Wednesday, January 30, 2013


“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.”  (Psalm 19:14)

         What is or is not acceptable in society may vary from era to era, place to place, and even individual to individual. Victorian dress would feel like a suit of armor to you and me today; California casual might look out of place in an eastern higher-priced restaurant; and my short-sleeved sundresses would be frowned upon in any Amish gathering. Appropriateness in such matters may be open for discussion, but when it comes to God, displaying contrary behavior to plain commandments lies outside the bounds of acceptability, any time, any place. Most of us would agree on this point, but I wonder if doing the right thing can become so important to us that we forget that God also has a standard for what we say and think. David’s prayer to God that his words and thoughts might be acceptable before Him assures us there is the unacceptable kind, too.

         It may sound clever and modern to engage in suggestive innuendo or verbal sparring, but, as I’ve said before, our choices of behavior reflect whom we’re trying to impress. And when it comes to God, wholesome, helpful, sound, and kind speech is the only kind that will get you the nod of approval. There is speech condemnable before others (Tit. 2:8), but it’s far worse if God considers it unacceptable.

And as far as our meditation goes, we can find no better guidelines than Philippians 4:8. Talk about thought provoking! Others around you may not be aware of your questionable thoughts, but they’re perfectly audible to God. The verse in Proverbs that says, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he” (23:7a), can mean you are what you think; but it could just as easily be telling us that what we think about will eventually surface as actions. (“Fantasies soon become realities.”) If that sounds scary, we should be evaluating the acceptability of our thoughts before God long before we lament our actions.

         Actually, this verse in Psalms would make a good prayer to pray in the morning. David thought so. And perhaps the most important part—the part that would bear emphasis as we pray— would be those three words, “in thy sight.” We need not be overly concerned about keeping up with today’s current standards of behavior. Not only will those change over time, they’ll change for the worse. Just remember this: If our conduct, along with our words and thoughts, are acceptable to God, we can be sure there is no higher standard. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Only Thing I Know

“…but I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 55:23)

         The Bible challenges us over and over to “trust in God,” and I can say from experience, He is altogether trustworthy. But would you not agree that trust in God is seen and known most vividly when our commitment to Him and his will is preceded by the preposition, “but?” We may say, “God has been so good and given me so much, and I will trust Him with all my life.” But to make the same vow when you’re at a place in your life when the picture is not quite as rosy, is to add luster to your words that the former lacks. (“Easy-believism” doesn’t just apply to salvation.) We only have to look at David’s circumstances when he wrote these words to appreciate what I’m saying.

         When you read the entire chapter, you find this good man, or as my husband often calls him, “God’s darling David,” speaks these words of commitment when God is not answering his prayers, and he’s being hounded by people who hate him; one of which is someone he considered a close friend and confidant. He fears for his very life and would gladly run away from it all if he could. No wonder he prefaces his vow of trust to God with “but.” Wouldn’t you?
Those times when you’ve prayed long and hard, but seemingly to no avail, do you refuse to regard God’s silence as indifference? When you’re forced to endure unfair criticism from foes and friends, do you say with Joseph, “…ye thought evil against me; but God meant it for good…”? When you face the specter of death, your own or someone dear to you, can you say with Job, “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD”? When you have a driving urge to chuck it all and run for the hills, are you willing to “stand still in Jordan,” even when you think you might drown (Josh. 3:8)? In other words, can you—can I— not just say to God, “I will trust in Thee,” can we truly say, “…but I will trust in Thee”?

I’m thinking just now of a dear Christian lady who is standing for the second time at the bedside of her husband lying in a life-threatening condition, this time even scarier than the first. After he overcame a heart attack and was able to again serve God, I heard her say something in testimony that spoke to my heart. She, as I, came to know the Lord as a child, and as she said, “The only thing I’ve ever known is just to trust Him.” I related immediately with that. So much so that I sat down soon after and penned a few words, thinking I might one day put them to music.


There is so much in life beyond my understanding,
God's purposes and plans so oft unseen to me;
But when things I know for sure seem to be fading,
There is One in Heav'n by faith I still can see.

     Oh, the only thing I know is just to trust Him,
     The only hope I have is in the promise of His Word;
     But I can tell you, friend, this has been enough for me,
     I can trust Him till His blessed face I see.

You may build your life on this world’s sinking sand,
Place your faith and trust in some man's faulty scheme;
But I choose to rest secure within my Savior’s loving Hand,
He has promised to supply my every need.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Need of a Good Talking To

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:5 &11; 43:5)

         It’s okay to talk to yourself if you need a good talking to and what you’re saying is right. If you have the Spirit of God living within you, and a healthy knowledge of, and reverence for, His Word, you’re worth listening to. This is not to say you’re infallible, but more available, to be sure, and in the end, we’re more apt to follow our own advice. As you can see, David was not averse to repeating himself, even to himself, if need me. This tells me that many of life’s most important lessons must be reiterated and reapplied.

         Granted, there are some among us more inclined to depths and heights (Psl. 18:9), but none among is exempt from occasional depression. This is true whether there is an obvious reason or not. Despondency is capable of finding its own justification. I’m thinking today of two covert culprits that can wheedle their way into our consciousness and cloud our days and nights, quite expertly.

