Light and Truth

“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)

How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.

And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.

God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.

My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.

 


Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Light and Life

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9, NIV)

In Psalm 36, a beautiful and poetic song, David contrasts “the sinfulness of the wicked” (v. 1) with the love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice of God (vv. 5-6). God’s love knows no end, and His justice is without measure. Whereas the wicked flatters himself and plots evil (vv. 2-4), God preserves both man and beast, showing them love and giving them refuge (vv. 7-8). While the evildoer’s ultimate fate is to be “thrown down, not able to rise” (v. 12), God’s unfailing love is a fountain of life to those who acknowledge Him (v. 9).

What a moving picture of the greatness of our God! He gives us life, and in His light, we see light. God is the source of both life and light. Life “lives” because God lives in it. Light shines because God shines in it. Without God, there would be no light and no life. This brings to mind John 1:4, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Jesus is our light and life, and when we resolve to live for Christ each day, we may pray David’s prayer for God’s provision and protection.

“Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.” (vv. 10-11)

Psalm 36 is the inspiration for one of my favorite worship songs, Your Love, O Lord, by Third Day. I hope this Scripture and this song inspire your devotion to God this week!


Photo by Kimon Maritz on Unsplash

King Over the Flood

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:10-11, NIV)

Psalm 29 celebrates the glory and power of God on display through a massive storm. The storm sweeps in from offshore, and it’s one of those storms where the thunder seems to shake the earth itself. Trees are shattered, snapped, and twisted. Everyone who sees the terrible beauty and awesome power of the storm responds with one word: “Glory!”

Yet even a storm powerful enough to shake the earth and split living trees with its thunder and lightning doesn’t shake God’s people. The Lord sits on His throne over the flood, over the wind and rain. He strengthens and blesses us… with peace. Isn’t it ironic that as God shows His power through the storm, He reveals His greater power by giving us peace?

I often feel overwhelmed these days–that life is flooded and I’m just trying to stay afloat. Reading Psalm 29 this morning reminded me that even when life seems to spin out of control, God is still King forever! He is on His throne and gives peace during the chaos (my chaos is often beautiful, but beautiful chaos is still chaotic) to all who trust in Him.

My prayer this week is that God will remind us that He is enthroned over our flood and that He will bless us with peace as we turn our eyes to Him.


Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

The Suffering of the Afflicted One

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1a, NIV)

Hanging on the cross, dying, Jesus quoted the opening line of Psalm 22. This was no coincidence! Going back to read Psalm 22 is like reading a description of Jesus’s crucifixion, written before crucifixion had even been invented, and written hundreds of years before Jesus walked this earth. The Psalm mentions such details as Jesus being scorned and mocked (vv. 6-7), even foretelling what the religious leaders of the day would say as Jesus hung on the cross (v. 8)! It describes how His hands and feet would be pierced (v. 16), and how they would cast lots for his garment (v. 18).

I can’t begin to imagine the suffering Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross. As I read Psalm 22, lyrics from an older worship song come to mind: I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. Jesus suffered for me, and as Psalm 22 promises, His suffering was not in vain. The Psalm goes on to say:

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly…” (Psalm 22:24–25, NIV)

My prayer for us this week is that we will remember the suffering of the Afflicted One, our Savior, and lift His praise in our lives each day. Thank You, God, for saving me.


Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Prayer for the Fools

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1, ESV)

We live in a society that largely has declared, “There is no God.” While it’s true that the majority of Americans claim to believe in God, it’s also true that the majority of Americans (including the majority of Christians in America) live as though God doesn’t exist. When we fail to acknowledge God, we not only overlook an entire Universe of evidence that He is real, we also reject the foundation of right and wrong. If there is no God, there is no morality–no real justice to build a society on.

We’ve all seen where the path of denying God leads. This is true whether we say He doesn’t exist, or whether we claim to believe and yet live as though He doesn’t matter. To deny or forget about God is to be a fool, and that will ultimately lead to “every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. [Those who ignore God] are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32, NIV).

