Putting God's Word into Practice…

Psalm 24:6 Seeking the Lord

This morning my 9-year old was all trained up for his first 5k.  Around 4 a.m. a vicious storm swept through our area for several hours.  During that time, I prayed earnestly for God to calm the storm and clear the atmosphere by race time to avoid any disappointment or waste weeks of effort.  (He did give us sunny skies by race time!) Afterwards, I thought about the call to seek the Lord and what that really looks like.  Very seldom do I wake at 4 a.m. and pray intermittently over the next several hours about things of great importance, yet I was okay with seeking the Lord over the weather.  This really convicted my heart, and caused me to come back to Psalm 24 and find out from God’s Word what it really means to “seek Him.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Psalm 24:6

  • We are called to seek the Lord CONTINUALLY (1 Chronicles 16:11)
  • We are called to DEVOTE OUR HEART AND SOUL to seeking the Lord (1 Chronicles 22:19)
  • We are called to interface seeking the Lord with HUMILITY AND PRAYER (2 Chronicles 7:14)
  • Seeking the Lord means MAKING ROOM FOR GOD IN MY THOUGHTS (Psalm 10:4)
  • We are called to seek the Lord EARNESTLY AND WITH LONGING (Psalm 63:1)
  • We are called to ALWAYS seek His face (Psalm 105:4)
  • My favorite: we are called to seek Him UNTIL HE COMES! No stopping or giving up! (Hosea 10:12)

When I feel far from the Lord or that lack of spiritual fervor and joy, I should be earnestly begging, petitioning, and appealing to the Lord to make His presence felt in my life.  Even when I sense His nearness, I can always be seeking more of His presence and fullness in my heart.  I can never have too much of the Lord! Until His promises, His character, and His ways consume every part of my heart, thoughts, and actions–I will never have enough of Him!

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:8:  “You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

He calls us to seek Him because He wants to be found by us!  In fact Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, and Matthew 7:8–to name a few–promise that if we seek the Lord He will be found by us!  1 Chronicles 16:10 says that seeking the Lord brings rejoicing.  Psalm 9:10 says that the Lord will never forsake those who seek Him.  Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing, according to Psalm 34:10. And Hebrews 11:6 says that God rewards those who seek Him.

So why am I not diligent in seeking the Lord?  Distractions, busyness/weariness, idolatry/lack of desire are the  three I struggle with most.

Lord, let me seek you diligently, continually, earnestly, and always.  Teach me to be devoted to seeking You with all that I am.  Help me to never give up, but to wait until I experience all Your promises for those who are seekers of Your presence.  Help me to seek you until I see You face-to-face for eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Psalm 24:7-10 Who is this King of Glory?

“Who is this KIng of glory?” That is the question I asked myself this morning.  Substituting the definitions of glory in this phrase helps me visualize the King of glory.

  • The King of high honor won by notable achievements
  • The King of magnificence and splendor
  • The King who deserves my respect and delight
  • The King of all our praise, worship, and thanksgiving.

“Why is the LORD worthy to be called the King of glory?”

  • He is unconquerable, eternally victorious
  • All of heaven’s armies of angels are under His command
  • He is the highest authority in Heaven and on Earth.
  • He overcame my sin and death with salvation and righteousness.

Do I view the Lord as the King of glory? When was the last time I was in awe of the King of glory–recognizing His might and power over the things of this world? Do I realize this valiant warrior lives in me? When I invite Jesus to be the King of my heart, He is strong and mighty in me and gives me victory in my battles.

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Psalm 24 Roadmap to a Revived Heart

Lately I’ve been feeling “blah” spiritually.  It’s been ongoing over the past several months with only glimpses of God’s glory.  Seems like it comes around about this time every year.  I thought vacation would help.  I returned relaxed, yet morose towards ministry and my personal faith.  Instead of turning to and seeking the Lord right away, I just put off praying about it and continued going through the motions.  Maybe because I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, maybe because of fear, maybe because of busyness and distractions.  Monday morning I prayed about it for the first time and the Spirit put the song Give Me Clean Hands in my mouth, thus pointing me to Psalm 24.  Over the past several days, I’ve been meditating on these verses and will continue as long as it takes until my heart is revived!  This is just a simple outline and summary I wanted to share with anyone who may also be struggling with feeling distant from the Lord.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers (1-2).

Recognize the Greatness of God.  Everything belongs to God!  Everything!  He is the creator and sustainer and giver of all things! My pregnancy is His.  My family is His.  The church is His.  All my possessions are His.  My neighbors are His.  The land I live on is His.  The grass I mow, the trees I trim and flowers I water are His!  Even the water I put on the flowers is His!  I am His!

