Devotional

Psalm 71- Part Three of Five

You Are My Hope, O LORD God

For You are my hope, O Lord God: You are my trust from my youth. But I will hope continually, and I will praise you yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits.  Psalm 71:5, 14, 15 NKJV

I recently traveled from San Diego to Tennessee. I didn’t know the way, but I was confident that the pilot of the plane did. I could have worried that the pilot would get lost, or that the plane would not have enough fuel. Instead, I sat in peace, able to read and write. I had the certain hope that I would arrive at the right location because the pilot knew where he was taking me.

Our Lord knows where we are going. He has our whole lives planned out before even one day has come about. He knows what each day has in it. He knows the direction and end point of the journey for each of us.

I know the Lord has everything in His capable hands, so why do I fret over the what-ifs of possible illness, or if my husband and I will be able to work until we want to retire?  Why do I get so upset by small things, like the item I can’t find at a given moment? Do you find yourself anxious about things beyond your control?

Why do we worry? Can it be that we forget who the LORD really is?

The Lord God is Sovereign. He is in control. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Satan couldn’t attack Job without God’s permission. (Job, chapter 1) When God gave His permission, He set limits to the attacks on Job. I don’t pretend to understand that. However, it is assuring to know that our righteous God filters everything through His hands.

In Psalm 71, the Psalmist shares his hope in God’s deliverance. He looks at the Lord’s presence in his past and knows that God will be with him in the future. This hope leads him to praise God.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, since my youth. …I will ever praise you. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.  Psalm 71:5, 6, 9, 14, 20, 21 NKJV





Jesus Christ also had a certain hope. He knew He would endure pain, ridicule, betrayal, suffering, and ultimately, death. Yet He willingly chose to die on the cross for our sins knowing that he would live again, and that through Him, those who believe in Him would receive eternal life.

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We can have a certain hope if we are following Jesus. We can rely on our Pilot, the LORD God. He knows our journey. He will be with us, guiding us and providing everything we need.

Let’s take hope. Let’s remember who the Lord is. Writing out what God has done for us in the past also helps us have hope in the future. As we look at God’s faithfulness, may we praise the Lord!

Dear Lord God, You are my hope. I will praise you. When I waver, please strengthen me and help me to remember You are trustworthy. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.

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Devotional

Psalm 71- Part Two of Five

The Lord is my Refuge

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel. Psalm 71:3,4 NIV

Do you ever want to run off and hide? I do. I hear of war, disease, and of the shocking values being promoted to our children in public education, and I want to flee from the news. It’s overwhelming. Other times, a storm in my own life threatens to drown me, such as a great discouragement, or the cancer I had. I need a refuge, a place of shelter or protection from danger or distress. To me, a refuge is also a place where I know I am loved. The Lord is my refuge.

The Psalmists often wrote of the LORD being their refuge, their Rock, and a fortress.

David of Israel certainly saw his share of problems. Pursued by King Saul who sought David’s life, David lived his life on the run. Later, King David’s son, Absalom, usurped his throne. Yet David hoped in the LORD. The Psalms are full of David’s laments of his problems, his plea for God to act, and his praises for the LORD who delivered him. Consider a few:

Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me….You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  Psalm 59:1,9, 16 NKJV

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 NKJV

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How can we take refuge in the LORD?

 We can call to the Lord for deliverance. He loves us. He will deliver us. He will be with us through the storm. We can turn to Him when we are troubled and know He cares. He has the ability to see the whole picture. God will do what is best for us and for His purposes.

As our Rock, the Lord is immovable, permanent, and a firm foundation. He is our hiding place.

We can hide in the LORD, our fortress. A fortress brings to mind fortified castles or walled areas of defense. There is safety in a fortress because it is defendable. The LORD fights for us. Jesus already won the battle against evil when He conquered sin and death on the cross in our place.

Our enemy, the devil, loves to scheme and try to trap us. He seeks to devour us. He wants to kill our trust in God. If he can ruin our walk and our testimony or cause us to wallow in defeat, he sidelines our witness for God. The devil does not want us to grow in our faith. The enemy does not want us to share what Jesus has done for us. We can run to God when temptation comes. By keeping God’s Word in front of our attention, we can lean on God’s commands and guidance.  

