Doing Vs. Being

8 10 2014

Psalm 119:89-96

We live in a doing society. Our value and worth are tied to what we produce during our lifetimes. Money is the ultimate marker of success. Good looks, fame, and power are held up as ideals. Busyness identifies who is important. We invest our lives in a check list of symbols that allow other people to see our worth. We are encouraged, driven, and even shamed into believing that accomplishment and productivity are the final scales by which we will be measured.

Because we are so drenched in doing thinking, it is easy to bring this “I must do” mindset into our relationship with God. Doing thinking says that I must perform in order for God to love me. I must prove myself worthy in order to receive grace. Busyness for God equals approval from God. A completed checklist defines what it means to be wholly pleasing in His sight. The problem is that we cannot accomplish by doing what God gives us freely just by being His. You can’t earn His love. You can’t barter for grace. You don’t rack up points by performance. His delight is in your being His, belonging to Him, and learning how to rest in the truth that He has already done it all for us.

Here’s the deep truth of the twelfth stanza of Psalm 119. “I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.” (Psalm 119:94) The world is emblazoned with the wisdom and power of God. It is firmly written in the heavens. His testimonies shout His faithfulness and whisper glory all around us. Three little words point to the truth that God longs to embed deeply into our hearts. I am yours. These are being words, not doing words. If we can learn to live wholly in these three words, it will turn our world upside down, or should I say right side up.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be His. How long has it been since I spent the day just resting in the luxury of His love? I need to dig the stubborn roots of doing out of my soul, and trust in the grace He lavishes on me every day. When Jesus declared, “It is finished,” on the cross, He was speaking a message that should thunder in my soul. Doing finds its proper place when I embrace the deep meaning of what it means to be His.


6 10 2014

Psalm 119:81-88

What we long for says a lot about us. We can crave chocolate, want new shoes, or have a yen for a favorite place, but a longing is different. A longing is something that runs deep. It isn’t defined by something temporary or transitory. It is the echo of our hearts. It reveals our love, shines a light on where we place our hope, and identifies what we have decided truly satisfies our souls. Be still for just a moment. Look deep inside, and name your longings.

The eleventh stanza of Psalm 119 pulses with deep longing. The writer longs for the salvation of God, the presence of God, and the movement of God. In times of darkness and trial, our longings are refined and revealed. Immersing ourselves in the Word of God transforms our longings into a deep desire for nothing less than God Himself. Nothing else will do. Lesser longings dissolve when we stand in the glory of His presence. Shallow satisfactions are swallowed up as we cling to the promises that flow from God’s heart.

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.” – Psalm 119:81

The psalmist reminds us that the world doesn’t hold the answer for our longings. It offers solutions, answers, entitlements, and pleasures when connection with God is the only thing that will truly meet the longing of our hearts.

My Jesus Resolution today is to feed my longing for God. If I want my longing for God to grow, I need to fill it with pictures of His heart, echoes of His voice, evidence of His movement, and hope for His return. The Bible teaches me not only how to live for today, but how to long for the moment when I will stand in His presence utterly amazed. The world encourages me to feed other longings, lesser longings, dimmer delights. They have the power to dull my longing for God in the same way that His Word has the power to sharpen it. I want my longing for Jesus to crowd out every other longing that tries to take up residence my heart.


3 10 2014

Psalm 119:73-80

Stop for just a moment and be very still. Feel the beating of your heart. Be very aware of your breathing as your lungs fill with air. Look at your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Listen very carefully to the soft sounds that make up the rhythm of your home. Open your eyes and catalog the colors, light, and beauty that they take in in an instant. Now close your eyes and imagine being held in the hands of your Creator. He fashioned your heart. He stretched your legs, shaped your smile, and put together the intricate systems of your body. His fingerprints are on your cells, nerves, blood vessels, and bones. You were designed to live out a purpose. A purpose that requires another act of creation.

There is both worship and wanting in the tenth stanza of Psalm 119. The psalmist begins by acknowledging the creativity, power, and wisdom of God. He understands that his physical heart was shaped and molded by divine fingertips. He then pleads for God to once again unleash His creative energy into his life.

“Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.” – Psalm 119:73

Looking like Jesus is going to require that I have a new heart, a new way of thinking, a new mouth, new ears, new hands, and new feet. I have to have a spirit that breathes in grace, exhales praise, and knows how to surrender. I have to be created anew.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray that God will create something new in me. I want to exchange worry for worship, grumbling for gratitude, and fear for faith. I want to be still long enough, have faith big enough, and offer prayers bold enough to open my heart to His deep transformation. God is still in the creation business. He is mending broken hearts, re-inflating deflated hope, and infusing Jesus in hearts that are willing to be created in His image.

Gold and Silver

1 10 2014

Psalm 119:65-72

Materialism almost seems programmed into the American DNA. The American dream is drenched with the possibility and opportunity to have more things. Money provides our culture with a measuring stick of success. We proclaim our national priorities by where we choose to invest our wealth. We buy into the idea that more stuff is going to bring us security and happiness. We try to purchase peace of mind and insulate ourselves from disaster by increasing the size of our bank accounts. It is easy for money, in both overt and subtle ways, to become the standard by which we measure our worth and find our direction.

There is deep beauty in the ninth stanza of Psalm 119. He calls us to turn our eyes away from the sparkles of the world to the grace bestowed on us, the knowledge revealed to us, and the dazzling heart of the One who loves us beyond measure. The things this world values are cold and unfeeling. Money doesn’t walk with you when you’re sick, lonely, or overwhelmed. But God does. His Word reveals His rich promises, unfailing love, and the splendor of being covered by His mercy and carried by His strength.

“The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” – Psalm 119:72

The psalmist reminds us that the value of knowing God’s Word, of listening to His voice, and obeying His commands is greater than all of the money the world can pile up. He encourages us to make Bible study our delight and find our peace in the faithfulness of the Lord.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put a dollar bill in my Bible. Every time I open my Bible and see that dollar bill, I want it to remind me of what’s truly important, of where my true worth lies, and how important it is to value the things of heaven rather than the things of the world. Money is a tool God gives us so that we might take care of our families and serve others. The Bible teaches us not to let that tool become our master.

A Change of Heart

29 09 2014

Psalm 119:57-64

I passed by the mirror and gasped in surprise. It had been a busy day. I hadn’t really thought much about it, until I saw myself in the mirror and noticed that I needed some “adjustments.” The usual thoughts ran through my head. Who had seen me? How long had I looked like that? How many people do you think noticed? I took a moment, got everything just right, and then set off on the rest of my day.

The eighth stanza of Psalm 119 reminds us of the purpose of investing ourselves in Bible study. The Bible is like a mirror. It reflects God’s glory, His holiness, His wonder, and His power. It reveals His heart, thunders with His presence, and invites us in ever closer. It also gives me a reflection of myself. It shows me as I truly am, stripping away the fantasies and fuss that we like to layer on as we walk through this world. And then it calls for a change of heart.

When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;” – Psalm 119:59

Sometimes we open the Bible for comfort, guidance, or hope. We will find all of those things in God’s Word. But transformation is at the heart of God’s intent for His Word. He wants His Word to penetrate who we are, burrowing in deep and taking up residence in the very heart of who we are. He wants us to gaze long at His reflection and make a move of repentance, surrender, or obedience – whatever it takes to make our reflection look more like His.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look in the mirror. God’s Word has the power to change my heart. Every page holds up the standard of His goodness, the calamity of my sin, and the grace that empowers the transformation He wants to work in my life. I don’t want to read the Bible casually and miss it. I don’t want to come to its pages with my own agenda in place and walk right past it. I want to open my Bible today anticipating, expecting, excited about the change of heart that God has in store for me.

Songs for the Journey

26 09 2014

Psalm 119:49-56

Psalms is a book of songs placed right in the middle of the Bible. God knows how important music is to our hearts. He understands what lifts our moods, changes our steps, refocuses our minds, and re-energizes our souls. Music has tremendous power. It engages the heart, as well as both sides of the brain. Music creates memories, cements emotions, rekindles determination, and inspires us to take the next step.

In the seventh stanza of Psalm 119, there is a line that makes me smile. “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.” (Psalm 119:54) The writer of the psalm knows that the way is long. It is often dark, must sometimes be traveled alone, and has rough patches and hidden dangers. Songs change our journey. The best songs don’t encourage us to wallow in the darkness, but kindle a desire to keep our eyes on the Light.

What is your favorite hymn? Why does it speak your soul? Singing God’s words has a way of planting them deep inside of us like nothing else can do. It allows them to bubble up and become a source of strength when we feel like we are falling apart. They become an anthem of joy when our smiles explode. They become tools to help us experience God’s nearness, His power, and His promises in the ordinary, step-by-step responsibilities of the everyday.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing. The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that God gives us are more than melodies of the moment. They are encouragers, supports, fuel, and kindling for the anthem of praise that my life is supposed to proclaim. Today I am going to turn off the radio and sing. I’m going to sing out loud. I’m going to sing unashamed. I’m going to let the words of God’s songs draw me deeper into His presence. I want the songs I sing on my journey to be the songs that transform me into the image of Jesus.


24 09 2014

Sometimes the world presses in hard. The darkness closes in, drowning out the light, leaving us feeling like we are suffocating. We are trapped. Trapped by circumstances. Trapped by our own choices. Trapped by another’s bad decisions. Just trapped. When we are trapped, it feels like the walls are closing in. Fear rises, hope fails, as our hearts beat wildly in our chests as we search for a way of escape. Satan is an expert at drawing lines around our hearts, creating boundaries in places where the truth is meant to set us free.

There is a desperateness to the sixth stanza of Psalm 119. In the midst of taunts and shame, the psalmist turns to God’s Word for hope and assurance. The Bible reveals God’s truth in a world that is filled with lies. God’s Word offers grace when we are confronted with nothing but guilt and shame. His voice whispers hope for those who are trapped. His words are powered by love, illuminated by truth, and echo with His faithfulness.

And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.” (Psalm 119:45) Do you see it? When we seek His face, devote ourselves to His Word, and delight in His commands, the result is that we walk in a wide place. Imagine expansive vistas. Open spaces. Freedom to run, jump, dance, sit still. Room to breathe. Room to breathe in His grace and exhale praise. No more being suffocated. No more being trapped. His Word is the key that opens the door to freedom.

My Jesus Resolution today is to rest in the wide open spaces of God’s mercy. Sometimes I do feel trapped, like there’s no way out, but the key to full release is in His Book. My circumstances may not change. I may have to walk through dark times. But I don’t have to feel trapped. In His presence, there is hope, healing, and room to let go of fear and embrace joy.


22 09 2014

Psalm 119:33-40

Sometimes we get stuck. Stuck in a relationship that bleeds our hearts dry, stuck in a sin that ruptures our faith, stuck in a situation in which we can’t see our way out, or just stuck in a place that saps our joy and pokes holes in our peace. When we are stuck, we feel like we can’t move forward, can’t escape the weight pulling at our souls, or can’t find a way for tomorrow to look different than today.

The fifth stanza of Psalm 119 is a cry to God to move in our lives so that we can go from being stuck to moving forward. Each line of this part of the psalm is a request for movement.

Teach me … let me see beyond the limits of my own understanding.

Give me … provide me with the resources I need to move forward.

Lead me … point me in the right direction.

Incline my heart … pull me away from sin and towards your love.

Confirm to your servant … let me be so certain of your promises that I can see light, even when things are very dark

Turn away the reproach … let grace, rather than fear, define my actions

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray for God to help me move. Sometimes I get stuck. I get in a rut that narrows my perspective, squeezes my confidence, and constricts my hope. But God doesn’t mean for me to live a stuck, just-getting-by, barely-holding-my-head-above-water, kind of life. He is bigger than whatever has me stuck. His power is stronger than the concrete holding my feet to the ground. God designed me to run in His commandments, walk by His side, and soar in His grace. When I move in Him, I get to experience the freedom that He intended for my heart.

A Bigger Heart

19 09 2014

Dr. Seuss was a philosopher and a keen observer of human nature. His stories are vibrant pictures of our hearts, both who we are and who we want to be. My favorite is the story that he wrote in 1957, entitled How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The tale follows a mean-spirited Grinch who is bothered by the holiday festivities that fill the town of Whoville. Determined to squash their joy, he sneaks into town and steals Christmas. Little does he know that the bows, packages, and lights are just the overflow of the love they have in their hearts. Watching the Whos celebrate, even when everything was gone, transforms the Grinch. As the story goes, his heart grew three sizes that day.

“I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” – Psalm 119:32

The truth is that the Grinch isn’t the only one who needs a bigger heart. My heart squeezes small when I let selfishness run rampant, bitterness bloom, and discouragement dig in deep. The fourth stanza of Psalm 119 contains a prayer and a desperate cry for a bigger heart. Filling ourselves of God’s Word, letting His voice rumble in our souls, and leaning in closer to hear His quiet whisper will stretch our hearts in unimaginable ways. That stretching will shape the contours of who we are. It will change how I see, what I hear, and how I respond to the world around me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask God for a bigger heart. Stretching isn’t always comfortable or easy. It requires giving up the familiar in order to be pulled and shaped within the parameters of His purpose. And yet, I want a bigger heart. A bigger heart has more room for joy, peace, praise, and celebration. In the end, a bigger heart will help me look more like Jesus.

Open Eyes

17 09 2014

Psalm 119:17-24

Did you ever play hide and seek as a child? Most people like to be hiders. Very few people enjoy being the seekers. When you hide, you get to hurry around in search of the best place of concealment. You listen carefully for the seeker, holding your breath as they pass by you, hoping that they don’t discover your secret place. There is disappointment if you’re found, but triumph if you remain undiscovered. The seeker, on the other hand, has to close their eyes and count. When they reach 100, they have to do the hard work of searching out the hiders. Victory comes when you discover what has been hidden.

In the third stanza of Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God for open eyes. God doesn’t hide Himself from us, nor is His word a secret. But I still have trouble seeing. Distractions, worries, busyness, pleasures, and enticements make it difficult for me to always see and appreciate the riches of God’s word. Sometimes I read His Word, but fail to really see the beauty it contains. Sometimes I read His Word, but resist surrendering to the transformation it calls me to embrace. And to be honest, sometimes I just want to hide from His voice and do my own thing.

Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

God wants to turn us into seekers. He wants us to search out the wondrous things, amazing truths, deep treasures, and startling beauty that are contained in His Word. He wants us to have hearts that hunger to find His gifts, to enjoy His blessings, and to delight in His wisdom.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray for open eyes. What might happen if I made Psalm 119:18 my prayer each time I opened my Bible? God wants us to open those pages anticipating being awestruck, challenged, inspired, pierced, and changed. Too often, I open my Bible with my own agenda, hiding my heart from the God who seeks me out. Today I want to be a seeker, and open my eyes in wonder at how God reveals Himself to me in His Word.