Saturday February 23, 2019 – A good learning experience, with a TV antenna

Psalm 28:7 Yahweh is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

I remember some goofy experiences that provide a great illustration for us to learn from.  We were watching TV where we were staying and it wasn’t cable or satellite.  It was simply local reception through a small antenna connected to the TV.  We were close enough to Cleveland so most of the stations came in fine.  But there is one station that was a ‘problem child’.

The antenna would sit up on top of the TV cabinet and could receive the handful of stations fine – but not this one.  When we turned to it, across the screen would appear “No Signal”.  Then we’d get up and move the antenna and adjust the two ‘arms’ on the antenna until we finally found the proper position to receive a strong signal.

This became a real adventure because sometimes, depending on the weather, that signal could be very difficult to receive.  So much so, that our determination was affected by how much we wanted to watch a program or sporting event.  One night, there was a program we really wanted to watch that required me to stand near the TV, holding the antenna up in order to get reception – for the whole program.

The signal was always there, sometimes circumstances just made it more difficult to receive.  Greater effort and perseverance were required of us to receive it.  Also involved was how much we wanted to receive it.  Now let’s read today’s verse again:

“Yahweh is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

There are times when this reality is clear as a bell.  But there are other times when we find ourselves in difficult situations where the reality of this truth becomes fuzzy and unclear.  We can even find ourselves in situations where our hearts are reflecting a “No Signal” message.  (“Lord, where are you?!”)

It’s not that this truth isn’t there – it is.  But by faith we have to seek after it and Him.  And sometimes they can be quite elusive – but that mustn’t stop us.  This seeking activity is a priceless component in the process of us becoming strong in Christ.  This truth and the determination to seek Him become bedrock reality in who we are.

No matter what things look like, He is our strength and shield.  No matter how difficult we find our situations, our hearts can and will trust in Him.  We are never left to ourselves because He helps us – no matter what.  Because of Him, our hearts can and will leap for joy and we will sing thanks to Him.

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Friday February 22, 2019 – The wonder of Jesus

Isaiah 9:6-7  6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Jesus is the one of whom Isaiah wrote in the above verses.  He is the One who is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.  Jesus is the One who reigns on David’s throne forever.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

The more we see Jesus the more we are overcome with the awareness that we can never thank Him adequately for what God has done for us.  We were lost and separated from God but because of Jesus, we are now His.  We are God’s people!  Peter writes of this wonderfully quoting another verse from Isaiah about this One (1 Peter 2:4-6),

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”  (Isaiah 28:16)

As Peter goes on to write about ‘those who believe’ – to whom this stone is precious, he describes what God has done and is doing with us (1 Peter 2:9-10),

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Because of Jesus, we are God’s special possession!  Because God so loved us, ‘unto us a child is born, to us a son is given…’  We, who were not a people are now His.  We, who had not received mercy, have now received mercy.  We get to spend our lives declaring His praises because He called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

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Thursday February 21, 2019 – Imagine God ‘delighting’ in you!!

Psalm 37:23a  If Yahweh delights in a man’s way,

Our Pekingese, Snuggles, sleeps with us every night. Usually she sleeps through the night but now and then she wakes up having to go to the bathroom.  This means I get up, and now, as it was when we were in Tennessee, I get dressed and take her outside.  Without a totally fenced-in yard, it means that I go out with her.  From the beginning this struck me as a job for me, not Donna.

Sometimes during the night I don’t hear Snuggles when she is making sounds to go outside but Donna does.  When that happens, Donna nudges me awake and I take Snuggles out.  This is a little “big thing” for me.  On my scale of things, it’s little, but it sure blesses Donna; to her it’s big.

Taking Snuggles out in the middle of the night is an opportunity for me to bless my wife, the girl I love.  It’s not a chore and it isn’t burdensome.  Believe it or not, it truly is a source of joy.  Standing outside in the cold, snow or rain in the middle of the night for a few minutes isn’t a big deal; and invariably, I think of her snuggled in bed and it brings a smile to my face.  It’s an opportunity for my actions to say “I love you” to her.

What a blessing it is to live our lives together; loving one another.  There are so many opportunities for us to communicate that love to each other through our attitudes and actions.  While we recognize our responsibilities for tasks needing to be done, pervading it all is the gratitude for the love we share.  That love and gratitude bring pleasure to jobs done; bringing delight to each other.

There is delight, in bringing delight to someone – particularly someone we love.  This truth is epitomized in our relationship with our Lord Jesus.  Given the magnitude and wonder of His love for us, I find it mind-boggling that we have the opportunity to bring Him delight!  The realization of this is truly a ‘Eureka’ moment.  It’s like finding gold!

And bringing delight to God is not just doing things for Him – it’s living our lives, doing whatever He tells us to do!!  We bring Him delight when we walk in His ways.  The more we become like Jesus, the more delight we bring Him.  We delight in Him – and He delights in us.  WOW!!

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Wednesday February 20, 2019 – Can you picture Jesus smiling? At you?!

1 Peter 1:8  You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. (The Message)

After I met Jesus years ago, I remember being told about an older prominent Christian by the name of Rufus Moseley.  Apparently he had a great deal of joy and for some strange reason some church people had a problem with that.  One old dour-faced Christian came up to him and sourly asked, “Do you think Jesus ever smiled?”  Rufus looked at her, grinned and answered, “I don’t know, but He sure fixed it so I can!”

I love to think of Jesus smiling and laughing.  I’m so grateful for paintings I’ve seen where the artist has presented Him doing so.  Then there’s Johnny Cash’s film Gospel Road that has such wonderful scenes of Jesus laughing and smiling with the disciples and children.

