Trust


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; -Proverbs 3:5 NiV


These words echo in my soul every time I am challenged with pain. When my brain, body and emotions are overwhelmed with torment these words echo in every fiber of my being. Trusting the Lord only matters when nothing else matters. Yet trusting God can be so hard when we are tempted to lean on our 'logical' brains instead of our trusting hearts.

Isaac Watts once wrote: "Learning to trust is one of life's most difficult tasks." The key word there is 'learning'. In reality trusting God is a learning process. And like many learned things, trusting takes time and is often fraught with failed learning experiences. Even so, trusting God takes us places that nothing else can. It is why it requires all of our hearts.

I trust you Lord. Teach me to trust you more.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Compassion


So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20 NIV

Some of the most moving images in all of scripture is the ones of Jesus being moved by compassion when he saw the many needs of his Jewish brothers and sisters. What do you think that looked like? How did the disciples know that he was being moved by compassion. My thinking is that they saw the Lord crying. And as he wept they watched him heal.

In this passage we see such an image of the heavenly Father. His prodigal son is returning from years of raucous living and wasted resources. The temptation to anger and disappointment is great. Yet the Father is filled with compassion for his son. It is a true reminder of how we must react towards those who have disappointed us and let us down.

Lord, please give us compassionate feet that run with weeping towards those who need us the most.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Royal Law


If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. -James 2:8

The royal law of love, not the Law of Moses, is the divine standard of life. This law, unlike all other laws, reflects the timeless will of God. Moses' commands display something that is not timeless therefore cannot be a reflection of a timeless God who never changes. In truth, if everyone chose to love then no civil law (like Mosaic law) would be required.

I have found that loving God and loving each other is the plumbline of life. Obeying civil law focuses on externals like not stealing or murdering. It pales in comparison to the law of love which speaks to inner issues like not coveting or hating in your heart. Would that this divine law be embraced, instead of laws that are more arbitrary in flavor, by all humans.

Help us Lord to obey the spirit of the law and love each other as you love us.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Light


This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. -1 John 1:5-7 NIV



Do you find it interesting how John describes God? I have heard it said that darkness is defined as the absence of light. Evil as the absence of good, Sin as the absence of righteousness. In a real sense spiritual darkness, sin and evil can be summed up as the absence of God in one's life. These things cannot exist when God is present.

So what does it mean to walk in the light? Is it a matter of following external rules? The truth is that rules themselves can be a form of darkness placing us in bondage instead of making us free, I think that walking in the light is allowing our darkness to be exposed by the light of God's Spirit. We find freedom to follow Jesus when we do.

We need to be purified each day Lord. Teach is what it means to walk in the light as you are in the light.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Love


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

I was getting frustrated with a slow driver yesterday and I heard this in my mind: "Love is patient Bob". Yikes. It is so easy to embrace an intellectual view of love and forget that love is best defined by attitudes and actions. Paul speaks to us in these verses instructing us with regard to the attitudes and actions of love. He tells us that real love never fails.

I love the four "always" statements as they speak to us of the true nature of an attitude of love. When we love we are on such firm ground. We protect. We trust. We hope. And we persevere. Love is the lighthouse in the storm guiding us to safe shore. These verses instruct us and tell us what love really looks like. They tell us how to live a life of love.

Teach us Lord what it means to love and to develop an attitude of love as we travel through our lives.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Dominion


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,
and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 ESV   



The Hebrew word radah can be translated reign, rule or have dominion. Interesting how God gave the world to mankind. He could have retained dominion over the earth but chose to delegate dominion to those he blessed and created in his image. Nothing seemed to be withheld in this dominion. Whatever the choices that humans made stood.

I suspect that a part of this delegation of authority is rooted in the idea that we are made in His image. As such we have the freedom to choose how we rule. Yet, unlike God, we do not seem to have the ability to always choose rightly. We choose bad over good. Hate over love. Our lives seem to point us to the reality that we are created good but often choose bad. And when we choose to do bad the earth, humanity and all we have dominion over suffers.

We have failed Lord. Our wars are evidence of our failure to exercise godly dominion. Help us to rule as you would.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Justice



Justice is a great word. I think that some would differ in how they define it. I like what the bible says about justice:
  • Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)
  • This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.” (Jeremiah 21:12)
  • This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)
  • Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. ( Isaiah 30:18)
That said, I think the definition many have of justice might resemble the human view which includes retribution and satisfaction. This is the way that a favorite author of mine puts it:
"There is a biblical concept of “judgement” or “wrath.” Jesus warned frequently that the people were calling judgement on themselves and called them to turn (repent) from the course they were on. Judgement or wrath is the consequence of sinful or hurtful action. It follows from sin like falling is the consequence of jumping off a cliff. Paul writes in the Romans that “the wages of sin is death.” The wage, the thing you get as a result, what you have coming to you, is death. “but the gift of God is eternal life.”

God who is a God of love (compassion) and justice (making this right) desires not to see us die, but to give us life. God desires to break us out of the vicious cycle of consequence and to therefore bring about justice—to make things right again, to restore us to where we where meant to be. Not by saying that it is of no consequence that we are bleeding and broken, but by taking us out of the treadmill of death, by liberating us from the tyranny of hurting and being hurt. That is what biblical justice is all about. It is not in conflict with compassion, it is rooted in compassion."
Yes, rooted in compassion, not in conflict with it. Not in conflict with the nature of our God who ever seeks to reconcile.

Lord, help us to live justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly at your side.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.