Choosing Him – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, l
oving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him,
for he is your life and length of days…”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

The discipleship class I’m a part of in my church is beginning to go through a study by Angie Smith titled Seamless. It pulls together all of Scripture to highlight the story woven throughout, building understanding by revealing the connections in God’s narrative. As I read through her session on creation and the fall, one line stood out to me: “God created a situation where His people could choose.”

I have learned over these years of writing that when something begins to stir my heart toward contemplation, I need to stop and listen to how God would speak to me here, in this space. And so I paused.

Our God gives us choices. To know what is in our heart (Deuteronomy 8:2). To place before us the decision to love Him, to stay, to make the declaration, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). To strengthen our faith and build our steadfastness as we wrestle through difficulty and temptation, and emerge victorious by the power of His Spirit within us (James 1:3). To humble us and bring our need of Him into the foreground (Deuteronomy 8:3).

May we choose Him today. Whatever your past choices, this is the one before you today, filled with His mercies that are new each morning. Choose Him, this God who loves you greatly. For He is our life. And life walking in the light of our God is not one of limitations. It is one of freedom and abundance and unshadowed joy. It is a life of peace.

This past Sunday, my pastor was preaching on covetousness and emphasized that if we aren’t satisfied with Christ, if we aren’t looking to God to fill us, we will never be satisfied. We will never be full. And my mind was drawn to Psalm 63:1-7:

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

We see first the psalmist’s declaration, “O God, you are my God.” We see his decision not only to seek his God earnestly but also to bless the Lord “as long as I live.” We see his determined focus to remember his God and to meditate on Him – to meditate on His truths, His promises, what He has done in the past and is doing in the present – particularly through the night.

In all of these statements, there is a choice being made. The writer is choosing the Lord. And we see the result of this choice: “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.” Satisfaction of the soul. Satisfaction to his very core. Described in a way not conveying mere sufficiency – this is abundance. “Satisfied as with fat and rich food.” That’s the good stuff. The stuff we really want. The kind of literal food we tend to have to watch our portions on, because it really isn’t good for us from a health standpoint – but oh, it tastes good.

That’s the kind of satisfaction we get here, not having to watch our portions but able to eat our fill of all the fat and rich food we can get. That’s what it is to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). That is what we get when we choose Him. That is what He wants for us.

So today, in whatever you face, whatever situations arise, whatever temptations you encounter, focus your thoughts on this choice. You have it. God is giving you the choice, and oh, how He wants you to choose Him here – because He wants you to be filled with His fullness and satisfied to the uttermost with all that He is! He is good and glorious and can fill your cup to overflowing. Even in a desert, He is able to make rivers flow (Isaiah 43:19). Draw near to Him. Press in. Keep making the choice. And you will find Him faithful to fill you to overflowing with all that you need, all that is abundantly and truly good, all of this One who fills all in all.

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Our Lord is Upright – Psalm 92:14-15

“They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

Psalm 92:14-15

My Lord is upright. Even when I don’t understand His plan, this does not change. He is upright and this makes Him a solid rock to stand on, a foundation for my feet that I can trust without reservation. Immovable, unshakable, steadfast.

This is my hope, the sure and steadfast anchor of my soul – that through the blood of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice that sealed the new covenant of God with His people, I am reconciled forever with this God who does not change and will not fail. This God whose faithfulness stands firm. This God whose throne is established in righteousness and justice. This God who upholds the universe by the word of His power and who holds me firmly in His hand with saving grace.

He is upright and I am His.

So where does doubt come into play? In light of this truth, it is no wonder that in my great-grandmother’s Bible, she wrote that the greatest sin a Christian can commit is worry. I’m not aiming for an in-depth discussion of comparing sin; I don’t believe that was her focus either. But the statement brings into focus the seriousness of this transgression.

