While others who have been terribly hurt by fathers or father figures may go to great lengths to dismiss even using a father reference at all.  But God is always seeking to realign us with His kingdom – not the world of sin.  Jesus draws us into this new relationship showing us what God’s glorious Eden will look like when we arrive.  And it is full of love, kindness, grace and forgiveness.

20 “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

I’m not sure if there’s any better story in the Bible to describe God’s role as “father” to His adopted children than the one told of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  When I heard a pastor speak on it, especially verse 20, it transformed me.  You see, the father didn’t meet his son halfway, he didn’t make him come all the way to the house.  He didn’t even first require repentance or repayment.  “While he (the son) was a long way off…”  When word came, probably from people on the outskirts of town, that this wayward son was coming home, his father lifted up his tunic so he could run. He ran to his son – filled with compassion and love.  

God seeks us.  He yearns for us to believe – without needing us at all.  How beautiful and glorious is that?  I recently read in a study that we aren’t all God’s children.  Yes, you read that right.  We are all made in the image of God; but can’t all call Him “Father.”   We must at least start that journey back to Him as the prodigal son did.  He realized he needed the protection and blessings of his father. 

Friend, the day we told God, “I believe in you and I believe you sent your Son to free me of my sins” we received our adoption papers.  He wrote us into the will for the inheritance.  Whatever type of father you’ve had on the earth pales in comparison to the one who has adopted you into His heavenly kingdom.  I, for one, count that the most glorious blessing of all.

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Promise Keeper

“Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

Faithful Father, you have never lied and you never will.  I believe you.  Amen

I had a Christian woman tell me this once: “I know God has forgiven me.  But it’s hard for me to believe it.  It’s too hard for me to forgive myself.”  That’s why I nodded along when I heard a Christian teacher once say that there’s too many of us out there that have accepted our Lord as Savior but we just aren’t living our lives like we believe His promises.  It’s even hard for me sometimes when I look in the mirror to see what God sees.  To believe He loves me, blemishes and all.  It’s hard to believe He will take care of me without my striving and worrying.  But He will.

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

He has never, ever lied my friend.  He never, ever will.  What might happen, however, is that He will fulfill a promise in ways you didn’t expect.  Or in ways you may not agree or understand.  In fact, when I was doing a bit of research about God’s promises I found a blog that refuted God fulfilling promises.  In truth, the person sounded very wounded.  He also sounded poorly educated about God’s character and His ways.  His first example was of Genesis 2:17 when God admonishes Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, “…for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  The blogger explained that not only had they eaten the fruit but they went on to live for more than 900 years.

What he missed is 1) their immediate death was a loss of the close spiritual relationship with God and their sinlessness and 2) they did, in fact die.  You see, when we look at God’s promises without a knowledge of Him and through our own broken lenses we can miss God at work.  If we, instead, believe that God is the only perfect being to exist and His ways are always right then we ask better questions and submit to Him in trust.  

I recently had a conversation with a godly woman about women as pastors.  Having become more educated about scripture I felt confident in holding my own – as she said the Bible has conflicting lessons about this topic.  My first comment was this: “God’s Word is never in conflict.  If you see conflict you are either misunderstanding context, historical meaning, or having translation issues.  Understanding that parts of God’s will and God’s promises may be difficult to accept also helps us to realize our sinful desires rarely line up with God.

Friend, if you are struggling to accept that God will not back out of a promise to you, turn back to His Word.  He is faithful.  More faithful than anyone will ever be in your life.   And for that we can celebrate with glory to Him!

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A Time of Rest

“To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”  Romans 16:27

Thank you, Lord for a good night sleep.  As I wake today I recognize the wisdom of the gift you gave us of sleep.  So that I may be re-charged each day to serve you, to spread your message of love and to give you all glory. Amen

When I woke up this morning my first thought was of God’s perfection and wisdom.  His perfect plan for us and all the animals that roam the earth.  It wasn’t an accident that there was night and day.  There first was the darkness and then God created our alarm clock – the light.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." Genesis 1:2-3

God’s plan for us has always included a time for re-charging.  Haven’t you ever contemplated on the fact that we have a world-wide understanding that at night the majority of the world sleeps?  If there’s anything that we have all mostly agreed to do as part of His plan is to tuck ourselves in and give it a rest. 

The restless nights, worried-filled staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning are not, however, part of His plan.  He tells us over and over in His Holy Word to turn it over to Him so we can be at peace.  So we can rest.  So we can sleep.  