May we, like the Psalmist, seek and find our refuge in God.

Lord, thank you for being my rock on which I can stand. You are my shelter of protection in which I can take refuge, and my fortress of defense. I love you, Lord. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.

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Devotional

Psalm 71-Part One of Five

In You, O LORD, I Put My Trust

In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; Psalm 71:1-3 NKJV

I often put my trust in myself, not wanting to be disappointed by others letting me down. When I fail, I beat myself up for it. Trusting in things like cars, finances, or jobs doesn’t work either. Cars break down, finances fluctuate, and jobs end.

How much better it is when I put my trust in the LORD! There is no shame in Him. The LORD is my strong refuge to which I can continually go, knowing God welcomes me.

I’m learning to trust God more. One lesson is that God is faithful to provide. My husband, Cliff, was laid off from jobs as cell phone manufacturing and other technical jobs moved out of the United States. In 2008, Cliff was training his replacements in another country, so we decided I needed to rejoin the work force after years as a stay-at-home mom. Cliff was laid off a few months later. With the 2008 economic crisis, companies weren’t hiring. As unemployment stretched from weeks to months, our hope drained as fast as our savings. We both worried. Cliff applied to about 470 jobs, but only two companies interviewed him. I wondered if I should leave the teacher’s aide position I enjoyed and find full time work, but our high school aged son was not driving yet and we were his transportation. Our daughter was in college. The job search and financial situation seemed hopeless.

We were praying, but it took awhile to realize that God was answering our prayers differently for a reason. In the eight months that Cliff was unemployed, God was teaching us to trust Him to provide. Sometimes His provision was a meal or financial gift from a friend or from our church. Other times it was an odd job of house repair, or extra hours at my school. We rejoiced when Cliff was hired! Trusting God to provide was a lesson that we’ve reviewed. Another eight-month period of Cliff searching for a job in 2013 found me at peace, knowing that while it was difficult, I could trust the Lord to provide as He had done before.  A job loss doesn’t mean that God stops caring for me and my family.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Let’s trust God in our situations. Let’s rely on Him and not on ourselves. He has the best plans for each of us. He loves us. He hears us when we pray or cry. He delivers us in His righteousness.  As we recognize that, we can release our grip on our lives and allow the LORD to be in control. Even when life seems to be spinning faster than the washing machine spin cycle, we can choose to remember God’s faithfulness in our own life. Reading through the Bible passages will show us the Lord’s faithfulness to those in Bible times.

Dear LORD, help me to trust You instead of myself. When I rely on myself, my foundation is sinking sand that shifts with my moods and insecurities. Help me remember that You are my firm foundation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.

Top photo Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay 

Devotional

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – Part Two of Two: A Journey from the Cross to Christ’s Resurrection

Jesus said to the disciples, “Thus it was written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:46-48 NKJV

Imagine the disciples’ dismay as they saw the Lord Jesus go to the Cross. Their leader was gone. They expected He would set up His earthly kingdom. Instead Jesus wore a crown of thorns. Killed between thieves, Jesus lay dead in a rich man’s tomb, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53; Matthew 27).  

They didn’t understand Jesus’ words that He would die and then rise again in three days. They saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, but had anyone ever raised themselves? How hard it was for the words to be real to them.

Then Sunday morning came. Resurrection Sunday! The faithful women who went to anoint Jesus’ body discovered the empty tomb! An angel of the Lord told them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell the disciples that He is risen from the dead…” Matthew 28:5-7 NKJV

The disciples thought the women’s words were idle tales. Jesus appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus, to Simon, and to the disciples in the upper room before they believed Jesus was alive! (See Mark 16; Luke 24; John 21)

Believing in the risen Lord changed the disciples’ lives! No longer fearful and hiding from authorities in a locked room, the disciples became courageous for the message of Jesus, making disciples and teaching people to obey Jesus.

Would I have believed the women? Would I have been like Thomas and doubted all of the reports? Thomas did not believe until Jesus came saying “Reach…look…Do not be unbelieving but believing.” John 20:24-29

I believe that Jesus is God and that he died and rose again. It is the day-to-day living I struggle with. Sometimes I forget that Jesus’ promises apply to me. Remission of sins…My head agrees, but how quickly I listen to the devil’s accusations that I am not good enough or obedient enough for God.

Jesus promised “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. When things are going badly, it is hard for the words to be real to me.

  If I lived like I believed Jesus was always with me, would I be fearful when facing difficulty? Should I instead trust Him in all things? Yes, in all things.

How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is the risen Lord? Do you doubt like the disciples did? Or do you stand firm in God’s promises?

Let’s bring our doubts and fears to Jesus. He triumphed over the grave! Is there anything too hard for Him? Jesus can change us!

Dear Lord Jesus, Please help me to trust You in all things. When trials come, help my heart and my head to both say “I believe in You, and that You keep Your promises.”  Forgive me of my doubts and attitudes that reflect me and not You. Help me be a witness for You. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience. The previous devotional follows this one on the web page.

Devotional

Press On to Win the Prize! Part 2 of 2

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV (Emphasis mine)

Failures and setbacks can so easily derail us. In the midst of difficulties it is tempting to give up. If our focus is on the problems and on the past, it can shape our future by preventing us from pressing on. This is true in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives.

Our enemy, the devil, would like nothing better than to see us defeated, and for us to not realize who we are in Christ Jesus. The enemy wants us to believe his lies. He knows that we are conquerors in Christ, but he tells us that we are failures, or that we are unlovable, or that God is angry with us. The enemy wants us to be ineffective in our Christian walk. If he can keep people from coming in faith to Jesus, it delights the devil. Giving up or only partially trying results in defeat.

We can learn from Men’s Figure Skater Nathan Chen. After Chens’s three mistakes in the short program in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, he was 13th in ranking. In his interview with NBC Sports [i], he shared that he felt like giving up. “There’s no point.” He said. “I should just go home.” He was encouraged to stay and finish the competition.

Chen finished and found redemption. How? Chen said he adjusted his mind set. “I was no longer over analyzing things or putting as much pressure on myself.” He reverted to his training and utilized what he had worked on in his training.  He stated, “I can never go back and adjust it [his short skate program]…just look forward…clean up the mistakes that I made.” Chen did so well in the longer free skate that followed that he earned 215 points, better than his previous best of 204 points. He placed 5th in PyeongChang in 2018. Chen said, “We definitely learn from our failures the best, so I’m not going to forget what happened in 2018… Just take it for what it is. Learn from whatever I can and continue moving forward.” Now, four years later at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, I think Chen continued to learn from his past failures and continued moving forward. He won the Olympic gold medal in Men’s Figure Skating.

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Our goal is to win the prize for which God has called us. That calling of God goes throughout our lives until we are in heaven with Him.

Let’s adjust our mindset. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, may we learn from them so that we don’t repeat them. Let’s not listen to the enemy’s accusations or to his lies that we will never be good enough for God to care about us.

Let’s go back to our training, to the fundamentals of faith. Here is a partial list:

  • Recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 2:23). Confess sin moment by moment as needed. Keep the communication line clear with our Coach, the Holy Spirit.
  • Remember that when we confess our sin, God doesn’t keep bringing it up again. He forgives us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NKJV) It is the devil who accuses. Jesus stands beside our Heavenly Father as our advocate and defender. (I John 2:1)
  • Know Who God really is, not the box we may put Him into. Read Scripture about God’s character and attributes.
  • Regularly read and follow the training manual, the Bible. Memorize verses that give instruction to living a godly life. Work on the training we receive.
  • Obey what God says. Apply what God teaches.
  • Pray. God wants us to come to Him. Prayer is talking with God, and listening for His reply. It may not be in an audible voice, but the Holy Spirit will guide us. We need to be quiet to listen to Him.
  • Remember that we belong to Him. God is with us and in us. The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4 b )
  • Tell the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
  • Fellowship with other believers.

Let’s forget what is behind and press on toward the goal. Finish well.

Dear Lord, Help me to press ahead and follow You every day. Please help me to finish my race well. Amen.  


[i] How Nathan Chen’s redemptive Olympic free skate made him the best skater in the world | NBC Sports https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports


 Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn