Let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9: 24


Boasting is not generally considered as a positive activity. I was always taught that there was something essentially wrong with being too outspoken about the things that we accomplish or the people that we know. You know, letting it slip out that we have received some sort of honor, achieved a milestone, or had lunch with someone famous. These are things that others are supposed to say about us so that we don’t need to bring them up ourselves. Yet, the Lord, in contrast to all of this human wisdom, seems to be saying that it is perfectly fine for us to be proud of something to the level that we boast about it. The key seems to be found in what is the motivation and the source of our pride.


When we look to the things that we do and the status that we have achieved in life as the focus of our sense of worth and of the way that we desire to be perceived by others, it seems that we are getting our priorities confused. In these instances the things that should be the results are becoming the driving forces in our thinking. What I mean is that there is only one being who has both the intimate knowledge of me and the loving concern about me to take me to my highest and best levels of functioning. This is God. The Lord is also the only source of the empowerment and the strength that I need to live at that high plain in this oppressively challenging world.


Thus, as I seek out the Lord and get to know Him more fully, His true character of love and concern becomes ever more apparent. This causes me to look toward my relationship with Him as the foundation for my sense of worth and for the value that I have in this life. I am granted a fresh perspective and a reality that not only allows for boasting, but it is one that actually demands that I tell the world about this amazing, miraculous, and unending love that the Lord pours into me.




For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 38, 39


Benjamin Franklin is said to have stated, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” It would seem foolish to argue with such a great mind as Franklin’s, but I think that Paul is presenting us with a different reality to consider. The Apostle certainly places both death and taxes, in the sense that they are the crafting of rulers, among the items in his list of things that control and determine the nature and the quality of our lives. Yet, he also says that these great forces of nature and of humanity are like wisps of wind in comparison to the great love that God has poured out upon us in Christ.


Christ gives people something that cannot be gained from anyone else or from any other source. He takes us out from under the final authority of this world, and He places us into deep and intimate relationship with God, the Father. This doesn’t mean that we will escape or avoid the struggles, pain, and loss that can come our way in this broken world. What it does mean is that we are accompanied and comforted in and through it all by the presence of God, and we are granted a certain hope for an eternal future that is absent from all earthly belief.


In Christ I know the love that sacrifices all for me. My rebellion and sin are removed by Christ and forever forgotten by God. There is nothing that I have done or any thoughts or actions that I can engage in that will cause God to reject me. As I am in Christ, so I am enfolded into God’s love and grace. With this truth in mind, I can turn with total confidence to Christ for comfort when pain, loss, and grief are present in my life. During times of great trial, even with the end of my life before me, I can rely upon the presence of Christ and the true embrace of His love to strengthen and encourage my faith all the way to that very final moment of life in this world.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5: 16


Jesus is talking about a couple of important things here. Firstly, He is discussing the fact that God’s people are the enlightened members of humanity. People who have come to Christ have, in fact, come to the Father. It is this light of heaven that God gives to each of His people that provides the love, wisdom, grace, mercy, and holiness that is the essence of God’s true enlightenment. This is the light that Christ pours out through His followers in order to bring the illumination of loving truth to a world that is shrouded and infused with the darkness of sin and its death.


Then Jesus proceeds to embellish upon what He has said just before the verse above. The enlightenment that comes from God through Christ is not something that we hold onto and use for our own sakes. God intends for His people to be active and engaged sources of illumination as we go through our days. We are to openly and continually love others and to love God’s creation in a manner that speaks truth, grace, mercy, and comfort to all that we can reach. God does not grant us vacations from this calling, and He continually reminds us that all that He has given to us is to be used for the sake of others.


So, the work that we do has absolutely nothing to do with our acceptance, status, or position in God’s eyes or in the world where we live. When we respond to Christ and accept His Lordship over our lives, each of us enters into God’s calling for our life. Within that calling is this mandate to be workers whose labor is directed, empowered, and enriched by Christ so that all that we do and every aspect of who we are shines the light of glory onto God, the Father. Nothing that we do or say is for our ourselves, everything that we are is to be for the sake of others in order that they would come to know Christ and enter into the eternal light of His salvation.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

Psalm 119: 105


If you have ever gone camping and needed to move about at night, you can appreciate the importance of being able to see your feet. It isn’t so much that the feet themselves need to be seen, but being able to see what the feet were stepping on or running into does matter. Our feet are vulnerable, and they carry all of our weight as we move about in life. So, injuries to them can be painful and disabling, and missteps can lead to serious and even fatal falls. As we can see, the writer of this Psalm is taking the familiar scene of a dark night and rough terrain to walk across and fashioning a metaphor for the presence of God in our lives.


In our world light comes in two essential forms. One is the tangible form that is made up of electromagnetic radiation waves. This is the light that comes from the sun and that is produced when electrical current passes through a light bulb. The other is the non-tangible form that the dictionary calls “enlightenment.” Although God created the first type, He is the direct source of the second one. This enlightenment is at the heart of the first creation account that is found in Genesis chapter one, and it is what God grants to His people in the presence of His Spirit within us. So, in Christ and through God’s word we gain enlightenment for our journey through this world.


The writer of this Psalm is preparing for that journey. He recognizes the need to stay connected to God’s word of truth in order to avoid the sharp objects, the pitfalls, and the tripping hazards that line today’s pathway. He also knows that navigation matters in successful travel. So, he looks to that same word for guidance in setting the course and for the wisdom that is required to correct and to reset it along the way. God’s word provides us with the light that we need to navigate our way as we follow His calling to engage with our world, and His Spirit enlightens our hearts and minds so that we see that world with the eyes of God.


Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.

2 Samuel 7: 29


There is very little permanence in this world. On a regular basis the things that we hold as examples of longevity die, fall down, or are destroyed. A very long life will reach 100 years, but we know with certainty that it, too, will end. There is decay afoot in our air and in our water, and it has infected everything on this earth from rocks to flesh. Yet, in the face of this same reality, David spoke with confident certainty about God’s promise of his house continuing forever. Through His word and by His presence God granted to David the same knowledge and the same view of life that He grants to anyone who will listen and follow.


Unlike some people, God does not hold the granting of His blessings as a tool for controlling others. He approaches, pursues, and grabs hold of people in order to grant us His grace, forgiveness, care, mercy, protection, and provision. In a word, His blessing. God intends to enter into a relationship with people, and He is a relentless and tireless worker in that cause. The answer to the great division that sin caused to exist between humanity and God was made perfect and complete by Jesus’ life and sacrificial death. Then God answered the issue of permanence as He defeated decay and death by raising Christ from among the dead and raising Him back to His place in glory.


It is in Christ that God’s promise of forever is written; then, through Him, that promise is made real in the lives of people. Each of us is heir to the great blessings that God granted to David. Christ calls to all people to set aside our self-centered view of life and to accept His grace-filled transformative renewal. As we follow David’s example and humbly submit our deepest selves to Christ, emptying ourselves of the old crumbling and failing foundation that tenuously holds us up, His Spirit will fill us again with an intimate knowledge of God that makes courageous commitment to following Him possible. It is from this state of complete weakness before God that we will find the peace, the joy, and the righteous living that are God’s forever blessing for our souls.

O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you.

Psalm 88: 1


We humans tend to want to look so very cool in the way that we go about our lives. After all, image is everything. Perception is reality. Looking like we are in control will lead to control. There are so many ways to spin this idea that considering them makes my head spin. Yet, for most of us, life is not lived in total control; rather, much of it is lived in a state of abject terror at the prospect of crashing ingloriously to earth. As we live in a world where chaos is continually attempting to gain the upper hand, we are fighting against the forces of nature to maintain any Godly order, reason and truth that we can grasp hold of. This is the perspective of the Psalmist as he cries out to God.


It would seem that the shadows of evil are creeping all around him. His story also speaks to the fact that he has contributed to their presence by his own thoughts and actions. The writer of the psalm has not lived a pure and blameless life. He is far too human for that. He is one of us! Yet, he knows that he has been wrong, for he recognizes his own sinfulness that has invited in the evil that was waiting for the opportunity to enter into his life. Now he feels alone and abandoned. He is lost and without resources for recovery. He has reached that well noted end of his rope and there are still hundreds of feet of descent left until he reaches solid ground again. This is the sort of place where we all have been if we are being honest about what is going on in our world.


It is from this position of helpless distress that the Psalmist cries out to God. He does it with a passion and an intensity that abandons polished language and careful expression. He bares his soul to the only one in the universe who truly understands what he is feeling. In his need, he surrenders appearances and gives in to his honest need for God’s intervention. I believe that this is what God desires for all of His people to do. When we are on our knees before the Mighty King we tend to become quiet enough to clearly listen to His voice. As we stretch out flat on the floor in complete surrender, we seem to be more receptive to doing what the Lord commands. The Lord, God Almighty, yearns to hear our pleas, and He is loving and just in His response.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2: 4


The little phrase “but God” hovers over God’s Word and provides a tension to numerous scenes throughout it. It is a simple linguistic construction, in Greek the but is called a conjunction of antithesis, which sits at the balance point for the eternal destiny of many souls. Contemplate for a moment a god who did not operate in the manner as the “But God’ one does. This would be a god who is not rich in mercy, who does not love people in a manner that is beyond our contemplation, and who did not sacrifice himself for the sake of our souls. This is a god much like the ones that humanity has tried to create for itself throughout our troubled history. This is a god who is completely foreign to my experience of the true and living God, the great I Am, Father, Savior, and Spirit of light, life, and truth.


The “But God” enters into the lives of people who are broken and shattered by the corrosive and destructive forces of sin. We are all born into this world as hearers of Satan’s great lies. Each person’s story is different, but this one fact is our common reality, each of us needs to be saved from the certainty of a life that is lived presently and eternally in a state of separateness from God. Christ performed the great intervention. He came out of the perfection of Heaven to join with us in our world of chaos and pain. He brings to our hearts the promise of a love that is great beyond measure and that doesn’t contemplate our worthiness before He embraces us. Christ enters the tomb of our souls and He breathes the breath of life into our lungs. Then, like Lazarus, Christ calls to us to come out of the dwelling place of the dead and to enter into the land of the truly alive.


It is in this new land of our inhabitation where we live with Christ. For people who know Him, this is our new home. We may be aliens and foreigners in this world where we journey, but this should not confuse us, for we are now residing in the presence of God, Almighty. Therefore, our new address is the Kingdom of God, and we are called upon by Him to be active players in bringing the truth of the “But God” to the world that we touch with our lives. We are not called by God to be judges, and we are not called to be agents of condemnation. We are to be lovers of people and to be careful gardeners who work diligently to restore order and to bring peace into our world. When the world encounters us it should be able to readily see the effects of the transformative work that the “But God” has performed upon us, and it should know that it is being touched by His mercy, grace and love.




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