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully (3-4)

Realize my Sinfulness.  When I am feeling far from the Lord, there is an area of my life that is out of whack that requires close examination.  Here are the questions I asked myself:

  • Are there any sins in my life I have not recognized or confessed?   
  • Are there any relationships that need repaired?
  • Is there anyone to whom I am refusing to show forgiveness, mercy and/or unconditional love towards?
  • Do I have any impure motives in relationships and/or ministry?
  • Are there any bitter attitudes or negative emotions in my heart that are sinful?
  • Have I lifted up my soul to anything false–anything that is not Christ or God’s Word?  Is my life centered on Christ “The Truth?”  Are there idols in my life?  Am I “committing adultery” against the Lord in some way?
  • Have I been dishonest, broken any promises, or had impure speech that needs to be confessed and forsaken?

He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob (5-6).

Receive Righteousness.  The process of weeding out the sins that separate us from intimacy with the Lord can be painful and long.  It required diligence.  Is receiving the blessing and righteousness of Christ worth the pain and work of seeking it to me?  The verses reminded me of when Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32.  Jacob expended all his energy, yet would not give up until God blessed him. He was not only rewarded with a blessing from God, but also the gift of seeing God face-to-face. If we want the righteousness and nearness of God, we must do whatever it takes to draw near to Him!

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory?  The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!  Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! (7-10)

Restoration of God’s Presence and Power in Life.  These have always been some of my favorite verses. They are shout-worthy!  In fact when we were renovating the church building, I wrote them at the entrance under the fresh paint.  But until this week I never thought about how being on this side of the cross in the timeline of life they apply to me personally.  My heart is God’s temple.  I want to lift up the latch, open the gate and let His glory, might, strength and presence fill me!  That’s revival!

This outline doesn’t just apply to Christians in need of revival, it is also the roadway to salvation.

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James 1:19-21 Hearing, Speaking and Anger

Know this, my beloved brothers: let EVERY PERSON be QUICK TO HEAR, SLOW TO SPEAK, SLOW TO ANGER; for the anger of many does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Quick to hear! In controversy or confrontation, humbly listen to the other person’s perspective and criticisms.  In temptation, be quick to hear the truth and listen for a way out from under it.  In trials, be quick to hear wise counsel and direction.

Slow to speak! In conversations, don’t interrupt or plan ahead the “wisdom” or experience I want to share.  Don’t turn conversations around to be about “me.”  In temptations–failed or otherwise–don’t be quick to defend myself or have the last word.  In trials, don’t be quick to grumble or complain.

Slow to anger!  I heard someone say once, “Anger is counter-productive to God’s plan for our lives.”  Anger produces bitterness, steals joy, enhances pride, enables impatience, defends entitlement, and promotes selfishness.  Anger is often our first and immediate response to trials and to relational conflict or confrontations.

The verse says, “LET EVERY PERSON,” not just introverts, counselors, people of few opinions, but EVERYONE.  For some of us these directives are harder than others.  Especially me!  I tend to be opinionated and naturally loud.  Pride often makes me want to be heard at the expense of others, and when I feel like I’m not being heard, I am quick to anger.  It’s a vicious cycle!

Deuteronomy 24:6, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3 all say the same thing.  God defines Himself and carries the reputation through hundreds of generations as being merciful, gracious, SLOW TO ANGER, and abounding in love and faithfulness.  Throughout the Bible we see that the Lord hears us and speaks to us.  Many people claim repeatedly, “The Lord heard my cry and answered me.”  God would not give us directions for holiness, that don’t define His own character.  However, holiness does not come naturally to us like it does to Him.  That’s why He gives us tools to use in our trials.

Trials in our relationships our a sanctifying tool God can use to make us more like HIm in how we view and treat others.  Receiving the Word and wisdom of the Lord with meekness (humility) is the first step in treating others with meekness.

Knowing, gaining wisdom from, and living according to God’s Word is the primary weapon we have in enduring trials, resisting temptation, and relating to others.

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James 1:9-18 Trials, Temptation and a Good God

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (13-15)  

Temptation is not from God because temptation is not good. It has one path and leads only to death.  When we feel tempted, it is coming from our own desire and propensity to gratify self–whether it’s being tempted to become angry, to overeat, or to look at porn, etc.  Temptation is not a sin!  We are all tempted, because we are all human.  Temptation is one step away from sin.  The choice to pursue or flee temptation is ours.  Sin starts as a response to a thought–very small–then it grows and grows until it consumes us.

There are two quotes I think of when it comes to the path of sin and temptation:  

“Sin will always take you farther than you intend to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you thought you’d pay.”

“Don’t even taste what you don’t want to be hungry for!”

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him…Do not be deceived my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (12, 16-17)

Trials are allowed by God to test our faith.  Trials lead to good things–wisdom, endurance, strength, life, and eternal reward.  All good things come from God.  He is steadfast and unchanging, and He wants to develop His character in us!  We need every good and perfect gift He gives to stand the test.  

