Archive for the “God’s nature” Category

Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)

God’s very nature is one of generosity, the most significant act being the giving of His son:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NLT)

God gave. He didn’t stand back and offer advice. He didn’t point us to yet another verse of Scripture. He gave. By nature, He wants to share. He wants to share His Kingdom with us. He wants us to share in Christ’s glory. He wants us to live with Him in heaven.

When we reflect God’s heart, we become a person of generosity. Whether we have much or little.

I find that generosity springs out of a heart filled with joy. Yes, there are other characteristics that bring us to generosity. Compassion, for example, motivates us to action. Yet it is joy that motivates us to give generously and without anxiety or hesitancy. A heart overflowing with joy wants to share it.

Think back to a time when you were in the midst of great joy – perhaps when you were first in love or at the birth of your child. You wanted to share that joy with everyone. “Drinks are on me!” is the stereotypical worldly example. In response to some great thing in his life, the buyer wants to share his joy.

“Their abundant joy has overflowed in rich generosity” Paul wrote about the Macedonians. Their joyful heart – the joy they had found in knowing and serving God – was the impetus for great generosity…even in the midst of many troubles and poverty. It is not wealth that causes us to be generous. We can all probably think of someone who is wealthy but not at all generous. It is out of our joy that generosity springs forth without reservation.

Paul had more to say about the generosity of the Macedonians:

2They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 3For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
2 Corinthians 8:2-5 (NLT)

  • The Macedonians gave more than they could afford to give. Far more.
  • The Macedonians begged for the privilege of sharing.
  • The Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord, then to others.

It is giving themselves to the Lord first that gave them the joy from which to give generously.

A joyful heart will lead to a generous heart and spirit. If you are giving sparingly or begrudgingly, give yourself first to the Lord. When you are experiencing the joy of the Lord – joy, despite your circumstances – act upon that joy and share it with others.

God’s heart is a joyful and giving one. He longs to share His joy with you and give you the joy of sharing it with others. Don’t resist him! To whom will you give joyfully today?

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (RSV)

Our part in the equation of this verse is that we confess our sins to God. In our first blog about a repentant heart, we learned that repent means to “think differently” about our sin. The word translated confess in the above verse is very similar – it means “come into agreement with” God about our sin. When we confess our sins, we are no longer thinking about them in a positive light, but rather coming to God saying “Lord, I agree with you that what I’ve done is wrong. Forgive me.”

After we’ve done that, the heavy lifting is all up to God. This verse promises us that if (when) we confess our sins:

God is faithful – He will do what He says He will do. He does not change His mind about it. He doesn’t look at our sin to determine whether or not it is forgivable. Instead, when we confess our sins, God is faithful – to His character, His Word, and to the promises He’s made to us.

God is just – It would not seem to me that a just God should forgive all my sins, but He does. He forgives all my sins because the required punishment has already been given and received. He forgives my sins because the required price has already been paid. To not forgive the sin would be requiring more than what God has already said is required. Romans 6:23 states clearly that the penalty for sin is death. It goes on just as clearly to explain that the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Christ died as payment in full for my sin. Paid in Full! Punishment has been already been given and received. God is faithful to His Word and God is just. To require more of me today than God has already defined as the set penalty or punishment would be unjust.

God will forgive our sins – With the penalty already paid, God fully – fully – forgives our sins. Any residual guilt we may feel is one of two things (or both): A lie from the enemy that we are believing or a refusal to believe God. You may wonder “why would anyone ever refuse to believe God – especially about something so wonderful?” It’s a fair question. But I suspect that if you think carefully you can identify times in your own life when you chose to hold on to guilt instead of receive God’s forgiveness. Perhaps you felt that you didn’t deserve forgiveness; perhaps you were enjoying wallowing in your guilt; perhaps you were just being rebellious or stubborn. In the light of day that sounds horrible, but we do it. At some point (or at many points in our lives), we must choose to believe God in this area – believe God that if we have confessed our sins, He will and has forgiven us.

