Monday, February 29, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:30

30 I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus became a man?

He is God. He has existed since before time began. He created all things. When He manifested as a man, that wasn’t when He began existing - it was just when He left Heaven to come to Earth.

But why did He do that? Why did He leave the comfort of Heaven to become a man?

To save us from our sins? Yes, that is definitely true, and thank God for it! But that is only part of a bigger picture.

Jesus actually answers this question directly. He says,
For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.John 18:37

That is the purpose of Jesus becoming a man and coming into the world - to convince us about the truth.

The truth about what?

The truth about who God is.

This is marvelous, that when God wanted to reveal Himself to mankind, He didn’t make a movie about Himself. He didn’t come down riding on a cloud and have angels announce it over the earth in power and glory.

He lived life as a man.

Jesus alludes to this when he was asked, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.John 10:24

Jesus didn’t actually say the words, “I am the Christ” because anyone could say those words. Instead He lived it. Every day of His life, the works He did showed what God is truly like.

He showed God’s forgiving heart when He saved an adulteress from being stoned to death.
He revealed God’s desire to provide for you when He multiplied food for thousands of hungry people.
He boldly declared God’s longing to heal you when he laid His hands on lepers and the sick, and healed every one of them.
He laid bare God’s tender heart for children by picking them up in His arms when His disciples tried to shoo them away.
And then He demonstrates God’s love for you in a way no words could ever express, when He stretched out His arms and had His hands nailed to the Cross.

And then He looks at you and says, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father.John 14:9

He is not saying “he who has seen My physical body has seen the Father.” But He is saying, “If you’ve seen My heart, My character, My desires, My concerns, My actions, My words, My willingness to teach, heal, provide, and love… if you’ve paid attention and really understand who I am - then you know exactly what the Father is like, because I am exactly like Him.”.

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature Heb 1:3 NASB

So as you read the Word of God, look closely into Jesus’ heart and life, and you will see the very essence of who God is and who He wants to be for you. He longs to reveal Himself to you.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:29

29 Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey, you’ll remember the scene where he is trying to lie by saying “the pen is red” when in fact the pen is blue. Because of his son’s birthday wish, he was unable to lie for a day. Remember? “The pen is re-re-re-re...rrrrrroyal blue!”

The Bible says, “it is impossible for God to lie.” Heb 6:18

At first glance, we might come to the conclusion that he has the same condition fictionalized by Jim Carrey. That He is somehow restricted to saying only those things that are true.

How is it then that Jesus comes to the home of a little girl that has died, and says, “She is not dead, but sleeping.”? (Luke 8:52) The people laughed at Him, knowing she was dead. So how is it impossible for Him to lie, yet He stated something that was not true?

Truth is more than stating the facts about a situation as perceived by our eyes and ears.

Truth is reality as God defines it, and as He speaks it into existence.

Therefore lying is disagreeing with God and speaking anything contrary to what He has said.

Case in point, God could hold a blue pen and say, “the pen is red,” and He would not be lying - the pen would actually turn red!

And when Jesus took the little girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, arise,” She woke up, just as if she had been sleeping.

I like to phrase it like this: the facts of a situation may be what they are - but they are not necessarily the truth. The truth is what God says about the situation.

For example, the fact may be that you are sick, injured, or have some disease or condition.
But God says,
I am the Lord who heals you. Exod 15:26
He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses Matt 8:17
By His stripes (wounds) you were healed 1 Peter 2:24
He sent His word and healed you. Psalm 107:20
He heals all your diseases Ps 103:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps 147:3
[Jesus] laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. Luke 4:40
His word is health (or medicine) to all your flesh Prov 4:22
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.Is 40:29

Therefore let us not lie - even by speaking the facts about our life or circumstances. But let us speak God’s truth, God’s word, and we will see it manifest - on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:28

28 My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

I am with you.

I have always been with you, and I am for you. Whether you feel it or not, it’s true.

Don’t get hung up on mistakes; not yours nor those of others. I keep no record of wrongs, and you shouldn’t either. I am not angry at you. I am not disappointed in you. Forgiveness is a fresh start for your heart. I have forgiven you, so be willing to accept that. Forgive yourself, others, and move forward.

Move toward Me. Come to Me.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t let your heart fear. Resist it. Say “No” to fear. It will leave you if you persist.

Accept My love. Look to the Cross - look closely - and you will see the depth of My love for you. It was for love that I gave My life for you. You are My precious treasure. Yes, I love you.

Realize My love for you at the Cross. Understand that evil is not from Me. I am not holding back from you, but My heart is willing and ready to give.

I have plans for you; amazing plans to fulfill the purpose that I have had for You since before I created the world. It brings Me such joy to reveal those plans to you, and to walk with you in the process of fulfilling them.

Being thankful and giving Me praise will break the heaviness from your heart. It will help you unload the burden that you were never meant to carry. It will position you to receive from Me.

Take a step. See if I do not respond.

Take another step. Put your trust in Me; don’t try and figure everything out.