There’s also a production called The Thorn that began in Colorado Springs about 20 years ago that is very similar to The Passion of the Christ.  It tells the story of Jesus, and the violence done to Him is vividly represented.  But this serious production also presents Jesus as a man who smiled and expressed such joy when the miracles were performed and in times with His disciples.

Think of Jesus healing crippled children and their stunned and ecstatic response.  Can’t you just see the incredible joy in His face as He performed these wonders?  Can’t you just see these children running to Jesus and jumping in His arms, squealing with delight! Think of His face and the utter joy it would express.

This is our Lord.  This is the One we live with and for.  The Amplified Bible presents today’s verse this way: ‘Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.’   Oh my goodness, there are times when the wonder of what we have in Jesus is so overwhelming I pinch myself.  It just seems too good to be true.  Hopefully you regularly have such moments of wonder too.

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Tuesday February 19, 2019 – The blessing of music

Titus 2:13-14  13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

I am so grateful that God has given us music – that He has given us songwriters and  composers who can create such wonderful songs.  Then there are the musicians and worship teams who lead us into worship.  They don’t worship for us, but enable us to
enter in and through these songs we are able to express the love within our hearts for our Lord.

There are so many special songs that we can sing.  This one so wonderfully focuses on Jesus and who He is for us.  He is the Holy and Anointed One, without whom we would be lost.  Today, let’s renew our focus upon on Him.  He is our Lord!  I’ve provided a link below to this song sung by Brian Doerksen.  Listen and worship as you read the words and focus upon Jesus.

Holy and Anointed One by John Barnett

Jesus, Jesus,
Holy and anointed One,
Jesus

Jesus, Jesus,
Risen and exalted One,
Jesus

Your name is like honey on my lips,
Your Spirit like water to my soul,
Your word is a lamp unto my feet,
Jesus I love You, I love You

Have a wonderful day!

Listen to this wonderful worship song sung by Brian Doerksen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olBnC2nxCNw

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Monday February 18, 2019 – He’s made a way for us!

Jeremiah 3:19  “I myself said, ‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.  I thought you would call me Father and not turn away from following me.”

Yesterday we looked at this verse that is so revealing of the pain associated with the Israelites going their own way and not responding to God and His love for them.  This morning I thought of the parable of the lost son who rebelled and spent his inheritance sinfully and wound up in the pigsty (Luke 15:11-31).  What do you think was going on with his father after his son went off?

Imagine his father watching his son walk away from home – not knowing if he would ever return.  At meal time he likely noticed his son’s empty seat at the table.  The stillness of not hearing his voice and not having his presence in the home at times could have been deafening.  Can you imagine the heartache whenever his father looked down the road and didn’t see his son returning?

I can imagine the pain.  He loved his son but was helpless to reach him.  Now into this context, think of our God looking at a world with his potential sons and daughters all in pigsties, no matter what their circumstances were; all ‘away from home and away from Him’.  But our God wasn’t and isn’t helpless.  He made a way for each and everyone of us to ‘come back home’ to Him.

The way that He made for us is so wonderfully described in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”  He didn’t and doesn’t just write us off – He made a way for us!  And His Spirit is wooing every one of us, in the pig sties of life, to come to ourselves and recognize that Jesus can and will ‘bring us home’.

When the son came to himself and returned he had no idea the joy that was awaiting him.  He recognized just how guilty he was and never expected the response his father gave him.  But his father saw him coming even when he was a long way off and ran to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The son was stunned by the celebration; so great was his father’s joy that he had come home.

Jesus taught that this celebration is what happens in Heaven whenever one sinner repents!  And we get to experience it!!!  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to experience the overwhelming joy and love that I did when Jesus came into my life.  One moment I was lost and in the pigsty, the next I was ‘at home’ in the embrace of my God, absolutely overwhelmed by His love for me.

Because of the love of God in Jesus, we get to call Him Father and faithfully follow Him all the days of our lives!

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Sunday February 17, 2019 – A verse unlike any other!

Question: What did God want when He gave us the gift of Jesus? My answer is probably different than you think.  Today’s verse is unlike any other and is at the end of the devotional.

Two months ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus – the greatest gift that God could ever give.  In two more months we will celebrate His resurrection, which is the most important Christian holy day.  Yahweh so loved the world that He gave Jesus, His only Son for us.   Through faith in Jesus we are able to be born-again, saved, be born of the Spirit, freed from sin, become children of God, have eternal life, …

The blessings that flow from Yahweh’s love for us are beyond measure.  But they stem from His desire for something.  Can you think of what that might be?  Any number of answers might come close: He wanted to undo the results of the fall; He wanted a people for Himself; He wanted to redeem mankind.

A major clue is in the answer Jesus gives to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”  My favorite recording of Jesus being asked this question is Mark 12:28-34.  I never cease to be moved by the response of this teacher of the law and then Jesus’ response to him.

Over and over again throughout scripture, Yahweh instructs His people to love Him.  He will keep His covenant of love to a thousand generations (Deut 7:9) with those who do love Him and keep His commands.  Is there a Old Testament verse that lets us see the impact upon Him of His people from not doing this?  The answer is yes.

The verse is in Jeremiah 3 and reveals His heart so uniquely.  In this chapter, our God is calling for unfaithful Israel to repent and return to Him.  The verse that is so revealing is Jeremiah 3:19 where Yahweh declares,

“I myself said, ‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.  I thought you would call me Father and not turn away from following me.”

Do we see and feel the pain revealed in that verse??!! He thought they would call Him Father and not turn away from following Him.  I know of no other verse where Yahweh so reveals the pain associated with the failure of His people to respond to Him.  It’s as though His heart is bleeding on the floor in front of us.  More than anything else, God wants a people who love Him, and thankfully He tells us very specifically how to do that!  How can we do anything less?

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