God’s Light in my Life

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” Psalm 119:11

Imagine how dark the world would be without light? Imagine how meaningless it would be? God’s Word is a light that defines and gives life meaning.  The Bible expresses God’s heart. A little earlier in Psalm 111:105 we read, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Let’s explore Psalm 119:11 and what it implies, remembering that God’s Word is light in the darkness.

In Psalm 119:11, the word “statute”, means law. The idea behind “heritage” means inheritance. Why would the Psalmist say that having God’s laws as his inheritance brings joy?

If someone left us an inheritance what would we think of first? If we were honest, it wouldn’t be a set of rules. Honestly, we wouldn’t really see the value in it. Unless of course it was a set of rules, or directions to a treasure.

The Psalmist here is hinting at a sense of uncommon values. He treasures God’s way of life. He knows God. He has acquainted himself with the ways that seem right to man, but in the end lead to death. He knows that God’s ways lead to the very best kind of life.

He understands God who created human life has laid down statutes to live by. And these are very good. They lead to a tremendous treasure, character, and delight of being pleasing to God.

Imagine for a moment, if God didn’t reveal his ways of holy living to us. Imagine how frustrated we would be trying to figure out the way we should live! What is right? What is wrong? How would we live in family? How would we function as a church? How would we please God? If we didn’t know God’s laws.

So the Psalmist is rejoicing that not only has God revealed how best to live, but I believe, he is also rejoicing in the relationship aspect this reveals. God loves us enough to communicate with us the best ways and practices.

Imagine for a moment, how meaningless a game would be without rules. Imagine how chaotic and unsafe our streets and highways would prove, without rules. It is not a stretch to realize how meaningless our lives are without knowing God’s ways, without understanding the best practices for life.

What a reason to rejoice. We know how to live in a way that God says is best. We know the God who created these statutes created them for for us to reach our best in life.

We are not “saved” by obeying God’s ways and means to the best life. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Yet, our salvation is based on a vibrant, active, communicative relationship with God. If we love God, we will desire, seek out, and follow through with his directions for how to live.

I love the truth in John 10:10 that describes God as a God who seeks and desires the very best for us; that we live abundant lives.

When God warned us to:

Have no other gods before him; not make idols in the form of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters, not to bow down or worship them; To not misuse God’s name; to remember to keep the Sabbath day; to honor our parents; to not murder; to not commit adultery; to not steal; to not give false testimony; to not covet

He did so for the benefit of us.

How much addiction and unrest, and strife, and wickedness and sleeplessness, and lack of God’s favor we forfeit when we forget to live by God’s ways?

Some of us grew up memorizing these 10 ways to live, yet, do we really know them by heart? Do we understand the importance Jesus placed on them? That God’s desire was that we not only observe them, but that we take them into our hearts and apply the intent behind them to our everyday life?

God not only gave these commands, he enables us to follow them, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us eagerly desire to find the joy of the living lives in greater dependence and obedience to God!

Prayer: God, you know that these commands aren’t always easy. Help us know how to live. Show us how to value what you value and love you. Show us how to be in the world but not of it. Show us God how to enjoy your pathway, and to run in it, and experience the freedom of the life you always intended us to live. In Jesus name, Amen.


Hitting the wall of Desperation (Finding Joy in the Midst of My Life)


Psalm 107 describes 4 desperate groups of people.

  1. People wandering in the desert who are thirsting and hungering until their lives ebb away
  2. People in iron chains of bondage/labor because they rebelled against God and his counsel
  3. People who became fools and suffered affliction because of their sins
  4. People out on a fierce raging ocean, whose courage has melted away

In each situation, when “they cried out to the LORD in their trouble” “He delivered them from their distress” (vs. 6, 13, 19, 28).

  1. For the parched and hungry wanderers, God led them by a straight way; he satisfied their thirst and filled the hungry with good things (v. 7 & 9)
  2. For those in bondage, he brought them “out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains” (v. 14)
  3. For those who were foolish and suffered affliction because of their sin, “God sent forth his word and healed them; and rescued them from the grave” (v. 20)
  4. For those out on the sea, at their wit’s end, adrift on waves that seem to rise to the heavens and go down to the depths, whose courage had melted, “God stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed” (v. 29); God “guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30)

Have you ever found yourself in a desperate place?

I have. I remember the way it felt to be overweight. I weighed close to 200 pounds. I had an addiction to food. I overcame that addiction through prayer and by God’s help. At my weigh-ins, from 197 down, I wrote over the charted weight loss, the verse from Philippians 4:13, which declared my dependence upon God to help me get out of my desperate situation.

Years later, as I had gained some weight and tried to get it off again, I hit a wall. I couldn’t seem to get myself motivated enough to get back into the discipline I needed to get healthy again. Until I admitted my inability to do this on my own, and asked God for his help, I couldn’t seem to get myself motivated for the long haul and committed to the changes I needed to embrace.

I had maintained my weight loss for over a decade; I had slipped into an attitude that I could somehow do this on my own. I had grown proud and forgot that God had delivered me. I had forgotten to be thankful to God.

