Psalm 32: 8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.

Do you listen to audio books? I am listening to At Home in Mitford: A Novel by Jan Karon. It’s the story of an Episcopal priest set in a fictional town in North Carolina. Some believe it to be a reflection of a town I frequent in the mountains of NC, Blowing Rock. There is even a character or two in this series of novels with the last name of Ivey. How about that? So, I was listening to it last night, using the melodious tones of narrator John McDonough to help me fall asleep, when Timothy, the rector, quoted the above scripture. I enjoy the passages where Timothy thinks about or discusses scripture, especially as it interplays in the course of his life. Unfortunately, it has the effect of disturbing my attempts at sleep. Scripture is just too stimulating. This one had me awake for a while and I was still thinking of it when I awoke this morning.

When we talk about the good news the Bible shares, there are different degrees and effects. Some people think mostly about the good news that the savior has come and redeemed us. Surely, there is not news greater than that. And, some people do not think this verse will have Jesus in it because it pre-dates Jesus’ walk in the earth. For me, though, I see Jesus all over this and it not only gives me comfort but also gives me the sense of both his and our Father’s presence with me. I know it can creep some people out that God is watching them all the time, but I like knowing He is watching me right this minute. If I type a wrong word, He is right here to steer me.

Moreover, we can rely on the dynamic duo to lead us step by step every single day in every single way. I need the constant supervision. It takes so little for me to go off the rails. They help me prioritize what is most important. I don’t always listen perfectly, but I would have more difficulty if I had to steer my own car all the time.

Now, add the Holy Spirit who is our teacher because this scripture promises me that the Triumphant Trio will teach me. We have a navigator pointing out the way to go. He is obligated to instruct and teach us. He, too, must keep an eye on us to make sure we don’t walk off any cliffs.

How does this play out in life, you ask? Well, what decision do you need to make today? Perhaps it is as simple as a Christmas gift you are considering for someone. Sometimes I think that is where our walk is most challenging. It’s common to pray for the big things but I think we gain an entirely different relationship with the Father when we begin looking to Him for all the little things in a day. What should I wear? Which workout should I go to? Shall I bake chicken for dinner?

It’s God’s job to watch us and then guide our steps. I like that. Help us, Father, in every step we take today, to go in the right direction for us. Lead us, teach us. Thank you!

Contemporary Historical View

Deuteronomy 5:33

You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Let’s go back and reread this verse. It is potent. Here is my takeaway, God’s commandments are meant to prolong our days and bless our way.

I was thinking about a different verse which says, He will lead us in the way we should go (Isaiah 48:17) when I had a nudge to go look through a document I have and Eureka! here was this verse. It was meant for us and is better than the one I was thinking of because it is more complex.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we will say about ourselves during this coronavirus lockdown when we look back on it. What will be our historical view of now? Will we remember how stressed we were and maybe how negative our language became? Will the time be characterized by a shrinking of life or an expansion? I have talked and corresponded with quite a few people who have found ways to grow their lives during this time and that is the very soul of God who has promised that in all things, He will cause us to prosper. He said He would make all things, even bad things, work for our good because we love Him and are called to Him (Romans 8: 28).

Today’s verse is important, so important! It tells us that God’s will is that we may live and that it may be well with us. Isn’t that key language for our current situation? God doesn’t just mean that we shall survive, though. He means that we might have an abundant life and life in abundance (John 10: 10).

So, what is happening in your world right now? Are you expanding? Is your life expanding? Are you setting and accomplishing new goals? Are you finding blessing amidst this challenged time? God is speaking to you. What He tells you will lead you to possessing the land of promise. This is a great time in history to expand your outreach to God and to other people. Life has slowed down for many of us so that we have more time to spend with God and that is some great news because He has a word for you, a word that will lead you into greater life.

Right now, Yahweh God is speaking and showing all of us the way. If we walk in the way our Lord is commanding us, even in these stressful times we will find the fruit of life. This is exciting news. In the midst of battle, God is showing us a way to fullness of life.

When you look back at this time, what will be your judgment? Did your prayer life expand? Did you start an exercise routine? Maybe you read a lot, started a Bible study group or just cleaned your house and yard. As we begin to relax our stay at home restrictions, think about what you have gained that you don’t want to lose. Think about what you want your new normal to look like. I hope you have gained a new measure of life with God that you will guard jealously. It is also not too late to stake out some new ground for yourself. Make this a time you can remember with some good memories too.

Helping Hand

Galatians 5: 24 – 25

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

So many times, when people hear about passion and desire they think of sexual desire. That is a very limited view of what this passage is speaking about. Your passion for anything, your desire for anything that is not God can be a problem. When your consuming passion is for a new car, a favorite activity, food, etc. then you are serving the desires of your flesh instead of the desires of the Spirit. So even if sexual lust is not a problem for you there may be something that does consume your thoughts. There is help though. When we crucify the flesh, Jesus stands with the promised gift in His hands. We do not have to fulfill the lusts of the flesh because we have a helper. We are not alone.

For those who belong to Jesus the helper leads and guide. He teaches and He empowers. As He teaches us, He also leads us in our own personal reformation. He changes us from the inside out. We no longer have to adhere to a strict set of rules that we enforce through an act of our willpower. That is life according to the law. Now, in our enlightenment, we walk by the Spirit. The Spirit leads and guides us. As we surrender more fully to His guidance, we just naturally do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh because He leads us by a different path.

The key word, though, is surrender. It takes a person of courage to surrender their lives fully to God. It also requires someone who can sacrifice their ego on the altar of grace. God, through the Holy Spirit, will do all of the heavy lifting but you first have to find the guts to move out of God’s way and give your complete life over to Him. In truth, I find that many just can’t put God ahead of themselves. They do not have the courage to surrender. They are just plain scared, and they don’t really trust God. Look, it is easy to talk the talk, but it is hard to walk the walk. How many will graduate from God’s elementary school to the upper grades? Well, the choice is completely ours. Can you really let go of your control, your thoughts, your plans, your ideas, your power, your ego? If you will really let go, the Holy Spirit will take you by the hand and gently guide you in the way. He will lead you into those green pastures. He will keep you from harm even when enemies approach from all sides and He will turn your problems into victory. Let go of your control and live and walk by the Spirit into all grace.

Know Me

Psalm 25: 4 – 5

Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; Teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me.

How much easier would your life be if you knew God’s ways and walked in His paths? There is a song the lyrics of which are, “Show me your ways, that I may walk with you.” It has been a favorite of mine for years. I wonder if the writer got the inspiration for that song from this verse.

The first thing I thought about today as I read this verse is that in order to make this a reality we need to be teachable. Generally, I find we are not. It is a genuine delight to find someone who is hungry enough to be teachable. They are fun because they absorb everything you say and demand more. They are insatiable. They want to know the Father and all of His ways so they have made themselves teachable.

Most of us want the Lord to teach us and well, we would be foolish if we didn’t, but the rub comes when He sends a person to be the teacher. Then our egos flare and we become more intent on showing what we know instead of listening to them. That is one of the problems with a lot of our prayers. The Father answers them but sometimes in unexpected ways. Then we don’t recognize it as God’s response to our prayer and end up rejecting it. He who has ears to hear. . .. We do this more than we know. We have our mind already made up to the form the answer will take so we push away everything else.

The other problem with God answering this prayer is that we have to take the time to hear Him and that can present a challenge. The good news is that practicing listening to Him really does improve your hearing. How do you expect God to make His ways known to you? How is He to teach you and lead you?

We need to prepare ourselves to receive the answer to this prayer. First, expect Him to answer this prayer. It is His intention. The ideas posed in this verse were His ideas first. Now, if you expect Him to answer, then how are you going to receive your answer? If you are playing football and want to receive a pass, you need your hands ready and your eyes looking. If you are playing baseball, you probably want a glove. The point is to prepare yourself for His reply.

Be wise, keep your eyes open for a person God may send your way, a gospel song, or a message from a minister. These are some of the vehicles God may use to teach and lead you. Be renewed in your Spirit, renew your mind and receive His blessing. Be fully persuaded that He is going to lead you and teach you and you will discover that you are right.


Psalm 32: 7 – 8       Amp

You are my hiding place; You, Lord, protect me from trouble;
You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.

This is a good time to learn about the word “Selah” because it impacts the understanding of this psalm. One of the primary ideas about this word is that it indicates a pause. We find this word mostly in the Psalms so one might ask if it represents a musical interlude or just a pause in the lyric or instrumentation. It turns out that it has more to do with ideas represented in the lyric than it does to the lyric or melody specifically. It calls the listener, or in our case, the reader, to pause and consider the immediately preceding lyric. Today’s psalm was written by David. When we hear or read “Selah” in the above passage, he wants us to stop and consider the meaning. He has just said something very important and he wants us to stop and be sure that we have taken in that important thought.

There is a second use of Selah. It is used as a bridge or a connector. It alerts the listener that the stanza which is about to follow is thematically tied to that which has just preceded. In other words, the psalmist wants us to hear the next passage with the former still in mind. So stop and hear what has been said with a mind to integrate it with what comes next.

In today’s scripture selection, David confesses his confidence to God. He is able to hide himself in God, receiving protection and deliverance from trouble. He says, also, God surrounds him with joyous songs and exuberant shouts. That isn’t the end though, because in the next stanza, God answers him.

In the combination of these two verses we see a great deal of their relationship. Not only does God protect David but you hear David’s confidence in that protection. David is the one who proclaims that he is protected from trouble. His trust in God is the unspoken refrain. Yahweh answers his confidence and trust with, “I will lead you. I will counsel you. I will be your mentor and will guard your way and keep my eye on you at all times.”

There is a relationship between these two verses and these two people. That is what we are supposed to see in this psalm and that is what the word Selah reveals to us. These are not two independent ideas but rather a revealing of the intermingling of their lives. This is a model of how our lives are meant to be. We also have a hiding place, we are hidden in Christ. We should have the same confidence is the three persons of the trinity as David sang of here. I am hidden in Christ and thus protected from the danger and trouble of the world. God is my helper, my right hand and my deliverer. God, for his part, will lead me and guide me in the way that I should go because I have hidden myself in Him. Selah!

Land Mines

Matthew 9: 13                  KJV

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

This is part of the Lord’s prayer; you probably recognize it. Many people can quote this passage and many of us learned it in the poetic King James Version. For myself, learning it as a child, it took years for me to untangle the meaning from the pretty prose. The Lord’s prayer was a saying, almost a slogan but it didn’t have a lot of meaning for me for many years.

This, the Lord’s Prayer has been taught on extensively. Knowledgeable preachers break it down into its constituent parts and teach us how the individual parts combine to outline a form of prayer. Today I would like for us to think about this one little section and consider what it means and also what it means to our lives individually.

There are some passages of scripture that are hard to read in any version other the King James when you were brought up with it. I still hear this passage in King James language though I have used the New American Standard Bible for forty years. Let’s explore a couple of other versions though. The Names of God version reads, “Don’t allow us to be tempted. Instead, rescue us from the evil one.” The New American Standard says, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Can you see a difference from our traditional understanding.

Here is the question which frames comprehension of this verse, “Would Jesus pray asking God, the Father, not to lead us into temptation as if sometimes He does lead people into temptation?” “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1: 13). Father God never leads people into the way of temptation, so, what was Jesus asking the Father?

Jesus taught that upon his exit from the earth, the Father would give us another helper and that helper, the Holy Spirit, would guide us. So, it is perfectly correct to think in terms of allowing ourselves to be led by God. This is how I would phrase today’s verse in modern English as I think about the Holy Spirit guiding my steps, “Father, lead me away from temptation.” I may, under my own power, be headed right for trouble but we can enable the Godhead to intervene and lead us away from the path of destruction.

I want you to notice also the second part of the verse. Here is the Names of God version again, “Don’t allow us to be tempted. Instead, rescue us from the evil one.” Jesus recognized from where temptation comes, the evil one. So he petitioned the Father to lead us away from the evil one, so as to rescue us from his temptations. Remember who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It was the devil. Jesus’ prayer asks the Father to steer us away from the traps the devil has laid so that we will not be tripped up.
When you see this passage of scripture in modern language and in context with other scriptures, it takes on entirely new meaning. Sometimes it seems like the world has been sown with land mines. Jesus constantly intercedes for us asking the Father to navigate the mine field for us. That is good news, isn’t it?


Psalm 37: 23           (GW)

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.

The good news of this verse may not jump out at you right away. Read it again. Now what do you see? I think we read verses about the Lord leading us but don’t really see them. Imagine yourself a small (or large) business owner. Now imagine that every day the Lord directs your steps, your actions and all of your decisions. Doesn’t that give you a sense of peace? Now here is the really good news. God’s direction and assistance does not end when you close the shop door for the day. Every part of your day, and indeed your life, can receive the benefit of the Father’s guidance. One benefit of receiving God’s insights and advice is success. I like the benefit this verse points out. The person who allows God to speak into their life also receives the delight of the Lord. You’ve gotta love that. How would you like going to bed every night knowing that the Lord is delighted in you? Do you think it would affect the quality of your sleep? Would your heart bask in peace?

It should be obvious that the Lord wants to guide your day. Why else would He take delight in the ways of people who allow His directions? Life always runs more smoothly when we listen to the directions of the Lord. In these perilous times, there is another important reason to hearken to the voice of the Lord. He leads us in the paths of safety and protection. He will actually direct your footsteps so that you do not go in the way of danger.

Our relationship with God can be as active or passive as we choose. I personally feel that the time has come for us to enter into a relationship with Him such that He is in every minute of our day. There is too much to gain and too much to lose by having a Sunday relationship with Him. If you agree, ask Him to speak His wisdom into every facet of your day and every minute of your life. Allow Him to direct your steps and be the delight of His heart.