Tag Archives: God’s character

Love Obeys God

I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord;
therefore, I obey your instructions.
Psalm 119:55, NLT*

You can’t read Psalm 119 without sensing the devotion the psalmist has for God’s instructions. It’s not a dry list of rules that he loves, but the precepts and teaching of how God says he – and we – should live.

Why are these regulations so important? Because they teach us the way of true, abundant life. They keep us from straying away from God or allowing sin or self to distance us from Him.

The Pharisees claimed to love God’s laws too, and the negative examples of their behaviour toward Jesus and the common people may taint our view of this beautiful psalm.

The difference is, they were following their own understanding of the laws, while missing the heart of God. They saw the rules as the goal, not as the way to live with Him.

Today’s verse gives us the key: it’s knowing God’s character and His ways, responding to His love and mercy, that motivates us to obey Him (click to tweet). The more we discover of who He is and of how much we need Him, the more we’ll value the instructions and principles by which He calls us to live.

Whole-hearted obedience is a love response. Not an attempt to earn points or avoid punishment.

Holy and loving God, in wisdom You have set boundaries for us, and in great mercy You have sent Your Son to ransom us from the power of sin and death. You are faithful to forgive when we ask, and to teach us Your ways. The instructions You give are for our good and for Your glory. You alone are worthy of worship and adoration. Please draw us to know You better, and teach us to rely on Your Spirit’s power at work within us.

Loving God will draw us into obedience to Him. Let Kathryn Scott’s song, “Presence,” bless us today.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Noticing. And Remembering.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.
Psalm 40:5, NLT*

We recognize the truth in verses like these. And yet we forget.

We forget who God is – how strong, how full of love and mercy, how trustworthy.

We see the troubles and stresses in our lives and in the world around us, the looming danger and darkness, and we lose sight of the truth that God is bigger.

Remembering what God has done helps us keep perspective. Look at what He’s done in the Bible and in the lives of Christians around the world. Think back on how He’s moved in your life, the lives of friends, in your church.

For every big thing God does, how many small ones might we overlook? A parking spot when it’s needed most, a lost item found, a phone call at just the right time?

To know and rely on His love (1 John 4:16, NIV**) we need to notice and remember the evidence.

O Lord our God, Your power and goodness are beyond human understanding, and truly we could never list all that You have done. Teach us to remember, and open our eyes to see what You’re still doing. No matter what the day brings, help us to be secure in trusting You.

This week’s song is “The Goodness of the Lord,” by Travis Ryan.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

** New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Tested Trust

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13, NLT*

This level of trust isn’t a casual belief, nor is it taking something for granted. It’s an active, deliberate choice to trust God, regardless of the circumstances – or the consequences.

Trust like this seems risky at first, like sitting in a chair that looks rickety. You might lower yourself gingerly onto the seat, listening for creaks, leg muscles tensed to spring up if the chair collapses.

Gradually, you relax and let the chair take your full weight. It holds you well.

The next time you may still be cautious, but not as much so. Each time you experience the chair’s solidity increases your ability to trust it. The chair has been strong – trustworthy – all along.

With God, we have many proofs of His faithfulness, from His Word and from experience – others’ and our own.

It’s still up to us to choose to place our trust in Him in each situation. That choice locks out the enemy’s mind games and focuses us on our true Help. It’s a choice that sometimes we’ll need to make minute by minute.

The more we rely on God, and the more fully we do so, instead of keeping our options open, the more we will prove His faithfulness. This is when we discover the hope and confidence He gives.

God our Rock and our Salvation, our Help and our Sustainer, be our Source of hope. Give us the faith to actively trust You so we’ll be open to your infilling of joy, peace, and confident hope – for our own sakes and for the sake of those who need to see that You’re real.

Our song today is “In Christ Alone,” sung here by Geoff Moore and Adrienne Liesching.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Finding Courage in God

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
1 Samuel 30:6, RSV*

The King James Version says “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” While David (not yet crowned king) and his men were away on a mission, enemies had sacked their town and taken captive all the women and children. No wonder he was “distressed”!

But he found courage – and strength – in the Lord his God.

How can we do that?

Stop, instead of jumping into action or into despair.


  • at who God is
  • at what He says
  • at what He has done in the past

Listen: to what He says. Then, by faith, we can choose to obey Him, whether that’s in action or in waiting.

God our Refuge and our Strong Tower, help us trust You even when everything has gone wrong. Help us rely on You as our source of courage, strength, and hope. Quiet us to know Your presence. Work in our circumstances and in our hearts, to Your glory.

Our song is from Austin Stone Worship: “You Never Change

*Revised Standard Version (RSV) Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Showing God’s Glory

 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
Daniel 4:37, NLT*

What I like about the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and return to power (see Daniel 4) is that it not only shows God’s power, it shows His mercy on someone He knew would eventually be able to come to Him in worship.

King Herod had a similar moment of self-exaltation, but he received only judgement and death (see Acts 12:20-23). God saw in Nebuchadnezzar the potential to repent and be restored.

The taking down of the world’s most powerful man at the time, and then his restoration, demonstrated God’s power to grant authority and to take it away. Nebuchadnezzar told the world, once he was restored.

I’m sure many didn’t believe, but those with open ears heard. And he knew the truth.

The Bible shows that God works in our lives for our own good but also for His glory, that those watching can see His character and come to Him as well. He really doesn’t want anyone to go into eternity without Him.

May we who know Him keep close, so He doesn’t need to do anything dramatic to bring us back. May we keep our spirits lined up with His, and be open to recognize – and to share – what He does in and around us, for the glory of His name and for the sake of those who need to hear.

God Most High, You are worthy of all praise, for Your power, Your mercy, and for all that You are. Help us to remember Your character and to live in confidence in Your care. Help us trust You even when all we see in the world is trouble and disaster. You are supreme, and Your kingdom will come.