As I approached my need to lose weight, only when I admitted my powerlessness over it, and my need for God, did the answers start coming.

I think this is what the Psalmist is referring to here—the joy of dependence upon God, and our need to daily remember it’s not us who has gotten us out of the desperate situations. It is God. Thankfulness is the key to remembering what God has done in our lives and sustaining lifelong changes.

Today, take a long look at the pathway of victories behind you. Remember all the ways God has been faithful to you. Remember his love endures forever and is great (vs. 1-2, vs. 43). Give thanks with joyful songs (v. 22).

Are you facing another desperate situation? He will make a way. He is the same God. But first, you and I must humbly come to the end of ourselves and cry out to God for help.

Prayer: God, I know. I know your ways are mysterious. I confess my pride before you, and lay my life bare before your holy gaze. I lay down my defenses. And I humble myself. I turn from my self-interest, my thinking I can devise my way through. And I turn my empty hands toward you. You are my redeemer. God, help me. Thank you for your enduring and great love for me, and for never giving up on me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Fighting for Joy (Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life)

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Day 11

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all the peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the people’s with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the people in his truth.

If only we could see God as he is. If we could get a glimpse of his glory… the joy of his countenance, the radiance of his personage…it would make a difference. But we can’t see God.

Honestly, at times, Christians even get depressed. The Psalmist is an example. He encountered a lot of ups and downs in life. Certainly, God knows our human state. He understands every turn of events that creates hurt in our hearts. He knows us. We don’t have to hide our emotions from our all-knowing God. What good does that do?

We read a Psalm like this on joy, and it makes our heart yearn for God. It makes us desire his presence. His love, and the radiance of God’s face to shine upon us…

I wish some days I could just climb up in his lap like a child and rest there in his arms. Maybe down here, even the best of days, pale compared to the way it will be in heaven. Maybe, we feel depressed sometimes because deep in our hearts, we know nothing in this world can ever satisfy.

And that hurt in our hearts, points us to Father God, our Father who sees us as his children. He sees when our toys break. He understands our hearts when our piggy banks break. He knows how we feel when the sky is cloudy, and the day is dark. He knows how it feels when our hearts break. He knows, and he cares.

Maybe what this Psalm is after is to challenge us… that Maybe the songs we have sung before our hearts were broken, were happy songs about circumstantial joy. Whereas now, now as we hold our broken toys, our broken dreams up to Father God, and cry, Daddy fix it…he cares, but the one thing he longs to fix most, is not so much our broken toys, or even our broken dreams, but our  hearts. I think He wants to re-purpose us so we are not fixated on the latest rage in toys, or even dreams. He wants our lives to reorient around the things that last forever, and to seek his kingdom and his righteousness first. And then, all will find perspective.

Today, let’s sing to the LORD a new song, adjusting the focus of our hearts to the things of heaven, not so much the things of earth.

Prayer: God you know us. You understand we are people with senses. We desire to hold our treasures in our hands. We want to store them up, so we can look at them, count them, feel the pride of ownership. You desire we store treasures up in heaven. We want to smell, feel, see, hear, taste – in order to know a thing is real. Whereas you want us to have faith, without having to smell, feel, see, hear, taste… God we need your help to wrap our minds around what it means to seek you first… and what true Christian joy is all about.

We need you to help us separate ourselves from the worldly treasures we have come to place such value upon that it depresses us when we can’t afford them, they break, wear out, or become obsolete.

Oh, God, show us there is hope for us. Help us reorient our hearts to seek you first. To truly desire you, above any earthly thing. For then, our joy can be boundless. In Jesus, Amen.

Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

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Day 10

Psalm 43:3-5

Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Have you felt as if everyone and everything is working against you and even bent on misunderstanding you and causing you pain? I have. It’s a terrible feeling.

King David writes from a very dark place in his life. Yet, he pleads with God to send to him light and faithful care. He has experienced God’s presence in the past. And as David pours out his heart, he asks God to lead him once again to that place, an altar.

The king prays, leading his heart to God’s presence. And then God responds, leading him still deeper. As his heart moves into that sacred place, into God’s presence, God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, inspires David to ponder why he is downcast? Why is he disturbed? God re-calibrates David’s desire to be loved and treasured toward the only one who can truly do this right.

God alone is the perfect lover of our soul. God wants us to bring to the altar all the concerns weighing us down. Our need for love, our desire to be treasured… God cares about the way we feel. He cares when it feels like no one else does. He knows every problem and need. And in his presence, as we lay each of our concerns down on the altar, we can take up hope. God is our Savior.

Prayer: God help us to lead our hearts to your altar. Help us practice being in your presence. Lead us from our places of darkness, into your light. Into your hope. Into your salvation, into your love! In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study


needing a hug

Day 9

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7

Job didn’t realize he was God’s chosen vessel through which the Lord was going to reveal a mysterious side of himself. He didn’t realize his story would be included in the best selling book of all time, the Bible. All he knew was he had a wonderful life and somebody took it away.