Sadly those words are a pretty accurate description of our society. This week, let’s pray for the fools who deny God (knowing that sometimes we’ll be praying for ourselves when our actions fail to acknowledge the Lord).


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Praise of Children

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2, NIV).

Psalm 8 declares the majesty of the Lord’s name throughout all the earth. God has done marvelous things in Creation. Look at a sunset, gaze at a starry night, and tell me you aren’t moved by the glory of God! Not only that but when we see the immensity of God’s Universe and consider the vast power that is His, we realize our humble estate. What a great honor and privilege that the Creator would be mindful of us! He is worthy of our worship.

When I read verse 2, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:3. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Kids are so amazed by simple things we take for granted. They find wonder in little things we don’t even notice anymore. My son, Elliot, is fascinated by bugs. He loves to go outside and dig for worms and catch ladybugs. Watching them flit around in a jar brings him so much delight. When was the last time I was delighted by the things God has made for us to enjoy, even the simple things?

We get so busy with work and family obligations, so burdened by the cares and anxieties of life, that we sometimes forget that the praise of God is our stronghold in a chaotic world. The Lord is our Rock who doesn’t move among the shifting sands of society. Worship is the bedrock of our lives, and when we have the attitude of a child–amazed and delighted and filled with wonder by the beauty and majesty of our God–then we will find our footing sure and our hearts light.

My prayer for us this week is that we will be delighted by God and respond with praise.

Prosperity Gospel

“He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3, CSB)

As Americans, we are obsessed with the idea of prosperity. Our entire society is built on the values of success, happiness, and prosperity. For many people, their highest ambitions in life are wealth, power, and popularity. This idea of prosperity has infiltrated the Church as well, with a whole movement of pastors and megachurches teaching a message dubbed the “prosperity gospel.”

The underlying premise of this false gospel (for that is what it really is) is that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, famous, powerful, and successful. All it takes is the right amount of faith. If you’re materially blessed, it’s because you have good faith. If you don’t get the raise, can’t afford a bigger house or a better car, or don’t get healed of your cancer, it’s because you don’t have enough faith. The prosperity gospel is nothing more than the American Dream articulated in Bible-words. It is not the gospel proclaimed by Scripture.

To be sure, the Bible does speak of prosperity, like in Psalm 1:3. But I think it means something altogether different than what the leaders of the prosperity gospel and pop culture say. To “prosper” in the biblical sense is to fulfill the purpose for which you were created. Psalm 1:3 describes a tree that is prosperous: it bears fruit in season, and its leaves never wither. The tree is accomplishing what God created it to do– that is prosperity.

You can have all the money you want, all the power you want, and all the toys you want. You can have parties, friends, and booze. You can be famous. And you can still be miserable. You can live a chaste life that would give the Amish a run for their money, you can go to church every time the doors are open, and you can be so obsessed with family time that your family becomes an idol. And you can still be miserable.

Prosperity is not about being rich and famous. It’s not about being healthy and wise. It’s not even about being humble and meek. It’s about being who God made you to be, doing what God calls you to do; discovering and fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. My prayer for you this week (and this year) is that you will truly prosper in 2018.


On December 31, I challenged LakeView Church to read a chapter of Psalms each day for the first 150 days of the year. I’ll be doing the same thing and blogging weekly with some reflections. I’d love for you to read through Psalms with us and share your thoughts as well!

You, God, Are My God

One of my goals this Advent is to spend more time praying through God’s Word. And, I thought perhaps you’d like to join me in that this Christmas season! Below are a Scripture and prayer. Read the passage, pray the prayer, and then write or speak your own prayer from this Scripture. Send me your prayer this week (andy@lakevc.org) and I’ll pray it, too! We can pray through Scripture together. 🙂

In Christ,
Pastor Andy


Psalm 63:1-5 (NIV)

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Prayer

Oh, God, may it be true of me that You are my God. You are the source and the foundation of my life. My hope and trust are in You alone. Without You I am nothing; I have nothing apart from You. There is no satisfaction in life unless You are there. You are my joy and my strength. You are my light and my salvation. You are the One who really matters. I have seen Your glory and experienced the supernatural presence and power of Your Holy Spirit. Your majesty commands my praise and Your love has captivated my heart. I will praise You as long as I live and will exalt Your holy name. To worship in Your presence is the highest purpose and the greatest experience in life. Fill me with Your Spirit, I ask in Your name. Amen.

