Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Turn Tangled Thoughts into Trust

I was planning to read Psalm 18 before falling asleep last night. A busy day, a weighty decision, concern for a loved one, and questions about the future. Sometimes we just need to come up for air.

But as I read, I couldn’t get past verse 2.

It took multiple readings to let its nine-fold truth about God sink in—a concept that left Him looming larger than my tangled thoughts.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

This verse begged to be read over and over again. God’s might is articulated in beautiful imagery and powerful repetition.

Then I noticed how many “my’s” are included in this array of God-attribute reminders.
                My rock.
                My fortress.
                My deliverer.
                My God.
                My strength.
                My shield.
                The horn of my salvation.
                My high tower.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to miss the fact that this powerful God is OUR God.

Our tangled thoughts in weakness never overwhelm our strong God. He wants us to lean them all against His strength.
One “attribute” in this list is different. Worded differently, as if the tables turn for a brief moment, it sits up from its middle position and makes an announcement.

Our rock, fortress, deliverer, God, strength, shield, horn of salvation, and high tower is also the One “in whom I will trust.”

I finished reading Psalm 18 today. As the Psalm continues, David beautifully describes how God came to His rescue when David depended on Him.

How should every tangled thought respond to such a powerful God?


“He is a shield to all those who trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30b)

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Unnoticed Gift

I wrap my arms around her frail body—her beautiful, 92-year-old frame that’s kept breathing with the help of an oxygen tank and tubes I stop noticing after the first sentence escapes her lips.

That sentence is always, “I love you. You are so precious. I’ve missed you.”

We talk.

And she keeps breathing.

She tells me again about her husband who died when her children were young. She makes sure I never miss the part that assures me her God never left her destitute, abandoned, in need, or wondering how her children would be cared for.

Her husband died in peace, because she was at peace and told him, “God will take care of me.”

She never skips the part that reminds me that doctors gave her only months to live. She had two children. Her husband was gone. Her God was the only One who could keep her alive for them and for the many lives He still meant for her to touch. He was the only One who would decide when her last breath would be.

Since then and for over fifty years, He has given her thousands of daily breaths.

We talk. She keeps breathing. And she doesn’t let me forget that her God is the One who did that. The only One who gave her these many years to live.

When I’m with her, I can’t stop thinking about the God who keeps her breathing. She lives in His presence constantly. You can’t help but notice Him.

That’s what breathing is—a constant, unnoticed gift of life from the One Who is always with us.

The words she leaves in my ears as I say good-bye are always, “Go with God.”

Go with the God who never fails to give you enough breaths to live the life He has given you.

Go with God—the One who will give you all the breaths you have left.

"He gives to all life, breath, and all things." ~Acts 17:25

Monday, May 30, 2016

When Everything Else Fails

The story is told of a woman who was saved later in life. Wanting to make up for lost time, she committed entire portions of Scripture to memory. Books of the Bible. Epistles. Favorite passages.

She hid God’s Word deep in her heart.

As the years passed by and her mind and eyes grew dim, many of these scriptures slipped from her memory.

Finally, only one verse remained. A verse she recited to every person who came to visit.

“I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

As her final years continued to wane, part of this passage slipped away as well.

All that remained in her mind and on her lips were the words: “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”

On her death bed, only one word remained. For the last time, it escaped her lips with her final breath.

“. . . Him.”

At the end of his life, John Newton said,

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”

Everything else will fail one day.

The only One who never will is “. . .Him.”

“Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Temptations Lose Their Power

We’ve all been there. The battle raging in the mind. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What would it hurt? I’m not sure I can say “no.” How can I say “no”?

Peter did something he thought he would never do.

He denied the Lord.

In the heat of the temptation, he told others he never knew Christ. He never knew the Man who chose him, loved him, taught him, and performed miracles for him.

He knew now that his love was weak.

He knew now how capable he was of failing the Lord.

Here Jesus was, sitting at a meal with him. Risen from the dead.

Here Peter was, eating with the Man he denied. The Man who forgave him, still loved him, and wanted to use him, when Peter thought he’d be content fishing again.

Jesus asked him a question. Three times.

“Do you love me?”

Maybe that question sat behind the look in Jesus’ eyes the last time Peter denied Him. He denied the Lord three times, and Jesus turned and fixed his eyes on Peter.

Behind those eyes, was He asking Peter the question, “Do you love me”?

Jesus asked it now—now that Peter knew Jesus had power over death, over the powers of hell. He asked Peter about his love, now that he was forgiven and not forsaken.

If Peter had heard Jesus’ words, “Do you love me?” the moment he was tempted to deny the Lord, would temptation have lost its power?

“You know that I love you,” Peter told Jesus.

But Peter let that love crumble into hiding when faced with temptation. When asked if he knew Jesus, he even lied to himself. His denial shouted a lie—the lie that he didn’t love Jesus.

Do we love Him?

Temptation will tell.

Temptations will lose their power when we keep ourselves in the love of Christ (Jude 21).

Click here to listen to the lesson on Simon Peter in the series, Conversations with the Risen Christ.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Our Greatest Need

Recently, I heard a preacher ask the question, “What is your greatest need?”

His answer wasn’t better health, financial security, another relationship, or more time.

Our greatest need is to trust God more.

A doubting Christian chose to put God in his little box. He required one thing:  Proof.

He needed to see with his own eyes. His faith needed to rest on visible, hard-core facts he could put his finger on.

He got those facts. He was allowed to see. He could touch if he wanted.

But Jesus’ words to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing” brought him to his knees.

Thomas saw, and his faith said, “You are God. You are my Lord. And You can do whatever you want.”

He learned to trust God more.

But it took seeing to believe.

“We don’t live our lives based on explanations, but on promises.” -- Ron Mehl

Our greatest need is to trust those promises.

To trust the God who made the promises.

To forget our fears and doubts. To toss out our little box we’ve used to hold the tiny hints of faith that need His gentle rebuke.

We need to blindly rest against the tower of truth that says He is God, He is Lord, and He can do whatever He wants.

“Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).

This is our greatest need.

Click here to listen to the lesson on Thomas.