power-of-god

Three years ago today, I set out on what I thought was going to be a one-year journey through the Bible.

It’s been three years now, and I’m still in Psalms. Of course, it doesn’t help when you don’t post anything in 28 months, but I digress.

“Adam’s Odyssey” has been just that – an odyssey. Much has changed since I last posted on Dec. 1, 2010. A little over a month after that post, I found out I was going to be a father, and today, I have 20-month-old son running around the house.

This odyssey hasn’t been exactly what I thought it would be. There was a time where I thought I was so busy that I never thought I’d be able to complete it. There were times where I felt like just giving up on it completely.

But there were also days where I found myself wondering if I could do it, challenging myself with the prospect of getting back into it. It took me these 28 months away from it to realize that I need to finish what I started, and although the “Odyssey” may look a little different now then when I originally started, it’s time to get it going again.

So, obviously, the elephant in the room. The one year goal is toast. That’s obvious. So, what’s next? Well, I’ve decided not to put a time limit on myself. I’m going to go through the rest of this at my own pace, and I’ll finish when I finish. Will I post every day? Probably not. And that’s OK.

And what better day to start again than on the very day of the calendar this all started…April1, the day that changed my life forever, one of the reasons I started this whole adventure.

Tonight, we start anew. Let’s dig in.

Where we left off 28 months ago, I had just finished Psalm 89, and we are now starting Book IV in the Book of Psalms. I’m only going to read one chapter tonight to get me started, and I’ll get back into it full force as we continue down the road.

 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

April 1 – at least over the past seven years, has always proven to be a reminder of my mortality. As you all know by k now, today is the seven-year anniversary of my brother’s death, and as the years go by, I use this day to take stock of where I am, my legacy, and now that I have a family, I think of my future.

I’m not trying to be morbid, but it’s a natural response, to think about one’s death when you are faced with the death of someone close to you. In Psalm 90, the author proclaims the infinite power of God, praising Him for His complete control over everything, including the frailty of mankind. It’s a fitting verse for a day like today.

But it’s the second part of that verse that really makes the passage more meaningful. We are to remember that our lives our short, and the second part essentially asks the question: So what are you going to do about it?

Knowing that we do not have many days left reminds us of that sense of urgency, and to not waste time, making the most out of opportunity to do eternal good. What purpose has God called me to that I am ignoring? What talents do I have that I am wasting? What sin am I partaking in that is distracting me from my purpose?

These are all tough questions to ask yourself, but as we are reminded all too frequently, life is short, and every second that we waste is another second that we could be using to glorify God and help others.

Are you going to waste it?

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known,things our ancestors have told us.We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their ancestors—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. – Psalm 78: 1-8

You think I would have learned.

It’s been more than a month since I have logged an entry into my Odyssey, for a mixture of reasons, reasons that would be pointless to go into much detail about here. The point is, I have lost an entire month, with no progress made. Throughout the last month, which has flown by like an absolute blur, I look back and see that the devil has really tried hard to keep me away from this blog. My prayer life, my study times, my entire relationship with God has suffered. I have to admit, for the last 36 days, Satan has won the battle.

It ends tonight.

It’s funny how God’s Word works sometimes. I’ve written about this very topic before in past posts, but it’s great how God gives you the lesson you need to hear exactly when you need to hear it. My first chapter back in the Word tonight , Psalm 78, written by Asaph, should really be titled “Live and Learn,” because it’s essentially a written history of Israel, and more specifically, the mistakes they made along the way, forsaking God, and the inevitable consequences. Being an Israelite and reading this, one can see the lesson of the story being “What Not To Do.”

But personally tonight, I see the Psalm as an encouraging bit of Scripture. So many times, I have willingly traveled the Godless road, the “I Can Do It Myself” path – the Journey of Solitude. I drift, coast and float aimlessly in my spiritual walk, choosing instead the easy path filled with sin and distractions. Then I return to God, hands lifted high, sincerely repentant, and all seems well with my soul. I’m on top of the world!

