Regarding Psalm 5

“O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice.”
Psalms 5:3

Lord, you hear my prayers.  When I call to you, you are quick to answer.  You have made yourself known to me and I am yours.  I love you, Jesus. You provide comfort when I am weak and tired and afraid.  I cry a lot to you, God, because I know that you hear me and that You never grow weary of hearing what I have to say.  

I get bogged down in the trials and tribulations of life sometimes.  It seems like all around me the same groanings. The world is in a turmoil of sin and death and wickedness and everyone is suffering the same horrible fate.  Death stalks us and longs to consume us, and your little ones are not immune. The innocent still suffer. The righteous still get hunted. I am maligned by my own thoughts.  Even alone in my room I am confronted with it. Death and sin are dauntless enemies.

But you have conquered sin and death.

57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

I will lean on your Holy Word. I will trust in your promises.  I will wait on your deliverance and trust in your counsel. You protect me from the dangers of the world, even when I am overcome.  You turn what the enemy intended to harm me into good lessons, into teachable moments, into patient endurance. One day the evil of this world will be destroyed forever.  Until then I can trust you to use it for my good.

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
   you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalms 5:12

I recognize and reiterate your promises, God.  You will bless the righteous with favor and cover them with a shield.  And I am your righteousness. I will not be afraid. I am yours.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

 

The Mercy Seat

Disobedience brought death into the world.  You’ve always told us that. From the very beginning you told us that if we listened to You and trusted that Your plans for us were full of good things, that we would be with you forever and never know death.  All we ever had to do was trust you. But we got tricked into thinking we couldn’t trust you, didn’t we? And it brought us nothing but fear. Lord, you never wanted us to be afraid of you. It was only after we had been shown what disobedience looked and felt like in the Garden that we became afraid.  

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Genesis 3:8-11

I don’t know why we’ve always tried to make it so complicated.  You’ve kept it simple from the beginning God. From the time of Adam and Eve, you showed us that we had brought death to ourselves and to the world.  When Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, they tried to cover themselves with leaves, but you took animals, killed them, and gave the skins to them to cover themselves.  You showed them in an action that the knowledge of their nakedness as shameful to them brought to them death. Only death could cover it.

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

With Moses things were no different.  You met him on the mountain. You told him that you were trustworthy and that if he trusted you Moses could lead all the people into trusting Him in freedom.  You gave him some rules to show him how righteous and good and fair you are, and how breaking those rules would only bring death. You showed him and he believed you.  

And then you showed the people how to remember your promises and how to remember you are trustworthy.  You gave them the plans for the tabernacle. And every inch of the tabernacle declared your promise that you are trustworthy and that your plans for people were to be clothed for “glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2).  You laid out your grand design for humanity with the designs of the tabernacle, completed with mercy at the center where you met face to face with mankind.

34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place.
Exodus 26:34  

The mercy seat covered the arc of the testimony.  The arc held the law, but the testimony of it was not the law, but Your desire to show us that disobedience brings death, but trusting You brings mercy.  It was a physical representation of your desire for us to be together, for us to trust you. Your mercy covers the law. Your mercy has dominion over the law.  Your mercy is the answer, but the sacrifice of blood is meant to show you that we understand what the knowledge of good and evil brings to us and to the world. It brings death.  When we understand that we can receive your mercy.

I receive your mercy new today, Lord.  Sin brings death, but you have brought mercy through your son, Jesus, who had victory over sin and death through his resurrection.  I receive your mercy new today, Lord. Give me the grace to receive your mercy new each moment by your Spirit in me.

 

The Glory of the Lord

Beloved, how wonderful You are!  How great are your works! I continue to marvel at your incredible mercy and love, especially as we labor through trials.  Through it all you have revealed your glory!

“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
or the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:5

I’m still in awe of what you have been doing and how you have revealed the mystery of your love and grace through this hardship we’ve been under.  It’s hard to even imagine that amidst my grief and suffering, your love was actually being revealed! It is undeniable! Everyone who saw it experienced your love.

Not only did I recieve your comfort, encouragement and peace, you expressed those profound gifts to everyone I came in contact with.  And all I can say is wow. The strength and endurance you gave never ceases.