When we worry, it reveals a root of doubt within us about our God. About His power, His character, His wisdom. Doubt in His uprightness. Doubt that He is able or willing to lead us well and clearly. Doubt that He is truly sovereign over all. Doubt in His faithfulness to us in this moment or season. Doubt that He really understands or cares. Doubt that He is good. Doubt that He can overcome our weaknesses to accomplish His purposes. The devil whispers in our ear, “Did God really say that?” or, “He didn’t really mean ______” – and whether this brings doubt into our perspectives on sin or on God’s promises, the devastating impact is the same. Doubt in the One who is to be our rock.

Silence the lies. Immediately. Do not ponder them. Do not allow them to take root and strengthen.

As a plaque in my room says, “Don’t allow the questions of your heart to overturn your faith…Allow your faith to overturn the questions of your heart.”

I’m not talking about blind faith that has no solid basis. Our God has given us plenty of solid basis through His Word (which has historical evidence confirming God’s preservation of it), through the witness of generations of His people who have come before us, through His past faithfulness to us personally, and through His Spirit given to us that assures us confidently that in Christ we have become children of God (Romans 8:16).

When the enemy starts to cast small doubts into your mind and heart, focus your attention back on truth and declare decisively, “This is what the Lord says.” When we hold fast and look to our Lord, setting Him before us and keeping His steadfast truth before our eyes, we will not be shaken. And it will be said of us:

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
Psalm 92:12-15

Lives Defined by Love – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2

The apostle Paul has salvation in view with this statement, evidenced by the verses that follow. The study notes in my Bible connect his emphasis here with his earlier words in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

He is seeking to maintain Timothy’s focus on love. Love that pours out from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Love that is holy and seeks the good and salvation of all. Love that drives fervent prayers for all people, including all in high positions of power, that they would come to faith in Christ Jesus, “who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6).

Pure love reflects the heart of our God. As His love has been poured into our hearts through His Spirit (Romans 5:5), that love should flow through us as we abide in Him. Drawing ever nearer, abiding in His Word, resting in His love for us, endeavoring not to hinder or grieve His Spirit who works to transform us into Christ’s image.

When His love defines not only our outward interactions but our inner perspective of others, our lives demonstrate this change. To lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Not carried away by rash words spoken in frustration, anger, or cynicism, but seasoned with grace, compassion, and hope, seeking to build up all those who hear. Seeking to build up even those who cannot hear as we lift them up to our God in intercession.

There could be a tendency to view this description as weakness. Because a “peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified” is often contrary to what the world around us defines as strength. But oh, let us not be deceived. Remarkable strength was displayed when Jesus stood silently before those who falsely accused Him. Those who spat on Him, slapped Him, scourged Him, and shouted, “Crucify!” He was not cowering in shame or shrinking back in weakness or fear. No, He stood firm, His face set like a flint, holding fast because of powerful, pure love. Crying out in the midst of it all, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

While we might not experience that level of persecution, that level of love should be displayed in us. Desiring always the salvation of all and actively seeking God’s intercession to save as we, His ambassadors and witnesses, speak the truth of the gospel of Christ with love and humble confidence. Conducting ourselves in a manner that glorifies our holy God and shows love, respect, and honor to these whom God loves, these for whom Christ died.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:3-8

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Never Forgotten – Ecclesiastes 2:15-16

“Then I said in my heart, ‘What happens to the fool will happen to me also.
Why then have I been so very wise?’ And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance,
seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.”

Ecclesiastes 2:15-16a

This statement brings into focus the importance of our motivation, our aim. If our aim is anything less than to know and glorify the Lord, all of our pursuits – however wise they are, however meaningful they seem – will be vanity. None will satisfy. All will leave us still empty.

It is only the pursuit of God’s glory that truly fills us. Because He fills us with Himself. And that strengthens us with fullness of joy and the completeness and purpose for which we long, that we may accomplish the good works He has set before us for the glory of His name. That we may stand fast through trial with endurance and joy, rejoicing in the sure victory that our God will be glorified.

We are His. And our God is magnificent. His purposes will stand, and even the smallest things we do matter when they are done in loving, joyful obedience to the God whom we seek to glorify in all things. Because He sees it. Even if no one else sees or notices, even if everyone forgets and it is eventually lost in the pages of history, your God sees you. He notices. It matters to Him. He delights in you, delights in your faith and your love and your obedience. And He will always remember. You will never be forgotten by the One who has created you, woven you together with intricate intentionality, written all of your days, led you with each step, and who will hold you fast each moment forever.