God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness – I am so glad that God added this last phrase! It says that not only will He forgive the sin that I’ve confessed, but that He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness. We don’t have to worry that we may have forgotten to confess some sin and therefore have not been fully forgiven. God cleanses us from all unrighteousness. And as I suspect you’ve heard many preachers say – all means ALL! When we live with a repentant heart, we confess our sins as God brings them to our attention. He then immediately forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

As I’ve meditated on this aspect of God’s faithfulness and justice over the past few days I’ve had two thoughts:

  • First, what an awesome, mind boggling thing it is that Jesus did for us. He took all the sin we have committed and ever would commit upon Himself as He hung on the cross. In that moment when God looked away, in that moment when Jesus and God were separated by the blackness of my sin, Jesus didn’t condemn me, He forgave me and He cleansed me. He made it possible for me to exchange the blackness of my sin for a pure heart.
  • Second, sometimes we feel unclean because of sins against us. When we confess our sins, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. When we have been sinned against, even if our response has been pure, we feel unclean, just as we might feel unclean when we visit a garbage dump. It’s not our fault and we are not condemned for having visited the dump, but upon leaving we feel unclean. When we come to the Lord, He cleanses us of all unrighteousness. If you are struggling with feelings of unrighteousness – feeling that you have been sinned against and will never be clean – go to God. Confess your sins (read that carefully – confess your sins, not those sins others committed against you) and know that God will cleans you from all unrighteousness. Believe it! Live it! Holding on to feelings of unrighteousness are unnecessary.

When we confess our sins, God is faithful to His Word and His promises to us. When we confess our sins, God is just – not requiring a greater penalty than His Word says is required. When we confess our sins, God forgives them – we can live in freedom. When we confess our sins, God cleanses us from all unrighteousness – he exchanges the blackness of our sin for a pure heart.

A repentant heart leads to a pure heart. And living from a pure heart is living in freedom and joy.

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1 Chronicles 16:29-30
Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. (NLT)

Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! (NKJV)

Isaiah 66:1-2 (NLT)
1This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? 2aMy hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine.

Sunset Sky in the Firelands
Dandelion Feathered
Light Through the Clouds
By the River's Edge
Purple Flowers
Lake
Flower Amidst Rocks
Wheat

Photo credits to Terry Caudill. Thanks, Terry!

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A special thanks to my husband, Phil, who loves to travel – both virtually and in the real world. He sent me this link from his virtual travels. God has created a beautiful world for us to enjoy. Can you imagine how beautiful heaven must be? And what does such variety and beauty say about our Lord? Truly unimaginable, but worth my meditation.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Colossians 3:1 (NLT)

While it’s hard to pick a favorite from the images on this site, here’s one of mine. Which is your favorite?

Marble Caves, Chile Chico, Chile

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Wonders of God - Blue Straggler Stars in Globular Cluster M53Welcome to the first “Wonders of God Wednesday”! On Wednesdays, I will provide images of the amazing, awe-inspiring world God has created. Let them sweep you away in wonder at the glorious Creator of the Universe who reaches down and loves you with an everlasting love.

He counts the stars and calls them all by name.
Psalm 147:4 (NLT)

I bet God’s names for these stars are way better than man’s name! Globular Cluster M53 has more than 250,000 stars! How immense is our God? There is no one like our God!

This is a NASA photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. For more about this image, click here.

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Set Apart for Holiness

7So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I, the LORD, am your God. 8Keep all my laws and obey them, for I am the LORD, who makes you holy….

23Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things that I detest them so much. 24But I have promised that you will inherit their land, a land flowing with milk and honey. I, the LORD, am your God, who has set you apart from all other people.
Leviticus 20:7-8, 23-24 (NLT)

While these chapters may seem tedious, there are several things that I really like about them:

  • These chapters are all about God teaching the Israelites how to live a life worthy of being God’s chosen people. The repeated theme is “Be holy.” I love that God teaches us what we need to know. We aren’t expected to always know what is right and what is wrong. When we don’t know, we simply go to God who gives wisdom generously.
  • God tells the Israelites, and us by extension, to “set yourselves apart to be holy.” We are to live differently. We are to be proactive about it – we’re not to go with the flow, join the crowd or do our own thing. We’re to follow God’s approach to living. Sure, many of the verses in these chapters don’t apply to us today…but their underlying principles do. We’re to live more circumspectly, always aware that our God lives among us and He is a holy God.
  • Not only are we to set ourselves apart, God also makes it clear that He has set us apart. God is always the one who moves toward us first. He sent His Son so that we might have life…long before we were ever thinking of turning to Him. He set us apart to be His very own people…so we’re to set ourselves apart.

