O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. (Ps 103:1–5)
Too often, my attention has been drawn to what my Lord does for me. Verse 2 encourages me to not forget a single blessing. However, this time, my heart is drawn to the repetitive He. He alone does these things for me because it is his nature.
He forgives because he is the forgiver. He heals because he is the healer. He redeems because he is the redeemer. He crowns because he is royalty himself. He wraps me around with goodness because he is good. He renews because he is the renewer.
In short, I am longing more for him than even what he does for me. I dare not forget his unceasing blessings because they turn my eyes upon the one who blesses.
Lord, all good things come from you alone. Thank you. But, even more than that, thank you for revealing your heart through those things. Forgive me for complaining or ever believing you hold out on me.
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. (Ps 42:5–11)
Self-examination quickly gets to the heart of an issue. No sugar coating. Just honesty. This is why I love these verses. The writer questions himself and points his heart to great truths. God puts a smile on my face, He’s my God. God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!
These truths confront all my fears and answer my questions. The writer feels down, crushed, let down, unprotected and abandoned. As real as these things feel, they are not true. And, left unattended, they can fester into an infection. So, what can I do when afraid or down? Simply said, I will fix my eyes upon my Lord. Focus on him.
Lord, I trust and surrender to you. Like the writer of this psalm, take my anxiety away. Point me to the truth about you. May all my worries be fashioned into prayers.
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. Matthew 14:22-23
As was with Jesus, there must be times that I draw away from everything and everyone to connect with my Father. Intimacy demands this. It is in the quiet place that I hear his heart and understand his plans for me. There, the uncertainties fade into trust and faith.
Something I have come to experience is that he is always there before me. He arrives and waits. I never do. So, I wonder what he is wanting to share with me today?
Lord, help me find a quiet place to meet with you. And, help me be disciplined to show up. I don’t want you to wait a long time for me.
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:6
Jesus is inviting me to come to him, in a quiet, secluded place. It is there that honest relationship is formed. My hurried pace fights this intimacy. In the quiet place with my Lord, I can simply be. No show. No pretense. No role-play.
That is what I want so, I must discipline myself toward it. Turn off. Disconnect. Stop. Only then will my Lord reveal himself. He will not do that if I don’t care enough to slow the pace. He will never speed up his pace to walk with me; I must get in step with his.
Lord, you know my hurried heart. Demands, distractions, involvements all fight for my attention. And, I let them do so, even encourage them at times. Help me be still through silence and cultivate serenity through times of solitude.
Thomas, though doubting at first, was drawn to the resurrected Jesus. Perhaps it is a little too much of a refined thought but he was drawn to Jesus not the miraculous resurrection of Jesus. The person is who Thomas sees. I can easily be enamored with what Jesus does and not so much in love with him. This affects my loyalty big time!
Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. – Oswald Chambers
Is this not true? Involvements but not intimacy is another way to say it.
Father, intimacy is to become my passion. Guard me against substituting intimacy with involvements. Help me become more focused on our relationship.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other, Holy, Holy, Holy is GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth. The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said, “Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead! Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted— blasphemous even! And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate. And here I’ve looked God in the face! The King! GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies!” Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said, “Look. This coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out.” And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me!” Isaiah 6:1-8
When I see the Lord as He is, I see myself as I am
He reveals the deepest part of me; he scopes through the secret places and shines his light on them. And, he deals with those things he sees. Nothing is hidden. And, that’s the way it should be. There should be no fear in his examination because with it comes healing and ministry. Before I can love others I must undergo his heart change surgery. Otherwise, my life is a shallow one.
I cannot really do until I am
Isaiah saw the Lord, saw his own heart, saw his people and culture. He was healed and then sent. That’s the pattern of intimacy and service. I have spent time mastering the mechanics without intimacy. I want to look like I have an intimate relationship. Gladly, that is not enough for the Lord. He passionately seeks me out.
There is no shortcut to intimacy
This journey is not quick, easy, natural or automatic. It requires decisions and disciplines. The sad thing is that most often I have refused to take the time to be still before my Lord and let him do his work.
Lord, if I really saw you today, who would I see? And, what about me would be revealed? Isaiah saw doom, good as dead. He replayed his words and found them tainted and even blasphemous. Heal my heart today. Set me on a path of true intimacy. Keep me from erecting only facades.
“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
God’s work in my life has brought me to where I am today. Even through my mistakes and rebellions, his grace has brought me here. And, with unlimited time he gives me unending grace and kindness. Today, here, then and there…forever. What glory that is!
The past and the present are surrounded by his grace and kindness. The next bend in the road leads me to more of his grace and kindness. So, no uncertainty or need to fear. He is meeting me at the next stop.
Lord, mostly, what you do is love me – through it all. This captures my heart in a way I cannot express. My story is your story of grace and kindness. So, I entrust into your grace and kindness all that this day brings to me. I give you my future and submit to you my past. Thank you Lord.
“At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?” For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” Matthew 18:1-5
What an amazing question! What type of person thinks that heaven has a ranking system? And, who is this who would assume preferential treatment? Jesus answered the question by focusing on becoming a child of God as a requirement for entrance. I will be in my Father’s home because of his grace…nothing more.
Lord, you are my Father and I love you today. Thank you for making me your own, adopting me into your family. Only your love for me compelled you to do that. So, as your child, with all I have, I trust you. Help me remain childlike before you and our world. At the same time, free me from childishness, which is so unattractive and opposite your desire that I mature.
“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out.
Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25
Every vertical relationship has a horizontal expression. The first part of these verses is about my vertical relationship I have with my Intercessor. No hindrance, no earthly intermediary. No specific festival to wait for. Now, anytime, I can enter the very presence of God, into the Holy Place. It is there that I get to know my Lord’s heart and mind. It is there that the sweetness of true relationship is found. It is there that I am changed.
As a changed person, with the “piece of God” in me I express who our Lord is and what the Lord has done. I keep moving onward. With his promises in my heart I encourage and help others. That is the horizontal part. I become others’ cheerleaders, looking for ways to bless those I meet. Hopefully, my ministry leads them to the Holy Place as well.
My Lord invites me into his presence; I invite him into my life, whatever it is today. Come, Lord Jesus is a precious prayer. Perhaps even more precious is his invitation, “Come to me.”
Lord, my time with you is sweet. Thank you for making such a relationship possible. From this time with you, may I enter the world with truth and grace. Help me encourage others today. And, may they hear the invitation to come to you.