Monthly Archives: December 2010

In a tight spot?

Psalm 118:7

The LORD is with me; he is my helper.  I will look in triumph on my enemies.  NIV

I love that this reminder echoes the one I looked at yesterday.

Look at how this passage (verses 5-9) is paraphrased in The Message:

“Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered.  God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me?  God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.  Far better to take refuge in God than to trust in people; Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities.” MSG

I love that.  I’m pushed to the wall, but God is not constrained.

When I’m in a tight spot, I can call to Him, and he, unfettered, will answer.

Because God is on my side, because God is my helper, I have nothing to fear or to worry about.

I need to keep my focus on Him, my Savior, my Redeemer.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trust

God is my help and shield

Psalm 115: 9

O house of Israel, trust in the LORD — he is their help and shield.  NIV

Listen to how The Message paraphrases this verse.  “But you, Israel: put your trust in GOD! — trust your Helper!  trust your Ruler!” MSG

The names of God here are significant to me.  I looked them up in my NIV concordance:

LORD – Yahweh, the proper name of the one true God; knowledge and use of the name implies personal or covenant relationship; the name pictures God as the one who exists and/or causes existence.

Helper – Helper; staff; strength

Ruler – A leader who protects

God, who causes all existence, is there to help me.  He is my protective leader, my shepherd.

My job is only to trust Him and obey Him.

That’s today’s reminder not to worry and that’s what I’ll think about today.

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A lifetime of enough is abundance

Psalm 78:21-22

When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. NIV

Oh, dear.

This is a clear admonishment not to worry.

In this case, I’m looking at worry that is borne of a lack of trust in God.  It makes God angry.

I get that.

God is there, being God, totally trustworthy, providing for his people in miraculous ways … just as he has provided for me … and they don’t trust him.

They want things they don’t have, in this case meat in the desert.

If I may, they are worried that they won’t eat very well in the desert, despite the manna that they are being provided.

God has been faithful. He has rescued them and provided for them.  They have enough.  Enough to survive, enough to be happy.  They worry and want more.  They want a life of abundance and are worried that they don’t have it or that they will not get it.

This is a good reminder for me in 2010.

I have enough.

And, a lifetime of enough IS abundance.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trust

Talk about it!

Psalm 78:7

Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. NIV

This is part of a beautiful passage from the teachings of Asaph.

“What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us, we will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done,” he says in verses three and four.


I Googled it.

High in the results is this listing from Wikipedia:  “Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers , readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action.”

If we will talk about what God is doing in our lives, about what He has done in the lives of those who came before us, and about the peace that is available to those who trust in Him, perhaps we can persuade others to “take some action.”

Not just any action, mind you … the actions in verse 7:

  • Trust God
  • Recognize all that He has done to bring you and everyone else on the planet to this moment.  Acknowledge and accept the gift of salvation that He freely offers.
  • Obey Him.

Notice that, “worry about the future” isn’t listed in verse 7 … or anywhere else in the Bible that I’ve found so far.  In fact, if we will trust God, recognize His power and obey, there is no need for worry.

Now, advertising has a bit of a smarmy reputation … but, at it’s heart, it is an important concept.  If you find something good, tell others about it, so that they can benefit, too.

Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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What can mere mortals do?

Psalm 56:11

In God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? NIV

The Message paraphrases this verse, “Fearless now, I trust in God; what can mere mortals do to me?” MSG

When I was a kid, I loved the show, Bewitched.  Samantha, the lead character, was a witch who had fallen in love with a human and her mother, Endora, made frequent visits.  Endora had a habit of calling humans “mere mortals.”  This was usually when she was looking down her nose at Samantha’s husband or her friends.

Endora saw humans as stupid and bumbling and clumsy.  She had super powers … they did not.

If I will trust in God … I have access to super powers.  I can be fearless. There is nothing that mere mortals can do to me.

But, I am not called to emulate Endora in any way.

Instead, I should keep my heart soft toward those who do not know Christ, whether or not they are working against me.

When I trust God, the balance of power is reordered, and my whole perspective is shifted.

In fact, when I trust God, I can move beyond asking “what can mere mortals do to me?” and move toward asking, “What can mere mortals do?”

We all need God.  No-one can save themselves by themselves.  As a Christian, I am called upon to take God’s message to those who haven’t heard it.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trust

He’s here!

Luke 2:13-14

Suddenly  great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to me on whom his favor rests.” NIV

Christ was born on Christmas Day to take away our sins and the worries that result from them.

Glory to God this Christmas morning!


Filed under Luke, Peace

The recipe for success

Psalm 49:13-14a

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.  Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them.  NIV

This is a pretty terrifying picture.

But, it also is, I think, a very clear recipe for avoiding worry.

The fate of those who trust in themselves … death will feed on them.

