Archive for Devotional with Hymn

Face-to-face with the Living God

To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
(Psalm 123:1-2, NASB)

I remember clearly when I first trusted Jesus Christ. It was the last night of a revival in our local church with evangelist Rev. Jay Budd. All week a fear of hell had been building in my 10-year-old mind, but I was too shy to go forward during the altar call. So when we arrived home after church on that Sunday night, April 10, 1960, I went into my parents’ bedroom and told them I wanted to pray to become a Christian.

I still remember my burning desire not to lose the amazing new feeling that filled my heart.

But my deepest and most formative memory of that evening is my new awareness of the Living God. I had the sensation of Him standing right in front of me, looking straight into my eyes. The reality was stark and gripping. He filled my heart’s vision. I could not ignore Him or look past Him. But His look was not threatening. He was not angry with me. His look was love…nothing but love.

I think of that when I read the account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. Paul was making a career of trying to stamp out Christianity, and suddenly, in a moment in time, he turned around 180 degrees and became one of its most fervent advocates. Within a few days he was publicly contending for the truth he had violently opposed. The change did not happen through years of studying and thinking. Like me, he simply came face-to-face with the Living Christ. Few words were exchanged. The gripping reality of Jesus Christ transformed him completely in a moment in time, and he was never the same.

Like Paul, my life and ministry continues to be energized by the stark reality of Father God, revealed so vividly and personally in Jesus Christ. To my ears, so much of our Christian talk is about religion, and religion can be such a human thing. It pales before the Living God. He still fills my heart’s vision, as He did on that evening over 55 years ago. He draws me. He drives me. My relationship with Him shapes every aspect of my life. When He speaks, all other voices are just background noise. When He commands, my path is clear, regardless of opposition. My heart has room for nothing and no one else.

As with Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, and Paul, God Himself, in His person, makes all other considerations irrelevant. He is the Source and Center of all reality. He is all wisdom, all power, and all love. He calls, I answer. What else matters but Him?

We spend our lives
fearfully holding God at arm’s length,
not realizing that His only goal is
to fulfill us completely,
to make us happy,
loving,
wise,
fruitful,
glorious, and
at peace with Himself and all creation.

Hymn: Lord, May Our Thoughts Begin with You

Earth Crawlers

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
(Isaiah 40:21-24, NASB)

We were staying in Mackinaw City, on the shore of Lake Huron. Looking out over the waters, to the left was a beautiful view of the Mackinac Bridge.

From that distance, the vehicles seemed to be just creeping across the bridge. It reminded me of Genesis 1:24 where it talks about the “creeping things” God created on earth. From a higher perspective, our human race is among those creatures creeping across the surface of this tiny planet. How small and lowly we are! Only the image of our Creator makes us special. And how little we value that image, so arrogantly discarded long ago.

We crawl across the surface of this speck of dust, small, earthbound, in the grip of space and time. We are so small in mind that we mock the possibility of any reality beyond our own.

It reminds me how foolish we are to live for the glory that comes from our fellow earth crawlers. We were created for so much more! Father, raise my eyes. Lift my heart to crave the glory that comes only from You, the Eternal God of all truth, beauty, light, and life. You call me to be Your own child, holy in You, complete in You, forever one with You. Lord, help me to long for nothing else!

Father, we small, weak, short-lived creatures
puff ourselves up and
prance across this little stage,
pretending we are in charge,
pretending we are invincible.
How foolish we must look to You!
Sovereign God, You are our Father.
We trust in You.

Hymn: Hungry for God

Fearing the Father

Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! (Deuteronomy 5:29, NASB)

What does it mean to fear God? From scripture, it seems that fearing God is something other than being terrified of Him, and something more than simply respecting Him.

Whenever you want to understand God’s will for our lives, look to the example of Jesus. This is how Isaiah described Him over 700 years before His birth:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And He will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3a, NASB)

Read the gospels, look at Jesus’ life, and you’ll see what it means to fear God. Jesus responded to His Father wholeheartedly, completely, constantly. He trusted Him. He revered Him. He obeyed Him. He lived for His Father alone. For Jesus, His Father was the ultimate reality, the ultimate source, the ultimate goal.

