Anchor

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
Hebrews 6:19

Each time I have read the verse above, read a devotional about this verse, or hear a sermon about it, I resonate with the anchor symbolism. I remember as a young child boating with my Dad on the Illinois River and learning all things nautical.   One of my favorite memories as a young adult is when my family was boating on the shores of Lake Michigan. We  “beached” the boat as far into the shore as possible and then set the anchor in the sand. The anchor was tight and holding strong as began our decent down the beach. After we had traveled a distance my dad looked back at the boat and asked, “does it look like the boat is moving?” We all agreed that the anchor had loosened its grip in the sand and the boat was floating away from shore. We took off running back down the beach. My dad waded out into the water and was able to jump on the boat and pull it back up to the shore. We reset the anchor this time making triple sure that it was secure and not slipping.

In Biblical times, anchors on boats were not lowered into the ocean. Instead, a sailor would leave the boat and secure the anchor on shore to keep it from floating away. Instead of worrying about their boats floating away the sailors made sure that the anchor was secure.

Just like the anchor on a boat, we have the same hope in Jesus. He steadies our souls and secures us. This hope is a trust that God will fulfill His promise. We have hope because He has given us both a promise and an oath.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confided it with an oath.
Hebrews 6:17

The Lord cannot lie. We read of the promise He made to Abraham in verse 13. After Abraham waited patiently, he received what was promised to him (verse 15). This is an assurance to us that God does what He promises He will do.

When we put our trust in God, He promises to be our anchor. We are forever secure and tethered to Him. Our hope is firm and secure because God has promised on oath to fulfill His Word. No matter what comes against us in this world, we can be assured that our anchor does not slip, we can stand firm and trust in the Lord.

Levititcus 15-18, Psalm 31, Hebrews 6

Constant Love

Help me, O Lord my God; because of your constant love, save me!
Psalm 109:26

David, the author of this Psalm, had been experiencing numerous difficult times with many different people. As this chapter comes to a close, David cried out to God for help.

What do you do when you face a difficult situation? Do you seek help? I find that many times I seek different sources of help before I seek God. I might first google my problem and try to find relevant answers. I might seek out a confidant to ask advice about the situation. And sometimes, I just ruminate on the situation for hours which does not help solve the problem at all.

We see clearly from the verse above that David cried out to the Lord to save him. And as he cries out for help the emphasis remains of God. It is because of God and His constant love that David will be saved. There is nothing thad David had done that gave God a reason to save him from his struggles. God did not have to save him, but He is a God of love and mercy. Seeking God for help based off His love and mercy puts the focus on God and not self.

When we find ourself in a difficult situation, we are told through multiple scriptures to cry out to the Lord for help. This verse reminds us that the focus should be on God and who He is, not on ourself or what we have done. God hears us and helps us because of His constant love for us, nothing more.

This is a love we do not deserve or earn. Jesus died on the cross because He loves us, not because of who we are or anything we have done to deserve it. He hears us and answers our prayers when we cry out to Him only because He loves us.

 

Steadfast Praise

Genesis 43-44, Psalm 108 and Galatians 1

Is your heart steadfast? What does that even mean? When I read Psalm 108 today, this is the first sentence of the chapter. Usually I just keep reading and don’t take time to really think about each verse, but for some reason this word got me to pause and take a deeper look.

steadfast – firmly fixed in place, immovable
firm in belief, determination, or adherence, loyal
(Merriam-Webter.com)

“Steadfast has held its ground for many centuries. Its Old English predecessor, stedefoest, combines stede (meaning “place” or “stead”) and faest (meaning “firmly fixed”). The word was first used in battle contexts to describe warriors who stood their ground, which led to its “immovable” sense. That sense gave way to the word’s use as an adjective implying unswerving faith, loyalty, or devotion.”
(Merriam-Webster.com)

So what does it mean if my heart is steadfast? It means that my heart is firmly fixed, immovable and loyal to God. My heart is not capable of of being moved or diverted from God.

My heart is steadfast, God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”
Psalm 108:1-4 ESV

This chapter opens with King David making the statement that his heart is fixed on God. We know that David faced many challenges in his life, so he had reasons to doubt God or question why he suffered. But, this verse tells us that he CHOSE to keep his heart firmly fixed, immovable and loyal to God, no matter the circumstance that he encountered. He was determined to praise God. Why??? Why would David continue to praise God through his struggles?

