Month: March 2012

Psalm 100

Human beings are obsessed with love.  Think about it.  Most of our songs are about love.  Nearly all of our movies have some story line built around love.  We even say that we love particular restaurants or clothing brands.  We love to love.

Despite our obsession with love, we are not always particularly good at being loving.  Our love is imperfect.  We frequently fail to show love even to the people that we know we love.  We also confuse love for infatuation or even desire.  We have a difficult time really understanding love, even when it comes to loving God and ourselves.

However, as we struggle to demonstrate real love, we are given the picture of perfect love when we consider God’s love for us.  God’s love is a perfect love.  The love that we have is merely a shadow of the love that God feels for us.

Have you ever really thought about what it means to have a God that loves you?  God doesn’t just like you; he loves you.  The love that he has for you is a love that is greater than anything we can muster here on this earth.  It is an amazing love that we are given despite our many failings and imperfections.  It is a love that is not dependent upon our obedience.  We don’t earn God’s love.  We have God’s love.  We cannot even lose God’s love.

When you consider the whole story of the Bible, we see God constantly demonstrating his love for us through his offering of grace and mercy.  If we are honest, God would have good reason not to love us.  Even the most devoted Christians fail God each day.  But we can rest in the fact that God’s love was never based on our efforts to earn it.  Because of God’s love, he has given us a story of redemption.  He has rescued us so that we might be his people and he can be our God.

If we want to really understand the nature of God’s love, we need to simply turn to 1 Corinthians 13 and see that the love described there is the love that God has for us.  His love is patient, kind, and it never fails.

Take time to be loved by God.  We were designed to need love, and God’s love meets that need perfectly.  Thank God for loving us, even when we would not think we are deserving of his love.  Spend the day dwelling on the fact that God not only loves us, but he demonstrates his love in everything that he does.


Character Of God

Psalm 8

Even a brief glimpse out of a window can give us a picture of the goodness of our God.  Some of the most devotional moments we can have occur when we catch a glimpse of God’s creation.  Whether it is a scenic overlook or the presence of a newborn baby, God’s creative work on this earth can blow us away.

In Psalm 8 we see God celebrated as our creator.  The author David points to the fact that when we look at the creation, it should instill in awe for the creator.  As we see what God has done through creation, we marvel at how God chose to bless us with the beauty of the world.  When we consider the complexity of life or the sheer size of the universe, we stand amazed at God’s creative power.  Celebrating God as Creator allows us to reflect on his majesty, power, glory.

We also are reminded in the psalm that human beings are a special part of God’s creation.  He has put each of us together, and as our creator, he loves his creation.  The psalmist reminds us that God cares for us and that we as human beings are God’s crowning achievement in creation.  God in his wisdom chose to make us rulers and stewards over all of His creation.  We read that God has bestowed upon us glory and honor when it comes to his creation.

It truly is an honor that the God of the universe would think enough of us to create each of us with special skills and abilities.  His plan for this world is complex enough that he also gave each of us particular callings and desires.

We also understand that God created us with a purpose.  Our purpose is to glorify God, and we do that through our worship and our obedience.  Using our skills and desires, we serve our God.  We don’t do it out of obligation, but we do it because our God is the only thing worthy to be served.  Our lives are lived for his glory because he is the only thing worth glorifying.

Take time now to consider the wonders of God’s creation.  Think about the complexity of the human body.  Take a look outside of your window and marvel at how God has made everything to work together.  Consider also that you were created in a place of honor, greater than all of what we see in nature.  Be humbled that God would create you, and feel loved that he would design you just the way that you are.  Ask God to reveal to you your purpose and calling in this world.


Character Of God

Psalm 121

Our God is a personal God.  As we read the psalms we don’t see a God who simply puts things into motion and allows things to happen as they will.  We don’t see a God who has better things to do than work in our lives.  We see a God who relates to his people and makes himself known.  As we seek to know God, we come to know ourselves.

The psalmist reminds us that our God watches over our comings and our goings.  This means that God watches over us in our every day activities.  We don’t have to sit in a sanctuary for our God to see us.  We don’t visit him; he walks with us.  As the psalm says, God is at our right hand and never far away.

