Room For Only One God

Let God Be God

There is room for only one God in your life, so let God be God. He has a great track record in that role, you know—and you don’t!

let-god-be-god

Read: Psalm 131 // Focus: Psalm 131:1

“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.”

There is only One who is God—and that’s not you! Basically, that is what the King David is saying of himself in this brief song of assent. The Message translates verse one this way:

God, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.

Yet this business of godship is more prevalent than we care to admit. You see, when we fret and worry over matters we can’t control, when we meddle and manipulate to get our plans fulfilled, when we come to God after the fact for help, when we pray as a last rather than a first resort, when we cut corners in our financial stewardship because we can’t afford to give to the Lord’s work, and when we put our hope in government (or anything else) at the expense of our trust in God, in effect, we have removed God from his rightful throne.

There is room for only one God in your life, so let God be God. He has a great track record in that role, you know, and you don’t.

And by the way, when you allow God to be God, good things happen for you:

You become the recipient of greater grace. Recognizing God’s rightful role takes true humility (the opposite of pride and haughtiness), as David describes, “My heart is not proud, O LORD,my eyes are not haughty”—Psalm 131:1a. Of course, the Bible repeatedly tells us this is always the catalyst for greater grace. (Proverbs 3:34)
You become the recipient of greater security. You put things that are above your pay grade back into the hands of the only One wise enough to handle them—what David calls “great matters or things too wonderful for me”—Psalm 131:1b (See how Paul describes them in Romans 11:33-36)
You become the recipient of greater confidence. Someone else is running the universe, which means you don’t carry that great weight upon your shoulders. David says, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul”—Psalm 131:2a … which is possible only when you first walk with the Shepherd who leads you beside quite waters and restores your soul.
• You become the recipient of greater contentment. David describes it “like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content”—Psalm 131:2b (MSG) Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6)
You become the recipient of greater hope. “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore”—Psalm 131:3. It is by Biblical hope, as Paul teaches, “we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:24) “Hope” as Paul says in Romans 5:5, “does not disappoint us…”

Hmmm…grace, security, confidence, contentment, hope. I think I’ll let God be God!

Making Life Work: Have you told the Lord lately that you have no God but him? Maybe you should do it now!

God Doesn’t Keep Lists

Your Sins—Even Your Worst Ones—Are Utterly Obliterated Through Confession

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of others’ offenses, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more.

more-than-conquerors

Read: Psalm 130 // Focus: Psalm 1303-:4

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of the mistakes and offenses of others, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more. The Apostle John wrote, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

King David, who not only knew a great deal about personal sin, but Divine pardon as well, spoke in Psalm 103:3 & 12 of a God, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” How amazing is that! God takes the worst sins of the repentant sinner and obliterates them from his record. He wipes them from his memory banks — “as far as the east is from the west”—which, the last time I checked, was a long way.

One of the most moving and poignant descriptions of this forgiving God was penned by the prophet Micah. He spoke of God not just in terms of his willingness to forgive, but even more, of his passionate desire and aggressive search for ways to extend forgiveness to sinners. Take a moment to absorb this mind-boggling truth from Micah 7:18-19,

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

No wonder the psalmist called us to “fear” the Lord in response to God’s unmerited forgiveness. To fear the Lord meant to reverence him, and to offer him a heart of gratitude, praise and love. Obviously, that is the only right response to a God who goes out of his way to forgive people who have gone out of their way to offend him.

I am so grateful for a God who forgives my transgressions—and remembers them no more. There is no other god like him, and I will be eternally indebted to his mercy and grace. When I think about his “unfailing love and…full redemption,” (Psalm 130:7) I am simply undone. How about you?

What love, what mercy, what grace…what a God!

Making Life Work: Are you in need of divine forgiveness? Why not ask God to forgive you—right now. After all, he delights to show mercy!

Down But Not Out

Remind Your Enemies—Depression, Lust, Anger, Sickness, Scarcity—They Are Losers.

You’ve got enemies, but God has given you victory over each one through Christ. All of your adversaries have already been defeated—even if they don’t act like it. So go ahead and remind them—depression, lust, anger, sickness, scarcity—that they are nothing but losers. And you are anything but!

more-than-conquerors

Read: Psalm 129 // Focus: Psalm 129:2

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.”

Some people don’t like being reminded of their troubles. They think we ought to talk only of the positive things in life and leave out all the pessimistic stuff. They’d rather hear only of the sunshine of God’s grace and not the storm clouds of life’s difficulty. Sweetness and light all the way!

Me too—that’s what I’d prefer. But isn’t that to ignore the fact that this thing called the Christian life is all about spiritual warfare—that we do have an Enemy who constantly seeks to destroy our very soul. Jesus said that we have an Enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us. (John 10:10) C.S. Lewis noted,

“There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

The psalmist understood quite well from history of Israel’s enemies—literal, foreign enemies who sought to defeat and enslave God’s people. These enemies were there right from the beginning (“from my youth”) and never really ever went away—Egypt, Edom, Moab, Philistia, Assyria, and Babylonia. These foreign, godless enemies oppressed Israel early and often, but each time God gave his people victory over them.