How true this was of the Israelites. The endless cycle. The fall, the return. And then what? We are supposed to learn from our mistakes and learn to walk in the holy path of Christ, the righteous path. Not only that, we are supposed to learn from the mistakes of those who have come before us, serving as examples. But what do we do? After a brief period of spiritual oneness, sin creeps back in, corrupts little by little, and the fall happens all over again.

When will I ever learn?

The thing about this blog, to me, is that it really means more to me than just a blog. It’s a life lesson. It’s a collection of thoughts relating to life as the Bible teaches it should be lived, and my examples of how I sometimes just plain come up short. This amalgamation of words is but a mere sampling of what God’s Word speaks to me when I read it, helping me on my sometimes turbulent path, scratching and clawing, back to Him. But that’s the journey, isn’t it? The road is never straight and wide, smooth sailing. It’s full of turns, potholes, and even some unexpected detours. The important part isn’t the road – it’s the destination, and praise God that He is there at the end waiting for me despite my mistakes! Praise Him even more that He travels the road by my side!

Today is December 1, a full eight months since I started on this Odyssey. Only four months remain, and I am very much behind. But you know what? It’s OK, because although I still plan to finish on April 1, 2011, my journey will be far from over. God will never be finished teaching me lessons, and I hope I will be able to have the discerning heart to learn from my past mistakes and walk with my Savior. By living and learning, maybe I’ll truly learn to live.

Until tomorrow, here’s to life’s lessons learned, and a new day of trying to live life right.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like — always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. -Psalm 73: 2-17

What a minute, that’s not right. That’s not the way things are supposed to be. A good man, a man of God, is stricken with maladies, problems and issues. His health falters, his status plummets. All the while, evil is on the rise. Non-believers are more successful than ever today. They are healthy, strong, confident and sometimes even cocky, drunk with power.

If we claim to be Christians, shouldn’t we be doing better, in God’s care, that all the other ruthless, other sinners in the world. Where’s the provision. Doesn’t this seem backwards?

In the above Psalm, Asaph is begging for intervention. His enemies were successful, and he, in his mind, had nothing. Where’s the fairness? Where’s the justice? Where’s the love?

Although these feelings are natural, they are inaccurate. You know, it’s funny, I’ve read a lot of the Bible at this point, and never in it, not once, does it say that becoming a follower of Christ is going to immediately improve your life. This isn’t “Aladdin’s” big blue genie here.

In fact, God says that a believer’s life is often most difficult because of the persecutions we face in His name. At first glance, it seems like Christians should be in this God-bubble, protected from the world and serving only up to a fraction of our potential. It can be easy to see non-believers with lots of money, cars, houses, etc., and be jealous of their status. One might think, “Why hasn’t God blessed me with that yet?”

Why is my life so backwards!?

Easy answer. It’s not. God is exactly where He wants you be, and although you may feel disoriented, dizzy and taken aback at the string of situations and choices that is your life, it’s all about gaining (or even in some cases, re-gaining, your perspective.

So, sdrawkcab sleef efil ruoy fI, readjust your peepers, look to God, and He’ll guide you back to forward-land.

Evil people, on this planet, may prosper. Let them, for their success is temporary, and although we may suffer in the world’s eyes, our prize is eternal. Praise God for being the God of love, redemption and sovereignty! Stop living backwards, and let Jesus set you straight so you can be the shining light God wants you to be!

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. – Psalm 63:1-8

There are a lot of praise songs out there, and I’d like to think I have a heard a great number of them (although I am sure there are thousands just waiting to be heard), and as I have been reading through Psalms, I am picking up phrases here and there, words and sentences that I recognize as lyrics in some of my favorite hymns and contemporary worship hits.

Even tonight, as I was going through Psalm 63, a psalm of desire for God’s presence, a longing for His will, my brain clicked as I came across the phrase in verse 3 – “Your love is better than life.”

Immediately, I thought of the catchy guitar/synth vocal intro  riff from “Your Love is Better Than Life,” by the Newsboys off of their album, “Go.” This may have been the first time I have ever been inspired to hum a synth/pop tune by the Bible, but I digress.

After my initial sing-along (and subsequent listen to the song on my computer), I started to think about the meaning of such a phrase. “Your love is better than life.” It’s pretty straight forward, God’s love is greater than anything this world has to offer, even our entire lives, but what does it mean to me?