It may be helpful for us to consider the context of this psalm.  It was likely sung to encourage those would be making the journey to the temple in Jerusalem for worship. Travel was dangerous in those days, and this psalm reminded the travelers that God was with them, even before they reached the temple.

It is amazing to know that we serve a God who is involved in our lives.  Believing that God is at our right hand strengthens our resolve when we are faced with difficulty or scary situations.  Knowing that God watches over us also reminds us of how important we are to God.  Many religions believe in Gods who are completely separate from their creation.  In these religions, they see God as something to fear or something to please so that they might gain favor.  Our God already favors us because of his love, not because of anything that we might do.

The greatest example of God who relates to us is Jesus.  Jesus tells his disciples in John 14 that because they have seen him they have also seen God the Father.  We understand this to mean that Jesus was the perfect example of God’s person and character.  As we learn about Jesus’s life, we gain a fuller understanding of what it means to know God.  We also gain a fuller understanding of the extent that God would go to in allowing us to know him more.


Take a few minutes to thank God for being present in our lives and for making himself known.  Consider what your life would be like if you had never encountered God.  Where would you be?  What would you be like?  Where would your hope lie?  As you think on these things, pray that God would continue to make himself known and that you would come to a fuller understanding of his character.


Character Of God

Psalm 47

What is the first thing that you think of when you think of a king?  Maybe it is a king from medieval times with his suit of armor and a crown.  Maybe you think of the kings of the Bible such as David or King Saul.

Take a minute to consider what being a king means.  It means that you have control.  It means that you have responsibility.  It means that you have authority.

Psalm 47 urges us to remember that God is our King.  Understanding God as a king means understanding that he is in control of everything.  We understand that he is in control of our circumstances.  This doesn’t mean that he dictates every choice we will make or activity we will engage in.  God has given us a free will to do as we please.  Because of our choices and the choices of others, we will often find ourselves in rough situations, but it does not mean that God lost control of the situation.  It simply means that he has given us the freedom to choose his will in the situation or choose our own.

It is also helpful to remember that God is not just king over human beings.  God is king over all creation.  He has control over the animals, the plants, and the heavens.  In the book of Joshua we see that God has control over whether or not the sun will move in the sky.  Now that is real authority.

God is a good king who works all things together for the good of those who love him.  Most kings would punish their subjects right away for disobedience.  Most kings would put them in jail or even put them to death.  After all, they were guilty.  However, God is not like our earthly kings.  Rather than instantly smite us for our transgressions, God offers grace and forgiveness through Christ.  He gives us a way out of our punishment, not because he has to, but because his love for us leads him to do so.

Our gracious King is definitely worthy to be praised.  We read in many places in the Bible that one day all earthly kings will bow to our King.  In the end there is really only one true king and that is our God.

How does understanding God as our King affect your worship for him?  Honor God for his sovereignty, and thank him that he would be gracious enough to allow us to be a part of building his kingdom here on earth.

Character Of God

Psalm 29

While they can be terrifying, thunderstorms are amazing events.  The skies change colors.  The wind charges in.  The thunder crashes with an intensity that makes the walls shake.  The lightening nearly blinds us as it stretches across the sky.  Psalm 29 uses the imagery of one of these storms to describe the power and the glory of God.

Our God is powerful, and we would do well to remember that.  There are situations in our lives when we feel like everything is hopeless.  We may feel that there is no way out of our circumstances.  This would be true if our help and salvation was only found in ourselves.

However, we are reminded that anything is possible with God.  God has power over sickness and disease.  He has power over our finances and over our broken relationships.  He has power over our struggles with sin and doubt.

When God speaks into a situation, nothing can stand against him.  Like a storm that blows down a forest, God overpowers anything he chooses to overpower.  Sin and death—he’s conquered that.  Disease and blindness—he’s conquered that.  Suffering and oppression—he’s conquered that.

Celebrate that God is a God of power who can do anything when He wills it to happen.

