Tears In A Bottle

Spilled Tears Are God's Reminder That He Cares

What is it that is making you cry today? A heart broken by a fractured relationship? A dashed hope or the death of a dream? A failed family? A personal sin? The consequences of a past mistake that continues to haunt you? What is it that is making you feel such deep sadness? Entrust those tears to God. And let the very next tear that fills your eyes and spills down your cheek be a reminder that your tears never really just dry up and fade into a painful memory, they go right into the bottle of that One who truly cares!

Enduring Truth // Psalm 56:8

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book

Aren’t tears a mysterious part of what it means to be human? It is strange that we have the capacity to cry—to expel water from our eyes when we are sad. It seems to serve no real purpose—although science can explain the physiological “why” and mental health experts can explain the psychological “why”.

That still leaves the question of “why” tears—why were we created with that capacity?

Perhaps this psalm provides a clue. Maybe they are to remind us that God cares about the things that make us sad enough to shed tears. So much does he bear our sorrow that he collects our tears in a bottle, as the New Living Translation says, or as other versions put it, “he records them in his ledger.” In other words, God takes note—implying that he is not only aware of our sadness, but he will not forget it.

What is it that is making you cry today? A heart broken by a fractured relationship? A dashed hope or the death of a dream? A failed family? A personal sin? The consequences of a past mistake that continues to haunt you? What is it that you feel such deep sadness over?

It is likely that no one truly knows the depth of what you are feeling right now. Maybe no one will ever see those tears that have rolled down your cheek—and the intense hurt that caused them. Even if they do see your tears, how sad it is that long before your pain is healed, people will forget and move on.

But there is One who sees…and One who cares…and One who never forgets…and One who will never move on! And He wants you to know that, my friend. And that One, your Heavenly Father, simply asks you to take comfort in His compassion for you:

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

And that compassionate, loving Heavenly Father likewise asks you to place your trust in him. In fact, so strongly does he desire your trust, that he extends the invitation twice in Psalm 56 just to make sure you really know his heart for you:

In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:4,10-11)

I hope you will do that. Entrust those tears to God. And let the very next tear that fills your eyes and spills down your cheek be a reminder that your tears never really just dry up and fade into a painful memory, they go right into the bottle of that One who truly cares!

Thrive: What is it that is making you cry today? A heart broken by a fractured relationship? A dashed hope or the death of a dream? A failed family? A personal sin? The consequences of a past mistake that continues to haunt you? What is it that you feel such deep sadness over? Why no other human being may know how deeply you feel, or if they do know, they may not care all that much, just remember, there is One who is collecting those tears as you lift your brokenness to him.

God Will Perfect That Which Concerns Me

There's No stopping God!

“God will perfect everything that concerns me.” How comforting and empowering to know that if we are passionately pursuing God’s purposes, God has passionately committed himself to fulfilling his purposes in us. No matter what things may look like, God will never abandon the work that he has lovingly and painstakingly invested in us, and he will ultimately bring that work to perfect completion. No way—you can’t stop God from doing what God does!

Enduring Truth // Psalm 138:8

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

“God will perfect everything that concerns you.” (Psalm 138:8, NKJV) I have heard my wife use King David’s phrase many times in her public prayers. I like that thought, don’t you? Nothing will stop God from fulfilling his purpose for my life—nothing!

That was the essence of David’s thinking in this psalm. Nothing could get in the way of what God had in mind, that is, God’s perfect will for David’s life—not even his own fleshly desires. That’s the caveat to this truth: the perfecting is of that which is according to God’s will, which of course, is what ought to concern us more than anything else in this life.

The New Testament writer Jude capture the essence of this truth in his benedictory prayer when he wrote, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25) Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote similar words in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

How comforting and empowering to know that if we are passionately pursuing God’s purposes, God has passionately committed himself to fulfilling his purposes in us. No matter what things may look like—horrible circumstances and hateful people notwithstanding (Psalm 138:7)—God will never abandon the work that he has lovingly and painstakingly invested in us, and he will ultimately bring that work to perfect completion.

What David had discovered was that when we are for God, and when God is for us, we cannot lose! 2 Chronicles 16:9 reminds us this profound truth,

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Wow! God so desires to fulfill his purposes in this world that he is actually scouring the earth looking for fully devoted people in order to release his enabling power in their lives. Is your heart fully committed to him? If it is, then God will find you, and sooner or later you will come into the greatest joy that anyone can ever experience in this life: God fulfilling his purposes for you and through you.

