Archive for Devotional with Hymn

The Hunger

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6, NASB)

I had an extra day off work, and I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. One of the best parts of having the day off is getting to stay up late the night before. So I watched TV to my heart’s content. I lay around instead of taking that walk I needed. And I ate whatever I felt like eating.

By the time I went to bed, I felt bloated, guilty, and restless. I had learned again what I should have already known: self-indulgence is not the path to happiness.

What’s more, satisfying the needs of our bodies does not satisfy us.

Yes, we are physical creatures. In a sense, we are children of this earth. Our bodies are made of its elements. We are sustained by its resources and are dependent on them for life – water, food, and air. Even our concepts of pleasure and beauty are largely shaped by this earth. And when we die, our bodies return to the elements from which we were formed. Physically, we are children of this earth.

But we are more than that. We are more than this weak, dying body. Life is more than a sensory experience. Happiness is more than making our bodies as comfortable as possible.

We indulge ourselves. We make life as easy as we can. Or we make it as stimulating as we can. Pleasure . . . ambition . . . they add interest to life, for a while. They can be pleasant distractions, some for longer than others. But always the emptiness returns, the “is that all there is?” feeling. We hunger for something greater, something deeper, something truly fulfilling . . . something lasting.

We hunger to reach all the way to the roots of our existence. We hunger for our Father, our Mother.

We hunger for God.

We don’t want to think of it that way. We want to look at the need a “rational” way and come to a more human solution. But the fact is that we hunger for something more than this sea of humanity has to offer, more than it can know. We hunger for our Creator. We hunger to know Him and be known by Him, to understand, to rise to all that we can be, to find our place . . . forever.

We grasp for fulfillment, and fulfillment can only be found in the One that created us from Himself. Fulfillment can only be found in all that He is and all that we can be in Him.

If you’re searching for meaning, for purpose, for soul-deep satisfaction, for all that life should be, search for the Source. Search for Him.

You’ll discover that He has been searching for you all along . . . searching for His child. And you’ll discover that finding Him is as close as a single, honest prayer.

God is a gardener at heart.
He delights to grow things from tiny seeds.
Look at your life and
the lives of those who are following Him.
It’s like a stroll through His garden.
What is He growing?
Isn’t it beautiful?

Hymn: Growing in God

When God Calls

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8, NASB)

The old adage says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Apparently Abraham didn’t believe that. When Almighty God called him to leave his home and extended family—the comfortable, the familiar, the secure, the “bird in the hand”—he obeyed. He didn’t know where God was taking him, but he followed anyway.

His obedience was the outward evidence of an inward faith. He had met Sovereign God, the Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth. Once Abraham had encountered Him, nothing else mattered. God’s reality was motivation enough. God Himself had called. Abraham obeyed. Since he believed in this Being who spoke to him, what else would he do? It was by faith that Abraham obeyed (Hebrews 11:8, NASB).

Abraham’s situation is not unique. Almighty God comes personally to every believer. He calls each of us. He makes demands. He makes promises.

He points to a new path and commands us to leave the life we have known and begin a new one. We don’t know where our new life, our new path, will take us. But if we believe the One who is calling—if we believe He is who He says He is—what else would we do but bow and obey? How else could we respond but to follow wherever He leads us?

For a time, God may isolate us
from every other source of supply
but Himself.
It can be frightening.
But what an amazing privilege!
Almighty Creator God is looking into our eyes,
one-on-one,
face-to-face, saying,
“I am God your Father.
I love you.
You can trust Me.”

Hymn: I Only Want to Walk in You

How to Be Sure about God

Genesis 1; Psalm 8; Isaiah 40:12-31

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:1-6a, NASB)

We cannot have a casual relationship with God. He claims to be Creator, sovereign Lord of all reality, Father, Redeemer, and Fountain of Life. If His claim is false, we should ignore Him along with all the other fakes and fictions in our world. If He is who He says He is, He is the reality that shapes every other reality. We owe Him everything, and more. There is no halfway. He is All-in-all, or He is nothing.