Days later, still in turmoil, still in the midst of suffering, your power continues to manifest in me and around me and through me.  And through it all my faith has grown stronger and more solid. That is who you are, God. You are everlasting. You are powerful. You give strength to the weary and you multiply it!

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
   his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
   and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
   and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
   they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
   they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Thank you, God, for strengthening me, for teaching me your abundant love, and for enduring with me when I felt so tossed by the waves.  With a word you spoke my world into stillness and peace. And with all my words I want to praise you!

 

Walking Out of the Garden

Jesus, like Peter I want to follow you anywhere, even unto death.  I want to pray with you in the garden of Gethsemane and hold you while you cry out to God, and guard you while you worship, and sing praises with you in trial.  But, I fall asleep. I run away naked. I deny you. I weep and mourn and anguish. You said it yourself,

“The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

I’m daily assailed by the torment of the world, but you are faithful, Jesus.  You overcame the weakness of your body even unto death. And because of you, because of what you did on the cross, and because you left the tomb behind you, I am free.  You had victory over sin and death. And that means you have defeated the very things that hold me hostage.

I refuse to continue to look at the past.  I refuse to hate myself for falling short of your glory.  I refuse to think differently of myself than you see me. I refuse to fall asleep or runaway naked.  Because you are God, and your Spirit is in me. It empowers me to act in accordance with your Spirit instead of in my flesh.  The spirit is willing. My body is weak. So I want to look to your example. You showed me what obedience in the Spirit looks like.

In Gethsemane you prayed.  Even though your friends fell asleep, you prayed.  You cried out to God. Even though you were alone. You worshiped Him.  You sought Him with your whole heart and your whole mind. You sweat drops of blood, your anguish was so intense!  You agonized over the road of suffering that awaited you on your journey to the cross. But you took it anyway. It wasn’t what you wanted in your body, you didn’t want pain and suffering and humiliation.  But you wanted victory. And you knew God’s will for you and for me was victory. You knew that God’s will was better than your flesh. You knew that your flesh would be remade. You knew that your victory, though it would come at a hefty price in your flesh, would bring life forever to us all.

So you walked out of Gethsemane.  You willingly took the road of suffering.  The road of blood. The road of pain and scorn.  

You took the cross.

Lord, help me walk out of the garden.  As you walk with me on the road of suffering, bring people around me to offer me a drink, to help carry my cross, to stand at my side, amidst their own pain, to be with me and show me love, as you love me.  And Lord, let me do the same for others.

“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14

 

Not by Power, Not by Might, but by the Spirit!

Lord, you are so pleased to reveal your wisdom to your children!  What an honor and privilege to have the mind of God imparted within me to know your heart and your plans for me!  So often I struggle and stumble around, blind to your wisdom, deaf to your voice.  You hold my hand and yet I still stray, wobbling around from side to side, straying this way and that.  I trip over rubble and cry and you kiss away my tears and bandage my bruised and bloodied knees.  And your thoughts remain within me.   In the book of James you show me why I’m always stumbling and falling away from you.  I get doubtful.  I lose faith.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6

So, God, I’m asking for wisdom.  I’m asking for faith.  I’m asking you to remove the blinders that I’ve put over my own eyes.  Remove the deafening roar of worldly longings and fears.  Let me receive the generous and loving gift of your ample wisdom, freely offered.  Let me take that wisdom with us much freedom as you offer it!  I’m tired of trusting myself!  No matter how smart I think I am, my wisdom is pure folly without the importation of Your thoughts and heart!  I want to trust you!  I don’t want to lean on my own ideas.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I want to walk with confidence along a straight path, with my fingers interlaced with yours, and my head held high with the pride that comes from standing with you in the righteousness you have made me.  I want to walk in laughter, listening to your voice and seeing all the beautiful sites you have laid out before us.  It’s not just a straight path, it’s a beautiful path.  So, God, I’m asking you to renew my mind.  Take away my focus on the world and the death that it brings to everything, and focus my whole being on You and the life that you offer!

9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:9-13

Thank you, God, that all this has been made possible to understand and digest because of your Spirit in me.  Only your Spirit knows your heart.  And you have given me your Spirit so that I can freely know the deepest thoughts you have about me and about the world around me.  I can see what you intended with eyes that are no longer blinded by sin.  I can see the incorruptible!  I can see life as you always intended and hoped.  

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

1 John 4:13

It’s so crazy to me God!  You’ve given me eyes to see the world as you see it!  To see the life you intended in all things.  Satan is such a liar!  He convinced Adam and Eve, the stewards of your creation, that they would be like you by receiving the “knowledge of good and evil”.  But evil is not from you and its only job is to bring death and pain!  To know you is to be brought back to the Garden in the Spirit, where we can walk with you and talk with you about the wisdom and beauty and light of all the things you have made.  All good things.  All life giving things.  I no longer need to be ruled by the knowledge of evil.  It will only bring death.  While you are the bringer of life.  

Thank you for being the Life Bringer, the Life Creator, the Light of the World,  and thank you for being my friend.  I love you, God.  I love you so much!

 

White as Snow

Dear Father,  My heart is aching.  As I read your Word I see the deep longing in your heart to see all people, all nations, be brought into the sheltering love of your presence and forgiveness.  I think of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem and how he wept for the people.  He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Mtt 23:37)  You are so desperate for all the people to know you and find peace and rest and love in your arms, but people stubbornly seek after their own gain.  And no matter how rich they become, no matter how much pleasure they find, no matter how many friends they have, no matter how much fame they have achieved, they are lost.  None of these things will last!  Over and over again you have said it, and called people to put their hope in the only thing that will last:  YOU!  

God, you are merciful and kind and full of love.  It is your hope and desire that all would find you and choose to stand with you, but I thank you that your love is so gracious that you would never force anyone to love you.  You won’t enslave people.  You won’t subjugate people.  You bring life and love and peace.  You bring freedom from oppression and forgiveness from our sins.  You bring restoration.  

You say in your Word that if we turn to you, wash off the things that have seduced us and tormented us with lust and greed and cruel intentions, and simply allow you to robe us with your love and forgiveness then we will be together, filled with love and peace, and free of the bondage of all the things in life that have brought us into bondage.  

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

Isaiah 1:16-17

When we come to you, God, when we throw off evil deeds and pick up the cause of your heart, and when we submit to you and accept the free gift of forgiveness that you have offered from the beginning of time: that you would pay the price for our evil deeds and save us from the consequences of our own actions, only then will we find you and walk with you and reason with you.  We will have forgiveness and find unity with you.  Otherwise we will only find destruction.

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 1:18-20

 

So, thank you God that you have offered me forgiveness and freedom.  Thank you that in you I am complete and can find joy even in the midst of darkness. You are light and in you there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5) 

I choose light.  I choose you.

Broken Alabaster Jar

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,  woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.”

Matthew 26:6-7

Jesus, my love, my savior, my brother, my Lord, thank you for Mary and her alabaster jar of perfume:  this precious gift from her to you, that no one understood.  It made people jealous and angry and irritated.  But you honored her and her gift.  Her love poured out on you, just as you would pour your love out on us.  She gave you the most expensive, most beautiful thing she had and she offered it to you, and anointed you, and walked with you to the cross and to your death with her gift of perfume.  She acted out real devotion to you and you acknowledged her.  Love like that it what you long for from everyone.  Deep, sacrificial love, like the love you have for us.  A love that gives us everything.  We don’t deserve it, but you do!  

My sweet love, show me how to give you my everything, as you showed us all on the cross.  Show me what true devotion and love and honor look like fresh every day.  Fresh every moment.  May my heart be filled with the deep, enduring, eternal love that would take you down the road of deep suffering and anguish just to save me.  Just to be my champion.  My warrior.  My King.  

I don’t want honor, Lord.  I want you to be honored.  I want to love you in a way that no one else even understands.  To love you so perfectly and so boldly as to surrender all my rights and all my worth to you for you to be lifted up.  For you to be proclaimed as King once more.  I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to you, oh Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.  I want the world to know that you are God and I am not.  

You have called out to me and I have answered you.  You saved me.  You hold me.  You honor me with your death and resurrection.  You gave it all for me, my love.  You gave it all for me and I want to give you all of me in return.  Help me to not hold anything back. Help me not to seek any of my own glory.  Help me to only seek you. Amen.