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Chatting with Jesus

Monday July 11, 2022

Lord, how sad for non-believers, skeptics, or those who just reject anything about You. When the “blues” come knocking on their soul’s door, singing the old hymn “nobody knows the trouble I seen,” they join in and sing right along. But as a Christ-follower, help me implement what the psalmist employed when those same ole blues wanted to hang out with him.  He simply reminded himself of all You have done for him. There is absolutely no room for the blues among Your blessings, (Psalm 103:2).

It’s a no-brainer that first on his list of blessings, he reminded himself of his right standing with You.

“He forgives all my sins …” (verse 3)

In humility, the psalmist knew his lingering sins kept him from becoming all who You created him to be. He would be shamed if others knew of those hidden sins he battled daily.  Despite knowing every flaw and failure, You forgave, and continued to forgive, the psalmist’s sins. You especially helped the psalmist to forgive himself. He could rest from fear or worry since You secured his eternity with You.   

That’s the same for me and all Christ-followers. By placing our trust in Your sacrifice for sins on the cross, Jesus, Your grace forgives all our sins: past, present, and those sins we will yet commit. Not that we deliberately intend to trespass against You, but living in this broken world, Christ-followers are not exempt from sinning. May we always remember we’re forgiven, not because of our good behavior or strictly keeping rules, but because on the cross, all our iniquities were placed on You, Jesus.  

Lord, singing “I am redeemed, by Love Divine!” makes the blues want to leave town! Goodbye!

Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Lord, Scripture commands anyone who is breathing to praise You (Psalm 150:6). You are God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and worthy of all the praise and glory. It’s a no-brainer that atheists, non-believers, or skeptics wouldn’t praise You. That’s understandable. But Lord, as a Christ-follower, what am I to do those times I just don’t feel like praising You? Whether I’m physically tired, mentally exhausted, emotionally drained — whatever has caused my soul’s slothfulness, I just can’t muster the spiritual energy to praise You. Maybe it’s the pain from this lingering illness that numbs my praise motivation? Or disappointment from a loved one’s failure and the hurt is too deep? Possibly an unrepentant sin in my life shuts out Your voice to come to You and set things right.

Lord, did the psalmist suggest he wallowed in similar spiritual lethargy when he penned Psalm 103? Seems like it. “Bless the Lord,” he ordered his soul. “All that is within me—Praise the Lord!” The ways in which life’s stuff came against him wherever he turned must have worn him down. His spirit knew he needed to get back on track. “Bless the Lord, my soul! Praise Him! And do not forget all He has done for you!” (Psalm 103:1,2). He went on to list all Your blessings. Wouldn’t you know it. The more blessings he remembered, the more exuberant his praise became. By the end of the Psalm, the psalmist is praising You in song and dance.

Forgive me, Lord. Who am I to withhold praise to You? When I slow down, ignore all the negatives vying for my attention, and remember all You have done for me and my family, our countless blessings at every corner, how can I not praise You? May my praise from a grateful heart, resounding throughout the halls of Heaven, please You, Lord. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Thursday July 6, 2022

Lord, It seem like the psalmist story of redemption had a rough beginning. He “waited patiently for the Lord to help him,” (Psalm 40:1). Wait! How was that a rocky start? You were ready to immediately step in to help, but in his zeal to be perfect, the psalmist kept getting in the way. He was determined to conquer sin and temptations on his own to show his sincerity to live all-in for You. When did he realize he couldn’t conquer his sins on his own without Your help? Was it his second failure? Maybe his third? Perhaps his tenth, twentieth, or who knows how many attempts? Discouraged, he may have thrown up his hands in frustration. Trying as hard as he could, he knew his behavior didn’t always please You, Lord. Did he get to the point where he thought of himself as a believer You could not use?

Finally, the psalmist discovered grace. And after waiting patiently for the psalmist to get out of the way, You came charging in to rescue him from his frustrations. When he finally understood how only Your grace could set him free from his sins, (Psalm 103:12) You “lifted him out of the pit of spiritual despair, out of the mud and mire, and set his feet on solid spiritual ground,” (verse 2). But You weren’t through. You put a new song in his heart, and a new skip in his step. The psalmist life took on another dimension. Many were amazed seeing the dynamic change in the psalmist, causing many to put their trust in You, (verse 3).