Your love is so extravagant, it reaches higher than the heavens! Your faithfulness is so astonishing, it stretches to the skies!
Psalm 108:4 TPT

David chose to praise him through his struggles because he knew that God never changes. His love is extravagant. His love reaches higher than the heavens. His faithfulness is astonishing.

God’s love for David is the same love He has for you and I. His love for us is steadfast. His love for us will never change. His love for us is extravagant. When life is good it is easy to praise God, but when life is hard we have to fix our thoughts on God and praising Him. We have David to remind us to be steadfast in our praise.

When I face challenges in my life, I have to make a conscious decision about my thoughts. I can go down the road of fear and what-ifs, taking my worries into my own hands and trying to figure it all out. Or, as I am called to do by God, I can make the choice to praise God for Who He is. I can tell Him how great He is. I can thank Him for All He has done previously in my life and in the lives around me.

I know from experience that this choice does not come easy. Even just this week I got lost in my own thoughts and fears. I knew in the back of my mind that God was in control, but I unfortunately did not choose to praise Him through the circumstance. This chapter of Psalm 108 reminded me to praise Him through the storm no matter what. And the best part is that I get to try again and again. God is the God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 100th+ chances. And that is a good thing, because I seem to take a long time to learn certain lessons. I can praise God that He never gives up on me. He loves me to the ends of the earth, and that is worth praising Him.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39 NLT

I am a warrior. I am steadfast. I will keep my heart steadfast and praise Jesus for Who He is, What He has done, and What He will do.

Thank You

I recently joined a new to me group of ladies who love Jesus. One specific thing stood out to me as we prayed out loud together. Nobody prayed for themselves or particular situations. Each person said a short sentence prayer praising Jesus for Who He is. It was refreshing and thought provoking for me. I was reminded of how often I get trapped in praying for all the things that I or the people around me need and do not focus on saying Thank You.

Psalm 107 is a Psalm about thankfulness. In fact, the following verse is repeated 4 times in this one Psalm.

They must thank the Lord for his constant love, for the wonderful things he did for them.
Psalm 107:8,15,21, and 31)

The author of this Psalm obviously encourages the people to be thankful to God. It is so easy to get caught up in the trenches of life that we lose focus on giving thanks. Psalm 107 describes 5 different areas in which God has been faithful to His people.

He is a God of Deliverance – Then in their trouble they called to the Lord and he saved them from their distress. Psalm 107:6

He is a God of Guidance – He led them by a straight road to a city where they could live. Psalm 107:7

He is a God of Provision – He satisfies those who are thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

He is a God of Protection – He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet. They were glad because of the calm, and he brought them safe to the port they wanted. Psalm 107:29-30

He is a God of Blessings – He changed deserts into pools of water and dry land into flowing springs. He let hungry people settle there, and they built a city to live in. They sowed the fields and planted grapevines and reaped an abundant harvest. He blessed his people, and they had many children; he kept their herds of cattle from decreasing. Psalm 107:35-38

He is a God who delivers, guides, provides, protects and blesses. As I think of all these areas and what God has done in my life, I realize I do not thank Him enough. But I can start right now. God has been so faithful to me and I have the opportunity to thank Him for the numerous ways He delivers me from trials, guides me through difficult situations, provides in unexpected ways, protects me from harm, and blesses me beyond measure.

May this Psalm remind us to thank God every day for all that He has given.

Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good; his love is eternal! Repeat these words in praise to the Lord, all you whom he has saved.
Psalm 107:1-2

 

The Book of Life

Is your name written in the Book of Life?

Today in Revelation 20, we read about the Book of Life. It is pretty clear what the Bible says in verse 15:

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The most important place your name could ever be written is in this book. So, how do you know if your name is included in this Book of Life?

As we are just 4 days away from celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus, what a fitting question. We celebrate Jesus coming to earth to bring us life. It is only through Him that we are forgiven and through belief in Him do we get to have our name added to the Book of Life. When we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior it is a gift that we are given to be added to this book.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

I have previously shared the story of realising my name was in the Book of Life, not because of who I am or what I have done, but only because of what Jesus did for me by coming to this earth and then dying on the cross.

I will never forget the shame I felt after hanging up the phone with a lady from a new church I attended. She asked me if I believed in Jesus and did I believe I would go to Heaven (was my name written in the Book of Life?). I said Yes and she asked me why I believed this. The first words out of my mouth were, “because I am a good person and I do good things.” The woman immediately followed up with, “well, that is fine, but you only get to Heaven because Jesus died for your sins, not because of anything you do.” I was mortified. I had just graduated from a Christian College, I had spent years in the Church…why wasn’t that my first answer??? As hard as it was to realize that I had answered in the wrong way, it has been one of the greatest lessons and reminders in my life. Jesus died for ME because He Loves Me! Not because of ANYTHING I have done or will do!

Reading through Revelation 20 is confusing and can be frustrating to figure out what it is exactly saying. But when you know that Jesus came and died for your sins, it is a comfort to know that your name is written down in the Book of Life and your salvation is secure. Your future is in heaven and your eternity is with Christ.

We have such an opportunity these next few days to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the reason He came to earth. Sharing this good news with others is the biggest call on our lives. Revelation makes it abundantly clear what happens if your name is not written in the Book of Life. We can let that scare us or motivate us to share the Good News of Jesus with all that we are surrounded by this Christmas.

Job 34-36 and Revelation 20

The Voice of the Lord

 

There are so many voices in today’s society. I find myself sitting in complete quiet sometimes because I get so overwhelmed by the constant chatter around me. We are surrounded by noise from the daily news, social media, friends, neighbors, and even music playing in your favorite restaurant. What and Who do you listen to?

When you face a storm in your life whose voice do you first seek and listen to? Do you first try and call a family member? Maybe you reach out to your dearest friend for advice? Or maybe you get on your computer and start googling for the answer to your problem?

We have access to information so quickly that we might skip right over the One who has the most power in our lives. Psalm 29 reminds us of the power and the glory of God.

Praise the Lord, you heavenly beings; praise his glory and power.
Psalm 29:1

Do you remember a time that you sat outside and watched a storm roll in? The clouds quickly changing shapes and formations? The wind howling? The temperature quickly dropping? My family used to stand on our front porch and wait till the very last minute to run inside before the rain began to pelt us. My middle child would already be curled up in the basement storage room overcome with fear and yelling for us to hurry up and join her. We would eventually make it to our safe spot, especially when the sirens sounded. When the rain stopped we would make our way back upstairs and peer into the powerful sky.

We read in Psalm 29 that the voice of God makes the lightning flash. God is in control of the thunder, lightening, wind and the rain. God is in control of the storm and He is also in control of each person who puts his or her trust in Him. If you believe in God, than you also have access to the power of God.

The Lord gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace.
Psalm 29:11

When you go through a storm, literally or a personal storm of life, it is a good time to seek the voice of the Lord. We can hear His voice when we read this entire 29th Psalm and remember the Lord and His mighty power. Instead of seeking outside answers or encouragement, first seek the Lord and His power. The same God who thunders in the storm is the same God from whom all strength and blessings flow.

Job 1-3, Psalm 29, Revelation 10

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

I am sure that I am not the only one in disbelief that tomorrow is Thanksgiving?!?!!

How did it get here so fast? If I am honest, I have been a little stressed about the day and how it will play out. We are traveling to our son’s home and will not arrive till the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. I will not have the luxury of making sure everything is bought and ready to go. I find myself getting caught up in all the “what-ifs” of the day. But when I read Psalm 95, part of our reading for today, it reminded me of what the day holds – THANKFULNESS and JOY!!

When I read Psalm 95 in The Passion Translation it put a little pep in my step. We are called to worship and sing for joy to the Lord.

Come on everyone! Let’s sing for joy to the Lord! Let’s shout our loudest praises to our God who saved us! Everyone come meet his face with a thankful heart. Don’t hold back your praises; make him great by your shouts of joy! For the Lord is the greatest of all, King-God over all other gods!
Psalm 95:1-3

“Don’t hold back your praises.” What would it look like if you did not hold back your praises tomorrow on the day of Thanks? I think of Mary Poppins and the song, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Can you even read that word without starting to sing it in your head? When I looked up the meaning of this word, it actually means extraordinarily good or wonderful.

I think of my worship to God and question my joy. Worship is not about me. Worship is about God. What would it look like if I got on my knees and worshipped Him with a thankful heart? Would it have anything to do with how the food turned out on Turkey Day? Probably not. When I put the focus on God and what He has done for me, my focus changes. I can celebrate and be thankful for the life I have and all that He has given me. He sent His Son to the cross to die for me. He died for me and all my sins so that I could have eternal life. If that is not SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPEALIDOCIOUS, I do not know what is.

