Isaiah 51-55 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He reveals His thoughts and ways through His Word

When author Dr. John Gray wrote his book several years ago, Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, his goal was to help men and women understand each other, to help them understand why their mates think the way they think and do the things they do.  Kudos to Dr. Gray for attempting the near impossible!  However, according to Isaiah 55, this challenge is a piece of cake, as they say, in comparison to understanding the thoughts and ways of God.  It’s not a matter of different planets – we’re talking beyond the Universe! 

@ Isaiah 55
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (8-9)  So how in the world, no pun intended, are we ever able to know and understand our God?

When I begin a new computer program or application, I approach the instructions and guidelines with fear and trepidation because understanding computerese is not my gifting.  I must admit that it’s somewhat demoralizing for me to read the instructions and then find it necessary to Google for instructions on how to understand the instructions, but I’m always thankful for the help.  And fortunately, God has not left us without support to know and to follow Him and His ways.  He has given us His Word.

Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word was written by holy men to help us understand our Creator, our God. (2 Peter 1:19-21)  Just like we desire that our friends know and understand us, God desires that we know and understand Him.  He, on the other hand, knows us better than we know ourselves

God’s Word is intentional.  Just as an arrow leaves the bow on an unaltered course, God’s Word whether heard or read cannot be retrieved – it will reach its mark. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”(10-11)

I recently heard the story of a young boy who attended a Sunday School class one time and heard one scripture read by the teacher that day.  The boy grew to be a man, never attending church or hearing God’s Word again.  But one day 40 years later, one God-appointed day when the man needed it most, that scripture came back to him.  Because of it, he gave his heart to the Lord and has a great testimony to share today.  God’s Word restores, renews and replenishes just as faithfully as His rain produces fruit.  Whether in reading it ourselves or in sharing it with others, God’s Word is powerful in our lives, and its potential is far more significant than we can imagine.

Created to be in an intimate relationship with God, I can’t think of a single reason to miss reading God’s Word each day.  It is Holy Spirit inspired to help me understand the heart of God whose thoughts and ways cannot be comprehended without it, and it is intentional in touching my life in a very personal way.  Reading His Word every day?  It’s a no-brainer. 

Moving Forward: Without excuse and full of desire, I gladly read His Word today so that I may know Him and know His heart.  The added bonus to my reading – “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! (12)  Let the music begin!

Tomorrow @ Matthew 26-28

Psalms 18-20 (NLT) 

Discover His Heart: He blesses our right living and provides the keys to His blessing

Each year I spend 52 days with David in Psalms.  After 28 years of doing this, I feel like I know him fairly well. The Biblical record of David, the mighty warrior, is impressive; but make no mistake, David was a shepherd at heart.  We think of shepherds as mild-mannered and gentle; but when the flock is in jeopardy, the warrior rises up — David > slingshot > giant.  I’ve met many shepherds, and never met one who wouldn’t go the distance to protect the flock.  Our Shepherd will do the same.

@ Psalm 18
David, the warrior
, knew where his help and strength came from to engage the enemy.  He opened Psalm 18 with, “I love you, Lord; you are my strength …rock …fortress …savior …shield …power …place of safety.”  Twice in Psalm 18, David declared the reason God’s help came, “The Lord rewarded me for doing right…to the faithful you show your faithful, to those with integrity you show integrity.  To the pure you show yourself pure…the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.” (24-28)  What an incentive for right living! 

@ Psalm 19
David, the shepherd
, was qualified to write Psalm 19:1-6. Shepherding gave him the opportunity to enjoy and contemplate God’s creation.  “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.” (1)  When I walk through gardens, view majestic mountains and travel His countryside, I always say that He could have made everything gray; but, no, that would not reflect who He is. We enjoy beauty and colorful landscapes because we are made in His image, and, obviously, He enjoys color! 

David, the shepherd, had the opportunity to meditate on God’s laws and their purposes.  Back in the ’70 we often sang the Psalms in our praise and worship, and Psalm19:7-11 was one of my favorites.  Instead of viewing His commandments as rules to inhibit my freedom, I look to them as the essential keys to a blessed life.  When obeyed, His commandments come with a promise for the future.

God’s laws tell me how to respond to life’s challenges, and they give His wisdom and His warnings.  “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.  The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (7-8)

Most of us long to revive our body and souls in this fast-paced world and many spend great sums of money on spas and retreats for a quick fix, but living out the commandments of the Lord that He designed for our well being is the permanent solution. We attend conferences, seminars, online classes and read volumes of books seeking to improve our lives and make us better, yet the Lord has provided clear, insights for living in His Word, providing all the wisdom we need to live a blessed life.  After all, He would know.

Moving Forward:  “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (19:14)  Today I will meditate on Him and pursue right living with tenacity, opening the doors of blessing in my life. And He will light up my darkness. 

Tomorrow @ Job 13-14.

Deuteronomy 4-6 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His commandments guide our steps as we keep our focus on them

Having already confessed the fact that I’m a compulsive list maker, I might as well come completely clean.  Some have labeled me the Queen of Sticky Notes, and there is an element of truth to this lofty title.  Surely everyone finds them helpful, just as I do in organizing my day, my stuff and my life – I have sticky notes for my sticky notes. I’m happy to report, for those who are not as savvy on the subject of sticky notes, these notes come in many sizes, colors, degrees of stickiness and some even have lines!  Imagine my relief to find that Moses was also a little over the top on posting notes everywhere in order to remember important things. 

@ Deuteronomy 6
Ready to enter the Promised Land, the Israelites were once again instructed by their leader, Moses, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (4-9)  They would have loved our sticky notes.

Moses began his exhortation with a call to love the Lord and follow His commands with their whole hearts because it’s impossible to remember something we don’t already know.  Once they were acquainted with God’s commands, they were to repeat them over and over to their children while at home and while on the road, when they went to bed and when they got up in the morning.

It’s been my experience that many parents expect the church to do all the teaching about God to their children, and that’s a big mistake.  The greatest chance of a child remembering a scripture and its concept outside of the church walls while at school or with friends is when they have been taught and reinforced outside of the church walls by the parent as well.  God’s Word is not just a Sunday thing – it’s a seven-days-a-week guidebook for everyone.

Growing up in my mother’s home, a day never passed without her quoting at the very least one scripture to me, and we always started the day by pulling out a scripture from the Scripture Box on the kitchen table.  Her examples followed me in raising my children where lengthy rides to church were filled with Bible stories disguised as great adventures.  The books of the Bible and scriptures were taught by my husband with the Jerry Lucas picture/memory system, and we still laugh today about the inventive pictures that were used.  Each night they fell asleep listening to Bible stories on tape by the delightful “Dan and Louie.”  God’s Word was not just for Sundays.

Still today, Orthodox Jews tie small boxes around their foreheads with scriptures inside in observance of this command.  I must confess I have not posted scriptures on my forehead with my sticky note fetish, but I have posted them on mirrors, computer screens, kitchen cupboards, calendars and just about everywhere else, even a doorpost or two.

I can’t seem to get enough of God’s words of encouragement as well as His disciplines.  The commands that Moses was speaking of are what guide our steps to do what blesses Him, and when God is blessed, we are blessed.  “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)  Oh, that’s good one.  Where are my sticky notes… 

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful today for His commands that give guidance to my day as I follow them, assured of success. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Chronicles 25-28

Psalm 119 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He came so that we may live free

Psalm 119!  Observations from the longest chapter in the Bible condensed to a short blog? Impossible!  This favorite Psalm of mine is also about my favorite subject; and if that theme wasn’t detected in its reading, then somebody wasn’t paying attention.  Of the 176 verses in this Psalm, 171 of them refer to none other than the Word of God, the love of it, the meditation of it, the understanding of it, the challenge of it and so much more.

My mom quoted to me from Psalm 119 regularly when I was young, especially verse 11, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  After the Bibles were removed from China in the last century, mom would remind me that the only scriptures that most Chinese Christians had were verses they had committed to memory and how much they cherished them.  I responded by memorizing my Sunday School verses each week because I couldn’t imagine living without God’s Word.  She often quoted another classic Psalm 119 verse, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and light for my path.” (105)  Even as a little child, I understood that a path could only be followed if it could be seen, and I didn’t want to get lost.

One of my personal favorites is verse 45 because it doesn’t make sense at all in the natural, yet it is so very true, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.”    It’s hard to understand how someone can walk in freedom but also walk in obedience to the commandments of God.  True freedom is not the ability to do only what we desire to do, something that can change from whim to whim.  True freedom is the ability to be what we were created to be.

When we walk in obedience to how the Creator directs our lives through His Word, we are not put in a position of having to live out the consequences of our sins.  We are not bound to confusion and indecision because we know how to respond to life through reading His Word.  He wrote the playbook, and we are able to fulfill our destiny through our obedience to Him with worry-free living. Freedom!

Jesus confirmed this freedom when He said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:34-36)  Free? Indeed!

Moving Forward:  I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world the freedom that comes from obedience to God’s commandments in His Word. I’ve hidden them in my heart and they are a continual light for my path. 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 28-30

Isaiah 51-55 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He reveals His thoughts and ways through His Word

When author Dr. John Gray wrote his book several years ago, Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, his goal was to help men and women understand each other, to help them understand why their mates think the way they think and do the things they do.  Kudos to Dr. Gray for attempting the near impossible!  However, according to Isaiah 55, this challenge is a piece of cake, as they say, in comparison to understanding the thoughts and ways of God.  It’s not a matter of different planets – we’re talking beyond the Universe! 

@ Isaiah 55
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (8-9)  So how in the world, no pun intended, are we ever able to know and understand our God?

When I begin a new computer program or application, I approach the instructions and guidelines with fear and trepidation because understanding computerese is not my gifting.  I must admit that it’s somewhat demoralizing for me to read the instructions and then find it necessary to Google for instructions on how to understand the instructions; but I’m always thankful for the help.  And fortunately, God has not left us without help to know and to understand Him and His ways.  He has given us His Word.

Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word was written by holy men to help us understand our Creator, our God. (2 Peter 1:19-21)  Just like we desire for our friends to know and understand us, God desires that we know and understand Him.  He, on the other hand, knows us better than we know ourselves

God’s Word is intentional.  Just as an arrow leaves the bow on an unaltered course, God’s Word whether heard or read cannot be retrieved – it will reach its mark. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”(10-11)

I recently heard the story of a young boy who attended a Sunday School class one time and heard one scripture read by the teacher that day.  The boy grew to be a man, never attending church or hearing God’s Word again.  But one day 40 years later, one God-appointed day when the man needed it most, that scripture came back to him.  Because of it, he gave his heart to the Lord and has a great testimony to share today.  God’s Word restores, renews and replenishes just as faithfully as His rain produces fruit.  Whether in reading it ourselves or in sharing it with others, God’s Word is powerful in our lives and its potential is far greater than we can imagine..

Created to be in an intimate relationship with God, I can’t think of a single reason to miss reading God’s Word each day.  It is Holy Spirit inspired to help me understand the heart of God whose thoughts and ways cannot be comprehended without it, and it is intentional in touching my life in a very personal way.  Reading His Word every day?  It’s a no-brainer. 

Moving Forward: Without excuse and full of desire, I gladly read His Word today so that I may know Him and know His heart.  The added bonus to my reading – “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! (12)  Let the music begin!

Tomorrow @ Matthew 26-28

Psalms 18-20 (NLT) 

Discover His Heart: He blesses our right living and provides the keys to His blessing

Each year I spend 52 days with David in Psalms.  After 28 years of doing this, I feel like I know him fairly well. The Biblical record of David, the mighty warrior, is impressive; but make no mistake, David was a shepherd at heart.  We think of shepherds as mild mannered and gentle; but when the flock is in jeopardy, the warrior rises up — David > slingshot > giant.  I’ve met many shepherds, and never met one who wouldn’t go the distance to protect the flock.  Our Shepherd will do the same.

@ Psalm 18
David, the warrior
, knew where his help and strength came from to engage the enemy.  He opened Psalm 18 with, “I love you, Lord; you are my strength …rock …fortress …savior …shield …power …place of safety.”  Twice in Psalm 18 David declared the reason God’s help came, “The Lord rewarded me for doing right…to the faithful you show your faithful, to those with integrity you show integrity.  To the pure you show yourself pure…the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.” (24-28)  What an incentive for right living! 

@ Psalm 19
David, the shepherd
, was qualified to write Psalm 19:1-6. Shepherding gave him the opportunity to enjoy and contemplate God’s creation.  “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.” (1)  When I walk through gardens, view majestic mountains and travel His countryside, I always say that He could have made everything gray; but, no, that would not reflect who He is. We enjoy beauty and colorful landscapes because we are made in His image, and, obviously, He enjoys color! 

David, the shepherd, had the opportunity to meditate on God’s laws and their purposes.  Back in the ’70 we often sang the Psalms in our praise and worship, and Psalm19:7-11 was one of my favorites.  Instead of viewing His commandments as rules to inhibit my freedom, I look to them as the essential keys to a blessed life.  When obeyed, His commandments come with a promise for the future.

God’s laws tell me how to respond to life’s challenges, and they give His wisdom and His warnings.  “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.  The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (7-8)

Most of us long to revive our body and souls in this fast-paced world and many spend great sums of money on spas and retreats for a quick fix, but living out the commandments of the Lord that He designed for our well being is the permanent solution. We attend conferences, seminars, online classes and read volumes of books seeking to improve our lives and make us better, yet the Lord has provided clear, insights for living in His Word, providing all the wisdom we need to live a blessed life.  After all, He would know.

Moving Forward:  “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (19:14)  Today I will meditate on Him and pursue right living with tenacity, opening the doors of blessing in my life. And He will light up my darkness. 

Tomorrow @ Job 13-14.