Glory Certainly Isn’t Something You See Every Day; Or IS IT?

You have seen glory a few times, I’m sure: a majestic view or something magnificent; but I don’t think most of us walk around each day as if we are in the midst of something glorious. It was different for David and the other folks who wrote the Psalms. The Psalmist had only to look up to behold the Glory of God. “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1, NIV) “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) “O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8, NIV)

glory of the heavens

The average ancient man had a far greater insight to astronomy than we do today. After all, they didn’t have electricity so there was no competition with starlight and no corruption of the view. Sailors navigated by the stars, and religions build observation temples to track their pathways in the night skies. Their perception of how the moon and the stars moved through the heavens was far more acute than most of ours is today…

David shared that understanding of the night skies, but he also had a wonderful sense of spiritual perception. It’s not totally surprising, when you think about all of the nights he spent out in the countryside tending sheep, sleeping beneath the canopy of space. There were no city lights, there was no TV and no glowing media to distract him—just the vastness of the universe spread overhead as far as he could see—the infinite richness of light in the darkness, the movement of the constellations in the heavens, and hours of time to reflect on what it must mean.

He apparently came to the conclusion that the universe was amazing, and so was The One who made it. He carried that impression throughout his entire life, whether he was a shepherd, a hero, a fugitive, a king, or a sinner. God was amazing and glorious, and David’s humility and awe before Him set the foundation for a lifetime love affair. The evidence David saw about the Creator’s majesty affected his heart as well, and he lived his life with a profound understanding that God’s glory was not just around him but was also within him. When he said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, he was acknowledging the Creator’s work not just around him, but within him as well.

All of us have had moments like that, when we got a glimpse of God’s majesty and recalibrated our place in the universe. Maybe it happened to you when you saw an amazing sunset, approached snow-capped mountains rising from the plains, or lay out on a hillside at night and gazed into the dazzling vastness of the Milky Way: God’s presence surrounded and astounded you, and called you to worship the Creator. Perhaps you even felt God’s glory in the midst of a church service, singing a song or lost in worship…

Say, when was the last time God was glorious to you? When was the last time you felt the awesomeness of God, and felt humbled and reverent before Him? When was the last time you saw God for who he is and fell in love with Him a little more?

I’ve toured some amazing cathedrals in Europe, and I know they were built on a magnificent scale to try to capture a smidgen of God’s glory. When you enter them you feel a sense of awe and wonder. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth details the blood, sweat, and effort that went into building some of them, and it’s a good read. The intent behind was similar to the passion behind the Temple in Jerusalem, to show worshippers a glimpse of glory.

In our casual world of flip-flops and coffee in church, I sometimes long for worship where we encounter God in his glory. In our world of busy-ness and distraction, I long for reflection and reverence. If, like me, you struggle sometimes with seeing God in His glory, then remember this: the most important place we encounter God is not in nature, and not even in His house, but in the sanctuary of our hearts. You are fearfully and wonderfully made–not just physically, but spiritually as well.

Where do you find God’s glory? Look up. Look around. Look within. Recalibrate.

The heavens display the glory of God! We see his presence there,
Far-flung among the galaxies and painted everywhere.
The palette of the sunsets blazes forth in every hue
As pink and gold are splashed across the heaven’s perfect blue.
The mountains rise majestically beyond us from afar
Reminding us how big God is, and just how small we are.
We all know His glory in the grandest things abides,
But there’s a place much closer where His presence still resides;
To truly see God’s glory, here’s the place where you should start:
Don’t gaze at the horizon, take a look inside your heart.

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here:  https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Trouble In This World is Inevitable. Refuge is Optional

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.” (Psalm 46:1-3, NKJV)

The people of God were no strangers to trouble. From slavery in Egypt to captivity I Babylon they endured hardship and trouble of  Biblical proportions. Granted, by ignoring the prophets and chasing after idols they brought much of it upon themselves, but the children of Israel have spent a lot of time dealing with oppression, disaster, and tragedy. This Psalm provides some clues about how they have been able to deal with such things.