Friend, we can be so thankful to God for giving us the night.  For weaving into His plan a time of rest.  When you lay your head down think on what He has given you as the light turns to dark.  And when His alarm clock rises, give Him glory for another day to serve Him well.

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Intricate Creation

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”  Psalms 57:5

Father God, as I go about my day help me to see the world in a new light.  A world that was created by you for your glory.  A world so intricate and beautiful and diverse that only you, God, could’ve designed.  Amen

As my dog Tucker ran along the path unencumbered with the complicated thoughts of us humans I had to stop and laugh at his simple life.  Simple, in comparison to mine, but still an integral part of God’s creation.  

We were on our usual trek through a local, suburban canyon which features homes on either top of the divide.  Through the middle are varieties of plant life too numerous to count hiding all manner of birds, lizards, bunnies, and probably a rattlesnake or two.  It even features a tiny spring welling up mysteriously somewhere along the way.  And it struck me how no human on earth could create such a diverse and self-sustaining environment.  We try, oh we certainly try.  

There’ve been numerous attempts to create our own human-based “Eden.”  In the 60s and 70s communes could be found throughout the United States, based loosely on China’s Mao Zedong’s plan for communal living.  But time after time they have failed.

Although American communards worked to raise food, shared parenting and household tasks, shared financial responsibility and upkeep, the rules and organization were often lax, leading many to fail simply because there was no governing body, not enough discipline or consequence when someone did not do their part. Also, for some, drugs and sex were more important than work.  

Russell Flannery, Forbes Magazine

You’ve probably heard the Romans 8 verse many times where Paul reminds us that God works for the good of all those who love Him.  I can’t help but notice in so many reviews of man’s attempt to re-create what God has already made perfect that what is basically missing is God Himself.  

God has already made the perfect commune for us.  It’s a world that, if we were to disappear tomorrow, would continue on growing, dying, rebuilding, burning, pro-creating, flooding, blooming, blizzarding, and shining.  But for what purpose?  That my friends, is the ultimate pinnacle of God’s plan.  In the beginning He made it for you.  It’s not something we need to re-make; that would pale in comparison to the original!  But it is something to appreciate in its intricately woven creation and sustainability.  For that we can give Glory to God all our lives.

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He Calls Me Friend

“For all the promises of God find their yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Perfect and majestic Father!  How is it that you open your heavens, reach down and invite us in to your perfect world each and every minute of every day?  I don’t want to miss a chance to say “yes!” back to you when you put out your glorious hand to me.  Holy Spirit, I RSVP today to you, “Yes and Amen!”

A few weeks ago, my church was studying Proverbs 27 and the theme of friendship which runs throughout it.  It hit me how God is always inviting us into relationships that mirror what He wants with us.  Jesus, himself, changed the status of His relationship with the disciples in John 15:15 when he said, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.”

The role that Jesus plays in the work of the Trinity allows us to create a personal relationship with the most holy of all holies – God almighty.  In fact, a few of my friends who have spent years in Christian denominations where fearing God the Father is placed higher than other parts of the Trinity, recently discovered that it’s this close, personal friendship with the Lord that has brought them farther along in their sanctification.

God knows the value of friendships.  He has defined what a healthy, beautiful friendship is through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus provided gentle honesty, selfless attentiveness, stubborn loyalty, and intentional pursuit.  He didn’t overlook sin and He didn’t call out sin without love.   He doesn’t lie to us or betray us.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Jesus didn’t meet a couple of guys, sit around having a beer listening to their woes and their sins then sign off for the day with a “see ya!”  He invested.  He pursued.  He sharpened.  Isn’t it amazing that God wants this type of relationship with little ‘ole us?

The sermon that day about friendship featured a pin drop moment.  The pastor said, “Me and Jesus, it isn’t enough.”  The crowd was silent.  We’ve always heard that’s all we need, right?  But we were made to be loved and to love.  We were made to be in communion with other believers; to be friends, loyal, intentional and wise.  We know that because it’s what God wants with us and models for us.

Friend, today ask the Holy Spirit to put someone on your heart to reach out to.  Someone that you need to make an effort to get to know.  Let’s honor and glorify God by making a new friend to whom we can sharpen and they will sharpen us, in His name.