God is so good! He didn’t have to set us apart – He didn’t have to choose us. He doesn’t have to help me to become holy, but He does.

Loving Your Neighbor
These are the major principles of the chapters that I like, but there are also some individual verses that jump out at me. Did these verses wake you up as you read them?

“Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:18 (NLT)

A few words catch my attention…Neverbear a grudgeagainst anyone…OK, Lord. You’ll have to help me with that sometimes. I’ll agree with you, but…please help!

Notice the second half of this verse – This verse didn’t originate with Jesus in the Gospels. He is quoting this verse. You won’t find the phrase “love your neighbor” anywhere else in the Old Testament. Pretty cool, huh? That buried in the midst of all these laws in Leviticus is the law Jesus said was the second most important one (Mark 12:31).

It’s a Life-Giving Law

If you obey my laws and regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD.
Leviticus 18:5 (NLT)

Obeying God’s laws brings life. The stereotype, of course, is that God’s laws are restrictive and lead to a life that lacks joy. Not so. They bring life – LIFE! I’m reminded of this verse in the book of James:

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25 (NIV)

When are we going to get it through our heads (and hearts and wills) that making God-choices leads to blessing? I want the blessing. Lord, help me to make Your choices. Today we studied the book of 1 John with a group of friends. One of the promises this book carries is that if we pray anything according to God’s will, we can have confidence that He hears us and answers the prayer. (1 John 5:14-15) Asking God to help me make His choices is undoubtedly a prayer that is within His will. Praise God! I can have confidence that He is answering that prayer!

Living a set-apart life, pursuing holiness and seeking to make God-choices – three different ways of saying the same thing, actually – requires diligence and reliance on the Holy Spirit who is alive in us. He will teach us and enable us to live such a life. I want LIFE – how about you?

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1   To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.
2    A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3    A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild
4    A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5    A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6    A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7    A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
8    A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

4But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. 7Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you. Galatians 4:4-7 (NLT)

Scripture says that there is “a time for every purpose under heaven.” Under heaven means here on earth. It also says “When the time was right” or “When the fullness of time had come” God sent His son…

When you put those Scripture together, I get excited.

There was a story in the news earlier this year about a study done by the Oxford Dictionary. The Oxford Dictionary is the dictionary to beat all dictionaries. Here in America, when we think of dictionaries, we think of Webster. In London, they think of Oxford. The study identified the 25 most commonly used nouns. The noun that is used more than any other noun is the word “time”. Also in the list of top 25 nouns are year, day, and week. So 4 of the top 25 words relate to time… The world is obsessed with time!

So obsessed that the US Government has two different agencies that are responsible for keeping the “official time” of the United States. Seems to me that one agency would be sufficient.

I think the reason we’re obsessed with time is because we can’t control it. It continues moving forward no matter what we do. Sometimes it seems to move more quickly and sometimes more slowly, but no matter what we do, it continues on.

We try to control it. We talk about managing our time. I googled “time management” and got 43,900,000 hits! Nearly 44 MILLION!

That made me curious, and since searches are so quick and easy, I decided to google just the word “time.” There were more than 14 BILLION references to the word time.

Yes, I’d say we’re obsessed with time.

I think we’re also obsessed with time because we don’t really understand it. Sometimes it seems to move quickly, sometimes it drags. It seems to just disappear sometimes and when we’ve taken an unexpected nap we can become totally disoriented – largely because we can’t figure out what day/time it is.

In all this stress over time, there is reason to rejoice and have peace. Let’s look at some of the things Scripture tells us about time.

1) God exists outside of time. Now I don’t understand what that means or how that happens, I just know that it is. Scripture is clear that God is eternal. That means He existed before time began and he will exist after time ends. There was never a time when He didn’t exist and there will never be a time when he won’t exist.

Isaiah 57:15 says that God  “inhabits eternity” – in other words, He lives in eternity.

In Isaiah 43:13, the Lord Himself says this: “From eternity to eternity I am God.”

Another phrase that you’ll find many times in the Bible is “from everlasting to everlasting.” It’s often used with an exhortation to “praise Him, because He lives from everlasting to everlasting.”

2) God created time.