I just finished reading The Hunger Games. (I’m always a few years behind.)  During the games, when there is a dire need, sponsors will pay to have gifts parachuted to the contestants for their aid and survival.  That is kind of how it works with our trials and God’s goodness.  He sees everything we are going through, and knows our every need.  Unlike The Hunger Games, we don’t have to earn the gifts, we just have to ask!

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)

How we view God impacts our perception of our trials.  When we believe that He is good, generous, impartial, and gracious, we can accept our trials as a gift perfectly suited to us to help us become more like Him. And we can know that every grace He gives us during trials–wisdom, patience, strength, etc…–is meant to help us endure.

God is good!  He doesn’t do anything that would lead us to sin or break faith, but He does allow things that build and strengthen our faith.

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James 1:2-8 ~ Trials

James doesn’t pull any punches or put forth any pleasantries in this letter, but proceeds right to the point with precious principles we need to put into practice!

Trials are inevitable, but they have great purpose!  God allows us to meet trials in life to test our faith and to produce endurance and character in our lives. However, it is our responsibility to remain in the trial until His work is complete and we have passed the test.  So often I try whatever it takes to get out of trials.  But just like any other test that we don’t pass in life, unfortunately we must keep re-taking it.  Trials continue to pop up until we have learned and grown the way God intended for us.

Trials give us an opportunity to ask for wisdom.  What a privilege!  We don’t have to go through trials with our limited insight and knowledge.  Trials are tools that point us to a wisdom unfathomably higher than our own!  Sadly, asking for God’s wisdom is sometimes our last resort.  When instead we should be asking Him at the onset: 1) What do you want to teach me or produce in me through this trial? 2) What will it take to pass this test?

God gives wisdom freely and generously–without reproach, reprimand, or rebuke–to all who ask in faith, believing they will receive it.

Proverbs 2:6-7 says, “For the LORD GIVES WISDOM; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; HE STORES UP SOUND WISDOM for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”  Prior to these promises we see our role in gaining His wisdom:  Make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding; call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, seek it like silver and search for it as for a hidden treasure…  Do we value God’s wisdom enough to seek it like that?

How often do we receive godly wisdom for our trials and think with our human minds, “That won’t work.” Then we proceed to use our own “wisdom.”  God calls that being double-minded and unstable.  One could also call it disrespectful!

When we were in Sarasota a few weeks ago I got a flat tire.  I prayed that God would show me who could help and walked into a Walgreens.  I remember looking at the people in there and wondering who was capable of changing a flat. I specifically remember looking intently at one gentleman in the photo department and thinking, “Definitely not that guy, but maybe he’ll know someone.” I didn’t ask.  An hour passed, and I found myself back in the Walgreens trying to get cooled off when an associate asked if I needed anything.  I told her my story and she called someone on the phone.  Guess who showed up to change my flat tire??  The gentleman from the photo department, who happened to be the store manager.  My trial could have been greatly abbreviated if I had not been doubtful, and just asked for help. It’s the same with God’s wisdom.  He has all the tools, knowledge and ability stored up for us, we just need to ask without doubting that His ways are best and that He can handle our trials.

Because trials are an occasion for growth in endurance and wisdom, they are also an opportunity for joy!  Just like Jesus’ example in Hebrews 12:2 where we learn that He faced His suffering with joy because He knew that the outcome was more wondrous than the pain.  Let’s not waste our trials, but celebrate them.  The Lord is able to bring beauty out of our various tests and trials.

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James 1:1 A Humble View of Self

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

I love starting a new book–getting the background and purposes of the author and audience.  This intro definitely is intriguing and convicting to my heart.

James, the author of the letter, is considered to be the half-brother of Jesus Christ.  Growing up, James did not believe that his brother Jesus was the Lord and Savior of the world (Matthew 13:55-58, John 7:5).  However, after the resurrection Jesus appeared to James, and he believed (1 Corinthians 15:7, Acts 1:13-14). James became the decision-making leader of the early Jewish church.  He had a heart for Gentiles to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus as Lord, too.

Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, historic accounts say that James was martyred by stoning at the hands of the Jewish high priest and leaders in 62 AD because he would not deny that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior.

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”  James could have referred to himself as anything–maybe “brother of Jesus” would have lent more credence to the letter.  But James took on a humble view of himself, like his brother Jesus, as servant.

Is that how I view myself?  Am I a servant of God or a servant of self?  Where are my motives for serving impure or self-seeking?

“To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion…”  This letter is written to the Jewish Christians who were scattered during intense persecution between 40-50 A.D.  The 12 tribes are not only the recipients of the letter, but also the recipients of James’ service to God.