Lord, how many could substitute their name for the psalmist and the story would be the same? I certainly could. You know me, Lord. I so easily can get in the way. When I do, just move me to the side.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Lord, what a perfect morning. Coffee in hand, I sat on the patio, meditating and reading Psalms. An old hymn from decades past came to mind. I softly hummed along with the words singing in my mind.

“Something good is going to happen to you,

Happen to you, this very day.

Something good is going to happen to you,

Jesus of Nazareth is passing this way.”

Without warning, another old song I’d not thought of in decades shattered the tranquility of the moment.

“My boomerang won’t come back,

My boomerang won’t come back.

I’ve waved the thing all over the place,

Practiced till I was black in the face,

I’m a big disgrace to the Aborigine race.

My boomerang won’t come back!”

In 1961, as an impressionable 14-year-old, along with millions of other kids, I sang this novel song ad nauseum to the annoyance of my parents.

So true to form, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me. “How did you remember those words when you haven’t thought of that song in decades?” While fumbling for an answer, the Holy Spirit answered the question. “Repetition. Plain and simple. How did you learn the alphabet? Or the states and their capitals? Or the multiplication tables — before calculators on cell phones, of course?”

Jesus, You said, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will remind you of all that I’ve told you” (John 14:26).  So repeating what the Scriptures say increases our faith? According to Romans 10:17, it does.  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”

You’re so right, Lord. How else would i have remembered these Scriptures if I hadn’t in the past repeated them in faith? And unlike the boomerang that won’t come back, You tell us Your Word will come back to You after it has accomplished what You sent it out to do, (Isaiah 55:11).

Gotcha, Jesus.

Chatting with Jesus

Friday, July 1, 2022

Lord, after carelessly throwing ugly words at the two rude delivery guys, and my family regained their composure, I repented of my foolish, carnal actions. Why couldn’t I have trusted You would work all things out, Lord? You did anyway despite my no-show faith. With the assistance of the most apologetic store manager and an employee, they came over and moved the Big GreenEgg to the patio.

Nonetheless, for me, the ‘I will’ lessons from Psalm 101 still needed to be learned. My Romans 8:1 faith, that I was “not condemned for my sinful actions” remained intact. But how did my Romans 8:28 faith, that “You work all things for my good,” go AWOL? Clearly, You showed me how every Christ-follower, from a new believer to a seasoned saint, can’t get too comfortable thinking they cannot fail. We can. We do. We all need Your grace every day to survive in this broken world.

You led me to Psalm 39 for a refresher course. The psalmist wrote from embarrassing personal experiences, “I said to myself, ‘I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say,’” (verse 1). Seems like You were telling the psalmist to calm down, don’t get in such a hissy. It’s only temporary. “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be,” the psalmist wrote. “Remind me my days are numbered — how fleeting life is,” (verse 4).

Seems like You are telling me the same. Calm down, don’t get in a hissy. This Egg thing was temporary, and You remain Lord over Romans 8:28.

Amen!

Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Lord, You saw it. It wasn’t pretty, was it? After studying Psalm 101, the “I-will-make-these-changes-in-my-life” Psalm on how to maintain the integrity of our relationship with You, I felt confident I could handle whatever might pop up. It didn’t take long for You to show me otherwise, Lord.

As a reward for being “the greatest father in the history of the world,” and in celebration of my 75th year on this planet, we purchased a GreenEgg smoker/grill. As a “Rewards” member of this national company, one benefit is free delivery of merchandise. When the delivery van arrived, the workmen dropped the massive grill and table in the driveway. When I politely asked them about moving it to the patio as planned, they became rude and snippy, then drove off. As the van disappeared over the horizon, that’s when the ugly words spang out of me.   

Wait a minute. That’s not supposed to happen. I’m a Christ-follower. I write devotionals. I write stories about You, Jesus. I determined to follow Psalm 101’s outline for godly living, and then I react that way? And to my embarrassment, this happened in front of my family. Ouch! Immediately, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my pride, thinking I’d be immune to such weakness of character. Industrial strength repentance followed quickly.

Lessons learned? Like the psalmist, I must never think I can live for God in my own strength. I need God 24/7. Your grace never condemns, just forgives and keeps us in the right path, (Romans 8:1).

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lord, if I’m understanding the psalmist correctly, to maintain the integrity of his all-in commitment to You, he examined his heart daily, searching for any wickedness that remained in his life. As Psalm 101:8 points out, hidden sin’s stifles spiritual growth.