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5

At the moment God created the first day, He created time as we measure it. The creation continues story by identifying what God did during the first seven days of the existence of time as we know it. Since God created time, we can trust Him with our time. When I am stressed because I have too much to do and too little time, I can take a step back, remember that God created and controls time, and rest in Him.

3) God has a purpose for our time and wants to be involved in our lives.

Did you ever wonder why you were born when you were born? I think girls especially sometimes look at history books and maybe they see the pretty clothes of the Victorian era or some other time and they begin to wish they had lived in another time.

Acts 17 tells us something interesting about the time in which we live:

26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 
Acts 17:26-27

Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time to be born and a time to die. This passage says the same thing, but it goes a bit further. It says that God determines the time for us to be born and the time for us to die. He also determined the exact places where we should live. Why? So that we would seek Him and reach out to Him and find Him.

God’s actions throughout history have been aimed at one goal – that we would seek Him; that we would reach out and find Him. It’s so important to God that we have a relationship with Him that He sent His Son to earth. He understood that it can be hard for us to understand what we can’t see. So Jesus said “I’ll go! Send me.” Then He stepped out of eternity and stepped into time.

And that was such a climactic event in all of human history, that time is measured before and after it. We live in the year 2011 AD – in other words, 2011 years after Jesus lived.

4But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. 7Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you. Galatians 4:4-7 (NLT)

This passage says that God sent His Son, Jesus, to buy freedom for us so that we could be adopted as God’s own children. And when we are adopted as His own children, everything He has belongs to us.

God’s highest purpose, is to give each of us an opportunity to be adopted as His son or daughter.

Romans 5 explains how that happened:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Romans 5:6

“At just the right time” Christ “died for us sinners.” You see, even when we find God, we have a problem. That problem is called sin. We have lived our lives apart from God, doing what seemed right to us, not doing what God considered right. There is a punishment due for that sin – a penalty. The penalty, Scripture says, is death. So that we might escape eternal death, Jesus stepped in and said “Father, I’ll die in their place.”

Again, Romans 5:6 says:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Romans 5:6

The passage continues with one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture:

8But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. 10For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. 11So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.
Romans 5:8-11

“Now we can rejoice,” Scripture says, because when we believe what Scripture teaches and trust Jesus for our life, God adopts us as His sons and daughters and all that He has is ours. Remember, one of the things He has is eternal life…He lives in eternity. When we trust Jesus, we will live in eternity with God. Yes, He has still appointed a time for us to die, but it’s not an eternal death, it’s merely a crossing from this life into life with God for eternity.

Like I said earlier in this blog, I don’t understand eternity. You know what? That’s OK, because what I do know is that spending eternity with God is a GOOD thing. When my time on this earth is done, when God’s purposes for my life on this earth are accomplished, God has appointed a time for me to die. But He is arranging the events of my life so that I will seek Him and find Him.

When your time on this earth is done, when God’s purposes for your life are accomplished, He has appointed a time for you to die. In the meantime, He’s arranging the events of your life so that you will seek Him and find Him. If you haven’t found Him, I encourage you to continue to seek Him. You can read more about how to find Him here. The time is right! ’Tis the season.

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 1 (Habakkuk chapter 1)

I like the book of Habakkuk! It was part of our Resting at the River’s Edge reading this week and I was so blessed by it. The book records Habakkuk’s cries to God for justice and God’s responses. It is filled with despair and hope; Habakkuk’s reality in this world and His faith-filled response to it.

When I sat down to write several hours ago, I thought I would write a single blog that would pull a few verses from the book that bless me. As I began to study it more, however, and it soon became apparent that more than one blog would be needed to share Habakkuk’s world and faith with you. So as you begin to read this short series of blogs, my prayer is this:

Lord, open our spirits to hear His message for each of us – spoken through Your Word and Your Voice heard deep within our spirit. Teach us Your Ways and give us hearts to be transformed. For the glory of Your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Habakkuk sees the world around him and asks God “How long?” Ultimately his cry is not answered, but the prophet stands in faith waiting for it with great tenacity and hope. My breath is taken away by his closing prayer…but that’s a message you’ll read about a couple of blogs from now. Let’s start with Habakkuk’s first lament and the Lord’s response. If you are reading the King James Version, the first verse is translated like this:

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
Habakkuk 1:1 (KJV)

Notice that what you are about to read is Habakkuk’s burden – it is his heart’s cry to see justice. Instead all he sees around him is destruction, violence, strife and conflict. The book isn’t recording the annoyance that Habakkuk is experiencing today. It is the burden of his heart and he brings it before the Lord. Let’s read a portion of what he says to God.