Not one moment, not one instance of loving sacrifice and obedience for the glory of your Lord will be forgotten. You are precious to Him. Living your life for Him, even in those simple and tiny moments of quiet surrender, is never wasted. He holds them all close because you are loved and He sees it all.

“Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!…
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.”
Psalm 112:1,6

Lifted Up For Us – John 3:14-15

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

John 3:14-15

When the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, it was for those who had sinned grievously against the Lord. They expressed deep, continued distrust of Him, to a great enough extent that punishment came. They were dying as a consequence of their sin. Without a remedy, without hope. Until the serpent was lifted up out of the mercy of God.

This is our state. This is where we were when Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God, was lifted up on the cross. And until we look to Him for salvation, that is where we remain. Dying in our grievous, prideful, rebellious sin. But for all who look to Him in faith, we find that He is enough. Enough to do what we cannot – save us. He made the choice to be lifted up. To save us through those agonizing hours rather than save Himself. He could have called angels down at any moment, but each moment He instead chose suffering, anguish, scorn, and death as He was lifted up on a Roman cross, beaten, bleeding, and shamed, “in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:12,16). Astoundingly, the mercy and love of God go beyond salvation for us. Believing in Christ, we find belonging. “See, what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Children of God. Not by inherent right, but granted by love. Through the sacrifice of Christ. Brought near and brought into close relationship, the holy God of heaven taking His chosen place as Abba, Father to us. Pouring into us grace upon grace as we receive all we need, all our souls have been searching for, from His fullness.

This, for grievous sinners. This, for us as we were dying in our sin and the darkness of our hearts. This, from an active standpoint – our Savior is not passive in His salvation of us. Shortly before His death, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). He draws us to Himself intentionally, actively seeking to bring us into relationship. So we can experience this depth of mercy. Abundant, overwhelming grace. Magnificent, steadfast love.

Jesus was lifted up that we, while vastly undeserving, can know eternal life. Eternal grace. Eternal light. Eternal freedom from sin. Eternal relationship with the One who makes us whole and who loves us so deeply He will go to such lengths for our sakes. Eternal safety, home, and belonging.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:1-9

Proven Truth – Proverbs 30:5

“Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

Proverbs 30:5

“This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 18:30

Every word. Every word of the Lord proves true. As the psalmist said in Psalm 119:140, “Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.” The Word of God proves true, always. Because every word is a reflection of His unchanging character, the steadfastness conveyed in His declared name: “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14).

How easily doubt creeps in. In difficult situations, in moments when confusion enters and we cannot see the hand of God. Those promises can begin to feel empty…or at least perhaps not applicable to us. Believer, His promises do apply to you. His Word will prove true in your life, in your circumstances. Because His Word holds fast through all of time – and if you are His, He holds you fast through all of time.

We must be careful, of course, to remain humble as we look to His promises. His wisdom and understanding of what is truly good for us, what is best, what is needed, what will truly bring us to our fullest joy and will satisfy our soul in Christ, is far beyond our own. So the fulfilling of His promises, which is sure, might appear different than we expect. Or reveal themselves on a different timeline than we expect. But they are being fulfilled. You will see them. Let your heart take courage; you will see the goodness of the Lord and you will be radiant in your rejoicing (Psalm 27:13-14; Jeremiah 31:12).

The connection of the Word of the Lord proving true with the picture of Him as a shield for those who take refuge in Him perhaps offers a glimpse of this needed humility and the difficulties the beloved of God still face. If we must take refuge, then the storm must be fierce. Beyond our strength and ability to withstand on our own. We take refuge because we require refuge. But that is not an indication that God has left us. It is not an indication that His Word has failed. Rather, this situation within which we must take refuge will prove the truth and steadfastness of our God and His Word.