First, it presupposes that there WILL be trouble. It is not a prosperity gospel, and does not assume that God’s blessing is in the ABSENCE of trouble: it takes comfort from God’s presence in the MIDST of trouble. I think many of us equate God’s blessing with ease and material comfort, and our world can be shattered by tragedy because when bad things happen we question God, or even blame Him for what happened. While God often reveals His grace and goodness during hard times, trying to find the human logic behind tragedy can be a fruitless exercise. We may not ever see all ends, or find a reason for why something bad happened. We can, however, always find help when it does.

trouble

The Psalmist assumes that trouble will come, and is soothed by the fact that God provides strength and a place of spiritual refuge in the midst of physical tragedy. When trouble comes, doesn’t it make a lot more sense to turn TOWARDS the Father rather than AWAY from him? It may just be that blessing is not found in comfort, but in HE HIMSELF.

The Psalmist not only finds comfort in God’s presence, he also finds courage. No matter what calamity falls upon him, he is able to react with confidence that God is with him and will provide help. Please don’t misunderstand this. This Psalm does not minimize tragedy or try to cover it with platitudes. It merely says that when bad things happen to you (and they will), find strength and help in God. Though the physical world fail and fall, the spiritual world abides. When there is no other refuge, there is ONE refuge…When the world gives you reasons to be afraid, the Lord gives you a reason not to fear. Selah.

Mountains fall to troubled seas, the very earth will shake;
But shouldn’t blessings come my way? There must be some mistake!
Troubles are inevitable, my child, as you can see:
My blessing is not stuff or things; the blessing, child, is ME.
When calamity’s bony finger stretches out its length
My God is my ever-present help, my refuge, and my strength.

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

A Consolation Prize May Just be the Very Best Prize

Have you ever really wanted something and been disappointed? Didn’t even get a consolation prize? David knew about being disappointed. Things didn’t always go his way. Even though he was anointed king he spent years as a fugitive hiding from Saul; he knew what it was like to be alone and downcast:

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:18-19 NIV)

Do you ever need consolation? There are times when circumstances knock us off our stride, when our foothold of faith is knocked off the path and we find ourselves twisting a bit in the wind… Sometimes our foot slips on our own accord, because we are not paying attention, or are out climbing where we should not have been. I think that’s why repentance is such a consistent theme in the Bible, because so much of our slipping is self-activated…

But then there are also events or seasons that seem to come out of nowhere to surprise or batter us with doubt and anxiety. Perhaps you’ve been discouraged lately by an untimely loss or some bad news, and your foot is slipping or your foundation seems less than secure. When bad stuff happens, it can be devastating, and we sometimes assume that God isn’t there, or has forgotten about us. This Psalm reminds us that consolation is possible in the midst of sorrow.

Have you ever been climbing and someone says, “Don’t look down!”?

consolation

It is when we quit looking up we are most vulnerable. Take a moment and look to your Father. Remember that He is as good as his Word. His love is unfailing, and is there to support you. He offers a foundation beneath your feet. He extends love to you in ways you may not have noticed, and from unexpected places… you may not see them if you are looking down in defeat, so look up in hope!

He also offers consolation in the midst of anxiety, and joy in Him apart from circumstances. Peter reminded us to “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” Remember that He was able to transform the worst of circumstances into the best of results! “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3 KJV) If He could turn the cross into victory, perhaps you can consider trusting Him with whatever life has thrown at you, and opening yourself to not just His consolation, but also to his joy!

 

When your footing seems to slip, and you just need to right the ship,
Don't let discouragement prevail! Turn to the One Who never fails.
When anxiety attacks, you know Someone who has your back,
So have this expectation: Ask him for his consolation!
When the Lord of hope appears, He will vanquish all your fears:
All the things which he endured insured our hope could be secured.
Until we have that celebration, we will find his consolation.

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Advice is Easy to Give. Great Leaders Practice What they Preach

David had gotten to the place when knew his time on earth was short, and in this passage he gave Solomon a piece of advice about how to be a great leader:

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9, NIV)

advice

David didn’t just give Solomon some pretty good advice here. What he said is worth considering and applying by all leaders everywhere. It is full of eternal, life-changing principles. When you break it down, you’ll see what I mean.