Next time you encounter a thunderstorm, take time to consider how powerful God truly is as he speaks into our lives and changes our circumstances.

Where do you need to feel hope today?  What have you convinced yourself to be impossible?  Take time to ask God to move in your life and do big things in your world.

Character Of God

Psalm 20

Many people who have a hard time understanding God simply see him as a God who tells people what to do.  They believe that his purposes are to direct people’s morality and that he holds people to an impossible standard.  They see God as demanding towards human beings.

When we celebrate the God of the psalms we see a God who is intimately involved in the lives of his people.  Not only does he know what we go through each day, but he also answers us in times of need.  You might think that God has better things to do than answer our requests, but then you remember that we serve a personal and loving God.

In our psalm today, we see God’s people asking him for help and for protection.  We see them asking God for success in achieving the desires of their heart.  They ask that he remember their sacrifices and give them victory.

We celebrate a God who answers our prayers and our calls for help.  When we pray for God to work in different areas of our lives, we pray expecting God to answer.

This doesn’t mean that we should expect God to give us everything that we want.  Sometimes our prayers will not be answered in the ways that we expect them to be answered.  We may not instantly see healing or a relationship restored.  However, we must continue to trust that God has a plan for us, and that ultimately we will be victorious.

We may not be victorious in a battle with depression or even in a battle in our marriage.  We may not be victorious in avoiding bankruptcy or in becoming popular.  However, through Christ, we are already victorious.  Just as the psalmist asks that God remember his sacrifices, we too ask God to remember.  We ask God to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made.  We then celebrate the victory of salvation that we experience each day as we walk with God.

Because we serve a God who answers, pray big prayers.  Ask God to do amazing things in your life.  Pray that  he would give you victory in the areas of life that you struggle with.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the big things.  Then, stand in amazement that God does what he does for you.

Character Of God

Psalm 23

Last week our devotions focused on understanding the nature of true worship.  This week we will be focusing on celebrating the character of our God.  When we can recognize God for who he truly is, we will have all the more reason to worship him and praise his name.  The purpose of our devotions this week is to help you come to a fuller understanding of the character and nature of the God we worship.

Today we are looking at a familiar psalm that depicts God as both a loving shepherd and as a gracious host.  This psalm serves as a great introduction to the character of God because it demonstrates that our God is a God who cares for his people.  Our God is not a vengeful God who stands apart from his creation.  In our psalm today, we see that God is a God who serves as a caretaker and a provider.

In the first part of the psalm we see God as our shepherd.  This means that God is a gracious provider.  He provides rest.  He provides comfort.  He provides direction.  He provides protection from evil.

In the second part of the psalm we see God as a host who has prepared a lavish banquet for his people.  The idea of God as our provider is reinforced with this metaphor.  In this picture of God’s banquet we are anointed with oil as honored guests, and we are provided with more than we will ever need.

God’s provision for his people is a sign of just how good a God he truly is.  Our response to his provision is not just joy in our present circumstances, but also joy in the promise that God will be our host forever in heaven.

What do you need God to provide for you today?  If  you need rest, pray that you find rest in God today.  If you need direction, pray that you receive direction.  If you need provision, pray that God will meet your need.  Find comfort in our Good Shepherd.


Character Of God

Psalm 56

True worship is in itself an act of faith.  When we praise God for his works, we are declaring that there is a God and that this God does amazing things in our world.  When we ask God to do amazing things in our lives, we are expressing our belief in God’s power. When we thank God for his provision, we are acknowledging that we are dependent upon something much greater than ourselves.

When our faith is strong, our worship grows stronger.  When our worship is strong, our faith grows stronger.  Unfortunately, there are many enemies of faith that disrupt our confidence in God and negatively affect our worship.  One of the major enemies of faith is fear.

There is much to be afraid of in our world.  We see and hear things every day that cause us to feel vulnerable.  In fact, because we have more information about the world around us, we have more things to be afraid of.  However, if one of the enemies of faith is fear, one of the enemies of fear is remembering how God has protected us in the past.

