Tolerate

“You established the earth and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.” Psalm 119:90b-91-NIV

Tolerate

Traffic lights; long
lines; rude people; boring sermons; elevator music; gas prices; work.

Things we tolerate. Why do we tolerate these
things? I suppose it’s because we have to, right? If we want to get where we’re
going we must wait at those traffic lights; if we want to eat we must wait in
those long, slow lines at the grocery store. (Don’t you just love how they only
have one cashier to work when they
have fifteen registers?! Sigh…I digress). We have bills to pay so we tolerate
working all of our lives, but praise Jesus if you are blessed to have a job you
actually love! And what of those boring sermons? Well, your poor pastor can’t
bring down the fire every Sunday,
give him a break! It’s called reality.

The Bible mentions
tolerate a little differently. It calls it “enduring”. Psalm 119:90 says the
earth endures. Wait a minute, the earth is tolerating.
What is the earth tolerating exactly?

Come with me to an
open field on a grassy hilltop. The breeze is cool, the sun is shining. We see
tall flowers blowing against the bright blue sky line. Glorious. Gradually a
thud begins, then louder it comes until “clomp clomp clomp,” that gorgeous
yellow bloom blowing in the breeze has been snuffed out, cut short by the stomp
of muddy boots breaking through our scene in a hurry to get to the lake beyond
the hill.

Bummer.

Humans, we must be a
real treat to tolerate at times.

We are told there
will be a new heaven and a new earth one day (Revelation 21). Life as God
intended, in total perfection. Until then the earth endures (us, perhaps) and
it serves God under the laws he has given: laws of gravity and the laws of
motion. The seasons we are given come and go due to the motion of space, the
rotation of the moon and sun and the earth. It all works in harmony; all of
creation follows perfectly ordered laws laid out by the Creator. The smallest
of flowers bends its will to the sovereign God of the universe while man,
created in the image of God himself, often shakes his fist at the Creator and
questions and doubts at the very minimum.  It’s no wonder God doesn’t merely tolerate us!
But NO! That would go against his very nature of holiness! Instead God loves us
so much he not only gave us the biggest sacrifice of all in His son Jesus, but
he also threw the icing on the cake with giving us all of nature to marvel at
and enjoy!

If the earth and
nature itself endures and serves God willfully, we would do well to look on and
learn from the example given. Have you ever heard a flower complain as its
petals are picked off by a person humming “He loves me, he loves me not?” Have
you ever heard a rain drop whimper as it splatters across the windshield of a
racing car? Have you ever heard a blade of grass rage over getting trampled
under the foot of a workman’s boot?

Are we serving God
with our whole hearts or merely
tolerating his words as ideas in our lives?

He sees our true
heart.

Prayer

I praise you, Jesus. As my
Creator I am thankful for your generosity. You have given all of nature for my
pleasure and I often take it for granted. The next time I see your creations may
I be motivated to serve you with all my heart.

Faithful

“Your faithfulness
continues through all generations.” Psalm 119:90a-NIV

Faithful

Let’s play a game.
Think of a person in your life with the following attributes. This person must
exhibit these qualities 100% of the time, without error. Who do you think of
who is:

Reliable

Competent

Authentic

Accurate

(I said 100% of the
time!)

Infallible

True

Honorable

Unchanging

Dependable (my
favorite)

Hmmm…it’s OK, I’m
having a hard time too. Hopefully it didn’t take you long to figure out that
only one person can exhibit these characteristics perfectly, and that is Jesus,
aside from that, well, you have us.

Disloyal

Unreliable

Fickle

Insecure (ouch)

Fake

Undependable

Dangerous

Maybe you can see
yourself in the negative list more so than the first? Or is that just a problem
I have? I can tell you what my nature is drawn to without Jesus, and it’s not
pretty!

2 Timothy 2:13 tells
us “If we are faithless,” (and we usually are) “…He is faithful [true, infallible,
constant, dependable] for he cannot deny himself.”

Throughout all time,
all eternity, God and every word he spoke remains faithful no matter how we
react to life. (Insecure, unreliable, fickle…) This promise of God’s character
is not only true for his children today but for every generation preceding and
coming hereafter.

Does the reliability
of people ever get you down? Take heart; rather, take refuge in the faithfulness of God’s word!

Prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for your
faithfulness in spite of my unbelief and doubt. Remind me today of the truth
that you are loyal no matter how I feel or what circumstances have come over
me.

Settled

 “Forever, O Lord, your
word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89-NKJV

Settled

Look in the mirror.
How often has your appearance changed over the years? How about your wardrobe?
If you’re honest with yourself, there may be a decade (or two) that you’d
rather forget when it comes to fashion!

Trends come and go;
music fads change; seasons change; ideas change; even the tires on our car
change (at the worst times, might I add!). Everywhere we look something is changing, and frankly it
gets to be a little tiresome. How do we keep up with it all unless we spend
money? Of course, that usually requires a job
change!

What a drag.