I just keep thinking about the latest C.S. Lewis movie.  The antagonist is a mist of unknown origin that is swallowing people whole.  Throughout the movie, the heroes get visited by the mist, and in it they see their own insecurities and are tempted to try to conquer them on their own.

The fate of those who trust in themselves … death will feed on them.

You can’t trust in yourself … you’re not trustworthy.  As humans, we are ruled by emotions, we don’t have the complete picture, and, as a result, we often make poor decisions.  When the decisions we make on our own inevitably turn out less than ideally, we doubt our abilities (rightly so) and this causes us to worry.

But, it shouldn’t.

Once we’ve tried the independence thing a few times, with not-so-good results, it seems that we would learn the recipe for success:  Trust God.

God is trustworthy.  God is not ruled by emotion.  God has the complete picture.

The future is not our responsibility, and, to try to take responsibility for it is to invite worries and stresses that we, well, we just don’t need.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Look for the clear path

Psalm 44:6

I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not give me victory; NIV

Since David wrote much of the Book of Psalms, I initially assumed he wrote this one.  Not  so.  This one is titled, “A Psalm of the sons of Korah.”

I am very unclear about who Korah was, but, his sons hit it right on the money.

Just as David knew (when he was a small boy off to kill a giant with nothing but a few smooth stones and a sling shot) it’s not the tools you make or buy here, nor the abilities that you were given that make you successful … it is God who is all powerful. It is God who is the ultimate victor.

The next verses make that point, “but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.  In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.” NIV

I like that last verse even better in The Message, “All day we parade God’s praises — we thank you by name over and over.” MSG

When God saves me from a trial or delivers a victory, I am flooded with a tide of relief and thanksgiving.  I find myself thanking and praising God over and over.

The thing is, God always comes through.  It may not be the answer I want to hear or the scenario that I want to unfold, but, if I look closely, I can see God’s hand over every victory in my life.

So … why don’t I trust that?  Why do I worry and try to be successful on my own?

Our house, like many, is built around a stairwell.  There is a doorway on the south end of the stairwell that opens to the back of our house, and one on the north end that goes to the same room … the northern one is in the kitchen.

Our house is not large, so, at Christmas, when we put up the tree, we put it in front of the southern doorway.  This keeps it relatively out of the way and also allows us to see the tree from two rooms.  For the month of December, we come and go from one part of the house to the other through the kitchen.

Last weekend, our Sunday school class came for brunch.  I was eating in the front room with one of my dear classmates when the cat began to climb across the packages under the tree and through the lower branches.  As her head popped out on our side, she purposefully gave me a look that said, “This is extremely difficult!”  Not only did had I put a tree in the doorway, but, now there were boxes under the tree with slippery wrapping paper that were blocking her way.

As the cat jumped down off the box and shook her ears, someone said, “Why does she climb through there?”

I said that I didn’t know … it would be so much easier to just go through the kitchen.

My dear friend said, “Don’t you know that that’s what we do with God all the time?”

She’s right.

God provides a clear path … He has already won the battles … He is responsible for all things … He cares for me … He has provided provision for me.  And yet, like the cat, I often seek out the most challenging path.  Inevitably, as I traverse the rocky terrain, I come to fear that I will not be successful. And then, when I’ve emerged victorious, I’m extremely thankful that God has saved me from the trial.  Just like that verse says, I thank Him by name over and over.

My life would be less worrisome if I were more obedient … if I would trust God and look for the paths that He already has cleared for me.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trust

A sure thing

Psalm 40:4

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.  NIV

This message is so simple.  Trust in God.  That’s where the blessing is.

Listen to how The Message paraphrases this verse: “Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your back’s on the world’s ‘sure thing,’ ignore what the world worships.” MSG

The world’s “sure thing,” isn’t sure at all … but God is.

This morning as I write in my quiet little living room, my house is filled to the brim with people that I love, all peacefully sleeping.  I am so thankful for this precious time that we will have together as we celebrate the birth of our Lord.

The Lord is our trust.  He is our past, our present and our future.  He is a sure thing.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Faith is all that is required

Luke 2:46-48a

And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” NIV

Mary has learned that she will be the mother of the son of God.  She has visited Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist, and the two of them have rejoiced together over the first coming of Christ.

These are the first verses of the song that Mary sings to God.

Mary is facing real uncertainty.  No one has ever done what she has been called to do.  She is engaged, but not married, and her pregnancy would surely put her earthly future in jeopardy … but, Mary isn’t worried about the future.

Instead, she focuses on the miracle of the moment, saying, “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary has true faith.  God blesses that.  He is mindful of her … he chooses her from all other women to be the mother of His son.

She’s not a rich person … she’s not a successful business woman … she is not moving or shaking anything when God chooses her … she is simply a young woman who believes.

Faith is all that is required to be used by God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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