Why I Believe – Psalm 19

When Psalm 19 comes up, one of the things that comes to mind (aside from how much we need to echo David’s prayer in Verse 14) is the song Indescribable. It’s a beautiful song about the glory of nature and how in the beauty and vastness of nature and the countless stars in the sky, we are rendered awestruck at God’s great glory. It mostly describes the enormity of creation made to display God’s wonder. But I love how it ends, in the last line of the last chorus, with “You see the depths of my heart, and You love me the same.” Our God simultaneously displays His power in creation, yet His word is deeply personal and intimate, deeper than we know ourselves.

According to Paul’s words to the Church of Rome in Romans 1:18-20, he recognizes that even the unrighteous person recognizes God’s glory through creation, made evident through their suppression and violence against truth. God’s glory is so overwhelming obvious through the scale of His creation, even the ungodly recognize His power. That alone seals the deal for me as evidence of God’s truths – Paul’s reasoning of people serving idols of the creatures of the earth back then still seems pretty applicably self-evident today. But we, as believers, know and must share that logical next step in living not by seeing, but by believing, by faith.(immediately before the above in verse 17-“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”) Creation points to God, but God’s word paints us the entire picture of His plan for salvation within this creation!

In Psalm 19, we see that God’s word in Scripture is:

  • Perfect, reviving the soul – Isaiah 57:15 says of the Lord, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” God, who dwells within the vast heavens, also hears our prayers and pleas for forgiveness. And how else could you explain that soul-crushing, inescapable guilt being lifted rather than the God bigger than guilt?
  • Sure, making wise the simple -Through Proverbs 2, I am humbled through knowing the Lord can answer the questions I never could. I’ve seen the Lord make clear and take away the frustrations of so many difficult questions – that is how I know He is my shield.
  • Right, rejoicing the heart – God is always right, we never have to guess if He is right or wrong, and you know that makes me rejoice – how thankful I am that there’s something in this crazy world I can always know to be true!
  • Pure, enlightening the eyes – God’s word provides light in dark times; this we can all attest to. Psalm 119:105 says God’s word is the light to our path – He opens our eyes to how we should be living and walking in His path.
  • Clean, enduring forever – Hebrews 13:8 y’all, what else can be said but how thankful we are that the Lord will be our Lord eternally.
  • True, righteous altogether – What better summary could David give for why I, and all of us, follow God. No matter what, God’s truth has always been there: attested to in both the majesty of the world around me, and in the effects of His precepts upon each believer’s heart.

I read through this and can see echoes of these sentiments when I think back to trials in my own life. In times of grappling with questions about life and the world around me, my burdens were immeasurably lifted when I surrendered the need to know all answers over to a God who knows all. When life came to crashing standstills and I was left wondering “where do I go from here,” God provided direction and encouragement to grow. In the darkest times, when I felt defeated by my failures and like I had irredeemably squandered my own potential, who else but God could redeem me and fill my head with hope and my heart with joy. When we listen to God’s rules and follow Him, we reap incredible rewards – I can attest to that for sure! David’s totally right – that’s a reward sweeter than any honey and finer than any gold. And for that, I think we should all pray today for our words & meditations to be pleasing to God, that we may reflect even a portion of how necessary and wonderful God’s words are to us.

Tested, Proven, Perfected

I am fully enthralled with the story of Peter’s denial.  Today, in Mark 14, we see both the warning that Jesus gives him and Peter’s vehement denial.  These two statements are extreme opposites.  In verse 31, Peter  “said emphatically, If I must die with you, I will not deny you.’”  Contrast that statement with verse 71 where Peter  “invokes a curse on himself and swears, I do not know this man of whom you speak.”  How could Peter so fully believe that he would follow Jesus, at all cost, and, at the same time invoke a curse on himself trying to denounce him?  Clearly, Peter did not understand what he was capable of.  Are we all so fallible?  If so, how do I know what I really believe?
The answer, unfortunately, is that we don’t know.  Seriously, until our beliefs are put to the test, we do not know how we will respond.  My fear, of course, is that I will fail as Peter did.  But why?  Why do I fear failing when, failure is the very thing that leads to success.? That was certainly true for Peter.  After failing the test, Peter broke down and cried.  In that moment, Peter knew himself better than he ever had.  More importantly, he came face to face with the gulf between who he was and who God created him to be.  He fully understood that if he was to be whole again, he would need God to make him so.  I can only imagine how difficult the next few days were for Peter.  Jesus was dead, and he failed.  What hope was there?

