Day 302: A Content life

Psalms 16-17; 191 Timothy 5-6
(Psalm 118 was read on Day 122)

Psalm 16 happens to be one of my favorite Psalms. To me, it’s a picture of a content life…not necessarily a prosperous life or a luxurious life – but a life that is able to rest amidst the swirling chaos in this world. This kind of contentment comes from a steady and deep faith – a long leaning into the Lord. This life is born from the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

In order to find contentment, you must know God. And in order to know God, you must know His Word…

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold (Psalm 19:7-10).

Are you content? Are you content in the mundane of your everyday life? Do you have peace in the midst of tragic, life-altering circumstances? Or how do you respond when your plans get interrupted by an inconvenient flat tire or trip to the ER?

In good times and bad, can you say with David…

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance (Psalm 16:5-6).

Marinate your soul in the deep waters of His Word. Let his truth seep into your bones and transform your life into one that rests in the midst of chaos and finds contentment in the sharp turns of life. God is our refuge. Find contentment in His care.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you (Psalm 16:1-2).

Day 298: Striving for simplicity

Psalms 4-62 Thessalonians 3
(Psalm 3 was read on Day 119)

Even though we live in a fallen world, we are still created to enjoy God – and often, we do this through simple pleasures…working our hands in the tilled ground, washing away our thirst with cold water, rising early to watch the sun rise or sleeping after a hard and satisfying work day.

There’s a simplicity to following God that is hard to find in the busy-ness of our western culture. If we can break through all the many demands on our time and attention – and just be in the presence of God, we will find rest.

There is no striving at the foot of the cross. Only trust. A very still sense that God is faithful and he will accomplish it – whatever the it is that we are anxious about…he will accomplish it.

The truths of Scripture can lead us into rest. Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 3 remind me of the elegant simplicity of following God… trusting in his faithfulness (3:3), working quietly to earn a living (3:12), and praying for God’s peace and presence (3:16).

Even the Psalms echo these sentiments. They speak of pondering in our hearts (Psalm 4:4), sleeping in peace (4:8), seeking God in the morning (5:3), and the comforting truths that God hears our weeping and accepts our prayers (6:8-9).

It’s a paradox, but I challenge you to strive to live a simple life. For in simplicity we find… rest, a quiet trust, and peace. Ultimately, we find Jesus.

“You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus.” -Fernando Ortega

Day 287: The fear of the Lord

Job 28-29; Philippians 4

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

This verse has always been meaningful to me…but it has become especially meaningful in the wake of my own personal suffering…

The morning of April 13, 2010 began in its normal way with me caring for my three healthy children. By noon, a truck had plowed into the side of our van, inflicting its permanent damage on our family. My middle child, Anne, came very close to death. By God’s grace, she survived…but lives with a debilitating brain injury. Our family is very different. In many ways, our lives have been split in two – we talk about life in terms of “before the accident” and “after the accident.”

Job’s life has also been split in two. His whole view of the world has been scarred by his immense loss. Yet the foundation of Job’s life remains “the fear of the Lord” (Job 1:1; 28:28). Job manages to land on this solid foundation briefly at the end of Job 28. This chapter is a bright ray of hope as Job describes his desperate search for wisdom. And in the end, he remembers that “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom” (Job 28:28)!

But in the very next chapter we see Job looking back at his life as it was “before.” This is a dangerous trap…one that I have fallen into so many times. After the initial shock of tragedy faded and my new reality began to unfold, I longed for life to be as it used to be… easier and lighter.

But I found that these kinds of thoughts only sent me deeper into despair. And similarly for Job, we will read of his deep anguish in his final lament, tomorrow, in Job 30.

Job needed the truths of the gospel….the kind of truths found in Philippians. He needed the peace of God described in Philippians 4! He needed to stay on his life’s foundation. He needed to dwell on the “fear of the Lord”!

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding (Job 28:28).

Day 272: Unmerited peace

Psalm 125; Psalm 126; Psalm 128; Psalm 129; Galatians 1

We are continuing our reading through the Psalms that would have been relevant to and/or sung by the restored people of Jerusalem.

These Psalms depict a Jerusalem at peace, secure in the protection of God. The restored community experienced the fulfillment of God’s peace in part. We look to the final and “full” fulfillment of His peace in the new Jerusalem!

This peace is made possible by Jesus, the Son of God, who put on flesh so that he might die in our place and take the penalty for our sin. And because of his resurrection, we too can share in his life. Jesus offers this new life to all who believe, both Jew and Gentile – and because he perfectly obeyed the law on our behalf, we are no longer under the law, but under grace.

It is this concept of grace, or unmerited favor, that has become a stumbling block for the Christians in Galatia. For false teachers were infiltrating the churches in Galatia trying to convince the newly converted Gentile Christians to be circumcised.

This is the context in which Paul is writing to the churches throughout Galatia. He begins by asserting that the gospel he preached is the only gospel and he defends his authority to preach this gospel. This authority was given to him by God, alone – in Christ, alone – by grace, alone!

Just like Paul, we have nothing to boast in apart from our life in Christ. The peace we have in our relationship with God and the peace that we will experience in the new Jerusalem is accomplished by God, alone – in Christ, alone – by grace, alone!!