My heart says “yes” to you. It brings Me joy to answer your prayer and to fulfill My word in your life.

So let go of everything that has been holding you back. Set your heart on what I speak to you, and your life will flow in the direction that I have purposed for you. Set your mind on Me, and no matter what trouble comes, you will rise above it.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Rom 8:31-32

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:27

27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

Notice the bold, yet humble request. There’s no groveling here.

Make me understand.

It takes humility to admit that you don’t know something. It’s actually having a self confidence that isn’t wrapped up in “having all the answers.”

It is very important to admit to ourselves that we don’t know everything about God and about His ways. Even when we’ve had amazing encounters and experiences, heard His voice and His heart about certain things.

Jesus retains the capacity to astonish us, to reveal new aspects of His character, His desire, His love.

I think what this translates to is this: Just because you aren’t comfortable with something doesn’t mean it isn’t from God. God is bigger than your comfort zone.

So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

Meditation is a key to understanding God’s ways. Again - this isn’t “emptying your mind” but rather filling your mind with the word of God - with those things God is highlighting to you out of the Bible. It’s more than just memorizing verses, but imagining those verses, and especially imagining yourself in those verses.

Many times I have walked with David out into the valley to face Goliath.
I’ve exchanged a skeptical glance with Peter when Jesus said “who touched Me?” while being nearly crushed by a crowd.
I’ve sat with Abraham as he sent his servant to go find his son a wife, and then went on the trip.

And I am convinced that there is not, nor will ever be, a Hollywood hundred-million dollar blockbuster movie that will ever compare to the word of God, mixed with your imagination, being empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

And as you meditate on His word, as it becomes alive and as real as a personal memory - you discover something:  His works are wonderful.

O Lord, how great are Your works!
​​Your thoughts are very deep. Psalm 92:5

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:26

26 I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.

The simplicity of this statement is so powerful.

You answered me.

Jesus said that one of the reasons He wants to answer our prayers is that we may have joy:

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

I’d like to share a time when God answered a simple prayer of mine. When I graduated from college, I sent out an email inviting my family and friends to come. I was overwhelmed by the response - 40 people planned on coming! Wonderful!

I soon found out that everyone had to have a ticket to attend the graduation ceremony. Okay. Not a big deal. Until I found out that each student was only going to be given 3 tickets. Yikes. All these people were coming from out of town, and I wasn’t even sure I could get them in to see the ceremony! So I looked online - I found some tickets on eBay - two for $50. Uh oh.

A grad student told me, “don’t worry - you’ll get as many as you need at the ticket lottery. No one shows up.” However, when I showed up - the place was packed!

The situation looked impossible. I was facing severe embarrassment, if my family would come from so far, and yet not be able to get into the graduation ceremony.

Yet God answered. The following is taken from my journal:

Wednesday April 9, 2008
Lord Jesus, I have many family members coming from out of town for my graduation / Mother’s Day. I have been really stressed about getting enough tickets, and about where to go to eat on Mother’s Day. Will You please provide us tickets for Saturday, May 10 - at least 40 - and a terrific restaurant for Sunday May 11? I would so much appreciate it. As it is, I now only have 8 tickets. Or more importantly - not so much tickets, but just that everyone can get in to see the graduation - tickets or not!

Monday April 21, 2008
Thank you Lord! 4 tickets from Greg. (12 tickets)

Tuesday April 29
3 from lottery, 1 from Sergio, 2 from Mark. Thank you Lord. (18 tickets)

Monday May 5
9 from the Special Events office (they were only giving 3, but I showed them my list of names and they gave me 6 extra!).
4 from Joe, 3 from Todd, 3 from Wes, and 1 from Juan. (They all went to Special Events just to get me tickets!)
That’s 38 so far! Thank you Lord!!

Tuesday May 6
I went to Special Events again and got the last 2 tickets today for a total of 40! Praise God!

Thursday May 8
Talked to the ladies in the Engineering office - they had heard I was trying to get a bunch of tickets and they gave me 2! Right place at the right time! Hallelujah!

(End of Journal Entry)

Wow. God came through. Everyone who came into town was able to attend, and we had a wonderful time. It was such a blessing to have my family there to celebrate with me. God is faithful.

It wasn’t life threatening. Sure, I would have been embarrassed if it hadn’t worked out - but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Still, I declared my ways, and my Father answered me.

There is nothing too big or too small for God. The Bible says that God actually delights in answering prayer (see Prov 15:8). Therefore,

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:25

25 My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

The Bible presents the realities of life. God doesn’t try and sell us on a fantasy that we won’t ever have any problems. “My soul clings to the dust.” Clearly the psalmist was having a difficult time - perhaps he was even near death.

But one of the marvelous features of the Bible that makes it unique is that it always presents the answer. And again in such simple words.

Revive me

To revive is “to bring back to life.” To resurrect. To rise from the dead. And it doesn’t just give us the answer - but also the means:

according to Your word.

In simple words: “Bring me back to life, like You said You would in the Bible.”

