Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Strength’

Constant Joy

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

  ~~  Psalm 100 (KJV)

This is one of my favorite psalms. In the first place it says “make a joyful noise” not “sing sweetly on key.” The criteria for our singing is joy, not musical ability.

But no one can be joyful all the time, can they? That depends on where your joy lies. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, then you can be joyful all the time. God is always with you. If he is the source of your joy, nothing can change it.

When things seem blackest, we can praise the Lord for who and what he is. He inhabits the praises of his people. No matter what circumstances surround us, he is unchanging and always sure. If your security is in him, nothing can shake it.

This truth allows us to be grateful to God for who and what he is, no matter what happens around us or to us.

So at all times and in all seasons, we can bring a sacrifice of praise to him. Blessing his name for who he is.

That sacrifice of praise will hold you together in the roughest of times. It draws you closer to him and reminds you of all his power and righteousness.

In a time when I thought I would drown in grief, the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, came bubbling up out of my middle. While the grief was still there, I had an assurance that it would not overwhelm me, that with God’s help I could get through it.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

For that I was and am mightily grateful.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace and our strength. Remind us at all times to come to you with praise and thanksgiving so that we may always be blessed of you.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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All Joy… ?

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~~ James 1:1-8 (KJV)

The book of James is filled with practical advice for the Christian. It was written to the tribes of Israel in diaspora and conveys practical applications of the faith for Christians today.

The opening sounds like an oxymoron. Consider it pure joy when you face trials. My first reaction is “Bah, humbug!” Who enjoys trials and persecutions and difficulties? Certainly not me!

But having been through a few of them, I can tell you that the presence of the Lord is nearest when you need him the most. When you are about to face the totally unthinkable, He will give you the exact knowledge you need precisely at the moment you need it.

The presence and nearness of the Lord will give you the strength to persevere through anything – absolutely anything – that the world and the enemy can throw at you.

When you need to know what to do next, you simply ask Him. He will tell you the next step to take. But there is a stipulation here. You need to be so familiar with His voice and His thoughts that the enemy cannot lead you astray. Those who spend time in His word will know His voice. To them it will be almost as audible as if He were speaking aloud an entire room full of people.

At times when I have been driving in the car and mulling over something that needed handling, His voice has been as audible as if He were in the seat beside me, speaking directly into my ear. Actually, for the Christian, He dwells within your heart and speaks directly to your spirit.

Our job is to be so familiar with His voice that no one can counterfeit it. Consider it all joy that you know His voice at all times and in all circumstances.

Father, God,

Draw us ever closer to You. Teach us the nuances of Your voice so that we may ever be obedient to Your word and always edified by Your presence.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Be Still and Know

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

~~ Psalm 46 (KJV)

David’s psalms carry us through the diversities and adversities of life. He touches all the seasons from elation and praise to persecution and despair. This psalm, however, shows us the power.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, people would say to me “You’re so strong. I don’t see how you do it.”

And my answer was “I’m not strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong.” This is where you lean. On God. No matter what is going on around you, remember Him. Look to Him. Lean on Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Quiet your heart; cease striving. It all adds up to getting your heart and mind quiet enough to hear His small whispers clearly enough to heed them.

Be still… Even when chaos seems to reign, God is still in charge. He is the salvation we need so desperately.

Look at His awesome power. Look at the detailed care He takes in creation. Look at His power over the actions and affairs of men.

Truly every knee shall bow before Him. Praise His name.

Father, God,

Thank You for speaking to us in the stillness. Help us to quell our fears and calm our excitements to be able to hear You better.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Unexpected Courage

11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:11-2  (KJV)

The Israelites were being oppressed again due to their recurring infidelity to the Lord. The Midianites had driven them off the land and into caves. When they again returned to the Lord with their cries for deliverance, God chose the weakest clan of Manasseh and the least those brothers, Gideon.

Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress to keep the Midianites from knowing about the harvest when the angel of the Lord greeted him as a “mighty man of valor.” Gideon didn’t think of himself as courageous. He was threshing in secret.

But the Lord had decided to deliver Israel in a manner that could not be mistaken for anything but a miracle from the Lord. So when Gideon gathered his army, the Lord thinned it’s ranks, not once, but twice. Gideon’s final army consisted of only three hundred men.

The Lord routed the Midianites through Gideon and his men, not by their numbers and strength, but by their obedience to His commands. They went into battle in the middle of the night with trumpet in one hand and lamp in the other. They didn’t have a third hand with which to draw swords.

We should always be aware that the Lord is the victor in any of our battles. If we try to do things in our own strength, we can be defeated. It’s only the Lord who is never bested on the field of battle. Our courage comes from His strength when we obey Him. It is the only sure source of victory.

Father, God,

Keep us from the sin of arrogance in our own strength. Remind us of our dependence upon You and Your plans for our lives. Shine the light of Your truth in all our circumstances, so that we may see them from Your perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

My apologies.

I thought I had this scheduled for publication on

Friday, October 9.

So I went on about my other business, thinking it would publish automatically.

It didn’t.

Wish the electronics weren’t so much smarter than I,

or that they would understand what I mean.

The Basics

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (NKJV)

The word of Christ is the good news of his redemption for us all. It is the best word we can hear. It is the foundation for all our hope. But we so often forget to heed it. Other things crowd in upon us and rob us of the time we intended to spend in His Word.

When that happens, we find ourselves without strength, without purpose. The cares of the world can overwhelm us – drown us in a sea of worry and fretfulness. We need to remember the basics.

John 3:16, 17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJV)

You can read that verse personally, substituting your name for the world. Had you been the only person in the world, Christ would still have come for you alone — for me alone. What a monumental value God places on each of us!

In return, He asks that we do some very simple things:

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (NKJV)

We have a tendency to complicate things so. The Christian life is simple – not necessarily easy, but simple. There are two rules. Love God; love your neighbor.  Everything else is gingerbread.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the basics and to keep things simple. When simple becomes difficult, grant us the grace and perseverance to keep on in Your word. Fill us with gratitude for your grace toward us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Walking Forth

Amos 5: 14-15 (KJV)

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

As we move forward in this new year, we have a choice of directions to take. We live in a culture that does not respect many of the values we hold dear. People seem to have forgotten God entirely. They choose to be politically correct rather than righteous.  We are asked not only to condone but to promulgate behavior that the Bible prohibits.

We are, in fact, in the middle of a spiritual war. The minions of the enemy would have us be silent with the truth of God.  They will go to any lengths to instill fear and doubt. We have only to look at today’s headlines.

But those of us who know the truth of God are called to speak it forth, respectfully, clearly, plainly. Because God has loved us, we are called to share that love with others.

God loved us before we loved Him. Therefore, we are called to love those who do not know Him and who would literally do us harm. That is a radical thought. But we serve a radical God. He asks us to emulate the actions of Jesus Christ, to show love and respect to all.

We can hate the evil that men do, but we are to love them, none-the-less. If we are not in proximity to show that love, we can still make our enemies the focus of our prayers. We can ask that the Holy Spirit woo them and change hearts.

Father, God,

We ask that you fill us with your love and righteousness. Give us the grace to love those who would do us harm and the strength and wisdom to pray for them. Grant that we may never lose heart in pursuing the right and speaking your truth.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.