Do I view my opportunities with others near or far as an opportunity for serving God?  Do I have a humble view of myself and an elevated view of others?

James is going to write about some pretty difficult topics–like trials, speech, favoritism, worldly wisdom, etc.–in this letter.  It is important to realize that the hard truths stem out of a humble heart!  James, as a servant of God, is willing to write unpopular things for God because he loves God and loves His brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Hebrews 13:17-25 Everything Good

Wow! It’s hard to believe how much times I’ve spent studying Hebrews!  It is one of my top 5 favorite books of the Bible, and the journey is ending today!  Only 8 books remain until my voyage through the New Testament is complete–for now.

The verses that spoke most to my heart today were 20-21.

Now may the GOD OF PEACE who brought again from the dead our LORD JESUS, THE GREAT SHEPHERD of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, EQUIP YOU with EVERYTHING GOOD that you may do his will. WORKING IN US that which is pleasing in his sight, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, to whom be GLORY FOREVER and ever. Amen.

God had the power to raise Jesus from the dead, and to make the one-time shedding of His blood an eternal covenant.  He has the power to equip me, even me, with EVERYTHING GOOD to do His will and work in me to make my life pleasing in His sight!

God is GOOD and everything He does is GOOD. Psalm 119:68

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no GOOD apart from You.” Psalm 16:2

Anything in me that is good and pleasing to God is because of Jesus’ work in my life and only for His glory.  If I really want to please the Lord (and I do) I will stop trying to do it in my own wisdom and strength, and submit to His working in and through me.  I don’t need to try to figure out God’s will for me, I just need to yield.  Lord, make me moldable, teachable, humble and surrendered. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Here’s the song that God brought to my mind to worship Him after studying:


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Hebrews 13:16 Sacrifice of Action

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

“Do not neglect to do good.” Based on my computer’s thesaurus, neglect can be interchanged with the following: forsake, ignore, overlook, leave undone, pay no attention to… How often do I neglect to do good because it doesn’t fit in my daily agenda? Because I am so blinded by my wants that I overlook the needs of others? When I think quickly on the example of Jesus, He never neglected to do good. When he was tired and wanted to be alone to rest or pray, His compassion drove Him to meet the needs of those placed in His path. He allowed crucifixion for the salvation of mankind to make His daily agenda! When I think back over my days and weeks; are they a pleasing sacrifice TO GOD or to me?

“Do not neglect to…share what you have.” This verse does not say to share what you have excess of but WHAT YOU HAVE. It does not say to share with the “needy.” In fact it doesn’t specify whom to share with, implying any and everyone. It’s not about who we share with, but that WE share no matter how little or much we think we have. We can share our time, our possessions, and our abilities for they are not really ours, but God’s gifts to us to be used as He desires.

“For such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” To sacrifice means to surrender something as an offering to God; to give something of value up for the sake of something regarded as more valuable or worthy. Is God more valuable to me than “my” life and time? The number one sacrifice of all time is Jesus Christ laying down His life for the sake of others. If my soul is that valuable to Him, shouldn’t pleasing Him be of utmost value to me?

Jesus, Himself, said in Matthew 9:13, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Putting our faith into practice in our daily lives and dealings with others is far more pleasing to God than religious rituals.

This verse finishes like the last with “to God.” It is so hard to live my life to please God and not to please others. I can do good and share with the wrong motives. Is my good-doing and sharing about my glory or to please God? Do those actions flow out of love, gratitude and reverence for my Savior or out of need to be loved by others?

So much to think about today…

If you like piano-driven 70s music, I recommend this song by Keith Green:


but if you don’t like 70s music, here is a link to the lyrics. I can’t get them out of my head this week.


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Hebrews 13:15 Sacrifice of Praise

Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

“Through him.”  Directly following the verses on suffering and reproach, we are called to praise.  This is possible because of Jesus’ example.  Remember Hebrews 12:2 says of Him, “Who for joy set before Him endured the cross despising the shame.”  Jesus’ example is that He suffered for the sake of others with joy.  His disciples didn’t always understand Him–they betrayed, denied, and abandoned Him, yet He suffered for them.  Through Jesus we can praise in the midst of any circumstance.

“Let us continually offer up a sacrifice (offering) of praise to God.”  Continually means constantly, ceaselessly, endlessly, eternally, around the clock, day and night.  The opposite would be occasionally, sporadically.  Which adverbs best describe my praise to God?  Ouch!

“That is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”  Acknowledging Jesus with my words–giving Him credit and glory.  Lips that speak the praise of Jesus flow from a heart that is set on glorifying Him in everything!

What gets in MY way when it comes to continually offering up praise to God?  pride, selfish ambition, people-pleasing, living in my own strength, fear, pity-party, discontentment, busyness, greed, exhaustion, temporal vision/perspective, impatience, compromise and other sins….

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