There are a lot of things I treasure in this life. Just looking around my office, I see a lot of things I might consider “treasures.” A few autographed items here and there, some sentimental value items from my wife, some *ahem* action figures (they aren’t dolls!) – I consider these things valuable. This items can be bought however, for the right price. I love my truck, but for the right price, I’d let it go. My autographed 2009 UConn Huskies signed basketball? Sure. Just give me the right price. Even my extensive collection of movies. Just name the price. God’s love? Hmm, well this is a little different.

Writing this psalm, David as a desperate man. Hiding in the Desert of Judah, David was on the run, hiding, hungry, thirsty, lonely, longing for a friend. God was that friend who came to the rescue, a Friend that could be trusted in all times of peril and tribulation. God’s love, compared to all other things, even his very life, was better, because it made everything better.

God’s love is indeed, better than life. Anything that we go through, God’s love can conquer it all. It is better than our troubles, our pain, our grief and sorrow, our inconveniences, our sins, our anger, our jealousy, our pride, our struggles, our treasures, our status and our fame. It is better than you and me, our families and the most well-known people of all the earth, past and present. It is greater than our achievements, our dreams, and our wildest imaginations. It is the very hope of God, His love, His grace, that sustains us. Is there anything better? You can bet your life there isn’t.

Here’s a link to the Newsboys song, “Your Love is Better Than Life,” if you haven’t heard it!

Day 200: The fool (Psalm 42-55)

Posted: October 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Will the evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on God? There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. God scattered the bones of those who attacked you; you put them to shame, for God despised them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! – Psalm 53

When I first started my Odyssey in April, I thought 200 days sounded like an eternity. Well, here I am, 200 whole days later, and it all seems like such a blur! I still have 165 days left in this journey, and I’m still a little behind, but what an interesting topic I find myself dwelling on tonight, on the 200th night of all nights, the topic of the foolishness of atheism.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile.

Yikes. Kind of harsh. But, it’s always been fascinating to me, to be in the shoes of someone who truly believes that there is no God, someone who, no matter what you say, denies His presence, and angrily declares that no God exists, that we are all here by chance, random anomalies born of primordial goo and happenstance, someone who believes that science, not God, is the explanation of all things in this world. Of course, all these things, to me, are nothing but man’s feeble attempt to explain that which cannot be explained, but I digress. Time to step off the soapbox.

My study Bible has a great note on the first verse of chapter 53, let me share it with you here: “Echoing the message of Psalm 14, this psalm proclaims the foolishness of atheism. People may say there is no God in order to cover their sin, to have an excuse to continue in sin, and/or to ignore the Judge in order to avoid the judgment. A “fool” does not necessarily lack intelligence; many atheists and unbelievers are highly educated. Fools are people who reject God, the only one who can save them.”

Tonight, I’m going to switch things up a little bit. I’m going to take a back seat for a little while and let you guys in on a great piece I found online. I stumbled across a piece at http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html. The full story is there. It’s a candid, thoughtful explanation for people to realize that God is there, working, in plain view. All we have to do is open our eyes to it. The following is written by Marilyn Adamson. My apologies if the proper credit isn’t given, but my intentions are pure! Here is the piece:

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:

The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter. Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

existence of GodThe Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.

Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has an unusually high boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

proof of GodWater is a universal solvent. This property of water means that thousands of chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.

The human brain…simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

existence of GodThe human brain processes more than a million messages a second. Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

2. Does God exist? The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.”

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”

4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.

existence of GodAll instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!!

Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.

existence of GodWhy is this so amazing? One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop.

Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

proof of GodI didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”

What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can’t do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.

Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” This is God, in action.

Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We’re told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth’s perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ.

Back to me again! I don’t know about you, but I found that piece highly intriguing. As David says in Psalm 53, one would have to be a “fool” to deny it.

God is real! And He loves you!