1) David starts by reminding Solomon that he is his son. He is presuming upon their relationship, and he makes this statement because Solomon falls under David’s paternal authority. Roles are important in life. David understands that part of a father’s job is to impart advice, to offer wisdom and to tell it like it is—so he does. In this case, David is Solomon’s biological father, but that’s not mandatory in mentor relationships. Every one of us is currently involved in relationships where we provide guidance or leadership, or where we need to LISTEN TO guidance or counsel. Advise well. Listen well.

2) He tells Solomon to acknowledge “the God of your father”, which means David was offering his OWN relationship with God as a baseline for Solomon. Tell, me, would you present YOUR relationship with God as the template for your children? For your friends? David failed in several very public ways, and his life in was not exactly a template for proper behavior, but he did love the Lord and follow Him in spite of his own failings and mistakes… I think it’s telling that David is confident enough in his relationship with God that he can tell his son to follow it.

3) He doesn’t just tell Solomon to acknowledge God, he tells him to serve the Lord “with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind.” Would you tell your kids to do that? Do you DO that? Great leadership involves more than giving advice, it comes from actually living out the principles it proclaims.

4) He reminds Solomon that the Lord knows every heart, and understands every human desire and motive; if that doesn’t give you pause for reflection, I’m not sure what will. (To bring that closer to home, the Lord knows YOUR heart, and He is aware of YOUR every motive. It is not so much my blatant, public sin that I worry about, but my private inner ones…) David advises Solomon that God’s sovereignty and omniscience matter, and that we should conduct ourselves with an awareness of what that means in our life and in our relationships.

5) He spells out the choices in black and white. If we seek God, we will find him; but if we forsake Him, He will reject us. And oh yeah, He will reject us “forever”. We have choices, and our actions have consequences. Choose wisely.

David’s reign was ending; Solomon’s had just begun,
And David offered wise advice to Solomon, his son:
“Acknowledge God the way I do, and love Him from the start;
Serve Him with a willing mind, and seek Him with all your heart.
The Lord knows every motive, every thought within your mind–
So don’t play games with Him. Be honest. Seek Him, and you’ll find…
If you forsake His wisdom as you sit upon your throne,
Then he’ll reject you utterly, and you will be alone.
You’ll find that it’s much harder, then, to govern on your own…”

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Goliath Can Come At You From Anywhere; When He Does, There’s Only One Place to Turn

Goliath was one of a race of Giants who afflicted Israel. For years the Philistines had embarrassed Israel on the battlefield, and Goliath was certainly cut from that type of mold. Day after day he would patrol the front lines, taunting the Hebrew soldiers to come out and fight him. From out of nowhere, and without armor or military prowess, the young shepherd David killed Goliath in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and changed Israel’s history. What giants are you afflicted with? They can be anything bigger than you are, and they can even be of your own devising… David found that he was tested not by bigger giants on the battlefield, but by a level of selfishness and sin that almost destroyed him.

After failing greatly, and after being broken and utterly humbled, he prayed:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Ps 51:1-2). If you ever want to pray scripture, this is a pretty good verse to pick. For me, this plea from David is at the heart of the Psalms, and it is also at the heart of our world.

goliath

David triumphed over Goliath, but Goliath wasn’t the giant who ultimately brought David down. Like many of us, David’s greatest giants attacked him from within. His prayer in this verse goes to the heart of how David had to deal with the other giants in his life.

David wasn’t a great example because he was righteous or close to perfect; he was great because he understood his need to be forgiven. He couldn’t function as king without God’s grace. He couldn’t function as a man without forgiveness. God–the Righteous Judge–is also the only source of forgiveness in our world. David knew that mercy comes from unfailing love, and that love only comes from God.

God’s forgiveness manifests itself in grace, a transaction where someone gets forgiven, even when they don’t deserve it. Think for a moment about how important forgiveness has been in your life, about how many times what seemed lost has been restored, and how many relationships, seemingly broken, were repaired by forgiveness.

