31 10 2014

Psalm 119:169-176

It was my family’s favorite park. There were tall trees, lots of room to run and play, a walking path around the lake, and a beautiful waterfall. I love that waterfall. The waterfall was always the highlight of our visits to the park. In the summer, sometimes it would get down to a trickle if we hadn’t had much rain. In the fall, the red and golden leaves would cascade over the falls. In the wintertime, the waterfall would freeze into an ice sculpture that danced. But the spring is when the waterfall showed its power. The melting snow would increase the volume of water going over the falls exponentially. It thundered. It had a wild, unrestrained beauty that speaks of glory yet to be revealed.

Living in the overflow of God’s goodness and grace is the theme of the final section of Psalm 119. Drenched in truth, our hearts are changed and transformed by the power of His Word. As we learn to love His Word, learn His wisdom, stand in His righteousness, cry for His mercy, and hold tightly to His promises, the depth of His purpose saturates our souls and begins to overflow into the pieces of our lives.

“My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:171

This is an overflow picture. When we fill ourselves with God’s Word, when we let it soak into the deep crevices of our hearts, it begins to bubble up, fill the empty spaces, and show its power. That overflow is like the waterfall. It gives others a chance to stop and behold His beauty.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in the overflow. I want my life to thunder with God’s words. I want His power to be on display in me as His grace transforms all those rough, rugged places in my soul. I want every season of my life to showcase His beauty, acknowledge His presence, and frame His purpose.

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.


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.


13 10 2014

Psalm 119:105-112

It was a dark, summer night at camp. The stars glittered in the sky, winking to be seen away from the city lights. It had been a long day of snacks, crafts, band-aids, and kids learning about Jesus. I was tired, but there was one more mission to accomplish. The campers had all written notes to the camp director and it was my job to deliver them. I started walking to the cabin on the other side of the camp, remembering the simple path that led from here to there. It seemed so straight and clear cut during the day. In the dark, however, I wasn’t sure of the way, and the terrain seemed so much more uneven under my feet. I hesitated, and then reached for the flashlight I should have used from the beginning. With a light illuminating my way, the journey was a joy.

Probably one of the most famous verses in Psalm 119 is found in the fourteenth stanza. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The psalmist encourages us to hold onto God’s light even when our way seems dark. He describes how the blackness threatens to ensnare him, how discouragement hounds him, and yet clinging to the heavenly lamp allows him to walk safely through the dark.

We all have dark days, times when the shadows threaten to overwhelm our hearts. God’s Word is the flashlight we need to find our way in the darkness. It highlights His faithfulness, shines with His glory, is radiant with His grace, and sparkles with His love. There is enough light in His Word to safely guide you so that you can take the next step.

My Jesus Resolution today is to follow the Light. God’s Word has the power to show me the way, keep me safe, provide me answers, and reveal pitfalls along the way. It also has the power to ignite a fire in me that will chase away the darkness that pulls at my soul. The most important thing the lamp that is God’s Word does is lead me into the presence of Light Himself, and when I walk in Light, darkness cannot overwhelm me.

The Teacher

10 10 2014

Psalm 119:97-104

Teachers are probably the most influential people in our society. Although they get little recognition and even less compensation, they hold the future in their hands every time they pick up a book, do a math problem, or give out a gold star. We all have favorite teachers. More than teaching us the facts, teachers open our minds to new ideas, our eyes to new visions, and our confidence to new heights. The best teachers do more than fill our heads with knowledge. They stretch our understanding and help us walk in the world equipped to face new challenges.

The power of a good teacher is the focus of the thirteenth stanza of Psalm 119. The writer recognizes all the ways that being a student of God’s Word has changed him. It has made him wise, given him understanding, kept him from sin, and transformed even his taste buds.

“I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.” (Psalm 119:102)

Here’s the truth that we must never forget every time we open our Bibles. Through these precious words, God Himself is teaching us. There are information and facts to learn, patterns to recognize and follow, and new truths to understand and hang onto. The most important piece of Bible study, however, is learning to open our eyes to the truth that every time we open His Word we enter His presence. His voice echoes, thunders, invites, and whispers on every page as He guides us to the truth He most wants us to understand. We are deeply loved. We are profoundly wanted, and it is His delight to give us Himself.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a learner. God is a Teacher. The Bible is His textbook. Learning His lessons, doing His homework, and studying His truths has the power to change my heart. The best part of being His student is His commitment to be with me as my Teacher. The lessons He wants to teach me are grounded in His example and best experienced by walking in His footsteps.