Yes, God will perfect that which concerns you! In other words, There’s no stopping God!

Thrive: What are the obstacles standing in your path to pursing God? According to Psalm 138:8, God will repurpose those stumbling blocks into building blocks. Try praying a thanksgiving prayer for everything that seems to impeding your progress. Then ask God to empower you to work with him to use those very things to perfect you. Pray this risky prayer: “God use this to shape me.”

Of Filthy Rags And Transformed Hearts

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness

The hymn writer got it right: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” So relax about trying to be righteous and morally perfect! Jesus did it for you. God accepts Christ’s efforts on your behalf as good enough, so you don’t have to be good enough. All you have to do is accept it, believe it, and conform your life to it!

Enduring Truth // Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

You cannot be saved by your good works. Period! No matter how hard you try, your “good” is not good enough for the perfectly holy and completely righteous God. Nor can you be saved through an alternative, less stringent means, for only through God is eternal salvation possible.

Moreover, you cannot be saved by your moral perfection—no matter how moral you are or how close to moral you get. As the Old Testament prophet Isaiah pointed out, your righteousness is about as good as a “snot rag”. (Isaiah 64:6). I have actually cleaned that up a bit, because as some Bible scholars has suggested, the Hebrew words for filthy rags, ukabeged ehdim, may very well have meant, “like as rags of menstruation.”

Sorry if that disgusts you, but it’s Scripture—so blame Isaiah. The point is, both our acts of righteousness, and the quality of righteousness that we hope they produce, are disgusting to God. So if you are disgusted by Isaiah’s language, think of how God is repulsed by our efforts to get him to save us.

So what hope is there for our salvation? Well, no hope resides within us. None whatsoever. Ephesians 2:1 says “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” All a dead person can do is lay there and be dead, let alone try to be righteous before God.

No, our righteousness—and let’s be clear, we do have to be righteous to be acceptable to God—comes from Christ alone. You see, God sent his Son to die on the cross—hanging there as our sin—in order to pay the just punishment for sin that we deserved. That is our only hope, that Jesus became sin—our sin—and in so doing, he likewise became our righteousness. II Corinthians 5:21 says it well,

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

How dishonoring to God’s grace and Christ’s atonement when we therefore try to save ourselves by our acts of righteousness and our efforts at moral perfection. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will discover salvation by grace along through faith, as Paul spoke about in in Philippians 3:8-9,

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them [our best efforts] rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

It is only through the power of Christ’s resurrection and our death to self (Philippians 3:10-11) that our heart—the core of who we are, that which represents every fiber of our existence—will get transformed. And it is out of a transformed heart, and only that, that our tongue can confess Jesus is Lord.

Then, and only then, are we saved.

So relax about trying to be righteous and morally perfect! Jesus did it for you. God accepts Christ’s efforts on your behalf as good enough, so you don’t have to be good enough. All you have to do is accept it, believe it, and conform your life to it!

Thrive:Try memorizing and meditating on Romans 10:9-10 each day this week: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”

My Days Are Numbered

The Opera Ain’t Over … Till God Says It’s Over

God planned me, built me, watches over me, can steer me back on track when I wander, will keep me safe until the Divinely allotted numbers of days ordained for me are up, and then take me to the next life that he has prepared for me. My life will be over when he says it’s over!

Enduring Truth // Psalm 139:16

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How many days do I have left? I don’t know. No one does, except God. He knows the exact number of years, days, hours and seconds that I will occupy my address on Planet Earth; the exact moment that my death will occurs.

Now that may not seem like a cheery thought to you, and in fact, most people would find that sobering, at best, and frightening, at worst. Not me. I find great comfort and security in knowing that God has my life so ordered that I will neither die a day sooner nor live a day longer than what has already been recorded in his book. You see, life and death are far above my pay grade, so I will happily let Father God take care of that department, thank you very much.

So if I truly and correctly understand this profound truth, then I am freed from the fear of death to fully live the life that God has planned for me. I can enjoy an intimate walk with the One

  • Who was intimately involved in each minor detail of my day (Psalm 139:1-4)
  • Who never lets me out of his sight (Psalm 139:5-8)
  • Who guides my every move with his Fatherly hand (Psalm 139:9-10)
  • Who is not limited by my circumstances (Psalm 139:11-12).