Since God is the ultimate question, how can we know that He exists? How can we be sure about Him? Our entire lifespan is a mere moment in time. We perceive and understand so little of reality, and He is by His very nature beyond our senses and imaginings. If we could completely encompass Him with our perceptions and expectations, we would be God, not Him.

Any objective observer of the human situation would come to this conclusion: understanding all reality is beyond human ability. It is beyond our perspective, beyond our brevity, beyond our wisdom, beyond the blindness and smallness of our self-centered pride. We can only know a Sovereign, transcendent God as He intentionally reveals Himself to us and as we respond by trusting Him.

That is the path to knowing God that is laid out in His Word, the Bible. What is our proof or evidence for the things we cannot see? Faith is our proof. Faith is our evidence. Faith is our assurance (Hebrews 11:1).

Creation itself nurtures this faith in what is beyond our senses. All its vastness, its matter, its detail, its pattern and order, came from nothing. It truly is a creation. Everything we see came from what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:3). Creation is but one of many testimonies God has provided, one of many signposts pointing to His reality (Other signposts include His written Word, His Spirit speaking within, the testimony of other human beings, and the man Christ Jesus).

But there is no objective proof that makes faith unnecessary. Our ultimate decision is always this: do we trust God or not? That decision is God’s design. To come to Him, we must realize our smallness and dependence, then trust Him as our Creator, Father, and Lord. To know Him, we must humbly acknowledge Him for who He is and acknowledge ourselves for who we are. Until then, we are foolishly exalting our small selves above the greatness displayed all around us. That can never lead us to the truth. The truth begins with God, not with us. Certainty requires our humble, trusting commitment to Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10, NASB)

But further, how can we frail and flawed creatures ever hope to please such a God or fellowship with Him? We please Him the same way we come to know Him: by faith—that is, by humbly, simply, actively trusting Him (Hebrews 11:2, 4-6a).

We are blind until we trust God.
He works His mightiest wonders right in front of us—
creation,
Jesus Christ, and
the glories of life in Him—
and we see nothing.
Trusting Him opens our eyes to His magnificence.

Hymn: Transcendent God

We Need to See You

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted. (Isaiah 6:1, NASB)

Father, we are flooded with so many needs,
but our real need is
You.
We need to know You for all You are,
the One true God,
high and lifted up,
the Holy One,
our Source and Goal,
the All-in-all,
our Eternal Father.
We need to see You for all You are.
We need to trust You always for all You are.

Lift our eyes, Father.
Help us to see You.

God wants us to know Him.
His most intricate and detailed works—
creation,
the Bible,
even the Old Testament tabernacle—
are those that fill our mind and senses with Him.
Father, I want to know You.
Open me to receive You.

Hymn: Simply God

Love in Living Color

Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
(Psalm 36:5, NASB)

Our beautiful earthly home paints our Father’s love
in living color.
Open your eyes! Look around!
With youthful enthusiasm our timeless God
carefully planned all the universe,
from immense panoramas
to the tiniest, most stunning detail.

He took pleasure in displaying His magnificence for all to see.
He eagerly provided for our every need.
There in the very beginning,
the same sovereign Word that spoke the world into existence
blessed us.
He blessed us even more richly in Jesus Christ.
He continues to bless us day by day with everything
good,
noble,
pure, and
lovely.

Rejoice in Him!
Worship our Father for all He has done!

To the trusting heart,
all reality is a forest,
dense with the life and
mysterious beauty of God.

Hymn: Psalm 104

In His Presence

O Lord my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
(Psalm 104:1, NASB)

Some of the most profound and moving moments of my life have been spent under the clear night sky. Looking up from my backyard, I feel I am in a great hall of eternity. I see the stars and think of the unfathomable distances of time and space there before me.

I am awestruck by the vastness of God. He is there, filling all space, all eternity, and beyond. I sense that I’ve walked into His holy temple, and the only proper response is to stand in total silence.

I am one of billions of life forms on this planet, which is little more than a pebble orbiting the sun. And each of those tiny stars there in the sky is roughly the size of our sun. There are a billion trillion of them scattered like grains of sand through the vastness of space.

