Green Pastures One a Day Friday 1/27/23

A life worthy

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…(Psalm 23:2).

Lie down

Rest

Now

The verb here is makes. God makes David rest. God knows that, left to his own devices, David will work himself to the bone, trying to do more and be more and make more and become more and–

and God says to rest.

When did you last rest, Beloved? When was the last time you set aside the backpack full of gottado’s and stretched out in the green pasture for a snooze?

You can take that metaphorically or literally–your choice.

Look, I know you have a lot on your plate, and sometimes it seems like you’ll never get through it, but your body and your mind and your spirit all need rest.

And God commands it, so there.

Pull up a patch of grass and have a seat.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Home   One-a-Day Thursday  1/26/23

A life worthy

He 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 reading a daily devotion like this blog—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?  Does it feel like a chore, a duty, a burden, an awkward interaction?

Or is it like coming home?

Something to chew on, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Shh… One-a-Day Wednesday  1/25/23

A life worthy

My 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 Wednesday.

Moo One-a-Day Tuesday  1/24/23

A life worthy

Take my yoke upon 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 animal is called the “off” ox.  It 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 that stress you’re feeling?  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.

Rest One-a-Day Monday  1/23/23

A life worthy

We’ll be getting back to 1 Corinthians, but I’m still feeling themey. So, for this week: Rest in Him.

I think we can all use it.

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.

Renewal  One-a-Day Friday  1/20/23

A life worthy

…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). 

I have, on occasion, taken Scripture verses a bit too literally.

Once upon a time, I ran a marathon.  Actually, that’s not quite accurate; I ran part of a marathon and hobbled the rest.  This verse kept running through my mind.

My hope was in the Lord.

And yet…

My strength was depleted.

Though I was sore, I did not soar.

I ran, and grew quite weary.

I walked, and was faint.

I crawled, and was blistered.

So maybe God wasn’t talking about marathon running.  Maybe he was talking about our spiritual life.

And yet…

Sometimes I feel like my spiritual life is a lot like that marathon.  The pressures crowd in on me from every side, and I can’t find peace.  My hope is in him, but I just feel weak and low and tired and afraid.  It doesn’t look like my hopes will ever be made real.

I’m sure you never feel this way—thanks for putting up with my dysfunction.

As I write this, my mind goes to two places—painful and awkward, but that’s how my brain works.  First, I think of the verse from Job: Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.  My hope cannot be based on my circumstances; it must be based on God’s character.  Second, I have to realize that this race is not over yet.  I may feel like I’m about to drop, but I haven’t.

Does that resonate with you, even a little?  Because I hate to feel alone.

You feel like you’re about to drop, but you haven’t.

By his grace, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And that is our hope.

I remember the end of that marathon.  After doing the death crawl for several eternities, I reached the 25 mile marker.

1.2 miles to go.

I prayed that God would give me the strength to finish at a run…and he did.

I ran the end of the race.

One might even say that I soared…but one would be wildly mistaken.

Still, I finished strong in that race.

And I will finish strong in this race.

And so will you, Beloved—that’s a promise.

Happy Friday

Hope   One-a-Day Thursday  1/19/23

A life worthy

We’re going to finish this week with a 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 Thursday, Beloved.

Before Someday One-a-Day Tuesday  1/17/23

A life worthy

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living(Psalm 27:13).

Someday, it will all be perfect.

Someday, our Lord will return for us, and creation will be made right.

But

He is at work today, too.

Here

Now

Keep your eyes open, Beloved. See him at work in your Tuesday.

You don’t want to miss out.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Brothers and Sisters One-a-Day Monday 1/16/23

A life worthy

How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore (Psalm 133).

When I was little, my mom used to sing to me at bedtime. One of my favorites went like this:

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight 

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

In today’s climate, some will consider that song wildly inappropriate. “Red children? Yellow? How racist!” Others will ask, “What about brown children? Why are they left out?” None of those questions ever came into my little-kid brain.  All I heard was that Jesus loved us all; all children were precious to him.

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. The best way to do that? Dwell together in unity, brothers and sisters of the One who loves us all.

The oil is entirely optional.

Happy Monday, Beloved