What if there were NO grace? What if we just removed all grace from the world? What if nobody forgave anybody? How would you then feel about those who had wronged you or slighted you? Take away grace and how would you treat them? What giants would be unleashed in every human endeavor? How would you feel about yourself, if all of your transgressions remained on your conscience like an open wound? Who would you be?

The human world would literally tear itself apart without the grace and mercy that are required to interact every day. Of all the animals, man alone needs and exercises forgiveness, in both the very personal way of dealing with our own iniquity, and in the public way we need to forgive others and need to be forgiven by them. David knew all about that, and the way he threw himself humbly on God’s mercy is more of an example to us than how he handled Goliath. We all have giants to slay. We all need God to slay them.

David Found Grace

David fought Goliath in the name of the Lord of Hosts;
He did not fear the bluster in the giant’s prideful boasts.
He fought Goliath as he fought the lion and the bear,
With faith that God would shield him as an answer to his prayer.
Of all the battles that he fought, the hardest one to face
Was when he sinned, and had to call upon the Lord for grace.
His battles weren’t the worst of all the danger he was in:
The greatest danger David faced attacked him from within.
He begged the Lord for mercy, and the Lord forgave his sin.
But what if grace did not exist, and mercy never came?
Do you believe our broken world would ever be the same?
If grace had never happened, could you ever heal your heart?
What bitterness and jealousy would tear our world apart?
How much would ugliness prevail? What knives would evil twist
To cause malignant hate to spread– if grace did not exist?
Remember David’s anguished, heartfelt plea to God above:
“Have mercy on me, Lord, and give me your unfailing love.”
Remember this, regardless of the giants you must face;
What makes this lifetime altogether bearable is Grace.

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Nathan Accused King David of Being Evil. His Response Shocked Everyone

Nathan called David out for being a liar, an adulterer and a murderer. God called David “A Man After My Own Heart”.

Why do you think the Bible calls King David “a man after God’s own heart”? Certainly he was a great hero, a passionate, poetic lover of God, a courageous man, and a valiant leader; but he was also a scheming adulterer and murderer.

Nathan

So how do we best view God’s heart through the life of David? Was it written in his poems? Displayed in his desire to build the temple? Exemplified by his courage, or his material success? I think it’s in this passage: [Nathan said,] “The rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “YOU are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:4-7a).

When Nathan confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba, he did so by telling David a story about a poor man whose one cherished lamb was taken from him by a rich, selfish man who had many, but chose to steal from the poor man rather than to be content with his own abundance.

When David faced exposure in the midst of his court and under the public eye, he found himself at a crucial moment. He could have followed the normal instincts of an all-powerful king whose word was law. He could have used spin so that he didn’t look so bad. He had the choice to lie, distract and pontificate. He could have denied Nathan’s accusation and just have him killed; or… he could face truth and consequences.

I’ve always marveled that the great David, “a man after God’s own heart”, would still be known by that title after committing such evil (after all, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed)—but I think it was his response here to Nathan that cemented his legacy. He didn’t posture in self-righteousness; he didn’t lie and cover up. He came to the pivotal transparent moment in his career and he told the truth: He ‘fessed up.

“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (Verse 13) It was this response, not David’s victory over Goliath or his greatness as a King that made David a man after God’s own heart. It was the fact that he knew who God was, he had the proper perspective, and even in his failure he came before the Lord in humility and repentance. We learn about God’s heart not from David’s greatness, but from his humility. When is the last time YOU said, “I have sinned against you, Lord”? Be humble. Be great.

David’s Turning Point

David, lover of the Lord
Was home alone–distracted, bored–
Contemplating sensual sin,
And felt its depth, and fell right in.

Deep his capacity to transgress!
But deeper still, a longing to confess:
To bring his broken, contrite heart
Back to the Maker’s matchless art.

Honest now, with no pretense,
No vain attempt at self-defense!
Broken as a consequence…
Confessing, teaching us that this
Is how to have a heart like His.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Outward Appearances Don’t Matter: It’s What’s Inside that Counts

We live in the age of outward appearance, as consumers who hear the message others want us to hear and see the images they want us to see about products, news, celebrities, and politics. One series of commercials claims to use only “Real People. Not Actors”, although even a little research reveals that it did indeed use actors in some of the segments. (To their credit, they did always use real people–as opposed to fake people, I guess…) Our thoughts and opinions are constantly being influenced by people we don’t know, telling us things we can’t validate. We are perhaps the shallowest culture in history, celebrating people not for who they really are, but for who they appear to be. The Bible’s message is this: Don’t be Fooled by the outward appearance: It’s What’s Inside that Counts.

“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7, NIV) Samuel, a prophet of God, was called upon to select Israel’s next king from among Jesse’s sons. He watched them parade before him one by one, and his first impression was that Eliab certainly looked like the one. He was big and nice looking.

outward

Samuel’s first reaction was to evaluate the young men based on how strong or kingly they looked, but the Lord told him that appearances can be deceiving. That’s so true, isn’t it? We often hear about situations with a celebrity that end badly, or see something on the news about a heinous crime committed by a seemingly ordinary person and think, “No way!” It’s hard for us to accept that a funny person was actually struggling with depression, or a pretty young wife and mom was killed by her husband (who is smiling beside her in all of the pictures), but it’s often the sad case.

As shallow human beings, we tend to look on the outward appearance, when the truth is on the inside… We can’t truly evaluate people based on what they look like publicly because that can be contrived, and it doesn’t show the whole picture, does it? Think about it: have you ever smiled and said something nice to somebody while you hid your dislike, or arrogance, or impatience? Was your outward appearance different than your inner motive? What we see in this world is limited; what God sees is not.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” It is in the heart that motives arise, and the way people look on the outside isn’t always the way they really are (think: Hollywood or American politics, sigh…). Old sayings exist for a reason,  and we’ve all heard that beauty is only skin deep. So is public image. In an age where we are bombarded with half-truths and insinuations, it’s very difficult to gain true understanding from shallow information.

Obviously, there are two ways for this to go: first, don’t be too quick to judge or evaluate others based on mere outward appearances. Who they seem to be may not be who they actually are. And second, remember that who YOU seem to be on the outside is not necessarily who you really are. Jesus challenged his followers to beware of what came out of the abundance of their hearts, and to be brutally honest with the Father. It’s logical to do business with God without any smokescreens, because He knows your heart anyway. Keep it real. Confess truthfully. Repent passionately. And follow the advice of Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.”

Look at a celebrity: you’ve probably seen them on TV,
Chased by paparazzi, fans, or sailing on their yacht.
Even if you’re not the type to fall for shallow marketing hype,
You cannot help but think perhaps they’re something that you’re not.
But although fame and money hide the truth of who they are, inside,
Divorces, drugs and suicide contaminate the dream:
If you are tempted to bow down to cultural icons of renown,
Consider that these people may just not be who they seem.
So when we stand before the throne to face our God all on our own,
We can’t rely on the money we made, or if we played a part.
We cannot take assurance from our external appearance,
For the Lord looks not on outward things; He looks upon our heart.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Thirsty for a Nice Cold Beer? Then This Post is for YOU

Ever get REALLY thirsty? Been working in the yard when it’s 90+ degrees, sweat keeps getting into your eyes, and you just gotta have something cool and refreshing? David talked about that, but he gave it a twist and applied it to something more than physical thirst, which brings up a question: What Are You Thirsty For?