In short, Jesus treated God as God. That is what it means to fear God. That is what the Old Testament refers to when it repeatedly says:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
(Proverbs 9:10, NASB. See also Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 15:33)

Jesus taught His disciples not to fear evil, or persecution, or Satan, or death. There is only one thing in all creation that God’s children need to fear:

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has the authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5, NASB)

If we fear the Father as Jesus did, if we treat Him as God, if we trust that He is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving, why should we ever be anxious or fearful about anything that life or death can hold?

God has given us the freedom to
fear only Him.

Hymn: High and Holy Sovereign God

The Just Will Live by Faith

The righteous will live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, NASB)

“How can someone as weak and inconsistent as I possibly please a holy God?” Romans chapters 1 – 8 offers so much wonderful, life-giving assurance.

  • We do not obey God by keeping a list of rules. The rules are important, but we can’t obey them by our own efforts. We cannot please God that way (Romans 7:7-25). Our obedience is “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). God wants only this: He wants us to trust Him, and to live out that trust.
  • As we trust Him step by step, God changes us into the Christ-like persons He wants us to be. We change, not by determined efforts at self-reform, but by trusting God (Romans 1:16-17).
  • We don’t become right with God by trying to make our lives right with Him. We become right with God the same way Abraham did: by trusting God (Romans 4). As we trust Jesus Christ, He nurtures a living relationship with us. He lives His holy life in us as we trust Him (Romans 5 – 8).

All God’s promises, all His holiness, all His power flow through us and grow in us as we trust in Him. Righteousness from God is by faith from first to last…The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17, NIV).

Father, thank You for the
wonderful gift of salvation by faith.
Let faith do its complete work in me,
transforming all my thoughts,
my words,
my hopes, and
my habits.
I long to be
all You have redeemed me to be.

Hymn: By Faith in Jesus Christ (ST. THEODULPH)

Justice

His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
(Deuteronomy 32:4, NASB)

How do we know what is just and right in any particular situation? What is justice after all?

We usually think of justice as a certain standard of fairness, of right and wrong. We say that God is just because He consistently adheres to that standard.

But God is the creator and source of all. There is no separate standard of justice to which we compare Him. There is no outside set of rules by which He must abide in order to be “just”. He Himself is the standard of justice. Justice flows from His character and is seen in all His actions. We say that He is just because we see that He is always consistent with Himself. His actions are always consistent with His perfect wisdom and perfect love.

So how can we understand justice and live just lives?

We are just when we are like Him. Our actions are just when we act like Him.

We often think of justice and mercy as opposites…or at least as two competing values that must be balanced. We see justice as absolute rightness, and mercy as a kindly compromise with justice. But when we realize that justice and mercy are both descriptions of God’s nature, we see them not as opposites to be balanced. They are two facets of the same jewel. God is always completely merciful and always completely just.

Thus when we are called to seek justice in this unjust world, we are not called to a specific social agenda. We are called to think and live and be like God. We are called to be holy as He is holy, to live and speak the truth as He is the truth, to love as He loves. We are called to be His children, His ambassadors, His servants, His hands.

The Old Testament beautifully pictures our just and loving God, reporting His words and actions over many centuries. But He is most completely revealed in Jesus Christ. Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3). What is more, Christ enables us not only to see and know God, but to live in Him, and He in us. He gives us the Spirit of God so that by simple faith, we can live just and loving lives in this present world. Through His people, and above His people, God is creating the just world that He has promised.

Father, Your goodness, justice, and mercy
are such a comfort to us!
We depend on them,
appreciate them, and
praise You for them.
So help us to be good, just, and merciful with
everyone we touch.

Hymn: Justice Hymn

Your Holy Temple

I will be careful to lead a blameless life…
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.
I will set before my eyes
no vile thing…
I will have nothing to do with evil. (Psalm 101:2-4, NIV)

Do you not know that your body is
a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,
whom you have received from God?
You are not your own;
you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV)

Father,
I cherish Your holy presence
always with me,
always in me, and
always enveloping me.

Help me never to entertain thoughts
that are offensive to You
or say words that are unloving
or take actions unworthy of the name of Christ.

By Your Holy Spirit,
by simple faith,
keep my heart, mind, and life pure,
fit for your use.

If a man cleanses himself…
he will be an instrument for noble purposes,
made holy, useful to the Master and
prepared to do any good work.
(2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

Father, am I clinging to any
habits or
attitudes
that draw me from You?
Show me, and
help me put them aside.