His way is perfect because He knows our every need, whether we recognize it or not. It is perfect because He knows the end from the beginning. He can see every possible outcome. He knows the plans He has for us and how all of the details fit together. This is one of those details He is working for your good, for your joy, for His glory as He proves the truth of His Word and the steadfastness of His character and faithfulness in your life.

This matters. His faithfulness to you matters, because He will not fail any of those who are His. He loved you enough to send His Son to die in your place. He loved you enough to call you to Himself and, from the moment you believed, to pour His love into your heart through His own Spirit who now dwells in you. He will not fail you.

Press into His Word with faith bolstering you. It will prove itself to be true in your life. There might be aspects you do not see during this lifetime, but you will rejoice throughout eternity as you see that He was faithful and true every moment. As you take refuge in Him, know that He is your shield. His name, the name that declares His character and might, is a strong tower. The righteous (and Christ has made us righteous in Him) run to that strong tower and are unquestionably safe (Proverbs 18:10). Your God surrounds you. He fights for you. He acts for those who wait for Him. He keeps you in every moment. His goodness and mercy pursue you all the days of your life. Even when everything else is shaken, His love holds fast and His covenant of peace remains. He will not leave you and He is actively working to fulfill His every promise in your life in ways that are very personal and amazingly perfect in their timing and design.

The God We Have Known – Deuteronomy 11:26-28

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse;
the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God…and the curse,
if you do not obey…but turn aside…to go after other gods that you have not known.”

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

In these verses, this morning I was struck by the phrase, “other gods that you have not known.” When Moses spoke these words, it was after he had recalled the clear actions God had taken on Israel’s behalf. This phrase, then, highlights a direct contrast between the God who had been with Israel through the wilderness, the God who was known to them, and the unknown (false) gods of other nations.

There is a truth captured in these verses that resonates, one I need to hear this morning and really take in: the God who holds my life is known to me. He has made Himself known to me through the unfolding of His written Word by the power of His Spirit and through the opening of my eyes to see His glory, reality, and activity in my life.

He has made Himself known to me.

As a mighty fortress. As Savior and deliverer. As strength. Hope. Peace. Wisdom. As my guide. As the rock I can stand on, the One who will never change and never fail.

Mine is not a distant God. He is here, my ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). He has poured His perfect, powerful, life-changing and life-giving love into my heart through the giving of His Spirit who dwells in me (Romans 5:5). This from the moment I chose to believe in Jesus Christ, to surrender to this God who sacrificed so much to rescue me.

This God surrounds me all day long as the mountains surround Jerusalem, with favor as with a shield (Deuteronomy 33:12; Psalm 125:2; Psalm 5:12). He makes His voice known to me, recognized as the voice of my Shepherd, the living God who is for me (Psalm 56:9). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

To know Him is the basis of my faith. Knowing my God is the foundation of my trust. Because knowing Him, through the grounded truth of His Word and the experience of Him working in my life, I know He is trustworthy.

“The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9-10).

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4a). As this psalmist implies (and as I am currently experiencing), it is not that fear never strikes us. It is that when it does, we make a decisive choice to put our trust in God, the God whose Word we praise. Choosing to fix our eyes on who we know our God to be and to focus on trusting Him and praising His Word and its truth. Declaring, “No, I shall not be afraid.”

It’s a fight sometimes. That’s why we must make the choice. Will we choose to trust the God who has made Himself known to us? The God who desires to make Himself known to us in ways that are deeper and more real than we’ve experienced before? Oh, let us not fight Him here. Let us instead fight to put our trust in Him regardless of how fear-inducing our circumstances might appear. Declaring that we shall not be afraid, for we trust in the God who is known to us and who will continue to make Himself known as faithful and true, as wise and good, as powerful and victorious. Our times are in His hands and we can trust Him here (Psalm 31:14-15a).

“…Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24). These are the declared characteristic actions of the sovereign God who makes Himself known to us. Steadfast love. Justice. Righteousness. And the more we know Him, the more we will see them displayed.

So let us press on to know Him more, to know this God who fights for us and who delights to know us, who knows your name, your circumstances, the number of hairs on your head, and who has written your story from beginning to end.

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3