Thirst affects us physically in many ways; it causes disorientation, hallucinations, and it can even cause our vital organs to shut down. We get parched and it’s hard to keep moving. We can be stranded in the desert, lips cracked, skin dry and desperate for water. David knew that feeling and realized that it wasn’t only water he was thirsty for…

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:1-4, NKJV)

thirsty

Read through David’s prayer again, and consider the way he describes how he feels about the Lord… “You are my God! My soul thirsts for you! My flesh longs for you! Your loving kindness is better than life. My lips shall praise you. I will bless you!” When was the last time your everyday prayer was close to this? Yes, I know my Creator is awesome, but when I compare my hurried “bless this day” prayers to David’s love songs, perhaps I have fallen just a bit short in my estimation of who God is, and how amazingly blessed I am. Perhaps the omniscient Lord of the Universe is waiting for me to fall in love with Him, and would love to hear me tell Him just how much he means to me…

If you pause for just a moment and think about all the blessings in your life, even amidst the irritations, the inconveniences, the troubles, and the sorrows, consider this: God is just as open to this kind of relationship with YOU as He was with David. He is thirsty for you. The Almighty God of the universe longs to be intimate with you. David spoke to Him like a lover, with passion and affection and possession. But He isn’t just David’s God; he is MY God. He is YOUR God. Do you thirst for Him? Do you long for Him?

When was the last time you poured your heart out affectionately to the Father and told Him that you loved him dearly, that you longed for Him, and that couldn’t bear to live without Him? When is the last time you crawled up in His figurative lap and huddled close to Him, overwhelmed with love and joy? I thought so. Stop and tell Him. Use David’s prayer as a template if you need to, but I bet He’d love hearing it in your own words.

Father, when I pray to you from dry and thirsty lands,
I never shout my joy to you; I never lift my hands!
I ask you for all sorts of things, but never sing you songs,
And rarely say that You’re the one for whom my spirit longs…
I pray for people who are sick, and ask you, Lord, to heal them;
But I don’t see your glories, Lord: I ask you to reveal them!
Bless me Father, as I pray, give me a holy thirst
To know your heart as David did, and help me put you first.
Help me look into your sanctuary; help me see
That I am yours, and that your sanctuary, Lord, is me.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Testimonies You Ought to Use in Reaching a Verdict

What testimonies do you listen to? What testimonies do you believe? Judges and lawyers listen to lots of them, and apparently so did King David: “Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalms 119:129-130 KJV)

Since David brought it up, I was thinking a bit today about the nature of testimonies, and more specifically about God’s testimonies. The standard dictionary definition for testimony is: “1. Law. The statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court. 2. Evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof. 3. Open declaration or profession, as of faith.” A testimony is accepted as evidence. It is mainly used in court or in church, places where truth is supposed to matter. (As opposed to today’s newscasts, political arena or social media…).

testimonies

Testimony is given to affirm or declare something that happened. God’s testimonies are declarations of what God has done throughout history, evidence that the Creator has not abandoned us to the whims of history and death. I know a lot of people have a hard time accepting the Bible as God’s word. It has ancient stories that speak of things that seem impossible. An ark. A burning bush. A virgin birth. A cross. A Resurrection. Many people do not believe those things, and yet there they stand, testimonies written in a book providing evidence in support of a fact.

The writer of Hebrews said that “faith is… the evidence of things not seen.” You don’t really see wind, but you certainly see evidence of its passing. The same could be said about God’s testimonies. “But this is the twenty-first century!” we declare. “Look at all the things we know, and all the progress we have made! We have outgrown the Bible.” Have we? We live in a sophisticated age, relative to data. Not so much, relative to morality and kindness. The testimonies of God speak to that. They challenge us to a higher standard, to have testimonies of our own…

Our spiritual nature and perception of God makes us unique among all the animals, requiring love and purpose as opposed to mere instinct; God’s words speak to that too. God has revealed himself to man throughout history. It’s written down in His testimonies.

But say you don’t believe all that. Let’s say I give you all of the “archaic” stories that seem like myth; we’ll explain away the Ark and the Red Sea and the Lion’s Den. Take all of those away, but then do this for me: just explain Jesus. The testimonies about him are powerful. He never wrote a book, and yet his words are quoted every day. He said things that no one else said, did things that no one else did. You may not have literally seen his life, but you have certainly seen the evidence of his passing. Does any historian deny the historical presence of Jesus of Nazareth?

