Seven Times A Day

29 10 2014

Psalm 119:161-168

Quick! Name something you do seven times a day. Other than perhaps taking care of private business, there are very few things that we do seven times a day. We brush our teeth twice a day, eat three times a day (okay, maybe there are couple of snacks, too), run errands, pick up toys, and do mountains of laundry. It seems like I trip over my daughter’s shoes at least seven times a day, answer more than seven emails a day, and let the dog in and out seven times a day. But really, doing something seven times a day requires a deliberateness, a thoughtfulness, a dedication that my too busy, run-this- way-and-that lifestyle doesn’t support.

“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” – Psalm 119:164

This little verse in the middle of the twenty-first stanza of Psalm 119 whispers an invitation and issues a challenge to my heart. Do I stop seven times a day to praise God? I blush as I try to remember when I last stopped and praised God. I remember worrying, being anxious, checking Facebook, turning on the TV, and powering up my computer. Did I pause to praise? Did I slow down and celebrate His goodness? Did I wait and worship? How might the rhythm of my day be different if I made praise a priority? Stopping to praise Him at mealtimes, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night still only equal five. There are still opportunities to seek His face in the middle of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon. My heart would be different, the cadence of my day would be different, the texture of my soul would be different, and the focus of my family would be different if we could say that we praise God seven times a day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to praise Him seven times. I am going to let praise structure my day. I want to let worship build the foundation for how I see my circumstances, my relationships, my job, and my struggles. I want to honor the way that God is working in me and around me. I long to have eyes so open to His movement, His grace, His power, and His glory that I can’t help but cry out in wonder and awe seven times a day.





The Sum

27 10 2014

Psalm 119:153-160

Information overload. Studies show that our brains are being asked to process greater and more varied types of information than ever before. Information streams in from every direction, calling for our attention, demanding we sort through the avalanche, and persistently challenging us to absorb more detail. We have almost instant access to vast stores of history, literature, world events, scientific breakthroughs, and cultural traditions. There is so much information that it can be hard to settle our minds and differentiate between what is just interesting and what is actually important.

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” – Psalm 119:160

The writer of the twentieth stanza of Psalm 119 understands and reminds us of an essential reality. The sum of God’s word is truth. The voices in the world offer other answers. There will always be alternative solutions, short cuts, “new” discoveries, and paths that promise much, but never seem to go anywhere. We are encouraged to weigh our options and choose our own ways. Yet here the psalmist reminds us that when the fog lifts and the dust settles, God’s truth will still be standing. We can go to it with confidence, sure that when we follow God’s wisdom, we will be on the right path. We can run ourselves ragged trying to sort through mountains of data on the information superhighway, but any word on God’s pages can be summed up in one word – truth.

My Jesus Resolution today is simplify. Reading God’s Word every day has the power to shed the bright light of truth into the information overload that threatens to overwhelm me. It teaches me how to view world events in the light of God’s sovereignty. It shows me how to respond to broken hearts, hurting families, and deep struggles. It gives me an eternal perspective on the “latest” and “greatest” headlines that pull at my pocketbook, pride, or panic buttons. It reveals the only answer for peace, only impetus for joy, the only solution for justice, and the only way to truth – Jesus.





Hold On

24 10 2014

Psalm 119:145-152

Ever felt like you were going under for the last time? The fear freezes in your chest, sinking you down into a spiral of despair. You try to catch your breath between the sobs, but your lungs don’t want to inflate. Panic grabs hold of you with a vise-like grip, spinning you around until you have lost your balance. One more wave of worry will surely bury your heart under an avalanche of desperation. Where do you turn? What do you grab onto to keep from going under?

The nineteenth stanza of Psalm 119 is one of my favorites. It frames a heart that relies on, is consumed by, and firmly plants its trust in God’s Word. Whenever you take a snapshot of this heart, you will find it holding onto God’s testimonies like a lifeline. The coming of the dawn finds this heart filled with rising hope. The watches of the night mark moments of meditation on the promises God has made. Prayers ascend to His throne while this heart anchors itself in the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness. When hard times hit, this heart knows that the presence of God is going to provide the only safe haven in the storm.

“But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.” – Psalm 119:151

Remembering this one sentence holds enough light to push back the darkness.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hold on. I want my heart to be so invested in God’s Word, to rely so heavily on its truths, to be so firmly attached to His promises that it can experience His peace even during the worst of the storm. Bad days are going to happen. Hard times are going to hit. God doesn’t throw us a life vest or point us toward a distant buoy. He reaches out His hand, reassures us with His presence, and reminds us to hold on.





The Right Thing

22 10 2014

Psalm 119:137-144

“Do the right thing!” Lately, it seems that this insistent message is bombarding us. Everyone from insurance agencies, politicians, car salesman, athletes, special interest groups, and celebrities are standing up to promote their idea of the right thing. The problem is which right thing is the right right thing? We listen to all the messages. They are jumbled at best, and contradictory most of the time. One person’s right thing encourages us to invest ourselves in pleasure, independence, and financial security. Another promotes a specific political objective. There are two sides to a moral argument, and both claim to be the right side. Today, what is deemed to be right is most often defined by media attention, political correctness, and a desire for the comfortable. It makes figuring out which way is right very confusing.