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Habakkuk 1:2-3 (NIV)

I don’t want to diminish Habakkuk’s circumstances – he was looking at the nation of Israel and seeing destruction – but I when I read the verses I personalize them. There have been times in my life when I cried out to God “How long must I call for help but you don’t listen, Lord?” Perhaps you have experienced times when it feels like your life is falling apart around you and you’re about to fall with it. Perhaps there have been times when you’ve been on the receiving end of injustice, destruction and strife. Take heart! God answers Habakkuk’s cry:

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)

It’s as if God whispers in Habakkuk’s ear – “Just watch this! I am about to do something you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes!” Notice that God didn’t just start doing things in response to Habakkuk’s prayer – he simply told Habakkuk that He was going to do things. This teaches me several things about God and His ways:

1 – God wants to reveal His plans to us – He wants to draw our attention to what He is doing. Check out this verse:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7 (NIV)

The Lord does nothing without first revealing His plans! That excites me! Let’s keep praying “Lord, show me Your ways! Draw my attention to the things You are doing so that I might give you glory.” That is my prayer during this month of thanksgiving – that He would open my eyes more and more to the things He is doing so that I can give Him glory. Our God is a God who constantly reveals Himself and His plans to us. Whether through His Word, the world He created around us, a conversation with a friend, or His whisper in our ear, He makes His ways known.

2 – God is actively involved in growing our faith muscle – our journey with the Lord is a walk of faith, not sight. We hear Him whisper in our ear “watch this” and then He shows us His awesome power and glory. He puts it into our heart to pray for something, but doesn’t answer immediately because to do so would reduce Him to a heavenly gumball machine – we put our prayers in and immediately receive gumball that satisfies our craving for sweetness and activity! Yes, God answers our prayers, but He answers them according to His will and His plans for us and for the world. Often times that means we wait for our answers. During the waiting, our faith is challenged and we are shaped into the image of Christ. We learn to curb that craving for sweet things and powerless activity while we wait for the richness of God’s presence and the powerful anointing of His Spirit.

3 – Our God is a God of hope. The time was not yet right for God to interrupt Habakkuk’s world. So instead of leaving Habakkuk to dwell in the midst of despair alone, God whispered in his ear “I’m coming…just a little while…and it’s going to be glorious!” When life is at its darkest, we can agree with the prophet Jeremiah:

21Yet there is one ray of hope: 22his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. 23Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day. 24My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him. 25The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him. 26It is good both to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26 (TLB)

Whew! Three wonderful lessons about the nature of God which fill us with confidence and hope in the midst of the most dismal circumstances. What a great start in this small book of Habakkuk! Chapter 2 continues the lesson…but would make for quite a long blog, so I’m going to resist moving on. Let’s use the next couple of days to let God’s goodness work its way deep into our Spirit before moving on.

I pray, friends, that today and tomorrow you would experience God’s revelatory nature – that He would reveal Himself and His plans to you in a greater way than He has before. I pray that you would be aware of (and joyful in) is activity in your life. That you would know that you know that you know that He is a God of hope – His compassion never ends. I pray that you would experience the goodness in hoping and waiting quietly for God’s response to your challenging circumstances.

 

Looking forward in anticipation to hearing from you and sharing the next passage from Habakkuk with you.

In the meantime…Enjoy God!

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God, the Creator of the Universe is Our Dwelling Place

1Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.

What a reassurance to the psalmist! “Lord, throughout all the generations, you have been our dwelling place.”

  • God has been faithful to His people for thousands of years. He has sheltered for them.
  • We have a heritage of generations who have been sheltered by the Lord. The older I get the more important my heritage is to me. That heritage connects me to something much bigger than me. When I allow the Lord to be my shelter, I continue an established heritage.
  • We are part of a community – He is “our dwelling place” – we are not alone.
  • Our dwelling place is the Lord – As we’ll see in the following verses, the Lord almighty!

2Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

~~
4For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.

  • He is an eternal God.
  • He is the God with power to create the earth and the world.
  • Eternity is an unimaginably long time. Perhaps a thousand years is like one evening.