God Sees the Trouble of the Afflicted

Yesterday a violent lunatic brutally attacked a small congregation in a rural Texas community.  He ruthlessly shot and killed at least 26, including a five-year-old child and a pregnant woman, and wounded at least 20 others.  You can read about the attack on First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs here.

Today, I am calling us all to pray for our brothers and sisters at First Baptist Church.  I can’t even imagine their shock, terror, grief, and pain.  Let’s support them by crying out to God on their behalf.  In times like these, our words often seem too small to make a difference.  That’s why I’m sharing a few verses from God’s Word in this post.  I encourage you all to read Psalm 10 in its entirety and use it as a guide to pray God’s Word for the afflicted in Sutherland Springs.  Below are selected verses from Psalm 10.

Why, LORD, do You stand far off?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance, the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.

7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.

11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
He covers his face and never sees.”

12 Arise, LORD.  Lift up Your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

14 But You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
You consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.

17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
You encourage them, and You listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and oppressed
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Praying for FBC Sutherland Springs this week.

In Christ,
Pastor Andy

Psalm 2 – Pay Attention, ISIS

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage,

And the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the LORD and against His anointed, saying,

“Let us break their chains,

And throw off their shackles!”

 

The One enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust;

The LORD derides them.

Then He will speak to them in His wrath,

And terrify them in His fury, saying,

“I Myself have installed My king on Zion, My holy mountain.”

 

I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:

The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;

Today I have begotten You.

Ask me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance,

The ends of the earth Your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron,

And dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

 

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

Be warned, O rulers of the earth,

Serve the LORD with fear!

Repent with terror!

Kiss the Son,

Lest He be angry and you die because of your behavior,

For His wrath is quickly ignited.

 

Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

He is coming.

Reading this Psalm this morning gave me pause as I considered what is happening to my Christian brothers and sisters, God’s anointed children, in many places around the world, including those suffering persecution from ISIS.  The rage and hatred being expressed against God and his anointed is saddening and horrible.  But ultimately, ISIS plots in vain.

He is coming.

The Lord, Yahweh, whose power is immeasurable, whose holiness is unapproachable, the Uncreated One, laughs at them in disgust; he holds them in derision.  No one can win a war against God – it is a fruitless effort!  And there will come a day when they will be terrified by his anger.

He is coming.

When Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, God himself who became a human being to save the world, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords… when he returns the second time it will not be like the first time.  The first time he came in humility and meekness, setting aside his divine power in order to suffer on the cross for our sins.  The second time he will come as a King, full of justice and judgment.  He will break the powers of evil and shatter their pathetic kingdoms.  He will avenge his children who’ve been beheaded, raped, abused, and persecuted.

He is coming.

When Jesus returns it will be too late for those who’ve warred against God, who’ve persecuted His children, who’ve raped His bride, who’ve attacked His family to repent.  On that day, the lines that are now being drawn in the sand will become uncrossable, and anyone who is not standing on the side of the Lord of Hosts, Jesus Christ, the God of the Angel-Armies, will be utterly destroyed.

He is coming.

So, listen up!  Repent now, while there is a chance.  Christ died for the ungodly.  Indeed, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved through his life! (see Romans 5:1-11)  Jesus is King.  Stand with him and be saved.  Stand against him and be annihilated.

He is coming.

May the Lord bless those brothers and sisters of mine who are facing persecution beyond what I can even imagine.  May they find refuge in him.  May their blood be avenged.

He is coming.  Amen.

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