But wait…I see the
sun beams breaking through the graying clouds of our downcast spirit. Now there is something constant! The sun!
When have you ever woken up and not found the sun in the sky? Maybe it was
hidden behind some storm clouds, but you knew it was there, and it would shine
again. It’s constant, you can count on it. We count on the stars to be there at
night and the earth to continue rotating on its axis. Who put all of these
things in motion, anyways? Do we count on Him? If God’s creation is constant,
how much more so is his Word! No, it’s
not only constant, it’s settled!

Established.

Firm.

Immovable.

God has made up his
mind about a few things (to say the least) and he has graciously poured them
out into print for us: the BIBLE! What pleasure, what relief we have knowing anytime of the day or night we have the
honor of learning the heart of God through his inspired words! He breathed it,
he spoke it; these words have no variation. They are the same yesterday, today,
and forever, settled in heaven and on earth, unchanged for all eternity for you
and for me.

Prayer:

Jesus, when everything around me
bellows with uncertainty, I will cling to your words of life as the only unshakeable
source of constant truth.

“…that I might not sin against You…”

 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11 (NLT)

When I was a bank teller I had to undergo some training before I was allowed to be on my own assisting customers. One of the things I had to study was money; what it looked like, its characteristics, how it felt, who was on each denomination, what the security features were…etc. It was important as tellers we understood what the real deal was before we were out there handling thousands of dollars every day, because it was inevitable that we would come across counterfeits. I did discover counterfeit bills in my years as a teller, and I would not have known what to look for unless I had understood what a genuine dollar was like, beyond just an initial glance.

Each word in the Bible acts like a cell does in the human body; it has to work in harmony with all the others so that the whole sum of the product functions appropriately. When we accurately dissect the word of truth in context, rather than picking and choosing what we want to believe, we are made aware of truth as it all flows together harmoniously.  The more truth we know, the more likely we are to recognize a counterfeit when we see it. “So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared.” (William Cowper)

I Do Not Compromise With Evil

 “[I] do not compromise with evil.” Psalm 119:3 (NLT)

“The surest way to abstain from doing evil is to be fully occupied in good.”

Charles H. Spurgeon (Treasury of David, Volume 6)

 

How often do we hear someone say (or even say it ourselves), “Well, this is what that verse means to me”? We are directed in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “be diligent to present yourself to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The New Living Translation puts it this way, “…one who correctly explains the word of truth.”  It’s not about what God’s word means to me; it’s about what God’s word says-period.  We need God’s continual transformation of our hearts in alignment to His word, in this way we can become aware of the many counterfeits standing in line to take our attention, our love, and our devotion away from the One who deserves it. Compromise often comes when we don’t fully understand the truth. “Sin will keep us from the Bible, or the Bible will keep us from sin-one or the other.” (John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms)

Affliction in the Silence

 “When will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:82 (NLT)

“My eyes strain to see your rescue.” Psalm 119:123 (NLT)

Affliction in the Silence

“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” Matthew 11:2-3

Even greats like John the Baptist experienced the painful affliction of silence, when left to fester in our minds this affliction often leads us to doubt. John the Baptist had been sitting in prison, awaiting his death, and I am sure during this time he expected Jesus to come to his rescue. But as time went by he started to wonder if everything he preached, everything he believed, everything he based his life on was even true at all. Had he made one colossal mistake when he invested his life in Jesus? Reading these words of John is almost a reassurance; yes, doubt is normal!  If we continue reading through Matthew 11 we would also see that John’s doubts were calmed by Jesus’ message delivered through the disciples, which reignited his passion and devotion to Jesus. God often allows us to wait in silence and the appearance of unanswered prayers to build our faith and endurance. When we are experiencing the silence that leads us to doubt we need to go back to God’s word for our reassurance; this is where God gives us the comfort of confirmation that he is still at work, and very much caring for our every discomfort.

Afflicted in My Conviction

 “…In faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Psalm 119:75 (NIV)

Afflicted in My Conviction

“So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.” Genesis 3:8

The first man and woman had committed the first act of willful disobedience to a direct command of God. Their heavenly Father came down from His throne to have a conversation with his children, and they knew they had to answer for their choice. Their first reaction: hide!

When we are willfully making choices that go against what God has made clear to us in His word we often find ourselves in a cycle of avoidance. Our prayer life gets a bit stale, and our Bible gets dusty. We avoid our Father because we feel something called “guilt”. God chooses to allow us to feel guilt as a divine means of convicting our hearts of sin and drawing us back to fellowship with Him. However, if your guilt leads you to shame, self-condemnation, despair, or hopelessness, then you are experiencing the guilt of the Enemy, who masks God-given guilt for a counterfeit guilt meant to tear down and destroy your soul.

If you are avoiding fellowship with God ask yourself if the guilt you are experiencing is God-given and necessary to convict you of sin that separates you from Him. If you have confessed all known sins and are still experiencing guilt, know that it’s merely a tactic of Satan to draw you into yourself and keep your focus off of the forgiveness God wants you to experience. God given guilt will always lead to repentance and renewed fellowship with Him!