The Choice of Quietness before God

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5, ESV)

Some words languish in major disregard in the Biblical text because the contemporary words used in the selected verses are words we hold in low esteem. There is probably no word translated in the Bible that suffers from such low regard as the word “meek.” Hardly anyone would like to be classified as a meek person. In many cultures, including most Western cultures; meekness is equated with weakness. Neither is meekness valued as a virtue because the strong individual is ideal and someone who is meek would most likely to be discounted, disregarded and pushed aside in competitive cultures. So why does our Lord, proclaim blessings upon those that are meek?

First of all, we must remember, the blessings coming upon the meek are not coming from the culture. The blessings coming from God are coming from the same Lord that proclaimed that, “the last shall be first” (Matthew 20:16). The meekness our Lord values, is not so much a virtue as a disposition. True meekness is not a weakness but a strength and a resolve to live and follow Christ as our Master.

True meekness before God is a quietness and a submission of our will to the will of God. It is a stillness to live in relationship with God in full contentment without disputing with God about His plans, purposes and will. Thus living with the disposition of meekness in being in agreement with God brings about the virtues of dedicated diligence and genuine humility before God which could be characterized by bravery, modesty, reverence and even altruism as the focus of your life is on God and not upon yourself.

Thus meekness is not weakness but an honest dependence and dedication to God which leads to the total abandonment of our will to God’s greater will. True meekness thus recognizes the futility of self-promotion and self-importance against trusting in the everlasting Almighty God for all things. Meekness thus becomes one of the greatest measures of strength in our faith and through this strength comes the great blessing of God to inherit His full immeasurable blessings upon this earth and in the new earth to come.

Suggested Reading … “The Beatitudes of Christ (Matthew 5:2-12) & Matthew 6

The Comforter is Coming!

Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4, ESV)

An enemy seems to have triumphed. Expectations for future good in our lives lie like shattered and broken debris all around the dreams we once held so dear. Heartache pierces our days with sorrows that overwhelm us. All that once was, is now gone and what we see ahead staggers us. It doesn’t matter if the loss comes from an unanticipated tragedy, an unforeseen separation, and major changes in our lives or even from a life robbing illness … we deeply mourn each loss. We suffer accordingly to the severity of each loss and we strain to find the will and resolve to move forward into the new reality.

Loss is part of living. We experience losses in both the stages of the life we live in and though and in the severing of the bonds that come in those different times. Loss is part of loving others as we experience the losing in various facets of those relationships and sometimes even in the loss of people we dearly love. It is part of loss to grieve and part of grieving to mourn.

So how is it possible to be blessed in our mourning? The mourning we feel in the losses that come from our connecting in relationships means that those relationships were real and of great significance in our lives. We find some solace in the truth of this reality but how can blessed comfort come in the recognition of this truth?

There may be some small blessing in our realization of the significance and gifts from the relationship which is now lost but the greater promise of blessing as we mourn can only be found in the One that comes in our losses. Our Savior comes to us in all losses and He comes to us as we mourn. He comes through and by His Holy Spirit (John 14:16). He comes in ways we cannot see until we realize what He has given us. He comes with a peace that passes understanding. He promises to come and stay by us. He will come in our mourning and we will be blessed in His coming. This we can count on and this is the blessing to those that mourn.

Suggested Reading … “The Beatitudes of Christ” (Matthew 5:2-12) & Psalm 30

The Kingdom Belongs to the Poorest Subjects


Alphonse Legros, Supper of the Poor, NGO Image, National Gallery of Art

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3, NIV)

Kingdoms usually are governed, controlled and maintained by the wealthiest and most powerful members of the kingdom. Those in the kingdom who are poor or without means, title, and position are left to fend for themselves usually without rights, privileges or access to the finer things of the kingdom. There usually is no course of action for the poor of the kingdom to ever bring about any reversal of their position from the lowest realms of the kingdom to be part the upper ranks of the kingdom.

Thus the poor in most societies are usually considered with the lowest of respect and regard. Even though the poorest are indeed the most humble and most in need of what any kingdom could provide; they most likely would be the least likely to be given much. They might even be the hardest workers, the most diligent and loyal of all the subjects in the kingdom but this will not elevate them from their lowly place in the kingdom. Their humbleness in spirit will never be noted as a cause or reason for their inheriting the wealth of the kingdom.

How different is “The Kingdom of God,” as it is promised as an inheritance with the highest of benefits and privileges to those who are the poorest and most humble subjects in the kingdom. Those that are in the lowest of positions will indeed be those that inherit the highest positions in the kingdom. Those people, who see their great need for God and realize their total dependence upon Him, will be given the graceful riches of His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not entered or captured by riches, power or manipulations but is instead given to those desire God and His kingdom in humble state. He will indeed lift up the poorest and most humble in His Kingdom. All that is required to be part of the Kingdom of God is to acknowledge and live in such a way as to we see our need for God as the only way into His Kingdom.

Maybe Christ is simply saying in the Kingdom of God; the poorest and the most humble in their position as needing what the Kingdom brings, will indeed inherit the Kingdom? This premise fits quite remarkably with the promise of Christ that “the last shall be first.” Maybe we will be very surprised at the royalty in the eternal Kingdom of God!

Suggested Reading … “The Beatitudes of Christ” (Matthew 5:2-12)

The Swirling Tempest

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel,“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;I have called you by name; you are Mine!” “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,Nor will the flame burn you.” “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior …” “Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, “Do not fear, for I am with you ….” (Selected Verses Isaiah 43, NASB)

There are streams of water that are quiet and placid and resting near these serene stream sides often brings a comforting peace to our hearts. The water in these gentle steams does not threaten us but reassures us in its tranquility. As we walk along this kind of slow water, we are reflective and calmed. In the midst of busyness and hectic lives, our Lord encourages us to come to the edge of these symbolic quiet and reflective waters where we will be comforted by His presence and peace (Psalm 23:2). He bids us to sit for a while and find the rest that only He can give as both our Savior and Shepherd.

There are other types of flowing waters often called rivers. Rivers can be fast moving as they rage and roar with the water crashing and smashing down the watercourse. The water spills and flows violently over rocks and debris creating swirling tempests that although they might be stunning to look at, are extremely dangerous. Venturing into these fast moving rivers or trying to cross them is not something that is wise.

Yet in our lives, we can find ourselves standing the midst of a river that is very turbulent with swirling tempest like life events or circumstances. We did not chose to venture into these dangerous and life threatening waters and yet we find ourselves desperately trying to cross over to the safety on the other side of the river. Somehow these overwhelming life events throw us into the fray and we are left looking for someone to come to our rescue. Here is the remarkable truth of our faith … the same Lord who bids us to come to the quiet waters as our Shepherd, now plunges into the swirling tempest that surrounds us at this time as our mighty Savior. He comes to steady and save us.

When we are surrounded by the surging rivers of life, it is not the time to be overwhelmed by the deepness of the water or frustrated by the strength of the flow that pushes against us. This is the moment when we should reach for the Savior who gracefully lifts us from the depths of the tempest around us. He will come to us with His steadfast love and far-reaching grace in the midst of the swirling waters.

It is such a blessing … to have both a Shepherd who bids us to come to the peace that only He can give along the quiet waters of life but also a Savior who comes at our calling and plunges into the fray to steady us through the swirling tempest and to carry us to safely by His love to the other side of the river. What an incredible Savior we have!

Come Lord Jesus, come … Come in the midst of this swirling tempest in my life. Come and steady my feet and my heart … to trust in your love, as you take me across this river.

Suggested Reading … Isaiah 43

P.S. I wrote this devotion thinking about my dear cousin , Carol Fuller, who is battling major medical difficulties. This passage from Isaiah 43 will be my prayer for her during this time.  I will pray for our Savior to come in the midst of the swirling tempest and steady Carol’s step in the rushing waters as He brings her to health and safety.

The Incomprehensible Removal

He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; he is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever. He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him. For he knows we are but dust and that our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever. But the loving-kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to those who reverence him; his salvation is to children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant and remember to obey him! (Psalm 103:8-18)

To remove something … requires both the authority to bring about any removal and the ability to carry out the action of removing the offending, irritating, obsolete, broken or useless article or thing. There are also times when people are removed from positions, roles or even relationships because of many and varied reasons and again, what is needed is both the authority and the will to remove the person and the ability or the plan to bring about the removal.

Our sin is offensive and painful to our God because of its damaging distancing effect and its ongoing consequences to our relationship with Him as the sin separates us from His perfect will and plans for our lives. Sin irritates our God because it takes us from the place of blessing and it puts us in the place of being a transgressor. Sin breaks us and it breaks hearts and lives around us as it lingers and damages other relationships as diverse as our daily work relationships to our friendships and families. Sin can leave us in difficult, sad and lonely places with little hope or promise in the future.

Yet it is here, in the damaged and separated place that the mighty God with a mighty love comes both to remove and redeem. It is God alone who has the authority to remove our sin and it is His love alone, which can carry out the removal of all our sin throughout all of our days. He does not just remove our sin as if to push it out of the way or set it aside in such a way that we might be facing it as a daily reminder of our foolishness or stubbornness but He casts it an incomprehensible distance away. We may deal with some consequences of our sin but His forgiveness is complete and total. He can do this and He does this, because of His enduring and steadfast incomprehensible love which exceeds the incomprehensible distance He has removed our sin from our lives.

What an amazing God we have! For He loves us with an amazing incomprehensible steadfast and enduring love! What an incomprehensible grace we have! A grace given both in our salvation and in our loving God’s continued redeeming of every sin and failure by His incomprehensible removal of our sin by casting it an incomprehensible distance away from our lives. Praise and thanks be our Heavenly Father that loves us with a love we cannot really comprehend.

Suggested Reading … Psalm 103

Setting your affection and attention upon things above …

Picture rainbow

“Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1, NIV).

We all know the affections of our own heart. These affections focus upon people, places and things that move and direct our hearts with fond regard and emotion. Our spouses and families are deeply loved and our friends are connected at various levels of affections. We at times chose these affections and we at times will never know why we like and love certain rich or delicate foods, certain panoramic scenes or things that we collect or value throughout the course of our living.

In a darker and more foreboding sense, we know that our affections can sometimes drift or be swayed by the affections of our heart into things that would cause us to sin or even courses of lifestyle or actions that are not holy or healthy.
We all know the things that capture, motivate and hold the passions of our attentive mind and focus. From our views on subjects as vastly different as politics and culture, we all have areas of interest and desires where we find our attentions focused. At times if we are completely honest in our self-awareness, we may even find alarming the direction our minds might be enticed and tempted by sin.

Much of the time, as pilgrims on this vast and varied earth, that we both physically and emotionally travel upon and through … we know the familiar places where our affections and attentions like to stop and visit. Faith enters these realms of affections and attentions but many times it has to compete with our focus in what is seen, attended to or felt in our hearts.

Yet our faith in Christ, is always in a tension as it demands our leaving the old affections and attentions that we see, think and feel behind … as we are reborn to continually place our heart and mind in and upon the Christ who is now our Lord and Master. It is in the intentional and consistent releasing of the old and the natural affections and attentions around and within us that we change our lives. This change of the will allows the continual rebirth of those affections and attentions to be lovingly and thoughtfully placed upon things that are above. These things, which are above, come from Christ and they bring the abundant and eternal life He both promises and delivers.

“Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things, for you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2, NIV).
Suggested Reading … Colossians 3

Confession is more than confessing our sin …

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:1-4, KJ21).

Sometimes we come to God, confessing our sin but not really desiring to give up the sin that we are confessing. Sometimes we come with a contrite heart, confessing our sin and sincerely desiring to leave certain sins behind but we struggle to truly give up those same sins. Sometimes we come confessing our sins and find not only forgiveness for the sins but a definite severing of the bondage of the sin that formerly entangled us.

Although our acknowledgement of our sin in our confession is vitally important, it is not the complete role, confession plays in our relationship with our Heavenly Father who forgives all sin through the blood of Jesus Christ and the redemption He brings to us. Confession must both have the components of asking for forgiveness and seek the freedom from that sin and all sin by the empowerment of the grace that God gives as the sin is released from its stain upon our hearts.

David understood this as he both confesses his sin to God and asks for God’s restoration and continued presence through His Holy Spirit. He felt both the broken-ness of his sin and the sting of its consequences and at the same time, he needed God restoration and the presence of the Holy Spirit for his future days. We need to confess our sins, but also need to confess our hope in God’s restoration and continued presence.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:10-14, KJ21).

Suggested Reading … Psalm 51

The smallness of our being …

“So teach us to number our days that we might get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, ESV)

Human beings at times, tend to live in ways that over emphasize our importance and immortality instead realizing the smallness of our being and our frailness. Generally we tend to see ourselves as being a bit more impervious to difficulties than we truly are. We tend to think that tragedies will not happen to us and if they do, that we will rise up quite in remarkable triumph. We tend to live with hardy a passing glance at death as if nothing can take away our life. We tend to think of ourselves a bit younger than we are, when we are older in age and a bit older when we are younger in age. We tend to think of ourselves as a bit more important, than we probably are and a bit more vital to the systems around us, than we probably are. When we get to the crux of the matter, there is a somewhat default position in most human thinking. Humans often function from a somewhat fantastical self-centered inflated position in their awareness of their being.

In no way do I wish to lessen anyone’s value or worth, but instead offer for our consideration; the value of humility. Bringing the virtue of humility into our life and daily functioning will bring a more honest appraisal and awareness of our place, worth and fragility. Being aware our true size in the area of importance to others is vitally important. Being aware of our true abilities and weakness fosters growth and productivity instead of brashness and inefficacy. Our being more aware and humble regarding the reality of our frailness in matters of life and death will lead us to live intention and purpose. Seeing ourselves when we are young as lacking experience will push towards seeking the wisdom of those more experienced and remembering the failures in our experiences will humble to be more compassionate towards others.

Our Lord desires that see ourselves as we are. We are not as large as we think we are or as important as we think we are. We need His grace, not only to save us but to carry through each day. The days of our lives pass by quickly and our only hope for immortality in found in Christ alone and not in our efforts.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tenderness and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself. Look not every man to his own things, but every man also to the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the fashion of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death—even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:1-8, KJ21).

Suggested Reading … Psalm 90 & Philippians 2


The Walk

There are walks which are easy where the course of the path is straight and relatively flat, devoid of any difficulty. Then again, some walks are steep treacherous and demanding leaving us tired and perspiring. Walks can also lead us to grand and breathtaking vistas of possibilities and walks can lead us to dark and dangerous dead ended walls of despair.

Our faith often resembles a walk. We know the walk leads to a deeper relationship with our Savior and we also know to follow the path our Good Shepherd leads our feet to tread. We know we are safe on this route and we know He is beside us with His rod and staff. Still we stop and linger peering over edges of the trail as if they were not dangerous and glancing backward intrigued with side tracks that are definitely fruitless and leading us away from the path our Master wants to lead us on.

Trusting our Shepherd and Savior will always bless us, as obedience teaches us and allows us to continue further down the trail where we become more like the Master. His Holy Spirit will fill us with abundant sufficiency on our walk of faith, we just have to listen and follow. Ultimately we will find ourselves in God’s glorious presence forever … is there any other walk anywhere that will lead to such a place. All we have on this walk of faith is to trust the Master who knows the way.

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:25-32, ESV).

Suggested Reading … Ephesians 4

The Burden of Falseness

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:11-14, ESV).

As believers in God, we at times will use words that describe God’s attributes such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. We use these words to wrap our limited knowledge and descriptive capacities as we describe the unlimited and unfathomable nature, knowledge and capacities of God. Yet we live at times, in a way as if God were unaware of our actions, intentions, schemes and sin. This falseness is always present in sin and in lesser degrees in all activities seem religious but really distance our living from God’s plans and ways.

God truly tires of all falseness especially our religiosity because He is aware of both the pretense and the destruction any course of sin will bring. All that is deceptive is never hidden from Him and so He carries the burden of waiting for us to both see the truth of our sin and come back to Him in repentance. Falseness separates God from us in every spurious action we take part in, just as falseness distances all parties in all relationships. Falseness also is a heavy burden to the human heart and mind as it travels the distance from first numbing us to the truth of who we are, to eventually overloading us with shame and guilt when we become finally see the truth. Sometimes the only person we deceive is our self. Falseness if unchecked and unaltered eventually destroys everything and it will eventually destroy us.

God is not only mighty in His power but He is mighty in His mercy and love. Our Father carries our burden of falseness and sin until we come to Him for cleansing grace, redemption and restoration. What a remarkable Father we have, to see through all our falseness and still wait for us! What an incredible Redeemer we have, to welcome us as He washes our sin of falseness away as we come in repentance. What an unbelievable Healer we have, to restore us and provide the good that only He can give. We all need to stop any pretending and give all our days to Him, by following His Spirit and His ways.

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “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. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land …” (Isaiah 1:18-19, ESV).

Suggested Reading … Isaiah 1