In fact, God is so involved in my life that he was even there at the moment my mother and father conceived me in love, and he superintended even the most infinitesimal details my physiological and temperamental formation.

God knows me! He knows everything about me. He planned me, built me, watches over me, can steer me back on track when I wander from his purpose (Psalm 139:23-24), can be completely trusted to keep me safe until the Divinely allotted numbers of days ordained for me are up, and then take me to the next life that he has prepared for me.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand” (Psalm 139:6, NLT), but it won’t keep me from enjoying this day and praising the One who is in charge of it!

Thrive: Throughout the day, declare, “God is in charge of me!” Then live like it’s true—because it is!

Water-Walking Faith

Reflect:
Matthew 14:22-36

“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” ~Matthew 14:29

No matter where you go in the Bible, you’ll find that memorable stories of faith always involved risky steps of daring obedience. So it is in this story where Peter leaves the other disciples sitting in the relative safety and comfort of their boat, takes a few steps of faith on the water in the middle of a storm, and walks out to meet Jesus, becoming the first person—and only human being that I know of—to literally walk on the water. Peter, a mere mortal, just a common Galilean fisherman, joined Jesus in a very elite club of which there were only two members: The Water Walker Club.

Now this is more than just another one of those incredible Bible stories we read as kids about the superheroes of the faith. This is a story meant to inspire water-walking faith in common, ordinary, garden-variety believers. And within this particular story are several important lessons that Peter’s adventure can teach other mere mortals like you and me that we will need to keep in mind when we finally get up the courage to step out of our boat of comfort to take those bold and daring steps of faith to obey God:

First, the wind won’t stop blowing just because you take a step of faith. In fact, the storm may pick up a little. The truth is, faith needs a storm to be faith, or it is not faith. But the great thing about storms is that although Jesus doesn’t promise to keep you from them, he does promise to be with you in them. And in fact, it is the very resistance of the wind in those storms that provides the lift needed for faith to soar. So take that step of faith into the storm and watch what happens.

Second, when you take your step of faith into the raging storm, you will need to remember the one command that God most often gives his people: “Fear not!” Did you know that there are 366 “fear not’s” in the Bible? That is one for every day of the year (including an extra one for leap year). I don’t think that number is by mistake—I think God knew that you and I would need to be reminded every single day not to give into fear. Every single day, including today, God is reminding you to choose faith instead, because fear and faith cannot coexist in those who would be water walkers.

Three, when the storm is raging, your assignment is simply to keep your eyes on Jesus—and just keep walking toward him. “Don’t give up” is another repeated command in the Bible. To join Peter in the water walker club, you will have to make the determination to stay focused on the One who is the Master over the storm—because it is Jesus alone who will see us through.

Is there an area of faith where you are being tempted to give up because you have come into some unexpected and impossible circumstances? That is the perfect condition, my friend, to exercise water walking faith. So don’t give into fear and keep your focus on Jesus, because yet another heroic faith story is about to be written!

In the 1950’s, the name Florence Chadwick was synonymous with women’s championship swimming. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel–both ways. In fact, she did it three times, each time going against the tide.

But one of her distance swims was not so successful. She failed to reach her goal, all because she lost sight of it. Florence had set out on July 4, 1952 to swim the 21 miles from Santa Catalina Island to the California mainland. But on this particular morning, the 34-year-old found the water to be numbingly cold, and the fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her envoy, which were along side her to scare away the sharks.

As the hours ticked off, she swam on. Fatigue was never a serious problem…it was the bone-chilling coldness of the icy waters that threatened her. Finally, more than fifteen hours after she started, numbed by the cold, Florence asked to be taken out of the water, unable to go on.

Her mother, in a boat beside her, urged her to go on, as did her trainer. They both knew that the mainland had to be close, very close. Yet Florence quit. She got into the boat and fell short of her goal. The boat traveled just a short distance until the coastline could be seen. Florence had stopped only a half-mile short of the finish. Upon realizing how close she had come, she dejectedly cried, “If I could have seen the shore I would have made it.”

If you are going to be a faith walker…or a water walker…

…Get ready for the storm

…Choose faith over fear

…Keep your eyes on Jesus

…And above all, never give up!

“Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” ~Galatians 6:9 (Living Bible)

Reflect and Apply: Pray this prayer today: “Lord, bless me with water-walking faith. Enlarge my capacity to trust you, even in the storms. And let me be used of you in ways I never though possible. In Jesus name, amen.”