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Posts Tagged ‘Devotional’

Do you ever wonder how you could walk more closely with God?  Proverbs 4:20-27 gives us some valuable insights on the subject:

  • Listen to the Word of God – “give attention to my words; incline your ear to my savings.”  v. 20
  • Read/Study the Word of God – “Do not let them depart from your eyes.”  v. 21a
  • Meditate/memorize the Word of God – “Keep them in the midst of your heart.”  v. 21b
  • Don’t let your emotions/feelings rule you – “keep your heart with all diligence.”  v. 23a
  • Watch your mouth – “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, put perverse lips far form you.”  v. 24
  • Don’t let your eyes wander – “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.”  v. 25
  • Evaluate the way your are going and keep a steady course – “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.”  v. 26
  • Be steadfast and stay on the narrow way that leads to life – “Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”  v. 27

Do not be discouraged beloved, the power to do all of these things and more lies in the Holy Spirit which has been freely given to those who call Jesus “Lord”.  We have all things that pertain to life and godliness.  Just step out!  Ask God to show you how to take the first step towards greater intimacy with Him.

May the LORD bless you and keep you.  May He hedge you in and protect you from harm.

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Psalm 84, verse 5 says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” We looked at the first part of verse 5 of Psalm 84 in the last post.  We examined what it means for a man’s strength to be in God.   The second part of the verse is really the part that drew my attention as I was reading.  I began to think about what it means for one’s heart to be set on pilgrimage.

Usually, my heart is set on permanence.  I want to have a home, “to put down roots” in a community, to be part of something.   At first glance, permanence seems to be the opposite of what the “blessed man” seeks after.  That led me to explore the term “pilgrimage”.

“Pilgrimage” according to the dictionary is “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion” or “any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive (dedicated in accordance with a vow) purpose, as to pay homage.”

The word “pilgrimage” packs a lot of meaning:

  • It is a type of long journey
  • Destination is a sacred place
  • Purpose is to show religious devotion or to honor a vow (to God)

What does the Psalmist mean when he uses “pilgrimage’ here?

  • What is the long journey?    Is he talking about a life lived walking daily with God, what Enoch, Abraham or Paul had?  Is this a journey that is never complete this side of eternity?
  • What is the sacred place to which the man is traveling or journeying?    Is it Heaven?  Eternal Life with God?
  • What is the devotion or vow which the man is to show by the journey?  Is it simply devotion to God?  Is it the promise to take up the cross of Jesus and follow after Him?

I think this idea of a heart set on pilgrimage requires more consideration and mediation.  I know that it speaks to traveling light and not being at home here in the world.  One who is on a pilgrimage has his primary focus on the object of his devotion.  As I live my life, my pilgrimage, I need to keep my primary focus on God, the object of my devotion, the one to whom I made the vow to be a bond servant.

I invite you to share any additional thoughts you might have regarding what it means to have your heart set on pilgrimage.  The blog is a two-way communication.  Send me a post!

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Psalm 84 – A Closer Look

I ran across a verse in Psalm 84 that I don’t remember noticing before.  I love that about the Bible.  I can read it from cover to cover every year, and still God has surprises and “new” things to show me.

In Psalm 84, verse 5, the Psalmist states, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”  I noticed two parts of the description of this blessed man:

  1. His strength is in God
  2. His heart is set on pilgrimage

I thought about what it meant to have one’s strength be in God.  It seems to me the strength here can be compared to the strength of an army:

  • God is his fortress
  • God is his strong tower
  • God is his rear guard
  • God is his shield and buckler (his weapons of defense)

It could also be that strength here has the meaning of the one who “strengthens” the man, who cares for and befriends the man, who makes sure his physical and emotional needs are met:

  • God is his provision
  • God is his guide, the light to his path
  • God is his comfort
  • God is his hope (gives him the will to go on)

It could also be that God is his strength because God makes him stronger:

  • God is the father who chastens his beloved son
  • God is the refining fire that purifies him

With God, strength can mean so many things.  When my strength is in God, I don’t rely on my own reasoning, my own resources or my own abilities.  I cast myself entirely on my God, keeping no area of my life in which I am “strong” apart from God.  May the LORD bless you and may He be your only strength.

I will have to save the discussion of the second part of the verse, “whose heart is set on pilgrimage”  for my next post.