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. -Psalm 37: 3-6

God really does work mysteriously, and when I see the fruits of his work in hindsight, I am constantly amazed. I know it sounds conceited and self-important, but sometimes I think God does things in my life and with people around me just to teach me a lesson. So many times, the passage I am reading applies directly to a situation I have dealt with recently, it’s uncanny. Here’s just the latest example.

It’s no secret that I have been struggling over the past few weeks to keep up with my reading. I’m putting it out there, I’m behind. I’m not going to rush to catch up, but even in my weakness in falling behind, God has a lesson in store for a particular time. This passage I read tonight – Psalm 31-41 – I was supposed to read through a good couple of weeks ago. But I read it tonight. I am actually glad I read it this week instead of last, because God has shown me this passage in the last week and it had nothing to do with my reading.

You see, last Saturday, Sarah and I went to a wedding for one of her friends at work. This woman has been waiting patiently, a great woman of God, seeking and delighting in his ways, praying for a great man to enter her life and be her husband. Last Saturday, Oct. 9, her dream came true, and she married Mr. Right, a beautiful ceremony and a fun day all around! But you see, the most awesome thing about it, was that it was completely in honor of God. Both bride and groom took time to publicly acknowledge God’s role in their marriage and in their lives. It was inspiring. Many couples just do the ceremony, hop in the limo, go to the reception, eat, dance, electric slide, honeymoon! But this was different.

As we arrived at the ceremony, the tables, decked out in fancy flowers and place settings, I checked out these little brown bags – our wedding favors. So, like the little kid at Christmas that I am, I checked out my bounty, and along with some awesome chocolates, I took out a magnet, with full harvest design, which read the following verse: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Both bride and groom would go on to explain the personal meaning behind the verses, the patience it took to eventually find each other, trusting in the LORD to give them wisdom and patience as they waited for the right match, while all the time remaining faithful to the LORD for everything. It was a great testimony, and right then and there, I grabbed my cell phone out of my pocket and texted that same verse to a friend of mine who has been struggling with some things in his life, praying for a certain thing VERY hard over the past year or so.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

“AMEN brother!” said the text that came back to me soon after. Something about that verse was sticking with me, and I was feeling the need to share it. The notion of patience, of God working in his own time, blessing those that continue to trust, to pray, even without immediate satisfaction, waiting for the blessing that will come in His own time. The faith it takes to continuously wait, even if it be for years, is a true testament to one’s character when that blessing inevitably arrives!

But the story does not end there. Leave it to God to make it even better. Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye, because coincidence has no place in God’s plan!

The next day in church, things are going as they normally do, a great service of worship and praise, a set of great guest speakers from Costa Rica and Poland – it was made even better when the person I sent the text to the day before comes up to me and tells me (I won’t reveal too much about it here, just for the sake of personal information) that the thing being prayed about was finally starting to work itself out.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I shared in this person’s joy, knowing the patience, the waiting, the suffering, the praying that went into the struggle, it was almost too much to take, yet I knew that God was opening up His spirit to me, showing me, in a most practical way, that the words of the Bible are true! Those that hope in the LORD, trust in Him, wait in His love, serve Him and seek Him, will be given the desires of their heart!

Which leads me to tonight.

Wouldn’t you know it, that my reading is Psalm 31-41, and as I read over Psalm 37 tonight, not even expecting it, I came across those familiar words that hit me so hard last weekend.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

The timing of it just defies logic. That God saw fit to show me this verse last weekend on a wedding favor magnet, then have it strike such a chord with me that I share it with someone who is struggling with that very thing, only to have that person see the fruits of their patience come to pass that very next day, and then have it come back full circle to me again only five days later in a Bible reading? Ladies and gentleman, you can call it what you want, but for me, that’s a God thing, and there’s just no getting around that!