You have enemies, too. That’s not being pessimistic, that’s just being real. Unlike Israel, however, your enemies are not physical, flesh and blood adversaries; they are spiritual forces that attack you from within—your moral character, your emotional stability, and your spiritual vitality. They seek to weaken your resolve to trust in God’s sufficiency and obey his commands. They seek to enslave you to a life that is far less than God’s best. And perhaps like Israel, these enemies have “oppressed you from your youth.” In other words, the same doubts, fears, temptations and weaknesses you had as a young person, or as a young Christian, are still doing a number on you. Maybe they have had or even now have the upper hand in your life.

The psalmist would say to you, “Maintain your hope, don’t surrender your trust, strive to overcome every temptation, and get back up when you stumble. Whatever you do, don’t quit if you’ve failed. It may seem that you are down for the count, but you are not, because God will give you the victory over your enemies.” Even though you have an Enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy you, Jesus came to give you life, and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) And the last time I checked, Jesus was greater than Satan. He still is, and always will be.

Israel had enemies—and God gave victory over each one. You’ve got enemies, too, but God has already given you victory over each one through Christ’s victory over sin. Think about that: All of your adversaries have already been defeated—even if they don’t act like it. So go ahead and remind those enemies—depression, lust, anger, sickness, scarcity—that they are nothing but losers. And you are anything but! As Paul said in Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Yeah, they may have you down for now, but you are not out! Christians never are.

<strong>Making Life Work:</strong> It may seem a little strange, so you’ll probably want to be alone to do this, but declare to whatever enemy you are battle, “I am more than a conqueror through Christ!”

Fear God – Fear Nothing

God Fearing Leads To God Blessing

When you fear God, you have nothing to fear. When you don’t fear God, you have everything to fear. To be consumed with love, fueled by faith, and characterized by obedience in a moment-by-moment walk with the Lord—that’s what it means to be God fearing, and that’s what it means to be God blessed. For sure, fear the Lord—and watch your step with those who don’t.

fearoflord1

Read: Psalm 128 // Focus: Psalm 128:1-2

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, began his most famous book by writing, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7) What followed was a collection of wise sayings that were intended to lead the God-fearing person into a life that was blessed by the Lord.

King David, Solomon’s father, and Israel’s most beloved king, began his most famous book by writing, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” What followed was a collection of worship songs that expressed the blessed condition of one who feared the Lord.

Blessed fear—almost seems oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Fearfully blessed—same with that. Yet for the person who fears God, blessings are guaranteed. And for the person who lives a truly God-blessed life, there you will find fear of the Lord at the critical core of their existence.

To fear God, is one of the first and greatest duties of his rational Creatures. (Charles Inglis)

What does it mean to fear the Lord? This is by no means a theological definition, but for all intents and purposes, to fear the Lord means to make him and his purposes both the center and the circumference of your life. It is to be consumed with love, fueled by faith, and characterized by obedience in a moment-by-moment walk with God. That is what it means to fear the Lord, and that is what it means to be blessed by the Lord.

You see, blessing in the purest sense is to be consumed by your love for God, to be fueled by your faith in God, and to be characterized by your obedience to God. A person who lives that kind of life knows pure and unassailable joy at the deepest level. Earthly success, material wealth, personal popularity, and all of the other accouterments the world says are needed for the blessed life simply pale in comparison to a life that is characterized by blessed fear.

When you fear God, you fear nothing else, but if you do not fear God, you fear everything else. (Oswald Chambers)

When you fear the Lord, you are truly blessed. When you are truly blessed by God, you fear the Lord.

May God grant you holy fear, and may God richly bless you.

Making Life Work: If you sense that your “holy fear” metric is off, pray about it. Ask God to reveal his holiness to you. But be serious when you ask, you may just get a revelation that will rattle you to the core. And if you do, believe you me, that will be a holy moment.

Fear That Is Blessed

Make God’s Purposes Both the Center and the Circumference of Your Life

There’s an old Hasidic proverb that says, “Fear only two: God, and the man who has no fear of God.” To be consumed with love, fueled by faith, and characterized by obedience in a moment-by-moment walk with the Lord—that’s what it means to be God fearing, and that’s what it means to be God blessed. For sure, fear the Lord—and watch your step with those who don’t.

God Fearing

Read: Psalm 128 // Focus: Psalm 128:1-2

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, began his most famous book by writing, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7) What followed was a collection of wise sayings that were intended to lead the God-fearing person into a life that was blessed by the Lord.

King David, Solomon’s father, and Israel’s most beloved king, began his most famous book by writing, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” What followed was a collection of worship songs that expressed the blessed condition of one who feared the Lord.

Blessed fear—almost seems oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Fearfully blessed—same with that. Yet for the person who fears God, blessings are guaranteed. And for the person who lives a truly God-blessed life, there you will find fear of the Lord at the critical core of their existence.

What does it mean to fear the Lord? This is by no means a theological definition, but for all intents and purposes, to fear the Lord means to make him and his purposes both the center and the circumference of your life. It is to be consumed with love, fueled by faith, and characterized by obedience in a moment-by-moment walk with God. That is what it means to fear the Lord, and that is what it means to be blessed by the Lord.