Have you ever wondered how Jesus knew that the Father would raise Him from the dead? Did He just have some mysterious supernatural knowledge this would happen? Maybe. But it is far more probable that He read it in the Scripture:

My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol [Hell], Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Ps 16:9-10

And once again, the Holy Spirit illuminated those words and said, “This is You. I won’t leave Your soul in Hell; You won’t be separated from Your body long enough for it to decay.”

This point of resurrection is unique to the Bible and to Jesus. Many people will accept Jesus as a good teacher, or even a prophet. But the decisive factor on whether or not we can enter into a relationship with Him is this: is He alive? If He is still dead, how can we have a relationship with Him? But if He is alive, then He is who He said He was: God in the flesh.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9 NIV

The word of God specifically addresses the weight of this truth:

For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 1 Cor 15:16-17

Anyone could claim to be God and get himself crucified. In fact, many have claimed as much and have died. And in death, they simply paid for their own sins. But there was only One who was sinless and therefore able to pay for the sins of others. As a reward, and as evidence that Jesus’ blood was sufficient to pay for the sins of mankind, the Father raised Him from the dead:

the God of peace… brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead...through the blood of the everlasting covenant... Heb 13:20

[Jesus] was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Rom 4:25

This is not a trivial issue - this is one of the foundational truths of the Good News, on which we can build our entire lives. Believing it, we too can have this same hope of resurrection that the word of God promises:

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection Rom 6:5

Once again we look to the word of God to provide us comfort that this life is not all there is to our existence. We can have hope for eternity, not just because Jesus died on the Cross as payment for our sin, but because He rose again - and therefore we, too, will rise again!

This can, and should, have a significant impact on how we live our lives. No matter how grim or difficult a situation may be - even death - we can look at it for what it is: temporary. And we can always pray, as the psalmist did:

Revive me, according to Your word.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:24

24 Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors.

I have a challenge for you.

But first, let’s consider this verse. One thing that strikes me about it is that it is a statement, not a request. The psalmist isn’t asking for joy nor asking for counsel. He is singing praise because he recognizes and therefore declares the source of his joy and the source of his counsel: the word of God.

As we progress through Psalm 119, we will discover the psalmist did not have an easy, trouble-free life. He has been afflicted, indignant, weak, lied to, persecuted wrongfully; his enemies had tried to kill him, he’d been tempted, he had wept rivers of tears.

But in the middle of those circumstances, he had delight because his joy was founded on that which is unshakable: the word of God. He found delight in God’s word.

But what was it specifically in the word of God that he found such delight in? The second half of the verse reveals it: counsel. God’s word is our counselor.

At the end of 2014, my wife and I felt a prompting from the Lord that it was time to move. We had been in Oregon for 2 years, I had been working with Carestream for 4 years. We had helped start a ministry, the company was talking about promoting me, and I had dedicated two years to a particular product of which I was the technical lead.

So it wasn’t an easy decision for me. I was especially afraid that if I left, the product and ministry would suffer, for which I had worked so hard. But truthfully, it’s important for me to know that I am in the will of God, and not just doing my own thing. I wasn’t sure, so I was really in distress about this situation.

I went to the Lord for counsel. “Should we move?” A very simple question. Still, I was only about 75% sure when I gave my notice at work and at the ministry. For several days I was in anguish, wondering if we were doing the right thing. Then on Friday, Jan 16, 2015, I read these words:

Don’t be in anguish for the boy or for your maidservant. Listen to Sarah, because your descendants will be established through Isaac. But I will also make the son of the maidservant into a great nation, because he is your son. (my translation of Gen 21:12-13 NVI)

I wept for nearly an hour. God spoke so clearly to me - that my product was Ishmael, who I was in distress for fear of him dying. But God said it was time to go - and that He would make it into a “great nation” - a successful and blessed product. And furthermore that it was time to focus on Isaac (see verse 15).

Such clear direction. Such comfort knowing that God will take care of the things I care about. Such confidence in knowing we were in sync with God.

God wants to be your counselor. He doesn’t want you to have to always learn from the school of hard knocks. He doesn’t want you to guess your way through life.

Maybe you need advice about a relationship. Maybe you are facing a big decision and can’t see around the corner. Maybe there’s a relatively small problem that has just hung around and you haven’t quite figured out how to resolve it.

So here’s my challenge to you: think about that issue that you need counsel on. There is nothing too big or too small for God, He is familiar with all of your ways. If you can’t think of anything, ask the Lord what He would like to help you with.

Then talk to Jesus about it - He already knows about it, of course, but get it off of your chest and just have a real conversation with the Lord. At the same time, try not to complain. Instead, be honest about where you are and thankful that God is willing to help you.

Then take God at His word. He says the Bible will be your counselor - so look for His counsel. Search the Scripture, and you will find the answer you are looking for. It may take 10 minutes or 10 months - but it will be worth it. It will bring delight to your heart.

Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Prov 27:9

One last thing - be willing to do whatever He asks you to do. It may not be easy, in fact it might be quite uncomfortable, but it will be the answer you are looking for.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.