The total life span of one of those stars, millions or billions of years, is only an episode in the life of the universe, to say nothing of His unimaginable eternity. And my life…my life is the tiniest fraction of a heartbeat. One breath.

Lord God, why do I matter to You? Why do You even notice me? God, why should You care about me?

I stand here wrapped up in my own little world, so anxious and dark. But I am in Your world, in Your domain, in all its vastness and serenity. Your skies are singing, “He is good, and His mercy endures forever.” Your trees, so stately against the sky, are silently chanting, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic You are in all the earth.” The whole world is a symphony to Your name. I listen, and I can hear it.

God, my Father, I don’t know why, but I know that You love me. I see Your love in my life. I hear You whisper it in my heart.  And I don’t want to ignore Your love. I don’t want to ignore You, my God.

There is so much I don’t understand about You. But I know that when I admit that You are God–that You are my God–I am embracing the truth.

I know that when I believe You love me and start to trust Your love, it pleases You. It pleases You very much.

And I sense that when I open myself to You, I am opening myself to Your goodness and wisdom and to a wonderful future with You.

Lord God, I am nothing in myself. I am significant for only one reason: You, Great Creator, love me. Teach me to love You in return.

O Father,
if only everyone recognized You for
who You are,
the sovereign Creator,
the Source and Goal of all that is!
How different our world would be, and
will be!
How blessed we are to know You,
serve You, and
live every moment in Your care!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord, You Are My Home
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The Power to Choose

God said, “Let Us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26, NASB)

God is sovereign over all reality. All matter was created by Him and responds to His Word. He speaks, and all that is obeys. He says, “Let there be…”, and worlds spring into being.

But to us human beings, made in His image, He delegates the power to choose, within set boundaries. As Sovereign God, He gives us the privilege and responsibility of making decisions – real decisions, with real consequences.

Put yourself in our Heavenly Father’s position. As parents, we deeply desire a close, loving relationship with each of our children in all their individuality. But we cannot compel such a relationship, and we wouldn’t want to. We want our children to love and trust us freely, by their own choice. We want them to want to be with us. We do everything we can to nurture and encourage such a choice, but in the end we honor what the child chooses. It’s not the kind of decision we can ignore or override, no matter how much we want to.

Our Heavenly Father is the same. He does all He can to bring us to Himself. Even in our sinful weakness and blindness, He gives us the grace to choose Him. But He does not compel it, and in the end, He honors our choice. If we respond to His grace with even the feeblest desire to love and trust Him, He will move heaven and earth to lead us into full union with Himself.

But if we choose separation from Him, He will at last honor our decision, completely and eternally.

He is forever the only source of life, light, goodness, peace, and love. Imagine the results of final and complete separation from Him. Choose wisely!

Heaven and hell,
now and forever
are determined by our relationship with
God, the Source of all good.
We choose to be near Him or
to keep our distance.
Choose Him.
Talk to Him.
Trust Him.
Walk in His presence.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Free to Choose
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The Gift of Life

With You is the fountain of life. (Psalm 36:9, NASB)

Do you believe the whole universe simply came to be, with no cause or creator? Do you believe that all the matter in all the stars in all the vastness of space had no source? Do you believe that the well-ordered laws of nature somehow just happened on their own?

What about life? Your body is a miracle. It is made up of billions of microscopic cells, each alive, each intricately constructed, each carrying on complex functions that no factory or laboratory can match. And somehow they all perform together in a magnificent dance that keeps your body working around the clock, without you even being conscious of it.

You didn’t ask to be born. You didn’t create yourself. You do little to keep yourself alive. Most of your essential physical functions operate automatically, requiring no conscious effort on your part. Virtually all you have to do is feed and water yourself, and for that you’ve been given powerful, built-in drives.

Quite literally, life is a gift. Your life is a gift. Each human life is a precious gift.

How should we respond to this gift of life? We should receive it with awe…with reverence…with joyful gratitude…with sober thought for how we treat this life in ourselves and in others.