         First, long, monotonous stretches in our lives are capable of sapping all enthusiasm from it, if we let them. The sameness of our days can make us feel more like automatons than people. If, as the old saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life,” then a life without it must be bland and tasteless, I guess. Doing the same work in the same way, being around the same people, seeing the same scenery can churn up a restlessness that can lead to dejection…or departure. I could recommend practical things like connecting with other people, learning a new skill, or “visiting” other places, if only through books and movies. But that would be shortsighted of me, as you will see.

         But it would seem to me that a feeling of uselessness must surely be the most disheartening of all, especially when laid alongside other times of intense usefulness. Whether it comes from the loss of gainful employment, limitations of health, or the result of advancing years, it’s easy to feel as though we’re taking up space more than contributing to anything or anyone. Rather than appreciating what still can be done, we lament all that used to be done. And no amount of assurance by loved ones and friends seems to change our estimation.

         At times like these, and others like them, we need to follow David’s example and talk to ourselves. And thankfully, we can tell ourselves the same thing he did. “Hope thou in God.” See, here’s the thing; we can be presented with many good reasons why these feelings are unreasonable, unhealthy, and unproductive, but they can be argued against, quite skillfully, as it turns out. They’re only bandages, easily pulled off. But…the goodness of God cannot be (legitimately) disputed. Everything He’s doing in our lives is part of a well-planned process to perfect us and do us better at our latter end (Job 42:12a); and like David, we “will yet praise Him.” There’s your hope, your real light at the end of the tunnel.

         Are you someone who needs a good talking to today? Well, old buddy, old friend, you’re the one to do it. And don’t forget to remind yourself, “Hope thou in God!” Then you can be sure there’ll always be Someone right beside you saying, “Amen!”    

Monday, January 21, 2013

A God of Secrets

“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him...” – Psalm 25:14

         The book of Psalms makes it plain that our God keeps secrets (27:5; 31:20; 90:1). And He reserves the right exclusively to reveal them when, where…and to whom He chooses. If we bristle at this, I would remind us of two things: God is always right in whatever He does (Psl. 18:30a); and there isn’t one among us who does not cherish the right to choose who will be his or her confidant among friends and acquaintances. God loves and will save any man, woman, or child who puts their faith and trust in the Blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; but He still declares there are those who retain an intimacy with Him that is not shared by all. And I would submit that this difference has nothing to do with Sovereignty and everything to do with choice.

We can see this same principle of exclusive intimacy in the life of our Lord, as well. Didn’t He choose twelve out of those who followed Him, and three from these to share His most intimate encounters with Heaven, while one was so close, he could hear His very heartbeat (Jno. 13:23). And of homes around Galilee that would surely have been open to Him, why did not regularly He seek out that of Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus?

         If you’re as anxious as I am to be part of this privileged group, your next question will be, “How do I qualify?” I could point out some of the things on which you and I base the intimacy of our friendships, like shared interests and whether or not they’re willing to go out of their way to spend time with us. And those would be legitimate considerations. But, thankfully, God has left us a four-word description of those to whom He will whisper His secrets: “those that fear him.”  Now, before you remind me that you’ve always been proud to label yourself a “God-fearing woman or man,” let me read you just one of many like verses in the Bible: And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” (Deut. 10:12). A healthy fear of authority of any kind is always marked by one thing: obedience. Notice in the verse, loving, serving, and walking with God all go back to true fear of Him. When God is your deepest desire of heart and soul, obedience to Him will be the ultimate expression of this, not any outward praise.

         God has a secret — many of them, as a matter of fact, and He has some personal, just-between-the-two-of-us secrets for you and me. Some of them will be so intimate, we’ll be hesitant to share them with anyone. Still others may be used to bless hearts and bring men and women. King David, who knew what it was to share in God’s secrets, said, “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: and I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Psl. 34:11) Well, I want to be one of God’s children willing to be taught the (true) fear of God. I want to be one of those to whom He reveals Himself from day to day in a special, secret-sharing intimacy. What about you?

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Matter of Possession

“And he said unto me [David], Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.” (1Chron.28:6)

When our children were born—actually, before they were born—my husband and I dedicated them to God for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to Him. I realize there are those who may do this merely as a formality, but in our case (as well as many others’) we gave them to Him with all sincerity of heart. We promised to raise them for Him to the best of our abilities. As long as they were in our home, they were our responsibility. But when they left the nest, they had to learn to fly with their own wings.  And, as my husband pointed out to me, that was the time to remind God of the covenant we made with Him those many years ago.

         Our children were given to Him, and upon their acceptance of His Son as Savior and Lord, the pact was sealed. Like David and Solomon, our sons and daughters became God’s; and by virtue of ownership, they are His direct responsibility. Ours went from direct intervention to relentless intercession. When our protective hands cannot reach to where they are, God’s everlasting arms are able to scoop them up out of harms way (Deut. 33:27). When Satan convinces them they have squandered (or sidestepped) their birthright, we can go to God and say, “Lord, to whom do these children really belong?”; and He will have to answer, “Me.” And we will say, “Well, then…”

Our children have an earthly father who loves them very much, but he cannot do for them what the Heavenly Father can. For that reason, and because we both love them so very much, we have chosen to relinquish ultimate claim. Their lives and our trust are safe with Him. 

We worry most about those things (and those people) we haven’t given to God— those things (and those people) we still possess.