This week’s song is a classic from the band Petra: “Show Your Power.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In Stress, Remember God

God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124:8, MSG*

This psalm is a celebration of God rescuing Israel from their enemies. They had no other hope, no chance. Without God, they’d have been destroyed.

We have life-or-death crises too. More often, we have lesser struggles that can still overwhelm us. This verse offers two strategies to help us hold onto God by faith.

Remember God’s strong name. His name reveals His character. It’s who He is. Healer. Provider. Ruler. Deliverer.

Remember God’s acts. He made heaven and earth. He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River. He sent His Son to die for us and break the power of sin and death.

God is, and has done, so much more than this. And He hasn’t aged or gotten tired. He’s the same now, and He’ll be the same tomorrow.

Our God, we find confidence in Your unchanging nature. We praise You for who You are and what You’ve done, and for what You will do. Please strengthen our faith and help us to rely on Your unfailing love.

Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “Our God” and be encouraged today.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Helper AND Ruler

You who fear God, trust in God!
—trust your Helper! trust your Ruler!
Psalm 115:11, MSG*

You’re likely more familiar with this verse in other versions of the Bible. The NIV, NLT and KJV all use the words “help/helper” and “shield”.

Usually I gravitate to descriptions of God as our refuge, fortress, shield. That may say something about fear and a need for security, who knows? But when I found this verse in The Message, the names “Helper” and “Ruler” stopped me. Prompted a question.

Do we focus too much on God as our helper—to the point where we think of Him as a co-labourer or even an assistant—and forget that He is also our ruler and King?

As I said in last week’s devotional post, Jesus is rightfully Lord of our lives and has a claim on our behaviour. That claim extends to our hearts and attitudes as well.

Holy and all-powerful God, we could never please You on our own, never be who You want or do what You ask. Thank You for the Holy Spirit within us as our Helper and Comforter. Forgive us for those times we forget that You are the Boss. You are our Ruler, our King. Under Your authority, we thrive.  

Third Day‘s song, “Everlasting,” is a good reminder of who God is.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

How to Thrive

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
Psalm 52:8, NLT*

What’s the context of this psalm? David is warning an enemy that the man will get what’s coming from God for his evil deeds. Not in the sense of retaliation, but cause and effect: Doeg’s crimes will meet justice.

David isn’t bitter about the betrayal—if he were, he wouldn’t be thriving in God’s presence. Instead, David is trusting in God’s unfailing love to care for him.

What would that look like in our lives, if we always trusted in God’s love? And if we trusted in the rest of His character attributes?

  • Instead of bitterness and blame: peace. Yes, God will judge the offender if that person doesn’t come to Him for forgiveness. But closer to home, God will be enough for us.
  • Instead of self-pity: security. Jesus loves us. He’ll never abandon us.
  • Instead of fear or anxiety: assurance. The all-powerful God of the universe has a plan for us. We may not see how He’ll do it, but He will work all things out for good in the end.

If I could live this way—if we could—it would be thriving indeed.

Merciful God whose love is unfailing and extravagant, help us in our limited belief. Increase our faith, increase our desire for Your presence. Teach us to thrive in You and to always trust You.

Let Brian Doerksen‘s song, “Your Faithfulness,” remind us to trust God.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


To Know God

I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord.
Hosea 2:20, NLT* (emphasis mine)

My readings for the past few months have been in the Old Testament. In Daniel I picked up on how it’s the people who know God who will resist the evil leader’s flattery. (See Why We Need to Know God) Then I moved to Ezekiel, which is filled with “then they/you will know that I am God”.

Next stop: Hosea. What did I see today when I turned the  page? The verse above, already marked.

Anybody else sensing a theme?

Knowing God—knowing His character as revealed in the Bible and in our lives—is key to trusting Him, to staying faithful to Him, and as in the Daniel quote, to standing against the inroads of evil.

Our world is in a mess. Many people don’t know God. Some who knew seem to have forgotten. And lots of people think they know who He is, but their ideas come from rumour and speculation.

Which brings me to the next place I found this theme of knowing God today. See Who Is God? Seeking Answers from the Source (Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud).

Holy and Righteous God, help us to believe that You are who You say You are. Forgive us for the false beliefs we’ve accepted, and open us to know You in spirit and in truth—and to live for Your glory. And please… reveal Yourself to a hurting world who don’t even know that they don’t know who You are.

This week’s song is Michael Card’s “Know You in the Now“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Glory, Not Shame

Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.
Ezekiel 36:22, NLT*

Israel’s ungodly behaviour caused the Babylonian exile in the first place. Set apart to be a holy people, living in fellowship with God as a light to the people around them, they copied their neighbours instead. They abandoned the Living God for idols of stone and wood.

God stated His case through the prophets—repeatedly—and then followed through on the exile as He’d said. He promised it would end, and the people could come home after 70 years. (Jeremiah 29:10)

Reading that, I assumed they’d be coming home because they learned their lesson and turned back to God. Today’s verse makes me not so sure.

They were still bringing shame on His name in exile. Still living by their own understanding and desires instead of wholeheartedly following His ways. And don’t we do the same, to a lesser extent?

We need what God promises His people later in this chapter: clean, responsive hearts, and His Spirit within us.

Then we need to listen to and rely on His Spirit. More and more, I see life coming back to this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT*)

Holy and mighty God, You save us when we don’t deserve it, and You change our hearts. You give us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation. Forgive our waywardness, and draw us to love You more. Help us spend time with You to discover more of who You are. Forgive us for when we’ve brought shame on Your name. Help us live in confident trust in Your character and in Your love for us, so that others will see that You are our Good Shepherd.

I love this worship song from Todd Agnew: “Your Great Name“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.