We should receive this gift with love. Life was given with love, and we should receive it with love – love for our Creator and love for His life in each human creation around us. Love preserves life, enriches life, and treats it with the care and respect that it deserves.

Father, help me to see other people,
not as physical creatures,
not as crumbling shells, shallow and temporary,
but as You see them,
as living, eternal beings.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Praise to You, Giver of Life!
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Know Your Creator

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1, NIV)

God is an all-powerful Spirit Being. He created us as physical beings. How could He reveal Himself to us in a way we could understand? How could He show Himself to each of us in a way that is unlimited by language and culture and that is undiminished by all the changes that swirl around us?

He reveals Himself by the physical world of which we are a part.

What may be known about God is plain…For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20, NIV)

Any open-minded view of our physical world tells us about God. But even though He has made Himself plain, we observe and experience His creation without knowing Him. How does this happen?

We intentionally suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).  We refuse to accept Him as Creator. We work to write Him out of our story. We insist on making this physical world our ultimate reality, though actually it is but a small part of a much greater reality. We crown ourselves as the gods of our own lives and destinies, even though our smallness and weakness is inescapably obvious.

Meanwhile, God’s glorious revelations of Himself go on speaking to all who will hear.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
(Psalm 19:2-4, NIV)

Observe our world and experience it with an open mind. See and feel the order, the pleasure, the beauty, the mystery, the power, and the infinite wisdom that connects it all. All this is only the faintest whisper of the magnificent Being that He is (Job 26:14).

He wants you to know Him, to trust Him more completely, and to experience life more fully in Him.

Father Creator,
help me to joyfully give You
all that is Yours:
my mind,
my life, and
all that I hold. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Speak, I Am Listening
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What Do You Worship?

“I am the Lord your God. . . . You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:2-3, NIV)

“The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.”
(Psalm 16:4, NIV)

We all seek security. We want our lives to have significance. We want to achieve. We crave a sense of meaning and fulfillment.

How are we seeking those things? On what are you focusing your hopes and energies? A house? A job? Comfort? The praise of other people?

What are you worshiping? Who are you serving?

We are children of the Creator. We have His life within us. He has patterned us after Himself. And He has planted in our hearts a yearning for something beyond what we can touch. He has given us a deep longing for the eternal.

He wants us to know Him. He wants us to share His life fully. He keeps prodding us to seek Him, to love Him and trust Him as our Father. Of all the guidance He has given us, He says that the most important thing in life is this: 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, NIV)

That is the key to happiness.

Yet we worship the temporary. We devote ourselves to what can’t possibly satisfy our deep desires. We fashion gods from created things. What was written 2,700 years ago still applies to us: 

They pour out their money. They hire a craftsman to make a god for them, then they bow down and worship it. They lift it up and carry it – it cannot carry them. They care for it – it does not care for them. They put it in its place, and there it stays – it cannot move. Though they cry out to it, it does not answer. It cannot save them from their troubles. 

Remember this, fix it in your minds: I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:6-9, para.)

We are like selfish, rebellious children. Anxious to have complete “freedom,” impatient to fulfill our every desire, we turn our backs on the love that gave us life. We reject the wisdom that taught us and nurtured us. Instead we chase things that can’t possibly help us and can only drag us down. Our “gods” are a burden and a false hope. They don’t carry us. We carry them.

As a result, we are out of balance. Look around you. Our lawns are better manicured than our lives. We have nearly every material resource this world can offer. Yet we are unhappy and unfulfilled. We have no peace.

We are worshiping gods that are not gods. We are ignoring the one true God – our Creator, our Father.

Turn to the One who can truly help you. Seek Him. Talk to Him. It’s not at all difficult – He hears each word, each murmur of your heart. Discover your Creator. He is the security, the significance, the fulfillment that you crave.

My God, I want to know You. I want to obey You. I’m sorry for all my wrongness. Forgive me and fill my life as I believe in You now.

Father,
when I begin to realize who You are,
Your lavish gifts are not enough.
I want to know You and
please You and
worship You.
I want to love You and
walk with You and
trust You every moment.
I want to live
in You and
for You and
to You alone.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Come
Recording
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