So lets focus on the One to whom we give our thanks tomorrow. Thank You God for loving us enough to send your Son to the cross so that we may live eternally with You. May our joy overflow as we remember all we have to be thankful for. And may we smile when we think of this song and remember to sing for JOY to the Lord.

Todays reading:  Ezra 5-6, Psalm 95, 3 John

When Everything Goes Wrong

Todays reading: Daniel 4-6 and John 18

When was the last time you had a day when everything went wrong? You missed your alarm, you didn’t have time to make your morning coffee, your car was on E, you got the call from the school nurse that your child is sick, and you had no plans for dinner. Those are the days when everything just seems to pile up and you just want to crawl back in bed and be done. Then there are days when these days that go wrong don’t even compare to the moments when we get that unimaginable diagnoses from our Dr, we get a call about a loved one passing, or we lose our job. We do not know what tomorrow holds.

In our reading today, John 18, we read about happenings that seem unimaginable. Jesus is betrayed by one of His closest friends. He is then arrested and bound by soldiers and officers. And, then He is interrogated and treated like a criminal. It seemed that everything had gone wrong.

The crazy thing is, nothing was out of control or surprising to Jesus. Everything was happening exactly according to plan. Jesus gave himself over to the officials knowing all that would happen to him.

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
John 18:4

Then when He was being interrogated He said to Pilate,

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.
John 18:37

Jesus knew all that would happen to him. He could submit to these situations only because He knew and trusted in God’s perfect plan. He trusted the Father’s plans despite the circumstances that surrounded him. What a demonstration for us to look to God and trust His faithfulness even when our days and circumstances are out of our control.

God has a perfect plan that we cannot see this side of Heaven.

Bless the Lord

A few weeks ago my family gathered to celebrate my father. It was his 80th birthday, so that called for a party. We ate, sang happy birthday, opened gifts and then blessed him with special memories we had each experienced with him. The room was filled to the brim with laughter and love! The memories brought a closeness and a joy to each one in the room. Our reading today is about blessing.

Psalm 134
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!

We know how to bless others (celebrate them), but how do we bless God? Celebrate God! We can celebrate him alone or we can celebrate Him with others. We remember and thank Him for all that He has done in our lives. We bring Him gifts. We bring Him the gift of ourselves.

It is easy to celebrate God during the good times. But we bless Him even in our darkest hours, when life seems the hardest. We praise Him when life seems unfair.

Every day is an opportunity to lift up our hands in thanks to God for what He has done for us. May we all give thanks and adoration where ever we go. May we bless Him in the good times and the bad, for He is worthy.

Grow

When you were born, God gave you a unique and specialized DNA designed just for you. You were given a brain that can think, learn and interpret data. You were given a heart that can feel a whole range of emotions from anger and fear to joy and contentment. From the day you arrived in this world you have grown in size and stature while your brain has matured and acquired knowledge for life.

Today in our reading of 2 Peter 1 we learn that when you become a believer, God does something incredible in your life.

Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Did you know that if you believe in God and have been born again, you are equipped to live for Him? The verse above tells us everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us.
Just like when you were born you physically grow and mature, when you are spiritually born again, you are given a new mind and a new heart. God gives you everything at that moment that you will need to grow spiritually. He equips you to be able to live a godly life. But, just having that ability inside of you is not enough. It is up to you to grow and develop your spiritual life.

How do we grow spiritually?

As a result of this, he has given you magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises we can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are of the world.
1 Peter 1:4

We grow spiritually when we read, study and apply the promises in God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible is the food we need that enables us to grow spiritually. We have to make an effort and discipline ourselves to grow.

So devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness, add understanding, and to understanding add the strength of self-control, and to self-control add patient endurance, and to patient endurance add godliness, and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters, and to mercy toward others add unending love. Since these virtues are already planted deep within, and you possess them in abundant supply, they will keep you from being inactive or fruitless in your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately.
2 Peter 1:5-8

We grow spiritually when we put all the above disciplines in practice. When put these into practice we will know Jesus more intimately. Knowing Jesus more intimately changes the way we live our lives. People will look at us and wonder what the difference is. The difference is that we have an intimate relationship with Jesus and seek Him daily.