Although these questions seem a little harsh, God knows how to get our attention and he knows how to speak to us, so we know it’s him. God was trying to redirect Job’s focus off his problems to God’s eternal perspective…

The questions God asks inspire a sense of awe. They help me realize 1.) there was a time I didn’t exist. And 2.) the world will go right on turning when I go to heaven.

There is humility in realizing these two facts. The moment we realize this and make God the center of our universe, instead of self, is a moment of joyful discovery, a redirection of purpose, a reorienting of the meaning of life itself.

Life is about glorifying God and relating to him, and enjoying him.

In your life, how can you begin embracing eternal perspective? How can putting God at the center of your universe create a sense of joy?

How might God want to use your story, even the very hard parts, to minister to someone who is needing encouragement?

Prayer: God, you know right where I am right now. You are aware of every single concern. In fact whoever it concerns, or whatever the need, you care more than me about it. You desire to redirect my focus away from my self-interest and toward you.

And the wonder of it all, is that somehow you can use me, and redeem my hurts and humbling circumstances, by blessing someone else with the comfort you gave to me, at the time I was hurt (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

Sometimes you ask us to wait, but sometimes, the person or persons who need the comfort are right in our midst, today. Show me Jesus, where you’re working (Romans 8:28-29) and help me adjust my life so I am where you desire to use me, even my life, as seemingly small and insignificant as that may seem. Because you love me, my life matters. Thank you.

Thank you for being creator of the entire universe, and also a personal God who promises to carry the weight of my concerns as your own personal concerns (1 Peter 5:7, Phillips). I love you Jesus! Amen.

Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

Day 8

“Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews through the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” Esther 9:20-22

Have you experienced a moment where your sorrow was turned to joy, and completely lifted from your heart?

The Israelites had a very close call. A strong enemy wanted them annihilated. But God intervened in unlikely ways. Now Esther was queen, and Mordecai was elevated to honor and position. He declared a holiday, and had the people give of their resources to one another and to the poor.

What has God done in your life? How has he blessed you?

When you are blessed, it multiplies your blessing, when you give to others. Who might God want you to bless today?

Prayer: God the week is coming to an end. We feel tired, but we are blessed. We think of the many ways you have helped us recently. We also remember, the ways you have seen us through difficult times as we think back over our lives. We feel great joy, for all you have done for us!

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. God, some of us have the gift of helps, the gift of encouragement; some of us have money someone might benefit from. Some have a super servant heart and want to serve someone who cannot do for themselves. God show us what your desire is for us, in giving to others, to multiply our joy by giving to someone else. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

Day 7

Text: ‘Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”’ Nehemiah 8:10

Has God ever spoken to you that something you were doing was wrong? How did you react?

The first response I have when God taps me on the shoulder and looks me in the eye with his holiness, is usually sorrow. I cry.

This was what happened to God’s people when they heard the Bible in a way they could understand. They felt heartbroken they had sinned. They wept, and wouldn’t stop. Nehemiah, finally had to calm them down. He told them not to cry. For the joy of the LORD is their strength.

There are two kinds of sorrow. The sorrow that God loves is the sorrow of repentance. This type of sorrow brings great joy to God’s heart and to ours.

It is similar to a child, confessing a wrong to his parent and the child saying she now understands why it was wrong and she does not have a desire to do it again. God loves when a sinner turns from sin. The Bible says that when a sinner turns from her sinful life and decides to enter into a loving relationship with God, there is great rejoicing in heaven.

There is however another sorrow. It is the sorrow of self-interest. It is the sorrow filled with poor-me-isms. This is the sorrow that refuses to persevere, because the way of obedience is “too hard”. It wants to give up because the going is rough and what’s more, plain uncomfortable and inconvenient. It is this type of selfish sorrow that keeps a person from truly following Jesus with a whole heart. After all, if they really follow Christ, it may cost them something. Maybe it will cost popularity, maybe they will be labeled, and maybe they won’t be comfortable with some of the activities others think are fun.

I’d like to say that this sorrow doesn’t tempt genuine believers, but, if the Apostle Peter is any indication, this type of sorrow may be more common than we may want to believe.

Remember Peter’s response when Jesus hinted at his death? Peter tried to talk Jesus out of it. And what was Jesus’s response?

He called Peter Satan, and commanded him to get behind him.

Satan is the tempter behind all the wrong kind of sorrow. And his sorrow, when put to the test, only yields more sorrow. Whereas the sorrow that leads to repentance leads to rejoicing!

God doesn’t want us to be dragging our past around with us. He has seen our sorrow and our repentance. And I believe he would say to us, too, not to grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Prayer: God, how thin a line exists between true Christian sorrow that leads to repentance and joy, and the sorrow that is full of self-interest.

Help us know the difference between the two, and may we rejoice in all you have done for us and the victory you have accomplished for us, through Christ Jesus our LORD. Who went to the cross, died, and was resurrected.

This resurrection power is available for us, to live a life of joy, celebrating our freedom from bondage. God, we rejoice in you! Amen.

Letting go of expectations to hold on to happily ever after.