God leads into the dark night those whom He desires to purify from all these imperfections so that He may bring them farther onward. ~Saint John of the Cross

I am sure that through this test,  God planned to help Peter become who he was created to be.  Throughout the test, Peter was 100% responsible for his response.  He got to choose what was next.  In the end, Peter could not deny the changes that Jesus had made in his heart.  He was a different man.  While his heart may have reflected sorrow and shame, he was not far from worship.  It shows in his excitement to be reunited with Jesus in John 21:8.  It was this contrition of heart that led him to a full victory in John 21:15-20.

As I learn about Peter in this passage,  I find myself reflecting on how God has and is testing my faith.  I can see times of failure and, like Peter, experienced a dark night of the soul.  Maybe you are experiencing a test of faith right now. I am comforted to know that victory is ours if we choose it.  We choose it by acknowledging that Jesus is our savior and our Lord.  When we do, He promises that we will become “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4).  That is who God created us to be.

Diamonds, Hawk Nelson

Saint John of the Cross. The Dark Night of the Soul (annotated) (Kindle Location 151). Kindle Edition.

Showing Grace


2 Samuel 9 and Psalm 41

To understand this chapter of 2 Samuel, we have to go back  about twenty years earlier, when David made a covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20). Jonathan, who was heir to Saul’s throne, was not going to be King because of his father’s disobedience to the Lord. Samuel had told Saul that his kingdom would be taken away and given to a better man. Despite that, David and Jonathan had a very close friendship. Jonathan, instead of siding with his Saul to secure his position to the throne, accepted that David would be king and made a covenant with him. He had David promise him to show him and his family after him the unfailing kindness of the Lord, as long as they lived.

We don’t know what precipitated David’s question –  “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” But all these years later he was prompted to remember his promise to Jonathan. David seeks out what remains of Jonathan’s family and pours love and kindness out to Mephibosheth by giving him all of the property that had been Saul’s, then giving him a place equal to that of David’s own sons.

David didn’t just give money and land and material things – he welcomed the son of Jonathan into his home and gave him a place of honor.

David showed Grace to Mephibosheth. He didn’t question him about his worthiness, didn’t put stipulations on his gifts, and didn’t just give him monetary gifts to satisfy a promise or sense of guilt – he loved him! He treated him like one of his own sons.

Grace is difficult for me. It is difficult for me to accept God’s grace, his promise of forgiveness and his love for me despite the sins that bring me guilt and shame.

Grace is also difficult for me to give. It is sometimes easier to write a check and drop it in the plate at church than to stop and take time to show love to others. David’s behavior is such an amazing example of how grace should be shown. Wholly, unconditionally and without limit.

 Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
    In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
    he is called blessed in the land…Psalm 41:1-2


The Great Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)

 Today, Matthew 28 documents the life-giving story of Jesus’ resurrection.  He overcame death.  He lives!  Celebrate and worship.  As of this moment, every life has hope.  Our hope comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, now living within us.  Celebrate and worship.  I was just beginning to enjoy the resurrection when Matthew quickly shifts away, confronting me with the next leg of the journey.  Um, wait a minute.  I’m not ready.  Can we go back to the celebration?

Most Christians stop right here, at Jesus resurrection.  We celebrating and worship Jesus for the grace and mercy he gives, claiming eternity as our own.  Other than that, our lives remain unchanged.  We are, however, called to more.  Jesus calls us to become his disciples and make disciples.  What exactly is a disciple?  To describe us as followers is too simple.  Christian discipleship involves becoming like Jesus.  To be one requires our full submission that enables our full transformation to be like him.  Sadly, few Christians move off the celebratory mark set by the resurrection.

Need proof?  In a nationwide poll conducted by the Barna Group, 40% of the people surveyed said, “they were personally committed to Jesus Christ, had confessed their sins, and believed they will go to heaven after they die because of God’s grace provided through Jesus’ death and resurrection.”  That is significant.  However, when directed toward their response to that resurrection, “not one of the adults we interviewed said that their goal in life was to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ or to make disciples.”[i]  Wait, what?  Read that quote again.  It is worth digesting fully.