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The First Priority

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-12

My Lord and Savior Jesus there is no other above you!  You are the touchstone for everything and person in my life.  Help me to place my thoughts first on you today, God.  There is nothing I should chase after that is placed greater than You. Amen

Misplaced priorities, oh how I have had (have) quite a few.  I can easily forgive myself for the years I wasn’t a Christian.  Even those years I was a baby Christian I look back upon with grace.  But today?  Today when I put my yearnings above God there’s really no excuse.  I know better.  And I find myself doing it anyways.  I’m getting better day by day.  As my friend Betsy calls it, I’m making imperfect progress.

“8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

The apostle Paul was certainly a man on fire to give all glory and honor and praise to Jesus.  We “normal” folks can sometimes look at the very faithful and think, “I have family that’s going through (fill in the blank) and that needs my attention.”  Or even, “My job takes a lot out of me and it’s important work so I don’t have the same time as Paul to devote to my faith.”  We can list endless reasons why we aren’t on fire for the Lord.  Or worse, we just are ambivalent.   Paul was not a man with time on his hands. Although Bible scholars aren’t in total agreement, some believe that at one time he was married. He also had a thriving tent making business which he took on the road during his mission trips. Whatever his full biography was, he clearly placed his everyday activities secondary to God.

I’ve come to finally realize that once I have begun aligning my actions, yearnings, words and more to God’s priorities, life has gotten a lot simpler and clearer.  It doesn’t mean it’s easier.  However, knowing my highest authority is our Lord, my worries and thoughts get pulled into His ways and purpose.  

Friend, if you’re chasing a need or desire that places an earthly object, goal or person above God you are just spinning your wheels.  You may get the fame or the fortune but you won’t have the fruit.  God alone deserves the highest place of honor and glory in your life.  He has no rival; He has no equal. Pursue Him with great passion over everything else and you will see Him at work.

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It Was Good

"They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:11-12

God, you’ve done it again.  A beautiful world, a beautiful moment for all the world to see.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you.” Amen

I had just finished up a few hours work on the golf range and the practice sand trap (ugh).  Sweat was dripping into my eyes but it felt good to be out practicing an activity I never thought I’d ever do.  Admittedly, I am trying to get better so when my husband and I play together he’ll be proud of me.  As I cleaned up my clubs and walked away from the range, I finally looked up to see the rest of the course spread out before me.  And I couldn’t tear my eyes from what God had laid out for the world to see.

I am so fortunate to live in beautiful, almost always 75 degrees and sunny San Diego, California.  High above the cliffs that border the Pacific Ocean in an area called Torrey Pines, lies the internationally famous Torrey Pines Golf Course.  I have yet to challenge my novice skill against this difficult course.  But for all its difficulty what it also offers is stunning views of God’s creation.  And that day was no different.  When you stand at the clubhouse balcony you look over the lush greens of the course which drop off sharply to the beautiful, expansive, blue sea.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:9-10

There’s something about looking out over the seemingly endless ocean that stuns me each time.  It’s the closest description I can think of that describes God’s mystery, authority, expansiveness, and even provision.

Friend, while I was standing in awe of God’s creation people were bustling about.  Rushing to get to tee times, lining up for drinks at the coffee cart, chatting on their cell phones – all normal activities.  Today, when you see God’s creation laid out so beautifully in front of you, be sure to stop for a moment and think on the glory of God.

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Everyday Glory

“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.” 1 Peter 4:11

Holy Spirit, whatever decisions and choices I make today help them to be in service and glorification of God. Amen

I read an Instagram post the other day that asked this question: “Are you doing what makes you happy or what glorifies God?”  I would venture to say on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis we probably lean toward what makes us happy.  Sure, when it comes to bigger more difficult decisions, we may seek God’s counsel.  But how often when we are choosing what to eat, what to do with our free time, when we go about our chores and errands, before we open the door to enter work or school do we think, what’s God say about this? What could I do in this very situation that would make God happy?  What could I say to my spouse/friend/adult child that would sound like a word from the Lord?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

We can take this piece of scripture and use it as a sort of “out” when it comes to our everyday lives being aligned with God.  We can never know all that God is thinking so we just go about our lives as best we can, right?  That may be true if we never study scripture or pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom.  Because when we do those two things, God will constantly be on our minds and lips.  He may even want that mundane day you have planned turned into something that glorifies Him.

We will never be fully satisfied with making our own choices about our lives.  It may appear that some people who have fame and fortune without God “have it all.”  As Christ followers we know true satisfaction, however, comes from the only constant thing in the world – God.  He knows what’s best for us.  He knows what will work in our lives to glorify the kingdom.  

Friend, when we change our daily thinking to God’s plan, not ours, we will also enjoy the fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. And that sounds a lot better than anything I might’ve planned for my day.