We are Sinful and Deserve God’s Wrath

3You turn men back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
~~
5You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning—
6though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered.

  • He rules over the lives of men and women.
  • In light of eternity, our lives are as short-lived as a blade of grass that comes to life one morning but dies in the heat of the sun.

7We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
1 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

  • We are a sinful people and deserve nothing short of the wrath of God.
  • We could easily be consumed by our sin.
  • Our sins are not a secret from God. They are offensive in His presence.


Seek the Lord and His Favor; Find a Heart of Joy

In light of God’s faithfulness and power, and man’s sinfulness and impotence, the Psalmist does the only thing that makes sense: He Asks for wisdom.

12Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

  • Wisdom comes from the Lord. Lord, teach me how to order my days, giving priority to the most important things and forsaking the foolish.
  • It is the Lord’s unfailing love that satisfies our deepest needs, our deepest hunger. Lord, reveal Your unfailing love to me in the morning until I am satisfied in it.
  • Being satisfied in the Lord enables me to face the world with songs of joy and gladness. Lord, put that song in my heart to carry me through the troubles of this life.
  • Show me Your deeds and splendor, Lord.
  • Let Your favor rest upon me. When God’s favor rests upon us, we are blessed.
  • Establish the works of my hands. Keep my life from being meaningless.

I can’t help but see that these ending prayer requests are an outcome of verse 1 – that when the Lord is our dwelling place, we are positioned for Him to show us His deeds and splendor and to be satisfied with His unfailing love. We are positioned to have the song of joy in our heart.

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God’s Sweet, Sweet Presence

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

Psalm 84:1

If ever there was a great Psalm for meditation and for calming one’s nerves, heart and soul, it would be Psalm 84. And wanting to write a blog about it, it seems often I can do nothing other than quote or rephrase the Psalm. Yet I feel compelled to write. Let’s see where this leads.

How lovely, how pleasant, how loving, is the place that the Lord dwells — the place He lives, the place He inhabits. Lovely seems like an awfully weak word, yet it also seems perfect. If I were writing the Psalm, I would probably have written how awesome, how WOW, how incredibly WOW is the Lord’s dwelling place. (Not much of a writer, am I?) But in his word “lovely,” the writer of the Psalm has caught the very essence of being in God’s presence – sweet, peace that overrides and carries through everything else. Yes, God’s presence is awesome and full of the WOW factor, but when all is said and done it is the sweet peace of the Lord that remains. How lovely is the place that the Lord inhabits.

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Psalm 84:2

Having tasted that sweetness of the Lord, nothing else satisfies and we long for His presence again. Lord may I experience the sweetness of Your touch, the loveliness of Your presence so regularly that when I stray, I remember it and long to return. Lord, may my heart and flesh cry out for the Living God in the darkest of times and in the brightest of times.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:3

Can you hear the psalmist’s heart? I hear jealousy that even the sparrow and the swallow can dwell near God’s altar, living there when the Psalmist must leave to attend to life. I also hear reverence – a place near God’s altar where she may give birth to and raise her young. What a privilege to do so near the heart of God.

Notice, also, that the Psalmist has begun to make a shift here, from God’s dwelling place to created beings dwelling near God. We’ll see that shift fully materialize in next verse. First, I want to look at the concept of the altar a bit more.

What’s the purpose of an altar? Altars were where the sacrifices were made. We think of an altar as a nice clean kneeling bench or something similar, but it was a place where blood was shed for the temporary forgiveness of sin of the Israelites. It was a bloody, gory place…yet it was lovely to David because He had experienced the forgiveness of sins. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a lovely, sweet, place because it represents the presence of God as the One who forgives sins.

Do you know that mighty presence of God? Do you know that sweet Spirit that follows the “WOW” of God’s awesome presence? Do you know that your sins have been forgiven? Scripture teaches that God is faithful to forgive sins when we ask (1 John 1:9). If you’re unsure, ask today. He will faithfully forgive your sins and you can begin to experience the sweetness of peace with God.

Then spend some time in God’s dwelling place – His presence. Don’t wait for church on Sunday or prayer meeting on Wednesday night or your next small group meeting. Enjoy your own private audience with the Lord today.

The next blog will look at the blessings that come from dwelling with God according to verses 4 through 7.

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