I am hoping that your engagement with BibleJournal.net implies that you have a goal for spiritual formation.  If that is true, great.  The challenge then becomes one of sharing.  You see, when we truly find Christ and our lives are transformed by his love, we will also be compelled to share him.  Therefore, making disciples is not hard.  It is the natural outpouring of Christ upon the world around us.  We will fully embrace the idea that “the local church is the hope of the world.”  When I think about it this way, Jesus’ command to reach the world, becomes not an impossibility, but a full reality.  A couple of years ago, Bill Hybels presented this vision with such clarity, that I want to share it with you today.  I hope you can find a few spare minutes to hear his message.


The morning prayer of every believer should be, “Jesus, this new day, I freshly commit myself to the role you have invited me to play as you are building your church in this world.” ~ Bill Hybels

[i] Barna, George (2013-03-06). Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ (Barna Reports) (p. 8). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Complete Confidence

Today’s Reading: Exodus 19; Luke 22; Job 37; 2 Corinthians 7

The more I’m around kids the more I realize growing up is difficult. There are so many things you think you have control of that you really don’t.  Depending on your circumstances having confidence in God, yourself, or others can be slim or obsolete. Four years ago (while on vacation) I laid in a hospital bed with my wife sitting by my side and our 1 year old walking around the room touching everything possible that a baby probably shouldn’t be touching.  As the doctor came in, she stood next to me and proceeds to tell me that they are going to need to have surgery and that with any kind of big stomach surgery there is a chance that I won’t make it. (wow) As I swallow the knot currently in my throat, I think about my wife breaking down in tears as I struggle to catch my breath while wiping tears grasping for air.  I wished I never came in.  I lacked faith. I lacked faith in many things but mainly God. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

In this moment I wish I could tell you I gave it all to God but I know I didn’t. God’s grace that I didn’t deserve poured over me and provided the strength to make it through the surgery.  Another chance to live for Him and share His love with others. My stomach was healed but there was still more work for God to do. I  lacked confidence in God and myself.  In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul encourages the Corinthians to make room in their heart for him. He understood the importance of fellowship among believers.  This also holds true with us today. God has divine appointments planned all the time if we keep our eyes open.

While recovering from surgery in Florida we got a call that our house we had put up on a whim had sold and we would need to find a place.  Our frantic 2 day online search followed by a packed 1 day search around Bloomington landed us right across from a couple who were Christ followers and attended Eastview. They then invited us to small group one night.  We had been to Eastview before but never allowed ourselves to get connected.  Long story short this offer turned into us joining their group and getting to know some fellow believers that have helped change our lives. Thank you to the couples that open their hearts to us. They have helped build up our confidence in the Lord. Small group allows you to move from a surface level relationship into holding each other as accountability life partners. Living life together where we are in His Word, laughing, loving, have crucial conversations, holding each other accountable, raising children, and following Jesus together.  We are blessed by our small groups and by the amazing other Christ followers we have met through Eastview.  As I reflect on this weeks message I’m reminded how church has helped us to see His essential light, opened our ears, and shown us the path to “Follow Him”.  I thank this biblejournal group of believers that share their daily insights into the Word and help others build the confidence that Jesus is all we need. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Like Paul who was sharing his joy with the Corinthians for opening their heart and repenting, I feel this same joy when as a group of believers we do the same repenting.  Often in our small groups we allow our vulnerability to come out. We share our true selves asking for repentance in addition to encouraging and praying  for each other to keep faith and confidence in God.   If you currently are not in one please contact me and no matter the distance we can look to start one. It will help with personal discovery, smaller communities can be more effective, deeper friendships, and maximum participation.

Francis Chan How to Have Real Community

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

~ Thank from the bottom of my heart everyone has has shared scripture, love, and encouragement along the way. Without your genuine care I would not be here today. When your confidence comes from God, no matter how unstable things in the world may get, you will always remain rock solid and secure in faith.

I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.  2 Corinthians 7:16


Dear Father,

I pray for complete confidence in you and your will every moment of my life. I turn it all over to you.  Whenever I am at a loss and don’t understand why certain things happen let me close my eyes and turn it all over to God since I know that He knows everything and will guide my heart. Throughout my day fill me with your love and guidance so that when I start to rely on my own selfish ways I turn to you in prayer and repentance.  Help me build confidence and show ridiculous love and be a dangerous witness to others for your Kingdom.