Righteousness, doing the right thing, is the focus of the eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119. The writer reminds us that if we want to know what is right, we have to know the One who is righteous. God is righteous. He always does the right thing. No matter what, no matter the circumstance, no matter the sacrifice, no matter the timing. Because God is righteous, His Word is a guidebook that shows us the right way to live. God’s right way doesn’t change with the seasons, the political climate, economic advantage, or the circumstances. Right is right, and God calls us to be people who walk rightly before Him.

“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” – Psalm 119:137

My Jesus Resolution today is to do the right thing. Before I can do the right thing, I have to know the right thing to do. Knowing the right thing to do means standing in the presence of the only One who is right, and allowing myself to be examined and guided by His righteousness. God’s Word will always show me the right way, teach me the right answers, reveal the right path, and transform me into the right person.





The Gift

20 10 2014

Psalm 119:129-136

It was a lovely surprise. The box held treasures, each one wrapped in tissue paper. It wasn’t a gift to rush through. It was a gift to savor and enjoy as I soaked in the love, history, and connection folded up in a box. I watched the smile on my friend’s face as I unwrapped the paper. I’m not sure who was more excited. The delight of giving mingled with the blessing of receiving, and I found myself wanting to stretch the moment out. Each time I unfolded a new piece of the gift, I found myself more intrigued about what was to come. The time, effort, and love poured into the gift spoke grace and friendship into my heart.

Can you picture it? This kind of gift is exactly what the writer of the seventeenth stanza of Psalm 119 wants you to see. God’s Word is this kind of gift. It is wonderful, and has the ability to fill us with wonder. Every time we open a page, every time we come into God’s presence, every time we unfold the treasure He has for us, we are given a gift. Light, understanding, longing, stability, freedom, and redemption are ours when we take the time to receive what He wants to give us.

I’m not always sure that’s how I approach reading my Bible. Sometimes it feels like a duty, an obligation, a fact book, or something to rush through so I can check it off my list. God’s Word is so much more. It is the place where we come face-to-face with who He is and are transformed by the experience.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my gift. I want to do it with all the anticipation, intensity, and delight of receiving a treasure. I want to be done with shallow reading in favor of deep meeting. I want to give myself over to the wild adventure of exploring the heart of God. God poured Himself onto a page, and every day invites me to receive my gift with joy. What awaits, if I’m brave enough, are transformation and a clearer reflection of Jesus.





Promises

17 10 2014

Psalm 119:121-128

Promises are powerful things. Simple promises make up the ebb and flow of our every day. Deep promises make up the backbone of our lives. Living in our promises shapes who we are, tightens our focus, and gives definition to our days. Cementing our faith in the promises of God is the only antidote I know for weathering some of life’s hardest storms. That’s what we find the writer of Psalm 119 doing. In the sixteenth stanza, his eyes search for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the surety of His faithfulness, and the unfailing nature of His love.

Here are 10 promises you can count on even when everything else is falling apart.

  1. His grace is sufficient.
  2. You are never alone, not ever.
  3. God has a purpose for you, right now, right where you are.
  4. Heaven is coming.
  5. His blood is strong enough to scrub away any sin. No matter what it is.
  6. His light is more powerful than the darkness.
  7. His love for you is without end. Really.
  8. He hears your prayers and is bottling your tears.
  9. Hope is stronger than fear.
  10. God is willing and able to provide everything you need.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my eyes and count on His grace. Psalm 119:123 says, “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” How many times has God kept His promises, but I was too busy worrying about the next problem, struggling to find my own way, or so deep in the hole of self-pity that I missed His movement? Every day, God is of fulfilling His promises to me. There is not a day that goes by that His faithfulness does not shine, that His mercy does not flow, and that His love does not embrace my broken heart. God keeps His promises. And that’s a powerful thing.





My Hiding Place

15 10 2014

Psalm 119:113-120

I don’t know about you, but a hiding place sounds pretty good right now. Sometimes it is just too much. The burdens are too heavy, the fear presses in too strongly, and the voices around me seem too loud. Instead of courage, I have discouragement and despair eating away at my soul. I want to be five again, climb up in my dad’s lap, and let him chase the monsters away. I want him to hug me and tell me everything is going be okay. I want to close my eyes and picture a tomorrow full of hope, light, ease, laughter, and no struggles. Then I open my eyes, and I’m a grown up again. My circumstances stare back at me unblinkingly, the pain forces its way in again, and I feel weak, vulnerable, and alone.

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” – Psalm 119:114

The fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 is a place of refuge. Through His Word, God invites us into the safety of His presence, the strength of His power, and the surety of His faithfulness. Circumstances will rage, people will hurt us, pain and heartache seem to go with the territory. But we have a Father with wide open arms who invites us close, who draws us up next to His heart, and reminds us that in Him everything really is going to be okay. He doesn’t promise no more struggles, but He does promise His strength. He doesn’t promise we won’t be afraid, but He does give us His peace. He doesn’t guarantee a life without pain, but He does promise us a life overflowing with joy. Grace is the best hiding place for my heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hide. I don’t have to be brave, have it all figured out, or do it by myself. What I do have to do is let myself be loved, to let myself be held, to surrender to His way, His timing, and His goodness. The world can try, and it will, to poke me out of His arms. But the best place to grow up is in the hiding place I find in my Father’s embrace.








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