Word of the Day

Heart’s Desires

Psalm 37: 4

Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

You have perhaps heard this verse quoted before. It is on my heart today so I took a closer look at it. I truly believe that our Father wants to give us the desires of our hearts and He seems to hover over us just waiting for an opportunity to pour into our lives. As I look at this verse today I find such a bond and closeness with the Lord that I want to bring you in to this warm glow with me.

First, let me share some other versions with you. as you know, I quote from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted. It is my favorite version but I read from many different versions, especially when I do verse or word studies because they shine the light from a little different perspective and can illuminate a subtle meaning. Today’s verse is a good case in point. The NASB leaves us wondering just a bit, doesn’t it? What does it mean to “Delight yourself in the Lord?” I bet most of us read that as, “Be pleasing to the Lord” or “Be good” and he will give your heart desires. The NIV clarifies this delight we are to know, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Isn’t that great? We are not being told to be on our best behavior and then Father will give us presents at all. We are being led to let our hearts take joy in our Father. That is a whole different perspective. I love where the God’s Word translation takes us, “Be happy with the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Are you getting this? This verse isn’t about our righteousness and good works at all. It is all about enjoying our Father and being happy with Him and in Him.

Your joy in Him just releases the bounty. If you are a grand-parent you know exactly what I am talking about. You want to do for those you love and you want to give them all kinds of things but sometimes they just won’t let you. Your Heavenly Father is that way too. He wants you to open up and let Him in and He is bringing gifts with Him. Yahoo! I don’t mind telling you. I like getting gifts. I like opening packages but in addition to all kinds of material and worldly things, our Father also brings all those intangibles with Him and we like those too, don’t we? He has healing and peace in His hands just to name two. So, tell Him what you want and then invite Him to the party. Enjoy His presence. Take delight in Him. That is really the greatest gift ever.

To the Sky

Mark 10: 27

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Do you believe this statement? I know Jesus spoke this but do we really believe it? It is hard to believe, is it not? But then, Jesus takes us out of our comfort zone every time he speaks. Of course, he did remarkable things so maybe his performance has something to do with his belief system. Perhaps, he believed that all things are possible with God so he changed water to wine, walked on water, translated from one place to another and healed everyone who went to him. Does any of this answer the questions for us though, I mean, afterall, he is Jesus.

The problem with that justification is Matthew 17: 20 which reads, “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’” Nothing is impossible to us, according to Jesus but then, what does he know? Maybe he only spoke metaphorically. In other words, he didn’t really mean this. Of course Mark 9: 23 stands in the way of that logic as well, “All things are possible to him who believes.” Now we are back to that belief thing again. And in Luke 1: 37 Jesus is recorded saying, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Not to God, but with God.

I am forced to some conclusions. First, I don’t think Jesus wasted his breath saying things that are not true because: 1) he is the truth and 2) he knew his time was short. Yes, he spoke in parables but that is not the same as speaking metaphorically. I think accusing him of poetic rather than illustrative speech is just a way for me to justify my failures and lack of belief. If, however, I wish to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and stand on the high ground my Father promised me, then I think I must come to grips with this language in its truest and most literal form.

Second, in none of these verses is my doing of the impossible a solo act. It is our belief in and faith in God along with doing everything “with” God which empowers the supernatural so that all things become possible. Jesus didn’t do anything in his own might either (John 14: 10). He believed in and relied in the might of the Father.

Third, I must conclude and accept that Jesus consistently spoke about us doing these acts. Not only that, but Jesus gave us this very problematic verse in John 14: 12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” Though we cannot do them in our own might, we must also recognize that he talks about us doing the impossible just as he did, well, even greater really. My point is that none of these verses describes a scenario wherein we pray and God manifests and does whatever needs doing. It seems, in fact, it is quite the other way around. God empowers us to part the sea, heal the sick, and do all the other “impossible” things which each day presents to us.

As for me, I choose to believe that Jesus meant exactly what he said. Am I performing impossible tasks everyday? No, but I am reaching a great deal higher than I would if I did not believe Jesus, the Holy Spirit and my Father are capable of carrying me to mountain tops. Come with me. Let’s explore the boundaries. How far can we go if we believe?

Mighty God

Isaiah 49: 26

And I will feed your oppressors with the own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

God ain’t foolin’ around! Here is the question, which side of this verse do you want to be on. Are you the one to whom the Lord is speaking or are you the oppressor to whom He will feed their own flesh? This is some strong language and God meant for it to be so. He is upholding His beloved. However, might it be that even some of those who attack you are the so called “chosen?” If we are set upon by other Christians, where does God draw the line?

As you sow, so shall you reap. We get to choose which side of this verse we stand on. If we attack our brethren, if we criticize and disparage them, then we have taken on the name “oppressor” and great will be our agony. Do not think that because we are Christians we are exempt from the fruit of our labor or of our mouths. We are not. That is why Jesus emphasized the Parable of the Sower saying that if one cannot understand this principle then he will not understand any of the parables (Mark 4: 13). Whatever you sow, you will reap. God has given us this principle for our good so that we can plant good seed and harvest a great crop. However, the principle of the seed works whether the seed is good or bad. If you sow discord, you will reap a harvest of that seed and it is probably a crop you do not want.

We are a torn and broken people but God can heal us and heal our land. He will stand for those who stand for Him, His Word and His ways. He will show Himself on behalf of those who call on His name. He will defend His own. All flesh, or all people, will be able to see for themselves who is truly of the household of faith. If you have been attacked, fear not. God is going to show out so profoundly on your behalf that all will see and know that Jehovah God is your Lord, Savior and Redeemer. Those who have gossiped about you will be as nothing and shall fade.

If you have been guilty of unkind words or bad acts against your Christian siblings, there is forgiveness for that. Jesus is the way. Repent. Put yourself under the cleansing blood of Jesus. Turn and go a new way, the way of rightness. The Mighty One of Jacob shall receive you into His arms.

Beliver Receiver

Mark 11: 24

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

This verse really struck me this week. Like you, I have heard it and read it many times. Still, something was louder this time. I believe Jesus is trying to show us something important.

Have you ever noticed that some people are better at getting their Christianity to work for them than others? This has bothered me for years. We all pray, right? So what makes some people different? I suspect the answer is in this verse. Listen to how it reads from the God’s Word translation, “That’s why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours.” Jesus tells us to believe before we receive. Okay, I guess we have heard that before but that isn’t exactly what this says, is it? Jesus said as you pray, believe that you have ALREADY received that for which you are praying. What? If I have already received it, why am I praying for it?

If we can wrap our heads around this and the truth of it sink down into our hearts, I believe we will have the key to unlocking many mysteries in our lives. Hasn’t Jesus already won everything for us: salvation, redemption, etcetera? So, if he has already purchased my salvation then why did I need to pray for it? Has not the Father already provided everything we need? Then why are some of us under provisioned? It seems we have failed to requisition the supplies which have already been put up for us. We ask for them not believing that He has already accommodated our wants and needs.

It turns out that receiving is an action. In order for these things to move from the warehouse to your house, you have to do something. That “something” is this act of receiving. Apparently, receiving does not mean laying on the couch while manna rains down out of heaven on us. Drats! We are required to actively participate in the delivery of the supplies.

Perhaps we need to picture a warehouse with our name emblazoned on the outside. Within the warehouse which sports your name is everything Jesus suffered and died to give you. Also upon the shelves is the substance of every promise God has ever made. That is not all, though. As you walk down the aisles you see that the warehouse is stocked with everything for life. There are cars, houses, clothes, food, and computers. In fact, everything you can even think of is in that warehouse and it is already yours – if you believe it. If you believe that God has already provided, already stocked a warehouse for you then you need only to order it to be sent to you. If we pray believing not that God is going to do something for us but rather that He already has, does it change our experience?

Jesus’ statement is pretty bold. It also has a problem in that it does not fit into our theology but what if he said exactly what he meant? What if we must believe we already have it when we pray? It changes our prayer and our attitude doesn’t it? This represents part of the reason we are called believers. Belief is a key component of the warehouse distribution system. You can have what you believe for so, what do you believe?

Inhale

Isaiah 7: 14

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Immanuel, or Emmanuel, the name means God is with us. Right now, as you read these words, God is with you. There is a superficial understanding of this and then there is the revelation of God with you.

Most of us readily accept the name given to Jesus and its meaning which is repeated in Matthew and revealed in John. We know that Jesus came to earth and showed himself as God with humanity. I am not here to bring you this “general” understanding, though. The purpose of writing this daily devotional is to continually encourage you into a deeper relationship with this God. I want you to receive the revelation of this scripture and the name Immanuel as a personal message to you from God.

Immanuel – God with YOU! When you read the book of John you see God’s intent to be with us every minute of every day. He talks about abiding. What does that mean? He wants to move in. Wow! Right now, even as you read this, your Father is right there with you. He is so close that He hears you breathe.

God sent His son, Immanuel – God with us, so that forever and ever He could be with us. Jesus bought that for Him and for us. I love thinking of Him as being in my breath. He is that close. Inhale! God is with you.

Banner of Love

Song of Solomon 2: 4

He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

Have you ever read the Song of Solomon? Would you believe that in the 2500 Word of the Day devotionals I have written, this is the first time I have chosen a passage from this book? Do you wonder why this is the first time? Me too! Well, frankly, it is a little bit of an awkward book. If you have read it you might have felt the same way. The book is a very intimate dialogue between two lovers. As you read it you may feel that you are violating the lovers’ privacy. I think there may be an additional and deeper reason this book disquiets some of us. As I said, it is very intimate and many of us are uncomfortable with intimacy. Ultimately, this underlies a hindrance we have in developing our relationship with the Father.

Let’s go one step further. Why do you suppose this book is in the Bible? Why did Father choose to include it? This book is a love letter from the Father to you, from Jesus to his bride. It is an expression of God’s deep, deep affection for you. Knowing that may make the book harder to read instead of easier. All of the expressions of adoration, affection and longing are the Father’s feelings towards you. He sees you as beautiful and flawless. Sometimes I wonder why He loves us so but reading this book moves you beyond denial.

As I said, many of us are uncomfortable with such outspoken endearments. We are challenged by such intimacy. It embarrasses us. Because intimate thoughts, feelings and expressions are awkward for us, we find it very arduous to allow our heavenly Father to express the intensity of his devotion to us. Subsequently, we never really develop a true love relationship with Him. Most of us just walk in some sort of religious construct with Him. We are lost somewhere between God and Father. We know He is more than a far removed deity and thus we move our thoughts towards relating to Him in a more personal manner. However, most of us cannot reach into our hearts and receive the relationship He has designed for us. We labor to believe we are worthy of His love and so we stretch our minds to a picture of us in a close, personal relationship with Him. We reach longingly but reluctantly for the love our hearts crave. Here is where we enter into limbo. We are caught between service to our God and loving our intimate friend. Should we dare engage with this book of Solomon then we are forced to see ourselves so beloved that we shy away like a spooked horse.

In July of 2005 Yahweh interrupted my life with what I call a prophetic dream. This dream was clearly the Father speaking to me. I now find it interesting to note the topic of this dream. If God is going to completely arrest your life for a day what would you expect Him to want to show you or talk with you about. I would think perhaps His plan for our lives or a new calling on your life. Interestingly, He used that whole dream, which was pages long when I wrote it out, to show me how I resist intimacy with Him. All I wanted to do was serve Him but He wanted to bless and honor me. In the dream, I couldn’t and wouldn’t let Him. He commandeered my sleep to communicate with me because I could not hear Him in my waking life. This message was so important to Him that He insinuated Himself into my dream so we could connect on a level which I was consistently foreclosing to Him. Now He wants to speak to you.

He has brought you to His banquet hall so He can honor you. The sign hanging above the head table has your name on it and the message is love. You have been designated as the one He loves. What will you do with His outpouring of affection? What will you say in return? Will you receive the adoration from His heart? I hope so.

Straight Paths

Proverb 3: 6

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Jesus defined the relationship he expected us to have with him. He expected it to be a love relationship between friends. He also expected that relationship to show itself in the way we approach our lives. In John 15: 14 Jesus is recorded saying, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” In John 14: 21 he said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” This relationship with our friend yields a particular behavior. That is that we do what he has commanded us.

Now, what does all of this have to do with today’s verse? Fair question. Jesus is the Word, the whole Word. That includes everything that was written in the Old Testament. God wrote the proverbs by inspiring Solomon with the words to write. Therefore, today’s verse is one of those commands that Jesus wants us to live by.

While this is a very familiar scripture I wonder if we know how to apply it or even that we should. Jesus expects us to live his word and today’s verse is one of the ways we accomplish that. Jesus intends that in everything we do, whether work, family or play that we stop and ask his advice. As we make our plans or weigh our options we are supposed to check in with our Father asking Him to direct our path. That means at work He is the senior partner. If you own a business, get used to the idea that you have someone above you that you are supposed to consult before you act.

He isn’t trying to be a controlling presence. He wants to direct your steps so as to lead you into success. His ways always cause us to flourish. He published today’s verse so we would know how to operate in this world. He is showing you the way. Whatever you need to do today, do it with the Lord. Talk with him all day and let him guide you.

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