You see, blessing in the purest sense is to be consumed by your love for God, to be fueled by your faith in God, and to be characterized by your obedience to God. A person who lives that kind of life knows pure and unassailable joy at the deepest level. Earthly success, material wealth, personal popularity, and all of the other accouterments the world says are needed for the blessed life simply pale in comparison to a life that is characterized by blessed fear.

When you fear the Lord, you are truly blessed. When you are truly blessed by God, you fear the Lord.

May God grant you holy fear, and may God richly bless you.

Making Life Work: If you sense that your “holy fear” metric is a bit low, pray about it. Ask God to reveal his holiness to you. But be serious when you ask, you may just get a revelation that will rattle you to the core. And if you do, believe you me, that will be a holy moment.

Recalibrate

Invest In What Is Of Lasting Value And Eternal Consequence

Getting God on our side can be tricky business! After all, our motives are pretty suspect—even on our best days. Getting on God’s side is a much better and smarter way to go. When we can achieve that, we will always have the Lord’s help in our endeavors, great and small. Without GOD on our side we can do nothing. With GOD on our side there’s nothing we can’t do!

image3

Read: Psalm 127 // Focus: Psalm 127:1-2

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

During the Civil war, President Lincoln was once asked if God was on his side. His reply was, “It is not is God on my side, but am I on God’s side?”

That’s a great question to ask yourself in any of life’s endeavors. Whether it is in pursuing your personal goals (building your house), protecting your interests (watching over the city), earning a living (rising early and stay up late toiling), or raising your family (a quiver full of children—Psalm 127:3-5), at the end of all your efforts, nothing of lasting value and eternal consequence will have been accomplished if the Lord has not helped.

Apart from me you can do nothing. (Jesus, John 15:5)

And what is the best way to ensure the Lord’s help? Not just to get the Lord on your side—that can be tricky business, given the exceeding craftiness of our own motives (Jeremiah 17:9). Rather, the only surefire guarantee of the Lord’s help is to get on God’s side—and stay there.

If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (Jesus, John 15:5-8)

Perhaps Lincoln’s question is a good one to ask yourself today: “Am I on God’s side?” Are my goals God-given? Are my interests dedicated to his purpose? Is my work his work? Is my family set apart for his glory? In all that I think, say and do, is my ultimate motive to make Jesus famous?

If you are nervous about answering those questions in a God honoring way, then wouldn’t you say it is time to recalibrate your life so that from the center to the circumference, you are aligned with God’s purposes?

I hope you will join me today for a little recalibration. If we can pull that off, we’ll be in good standing to get the Lord’s help. And like the Apostle Paul, the testimony of our life will be, “But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” (Acts 26:22)

Making Life Work: Getting God on your side requires first getting on God’s side.  Are you? Ask God to examine your motives and purify your heart. Pray this prayer from another psalm: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

For Desert Dwellers

God Specializes in Creating Streams in the Desert

To the natural mind, the desert represents nothing but barrenness: no hope for life, no prospects for change. The desert is death—the end of a dream, end of the line, end of story. But God specializes in creating streams in the desert

1446564543300

Read: Psalm 126 // Focus: Psalm 126:4

“Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.”

You’ve got a Negev; so do I. Everybody gets a Negev at some point in their life. Spending time there just seems to be core curriculum for Christians.

So what’s a Negev? The Negev was the desert that sat on Israel’s southern border, and it was an inhospitable, intimidating and impossible place. It was a borderline of barrenness. Israel had a physical Negev, and you may very well be living with a barren place that is bordering your life emotionally, financially, relationally or spiritually, preventing you from moving into the fruitfulness that God intends for you.

And here’s the deal with deserts: To the natural eye, there is no quick way out or easy way through. To the natural mind, there is nothing but barrenness, with no hope for life, no prospects for change. The desert represents death—end of a dream, end of the line, end of story.

But God specializes in creating streams in the desert, turning bareness into fruitfulness, and birthing life from death. God says of himself in Isaiah 43:19,

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

God brought the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land, David out of the wilderness into the palace, Israel back from Babylonian exile to rebuilt Jerusalem, and Jesus from the death’s tomb to eternal glory. As you can see, deserts—physical, emotional, financial, relational, spiritual—are no big deal to God; some of his best work is done there. Isaiah 35:1 says,  “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

Your Negev may look like the end of the road for you, but don’t lose hope. Though you may weep tears of sorrow or tears of repentance or tears of intercession over your desert (Psalm 126:5), if your heart is upright (Psalm 125:4), God will water your Negev with those tears and in the proper time, bring forth so much abundance (Psalm 126:6) that you will have to pinch yourself to make sure it is not a dream (Psalm 126:1). Your soul would have no garden if your eyes had shed no tears.

So dear desert dweller, get ready to laugh. God is about to send you a stream of restoration.

Making Life Work: What is your desert—the surrender of hope, the loss of joy, the death of a dream? Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see what he is doing in your desert. And by faith rejoice, for he makes streams in the desert!