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I pray this day finds you thinking about the one and only true God who hears and answers prayers.  I can’t imagine not having God to turn to in times of difficulty.  I can’t imagine feeling that I was alone with all the confusion, evil and darkness (and that is just within my own heart).  I can’t imagine not having One to worship with all my heart, soul and strength.  Prayer can be all of that and so much more.

Some thoughts on prayer:

  • God already knows my every need, my every thought, my every concern, so prayer to God is not about information transfer from me to God.  In going to God in prayer, I recognize who He is.  I recognize that He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and He desires to help me.  In prayer, I learn about God.
  • In my life, when I ask for help, sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes when I need help, I can’t ask for it because of weakness or fear.  With God, when I need help, He always comes through, and even when I can’t find the words to ask, God helps me anyway.  He is closer than a brother.
  • I see the needs of others, but I don’t have the resources to help them, and I don’t really know anyone to ask who does have the resources and would be willing to help.  That is what is so great about God.  He has the cattle on a thousand hills.  He is the source of all things.  Through prayer, I have access to God’s limitless resources not only for myself, but also for those I see in need.  My Heavenly Father hears me.
  • Prayer is about relationship.  I cannot comprehend the width, length, depth and height of the love of God, a love which passes knowledge, without being in moment-by-moment contact with God through prayer, the idea of praying without ceasing.
  • Prayer is an ongoing and continuing dialog with God.   I share my needs, and I learn of His endless resources.  I share my fear, and I learn of His close presence, the strength and protection of His everlasting arms, and the safety of abiding in the shadow of the almighty.  I share my victories, and I learn of His provision and how to say “thanks.”  I find myself powerless and lost, and I learn of His character, His awesome power, mercy and grace.

It is my God, and my God alone who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think.  I only learn that when I am in prayer and relationship with God.

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In Psalm 27, the Psalmist says (and we often sing), the LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

The LORD is my light

  • He guides me as a beacon from a lighthouse guides a ship in the night away from the rocks.
  • He illuminates my life as candle gives light to a dark room.
  • He shows me things in my life like a searchlight reveals things or people hiding in the darkness
  • He dispels darkness from my life as light, by its very nature, must.

The LORD is my salvation.

  • He is the key to my life and relationship with God.
  • He is the key to me having eternal life.
  • He is the key to me living the abundant life.

Whom shall I fear?  If I have God as my light and my salvation, is there really any other significant area of vulnerability in my life?

I am persuaded as Paul was and as I pray you are, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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The Apostle John, in his first epistle (letter) calls believers “overcomers”.  This term is also used by John in the Book of Revelation.  In 1 John 4:4, John says, ” You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  In 1 John 5:4, he says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

To summarize:

  • When we are born of God,  by faith in Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior, we are overcomers.
  • An overcomer is he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God
  • Faith in Jesus allows the believer to overcome the world
  • By one’s faith in Jesus, Jesus gives power to overcome because Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent)
  • Overcoming the world means having victory in all things through Jesus

May you take comfort from your position as an overcomer.   We have overcome the world because our Champion, Jesus, has overcome  it.

If you have not committed your life to Christ yet, don’t waste anymore time.  Become an overcomer today!

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I don’t know about you, but I love to spend time with God, in His presence.  The problem I have is that I am not always in His presence.  Sometimes I am not there.  I know one day I will be in His presence forevermore, but until then, I must look at the things on this side of eternity that keep me from being constantly in the presence of God.

In this short Psalm (5 verses only), the Psalmist asks the question, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?  Who may dwell in Your holy hill?  Another way to think about this is who can live with God or be in constant, unbroken fellowship with God?  The Psalmist answers:

  • A person who does the right thing even in his or her heart where only God can see.  This is the idea of personal integrity.
  • A person who displays right conduct toward others in word, deed and thought.
  • A person who views evil as God does and views God’s people as God does.  The first part of that is probably the easier part.  Sometimes God’s people can be challenging, and we forget how God views them.  They are precious to Him.
  • A person who accepts God’s provision and follows God’s order with money, not taking advantage of the poor for gain, not trying to get gain by dishonest means.

All the qualifications of the person who is in constant, unbroken fellowship with God, who dwells on His holy hill are based on a standard – God’s standard.  God is the measuring stick in each case.  The conclusion one easily draws from this consistent standard is that moral relativism, the idea that each person can follow his or her own moral standard, is a lie.  There is no moral relativism, only a moral absolute.  The absolute standard for right and wrong, for good and evil, is God’s law.  Learn it, love it and live it!

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