When we can declare “in God I trust and am not afraid” we are declaring in faith that God is more powerful than anything that we can encounter.  We are saying that God has put light onto all the things of darkness and shown them to be mere distractions on our path to true worship.

Psalm 56 was written by David when he had every reason to be afraid.  He was in the hands of evil men who sought to do him harm.  And yet David’s response is to turn to the Lord and thank him in advance for the deliverance that he will experience.  The psalm is a reminder that even in our darkest times, we can still praise God.  Worshiping in faith allows us to experience God’s presence even when it would seem that all hope is lost.  Remembering that God has done miraculous things gives us faith that he can do these again if it is his will.

Take some time to talk to God about your fears.  What is it that keeps you up at night?  What is it that you worry about?  Ask God to help you overcome those fears.  Ask God to remind you of the mighty things he has done in your life and in the lives of those around you.  As you recall these things, allow the fear that you have in your life to fall away as you remember that you serve an all-powerful God.


Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 1

If we were to speak kind platitudes to our parents all day long but fail to obey them at every turn, it would not take long for them to realize that in our hearts, we do not honor them.

We might expect that the first psalm in the book of Psalms would be one of celebration or thanksgiving.  Instead, the first psalm serves as a reminder that true worship does not simply come in the forms of songs and declarations.  True worship is born out of obedience to God’s word.

This psalm reminds us that those who walk according to God’s word will experience life in abundance, but those who choose their own way will undoubtedly fail.  It is not hard for us to see this work out in our own lives.  If we are honest, the times when we are in a season of disobedience to God, true worship becomes very difficult.  Life tends to become difficult as well.

Many people are surprised to find that there are many psalms praising God for his word and for his law.  In fact, the longest psalm, Psalm 119, is a psalm celebrating the beauty of the law of God.  The law of God is celebrated not because it gives people a ton of rules to follow but because the law of God is seen as God’s covenant promise to his people.  God’s law reveals God’s character and his desire to be in a relationship with his people.

We are called to worship with a pure and clean heart.  If we are going to celebrate God and worship him, it makes sense that we would also honor him by obeying what he has taught us through his word.

For us to be obedient to God’s word, we need to know God’s word and make it a major part of our lives.  Take some time to think about the delight that you can find in knowing God and his will for you.  If you have begun to find spending time with God to be a difficult thing, ask God to reveal to you areas in your life where disobedience is preventing you from experiencing true worship.

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 90

Having looked at the worship elements of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, we now turn to the element of supplication.  Supplication in worship is essentially the act of asking God for something or to do something.

In this psalm we see Moses making several requests of God.  Moses asks God to give understanding, compassion, and ultimately asks for mercy.  In the psalm Moses acknowledges the sin of his people.  Moses’s main request is that God would find favor with his people despite their shortcomings and failures.  Because we know the rest of the story, we know that God indeed showed them favor and forgiveness.

If we are honest, most of our prayers are prayers of supplication.  We pray for other people.  We pray for upcoming surgeries.  We pray for positive outcomes to difficult situations.  We pray for provision and encouragement.  We pray that God does something for us.  Thankfully, God is a God who provides for his people and answers their prayers.  We show honor to God when we ask him to work in a particular situation because we are demonstrating our dependence upon him.  We must be careful, however, that we don’t begin to treat God as a cosmic genie whose sole purpose is to give us what we want.

We must also remember that when we ask God for something, sometimes his answer will be no.  This is not because he does not want what is best for us.  In fact, it is the opposite.  Because God knows what is best for us, he does not always give us what we think we need.  It may seem that God does not answer our prayers, but perhaps he has simply answered them with no or has answered them in a way that we do not yet understand.

One other thing that we must remember about asking God to do things in our lives is that sometimes we shortchange what God can really do.  Sometimes our prayers are simply too small.  God wants to do amazing things in our world, but sometimes we lack the faith to ask God to do the big things.

When you ask God to do something, what is your expectation?  Do you pray expecting God to really work or do you simply want God to know about the need?  What is it that you are praying for today?  Take some time to pray for your needs and for the needs of the others around you, and when you pray, pray expectantly.

Pursuing True Worship