Jesus, You knew we’d struggle with these remaining sins after committing ourselves to You. I’m certainly in that group and can identify with the psalmist when he pleaded, “You are gonna help me, aren’t You, Lord?” (101:2)

This is so much like You, God — You already had a plan in motion. For all who commit themselves to be Christ-followers, You gave the Holy Spirit to live within us to help us rid our souls of ‘old things,’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though we will never completely rid ourselves of these ‘ole things’ this side of Heaven, cement this soul-liberating truth deep within our soul: Your grace never condemns us when we fail You. “There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1).

Lord, may I follow the psalmist’s example and daily examine my soul for any sin or spiritual flaws. And when the Holy Spirit reveals anything not pleasing to You, may I not argue and try to justify how those ‘old things’ can’t be that bad, but not hesitate to discard them quickly. I just wanna be more like You, Jesus. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

June 28

Lord, You often spoke of the importance of “sweeping our house clean” after committing our lives to You. The world cannot do it. Ideologies fail to do it either. Only You can change us on the inside. Only You can change our hearts, our spiritual house.

The Apostle Paul stated this truth succinctly in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “[a]nyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” Yes, we’re changed on the inside, but we soon find some ‘old things’ still hang around.

Psalm 101 describes the psalmist’s personal ‘sweeping clean his house’ when he determined to live all-in for You. With the first sweep of his broom, he pleaded, “You are gonna help me, aren’t You, Lord?” (verse 2).  You more than came through for him.

One after another, You helped the psalmist replace those ‘old things’ he swept out with more of Your character. Anger replaced by grace and mercy. Bitterness buried by love and forgiveness. Greed smothered by joy and godly contentment.  Slowly, the psalmist life developed such an extent of Your attributes like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, (Galatians 5:22) that his friends and family could not imagine him ever being any other way.  

Lord, that I might have that same desire to “sweep my house clean” and refill it with Your spiritual gifts and character.  Jesus, You and I will silence those naysayers who claim an old dog can’t change. 

We’ll show ’em, won’t we Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Lord, to maintain the integrity of his renewed life with You, the psalmist needed to make some relationship changes. Was it painful to distance himself from old friends and buddies who couldn’t accept his all-in-for-God commitment? Probably so — but necessary.  Many came around later to join him in putting their faith in You, but unfortunately, many also felt such a commitment wasn’t necessary.

“I will search for faithful people to be my companions,” he vowed. “Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve [associate, hang out with] me;” (Psalm 101:6).

Moving forward, he chose to choose his friends carefully. Being a ‘people person,’ the psalmist had many opportunities to share his story of Your grace and mercy toward him and influence others to seek You. However, those who would be in his inner circle needed Your approval first. No more wishy-washy, double-minded friends that compromised his relationship with You. He kept people like that at arm’s length. These were not necessarily bad folks, it’s just he determined to associate with only like-minded, faithful people.

Perhaps when Your earthly brother James read the psalmist story, Your Spirit inspired him to write this truth: “That [wishy-washy] person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all his ways,” (James 1:7,8).

Lord, may I become like one of the believers the psalmist would choose as a friend. Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Lord, how could the psalmist’s friends not notice his changed life? Since he humbly fell before You, pleading, “For the honor of Your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins,” (Psalm 25:11), You miraculously changed him on the inside.  He incessantly told anyone with ears of Your amazing, transforming grace. Friends and his closest buddies rejoiced at his 100 percent commitment to serve You.  Another group especially rooted for him. That group still exists today.

The prideful and conceited were rooting for the psalmist’s downfall. Skeptical of his new way of living, they mocked him, saying religion is for the weak—be your own self. What they couldn’t understand is the psalmist did try being ‘his own self,’ which led to disappointments and an unfulfilled life.

Most God-fearing leaders rejoiced and gave You thanks for Your mercy. Sadly, some arrogant religious elites thought their ecclesiastic background made them judges of Your mercy. “It’s not genuine,” they must have fumed. “How dare this man go to God without going through us first!” Did they compare notes?  “He didn’t do ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C,’ therefore, he can’t be a believer!”

The psalmist reacted to their taunts the way You intended. He ignored them, counting these naysayers as irrelevant. He refused to put up with their nonsense. “I will not endure conceit or pride,” he wrote, (Psalm 101:5). He found that his personal relationship with You, Lord, now the center of his existence, gave him a fulfilled life.

Lord, hear my earnest prayer: may the spirit of pride and conceit never gain a foothold in my spirit as our relationship grows deeper. May it be the same for all Christ-followers today. Amen.