The testimonies about his life were so captivating that people literally died defending them. By the thousands: Stubbornly. Defending. Testimonies. Have you ever really considered what Jesus said? He was arguably the wisest man who ever lived… And, oh yeah, He believed in the testimonies. “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

What sustains you spiritually? What do you live by? God’s word is not given to restrict or oppress us; as David suggests, we should keep it because it’s wonderful. It has our best interests at heart; it gives advice for positive living; it offers sustenance, understanding and wisdom, even to the simple…even to me. It is a doorway to truth in a world full of spin, half-truths, and outright deception. Keep it, not because you ought to, but because it is wonderful! (Which reminds us that it is indeed… full of wonder.)

 

TESTIMONIES

They are statements of truth that are made in court;
They are evidence given providing support.
The judge will consider their content, and then
He'll decide who did what, why they did it, and when!
If you want to know what is true and what's not,
Just read testimonies all given by God;
King David just loved them, and read them each day
To provide him some wisdom and light on the way!
If you ever question, here's something to do:
Consider the Bible and whether it's true.
Take a hard look at Jesus, and when you are through,
Then decide if he has any answers for you.
There are millions of folks--I don't think they are phonies--
Enjoying the wonder of God's testimonies!
If you honestly read them, and write a report,
You might see that they're true. And would hold up in court!

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

Hope for the Best, Even When Things Are at Their Worst

“Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.” (Psalms 119:116 NKJV) David had a unique perspective about God’s word. He saw it as more than something to read in church, and more than a book of wisdom that helped him understand how to live. We sometimes just hit the high spots in David’s biography, but when you really look at the circumstances and events in his life, you realize that there were plenty of times that were discouraging and difficult. In spite of that he consistently found hope in what God said.

As a shepherd, he sang about it and meditated upon it under the stars; as a fugitive hiding in caves from Saul’s dangerous mood swings, he drew strength from it; and as a sinner he depended upon it for comfort and forgiveness. He found in the Scriptures a connection to God that upheld him and gave him strength; he was motivated by it and hopeful because of it. What gives you hope?

Having hope is a good thing. Being unashamed of it means two things: 1) you tell everybody you know about your hope—why you look forward and what you are hoping for—without hesitation or reservation. Or 2) you will not need to be ashamed of your hope because it WILL BE fulfilled. Your confidence in your hope is justified. David exemplified both of these points of view. Perhaps that’s why he pursued God’s commandments so strenuously. “I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments. Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name.” (Psalm 119:131-132 NKJV)

The second King of Israel’s story had many chapters, and he longed for God’s word whether he was an unknown shepherd, a fugitive, a king, or a sinner. The hope he gained from his relationship with God sustained him and kept him coming back for more. David said he hungered for God’s commandments so much that he literally opened his mouth and panted. Do you ever jump up in the morning thinking, “Wow! I can’t do anything else today until I read God’s word and get connected with him!” Or “Wow! I need God’s mercy today! Gonna dig into that Bible and let it wash over me!” Something in God’s commandments made David hunger for them… How does your appetite compare to that?

David suffered hardships and failure, yet he believed absolutely that God is merciful and reliable. His life had plenty of discouragement, but he had hope in God. Have you found anything in God’s commandments that makes you as confident as David was? He knew that God’s custom is to be merciful to those who love Him, and he took hope from that. He got up early to bask in God’s love, and he meditated upon it in the night watches.

hope

Like David, Paul also knew that hard times produce a hope in which we cannot be ashamed: “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Have you found God’s mercy? When the world lets you down, it will hold you up.

David had to flee and hide: 
He ran to caves and hid inside,
And lived in dusty, thirsty fear 
That murderous Saul was drawing near.
Before bipolar was a thing, the melancholy, jealous king 
Whose heart and mood would darkly swing 
Was soothed when he heard David sing...
Yet even though he was David's fan, 
King Saul was still a dangerous man 
Who tried to kill him. So David ran.
And somewhere in a cave at night,
Unsettled by his hopeless plight,
Young David found a way to cope
And sought God's Word, which gave him hope.
Strengthened thus, he then proclaimed
That he would never be ashamed
Of hope in what the Lord can do.
So here it is: don't misconstrue,
But when you're hopeless--this is dope-
The God of grace will give you hope.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread