One-a-Day Thursday, 6/4/15

number 1Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15).

Job was the poster boy for rough times.

He was beaten up, knocked down, stepped on.  He had more reason than any of us to think that God had abandoned him.

Yet what did he say?

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.

Can you say that, Beloved?  Will you hope in him regardless of what happens in your circumstances?  Is your hope based entirely in God’s character, or is it based in your own wants and needs?

Are there any limits to your hope in him?

Any “if’s” to your love?

Something to chew on today, Beloved.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 6/3/15

number 1…God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. (Colossians 1:27).

I don’t understand how.

I can’t fathom why.

I just know what.

And the what is that the Lord of the Universe has chosen to make his home in you.  Somehow, someway he lives in your heart, and that makes you completely, irrevocably his in a way that will always be a mystery.

It is, nevertheless, true.

And that truth is what gives us hope.  The security, the strength, the love that we can never earn is ours by right because we are his.  We are like street urchins who learn that we are, in fact, the lost heirs to the throne of the kingdom.  Vast, unimaginable riches are ours by birthright.  You don’t need to mourn the past—those debts are paid.  You don’t need to fret over the future—glory awaits.  You need only to let him live in and through you today, to let him build his home in your heart.  And that is exactly what he wants to do.  And that is your hope.

You are his Beloved.

You are his, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 6/2/15

number 1We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).

Go with the flow.

Drift with the tide.

Float wherever the breeze may take you.

Uh, no thanks.

Ships that drift are not happy ships.  They have an awkward tendency to bump into things like rocks and reefs and other ships, with unfortunate results.  Ships need guidance and direction and, when it’s time to rest, an anchor to hold them secure.

Yesterday we talked about hope.  As you looked at the things your heart aches for you may have seen all kinds of desires: physical healing, financial security, marriage, children, a loved one coming to Christ.  These are all worthy desires, but none will keep you from drifting, because none is guaranteed.  An anchor must be a sure thing, solid and unmoving.

Like Christ.

Our hope in Christ is unlike any other hope, because it cannot fail to come to fruition.  Frankly, there is no guarantee that the other hopes we have talked about will ever come to pass.  I would love it if you were healed, or got married, or became wealthy, but nobody has promised you those things—at least, nobody with the power to make them happen.  But Jesus has promised you some pretty powerful things.  He has promised to love you forever.  He has promised that you are his, wholly and completely.  He has promised to be with you, now and always.

Jesus is not the God of Maybe.

He is the great I Am.

So don’t drift through your day, Beloved.  Set your anchor and let your soul rest.

One-a-DayMonday 6/1/15

number 1This week we focus on Hope, because…

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).

There’s a whole lot of sick hearts out there.

We hope, we hunger, we long for something, and it tears at us.  We feel a hole in our hearts, and we yearn for that which will fill it.  And then, after weeks, months, years of patience, we obtain our hope, and all is bliss.

Except when we don’t.

And it isn’t.

Then what?

I’m going to open the week with a simple question:  What do you hope for?

I said simple; I never said easy.

Do us both a favor; don’t tell me—or God, or yourself, for that matter—what you think we want to hear.  Because, “I hope for Christ’s return, when I will be glorified with him and made complete in him,” sounds incredibly spiritual, and is a gold star answer in Sunday School, and is probably even true.

But it’s not all, is it?

Dump out your heart this morning.  Sift through all the bits and bobs.  What do you find yourself yearning for, aching for, hoping for?

What is missing?

Just something to ponder as you head into your week.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Friday, 5/29/15

number 1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

Where do you live?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to show up at your door—I’m being metphoricalish.  You see, this entire Psalm is God’s pledge of protection, but there is a caveat.  The promise only applies to those who “Dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”

So, again, where do you live?

Is your home in Christ?  Is he the one you trust, the one you turn to, the one you serve?  Do you, in fact, dwell in the shelter of the Most High?

Don’t answer too quickly.  Sure, you’re a believer—few who do not know Christ are interested in a daily devotional—but are you really dwelling in Christ, or in the world?

There’s a simple way to know.  When I come home at the end of the day, I am able to relax.  I find peace, because this is where I belong.

How do you feel when you spend time with God, Beloved?  Does it feel like a chore, a duty, a burden, an awkward interaction?

Or is it like coming home?

Something to chew on for your Friday.

One-a-Day Thursday, 5/28/15

number 1My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:1-2).

This image is so powerful—a small child walking quietly along, holding his mother’s hand and going wherever she leads.  The child is not worried about where they are going or when they will get there or how they will pay the rent or who will be President.  Mom is there, and so all is well.  And that’s all that matters.

God is here.

Isn’t that all that matters?

Take his hand today, Beloved.  Walk quietly with him, content that he is here, and so all is well.

Breathe deeply, and have a peaceful Thursday.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 5/27/15

number 1Take my yoke upon on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30).

So here’s what I think…

As you well know, a yoke is a contraption that allows an ox, or some other suitable creature, to pull a plow.  Oxen are yoked together in teams of two, with one ox leading, and the other ox more or less along for the ride.  This second, or “off” ox, is constrained by the yoke to follow the lead ox and do what he does.

Jesus is inviting you to be his off ox.

Follow his lead.  Do what he does.  Be conformed to his image.  That’s the offer.  And what is the result of this?

You will find rest for your soul.

Now Jesus could be talking about that rest as a reward for faithfully serving him, but I think it’s more than that.  I think rest is a natural byproduct of following Jesus.  Because following Jesus means walking in obedience to the Father, and obedience to the Father is the key to a peaceful heart.  Think about it—how could Jesus say that his yoke was easy, his burden light?  He was going to the cross to bear the sin of all mankind, and he knew it.

He could call it easy and light because it was the Father’s will, and doing the Father’s will put him in harmony with—at peace with—the Father.  He was doing what he was sent to do.  He was fulfilling his destiny.

When we obey God, when we allow him to direct our steps, we know peace, even when the path itself seems impossibly difficult.  When we do what we were designed to do for the One who designed us, our souls will know rest.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus

What is he calling you to this day, Beloved?  Where are you most likely to fight against the yoke?  Could that—fighting against his lead—could that be the source of your stress today?  Could submission bring rest to your soul?

Who am I to say?  What do I know?  But, maybe…

Oxen are notoriously dull-witted creatures, but they manage to get it right.

I think there’s hope for us, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 5/26/15

number 1Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Some mornings I look at a verse and I think, “This is so clear, so simple, that trying to ‘explain’ it would only complicate matters.”

Today would be one of those mornings.

Let’s not discuss this verse, Beloved.

Let’s not analyze it.

Let’s just embrace it.

Jesus is inviting you to take the worry, the stress, the anxiety that plagues you today and lay it all at his feet.

He’s waiting…

I’ll meet you there, Beloved.

One-a-DayMonday 5/25/15

number 1Looking around, I see a lot of anxious hearts.  Therefore, this week’s One-a-Days have a theme: Rest in Him.

The Lord your God is with you; he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17).

There’s a whole lot of great theology packed into this verse.  Walk through it with me, would you?

The Lord your God is with you The God of the Universe, he who created everything—by which I mean everything—with his spoken word, is on your side.  He wants you to succeed; he wants you to prosper.

He is mighty to save  This one who is on your side is the Lord of the Universe.  He has the power to protect you, to care for you.  Look, I love you, my friend, but what can I do?  God, on the other hand—when he says he’ll protect you, you know you’re protected.

He will take great delight in you  This same Lord of the Universe we’re talking about?  He doesn’t just love you.  He likes you.  He delights in you.  You, Beloved.  You make his heart sing.

He will quiet you with his love  God’s love has the power to calm that stressed out heart of yours.  I remember when my kids were little. Sometimes they would be upset, and I could scoop them up into my arms, hold them close, and feel their anxiety melt away.  God wants to do that with you, Beloved.

He will rejoice over you with singing   You.  Your Father is filled with joy over you.

Notice, nothing is said about how much you deserve all this—or don’t—so get the self-incrimination out of the way.  Just read the words—two or three or ten times—and let them sink deep.  Let him quiet you with his love this morning.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Friday 5/22/15

number 1For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it (Matthew 5:14).

When will I let go?

I am a child gripping candy in his fist.

I won’t let go, even though the candy is old

and foul

and sticky

and no good for me.

I scream and wail and weep because you ask me to give you

that which only rots my teeth

and, frankly, tastes awful.

It’s been on the ground, but I’ve scooped it up.

I rubbed it on my shirt, but still it’s covered

with dirt

and grit

and nasty bits.

I can’t possibly enjoy it, but I will

not

let

it

go

no matter how you ask.

Why must you ask?

Why must you be so gentle?

Tear it from my hand, Lord—I know you could.

Ignore the shrieks of protest.

Ignore the tantrum.

Just do it.

Because if you wait for me to give it up, I fear I never will.

Because if I…

if I give it up, what if there is nothing else?

What if, in spite of your promises, this sticky

filthy

nasty

mess is all there is or ever will be

of life

of self

of me?

What if, once lost, I am never found?

Oh God, you curse me with a freedom that is more than I can bear.

Quickly now, before I can think about it

like a splinter

or a band aid.

I hold my breath

and grit my teeth

and close my eyes…

and release.