So after this amazing series of events, what’s the lesson for me? There are many things I feel I am “waiting” for. Maybe God is reminding me that I am not seeking Him as well as I ought to. Maybe He is pointing out to me that “desires of my heart” don’t necessarily mean “desires of my mind,” inconsequential things like money and status. Maybe it’s all of the above. All I know for sure is that if I continue to serve Him with all of my heart, He will bless me with the desires of my heart – the things God has in store for me that will bring me true happiness in spirit, growing ever closer to God in the process. So for those of you out there who are trusting in Christ to deliver, waiting patiently for God’s blessing, even when it seems like there is no hope on the horizon, remember:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Psalms has been such an encouraging read these last few days. David bares his soul to God, in despair, in defeat, in victory, in joy, in everything, David turns to God and praises Him! There were two really great passages I wanted to relay to you tonight. It really is hard to choose what I want to write about, because there really is so much, and I feel like I’m missing something, but for the sake of time, here’s my picks, a couple of great passages that have to deal with the topic of fear in the face of great trials.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23

The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me, to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. – Psalm 27:1-3

Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most quoted pieces of Scripture in the entire Bible. Even non-believers use this passage to attempt to comfort themselves after something catastrophic has happened, like a death or other serious family situation. I’ve heard people recite it, almost word for word, even to themselves, in order to comfort themselves or others. It’s a great passage, and although I hear it a lot, it doesn’t make it any less powerful. The description of God of a shepherd is quite comforting, the picture of a beautiful, green pasture, with a kind shepherd gently guiding his sheep to the next field – it is serene! The wolves of sin and may lurk in the woods surrounding the field, but the shepherd is prepared, ready with his rod and staff to protect me. What good is there to fear the evil in the woods if I am perfectly safe with my Shepherd?

It may not be equally apparent every moment of our lives, we may not be looking especially hard for God some days, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there. In times of difficulty, trial and tribulation, He has His staff and rod out, ready to help us defend ourselves if we call out to Him.

I forget if I have told this story already or not, but if I have, I guess I’m going to tell it anyway. It’s a story of God’s protection and awesome love for me and my family, even though I wasn’t living for the LORD all that well. I forget exactly which year it was, but I know I was just a kid. I was saved in third grade, so I believe it was after that. I was a pretty new Christian, and I knew I wasn’t living the life, but I can say that 15-20 years later. Anyway, my parents were driving me and my brother home, I believe from my grandmother’s house, when out of the blue, on Route 44 near the intersection of Route 195 near the old Kathy John’s, my dad decides it’s a good idea to pull over in a nearby parking lot and request that my mother take the wheel for the remainder of the journey home.

OK, keep in mind two things. One, my father had never done that before, and to this day, he has not done that again. And two, we were only 20 minutes from home. Something was up.

Sure enough, not even a minute from pulling over in that parking lot, the intersection goes completely dark. Streetlights, traffic lights, businesses, everything. Completely dark. It was eery. Not knowing what to expect, my mother got into the driver’s seat and re-started the journey home, and sure enough, not even a minute up the road, a horrific car accident had just happened, leaving a car split in half. The timing was too close. If my father had not pulled over, there was a chance we may have been involved in that accident. Obviously, it’s tought o play the “What If?” game, but to this day, I truly believe God was at work in that situation, nudging our family (and maybe even my dad’s sleep cycle) with his shepherd’s rod, guiding us to safety from the wolf on the prowl that night, protecting us from certain harm and giving us a chance to live another day. The circumstances were too perfect for me to belive otherwise. God protected the Minor family that night. I’m sure there have been many more instances that I don’t even remember that He did the same thing, but that night sticks out to me. Even as a kid I remember thinking that God saved our lives, and something clicked inside me. It was an awesome reminder for me that God is in control. Even today, more than 15 years later, I look back on that night, remembering certain details, the violence of the car crash scene, and thinking, “That could have been me.” God had other plans for me!

The second passage almost seems cocky on first reading. I know it’s not, but I picture standing David on the front lines of his army, proudly boasting, “Whom shall I fear?”

The funny thing is, he is completely and unequivocably right! If God is for us, who (and even what) can be against us? God is more powerful than anything that can even possibly stand against us, so why are we afraid? The evil things of the world may wear scary masks, but God reveals them for what they truly are, absolutely nothing compared to His holiness. We truly have nothing to fear with God on our side, and David is reminding us that we should be confident in the LORD, emboldened by His promise and encouraged by His power to lead a life worth being called a child of God! If God is with us, who can be against us? No one, that’s who! We have nothing to fear but God Himself! Amen!