Hymn: My Mind Will Be Your Holy Place

God Is in His Temple and on His Throne

Father, when life seems hopelessly unjust, You remind us:

The Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth be silent before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20, NASB)

Your temple reminds us that You are holy –
perfect in all Your words,
Your actions,
Your wisdom,
Your timing.
Your temple reminds us of Your presence
with us and
in us.
We are Your temple.
No matter how viciously evil threatens us, Almighty God,
You never leave us alone.
So even when our world seems so very wrong, we remember:
The Lord is in His holy temple.

When our lives fill with problems and turmoil, Father, You remind us:

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all. (Psalm 103:19, NASB)

Your throne suggests
Your power,
Your control,
Your unfailing goodness.
You are our stability.
You are our unshakable certainty
in this sea of change.
You are perfect strength
in all our weakness.
All reality bows to You, our Savior, our King, our loving Father.

So in this wicked, unstable world, we look to You and remember:

The Lord is in His holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven. (Psalm 11:4, NASB)

Father, how do we praise You for
all You are and
all You do?
Where do we start?
Your greatness and goodness encompass
all we are and
all we experience.

Hymn: God Is in His Temple

The Magnificent One

Father, Your reality is broader than
our senses or imagination.
Your world stretches far beyond
this tiny realm and
our brief few moments on this earth.
Help us to live wholeheartedly
with You and Your reality in view.

The Magnificent One
Isaiah 6:1-4; Habakkuk 2:20

He is the Magnificent One,
transcendent,
high above,
separate, and
infinitely beyond.

He is
pure,
perfect,
incomparable, and
absolutely glorious.

He is
Supreme,
the Source of all being,
the Creator,
the Uncreated One.

Divine,
eternal,
majestic, and
exalted,
He is
always good,
always just, and
complete in Himself.

He is
the I AM.

He is
Holy God.

Father, You are eternal.
Only in You are we eternal.
You are holy.
Only in You are we holy.
You are all-in-all.
Only in You are we complete.

Hymn: Worshiping Transcendent God

I Desire Only You

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You. (Psalm 63:1, NASB)

Father, I desire only You.
I trust only You.
I worship only You.
I seek only You.

In the morning, as I rise to work,
I desire only You.
As I drive to work,
with time to think or listen,
I desire only You.
At work, with decisions to be made,
I desire only You.
As I come home from work, weary,
where I have desired and sought
relaxation,
I desire only You.
In spare moments,
as I face each decision, each task,
I desire only You.

Facing the future,
in my home,
in my ministry,
in my daily life,
I desire only You.

Beautiful Father,
Eternal Father,
Almighty,
Loving,
Holy Father,
in whom I live and move
and have my being,
I desire only You.

I am Your child.
I ask only one thing.
Father, I desire only
You.

Father, we are like children who
ignore an incredible gift from a parent
because it is beyond their childish desires.
We lower our heads and
cling to our toys.
If only we realized what it means to
share Your life!

Hymn: Draw My Desires to You, Lord

Father, Receive My Gift

Psalm 131:1-2

Father, You are beyond all need.
You are full to overflowing.
All that is
flows from You and
is forever nourished by You.
Your nature, Your joy is
to give,
to share,
to bless.

Your resources are endless, and
Your authority is complete.
You simply speak, and
it is so.
Your will is the power that fuels all reality.
Your love is the music that makes the universe dance.

You are not impressed by our material gifts.
You are like a great-hearted king
to whom a child joyfully, lovingly brings a penny.
The penny is worthless.
The love is priceless.

Father, my Father,
that’s what I want to give You:
I want to daily bring You my love.
Like the alabaster perfume,
like the widow’s mite,
I want my life to be a gift of love,
worthless to the world, but
priceless to my loving Father.

Let all my “accomplishments” be like
a child’s drawing.
Receive the love they express, Father.
Receive the worship,
simple but sincere.
Receive the gift
because it is all I have.
I offer it joyfully,
thankfully
to You.

Father,
You can speak universes into existence
with a word, and
a thousand years is as a day to you.
So You are not impressed by our material gifts.
Like any parent, You long for Your children.
You long for us –
our hearts,
our minds,
our lives.
You want us to love You with all our
heart,
soul,
mind, and
strength.

Hymn: As Simply as a Child