Friday, January 31, 2014

Our Eyes Are on You

“We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (II Chronicles 20:12).

As we go through our days, we can keep our eyes fixed on many things, if not literally then figuratively.  We may focus on health concerns, financial difficulties, relationship issues, unfulfilled dreams and desires, and countless other problems.

The above verse reminds us of where our eyes should be. It was spoken by Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, when his people were under attack by enemy nations.  God told the people not to be discouraged, for the battle was not theirs, but His.  They were to face the enemy, stand firm, and trust the Lord.  The people responded in worship. They obeyed God, marched out singing praises to Him, and saw His mighty deliverance.

We can learn some lessons from this king.  Jehoshaphat kept his eyes on the Lord rather than on his problems. He acknowledged God’s power and might.  He presented his requests before the Lord.  He obeyed God’s commands. His army then faced their enemies singing songs of praise and faith, believing God would give them the victory He promised.

Our eyes can easily stay focused on our problems and pain.  Praise sometimes gets lost among all our requests.  We fall into our default modes of worry, fear, and control, rather than following God’s commands to be anxious for nothing and to remember that with Him all things are possible.  And we don’t always trust God enough for the outcomes to praise Him in advance for victory.

We may be attacked by a “vast army” of problems, and we may have no idea what to do.  But we can be sure that by keeping our eyes on the Lord, He will deliver us, either from them or through them.  He is our Jehovah-Nissi (Our Banner) – our source of strength and our assurance of victory.

Prayer:  O God, I can become so easily distracted by my pain and problems that I forget to look to You for direction, strength, and peace.  Keep my eyes fixed on You and Your promises throughout each day, and let me declare in faith that You will be my victory. Amen.

(There is a great contemporary worship song that ties in with this devotional – Exalted One by Elevation Worship -



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What's in a Name?

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.  They rejoice in your name all day long. . . for you are their glory and strength (Psalm 89:15-17).

Most of us have probably been on prescription medicine at some time or another.  And most of us have probably had difficulties pronouncing or remembering the names of some of those drugs.

I did a little research on the naming of drugs and learned that the chemical or brand name of a drug describes the ingredients, and the generic name relates to the problems it will treat.  The Bible study, Knowing God by Name, by Mary Kassian, explains how the names of God fulfill the same purpose by describing who He is as well as what He does.  The study specifically focuses on names of God’s deity, character, power, authority, splendor, intimacy, and sufficiency.

Whatever our struggles may be, there is an aspect of God’s character that will meet our need.  He is the God Who Sees, Our Rock, Our Redeemer, the Lord Healer, the God Who Works Wonders, Mighty in Power, and Abounding in Love.  There are also countless names in Scripture for each person of the Trinity based on their characteristics, and many of those names can bring us great comfort during times of suffering – our refuge, our strength, our comforter, our wisdom, etc.

Hopefully we know at least some of the names of our God even better than the names of our medicines.  And what a blessing and comfort it is to know that whatever our problems encompass, we can call on that great name – a name that will ultimately do more for us than any drug ever can.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer:  O God, what a comfort and encouragement it is to know that for every problem I face, there is an aspect of Your character that is sufficient to bring me through it.  May I rejoice in your name every day, for you are my glory and strength. Amen.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Leaving Imprints for God on the Snowy Slopes of the New Year

“Glory has come to me through them”
(John 17:10).

Winter weather is here on the east coast, and it’s time for many people to enjoy winter sports.

Our pastor is from New York and has been skiing for years.  He once preached a New Year’s sermon related to skiing.  He mentioned that he and his friends used to enjoy skiing right after a fresh snowfall.  They would look at the perfectly unmarred snow, decide what designs they would each like to make, and then enjoy leaving their creative marks.  He then asked the congregation to think about what marks we wanted to leave for God in the upcoming year.

The new year is indeed like a clean slate of fresh snow.  It hasn’t been marked yet by countless tracks of pain.  We can’t see the broken branches and other debris of problems hidden underneath.  We haven’t gotten stuck in the slushy and muddy melting repercussions of our struggles.

Lord willing, we will have some downhill skiing – blessed times when God gives us enjoyable experiences and respite from our trials.  But we will also have times of making long, arduous, uphill climbs back to the top of the slope.

So what marks will we leave for God on the fresh snow of this new year?  Whether we are experienced skiers or not, we will have some falls through its ups and downs. But when we fall, what better imprint to display God’s glory through our suffering than that of being on our knees, face down in humble submission to His plan for our days, and arms spread out in praise and worship to the One Who will be with us through it all.

Prayer:  Lord God, as I go through whatever this year holds for me, I pray that I would leave marks of glory for You, trusting in Your perfect will for my life and testifying to others of Your power and strength through my weaknesses.  Amen.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Being Well-Preserved Through the New Year

“The Lord preserves the faithful
(Psalm 31:23).

We have all heard the expression “well-preserved”, which can refer to anything from an antique in good condition to a person who is ageing well.  As illness and health problems take their toll on our bodies and minds, how does this verse apply to us?

Being preserved involves being protected and kept safe from harm, being treated to last and prevent decay, and being reserved for special use. 

God promises us that He will protect us and keep us.  Although He does not promise freedom from trouble, He does promise deliverance through it (Psalm 34:19).  This includes whatever problems we may face in this new year.

Through Christ, we have the gift of eternal salvation.  Although this temporary earthly body is decaying – and some of us may feel ours is deteriorating quite rapidly! – we have the assurance of knowing that our heavenly bodies and souls have been treated by the saving blood of Jesus and will last forever (I Corinthians 15:53).

As God’s children, we are set apart for special uses which He planned before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10), and He will continue to equip us and work out in us what is pleasing to Him from now through eternity (Hebrews 13:21).

The word “preserve” can also refer to a fruit spread.  Interestingly enough, the difference between jam and preserves is that preserves contain more fruit.  Preserves allow fruit to be enjoyed through all seasons.  As God continually preserves us, we are able to continually display the fruit of His love and faithfulness in our lives to others.

We may not know what the coming year holds for our health or circumstances, but we can be assured that God will preserve us through it all.  Let’s remain faithful in trusting Him to do it.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as I enter this new year, I know I can confidently face whatever it may hold because You will preserve me through it.  Use whatever challenges that lie ahead to strengthen my faithfulness and testimony of Your power in my life.  Amen.