Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking For God In 2014

“You chart the path ahead of me and tell me
when to stop and rest.
Every moment you
know where I am.” Psalm 139:3

“The Lord says, “‘I will guide you along the
best pathway for your life. I will advise you
and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8

“Because of Christ, we have received an
inheritance from God, for He chose us from
the beginning and all things happen just as
He decided years ago.” Ephesians 1:11

“The Lord will work out His plans for my
life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures
forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made
me!” Psalm 138:8

“Seek His will in all you do and He will
direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

Prayer: Grant us wisdom, give us faith, increase our trust and watch over us each day, Father, as we seek Your plan for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:3, Psalm 32:8, Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 138:8 and Proverbs 3:6

Monday, December 30, 2013

Why Parenting Matters

There is limited information in Scripture that describes the home life of Jesus. Every now and then we get a glimpse of something. But there can be little doubt that God and His teachings were at the center.

We read that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” No doubt His knowledge of and reverence for the Law and Prophets shaped His life and His reverence and relationship with His Heavenly Father and others.

Luke’s Gospel tells us about a family trip to the temple. On the way home, they noticed that He was not with them. When they returned to the temple they found Him listening to and answering questions of the learned teachers. At the tender age of twelve Jesus demonstrated to others the deep understanding of God’s Word that obviously came from His parents.

Mary and Joseph realized that they were obligated to God for the welfare of His only begotten Son. While He was waiting to begin His public ministry He listened to their teachings and followed their examples of Godly living.

Parents can never overlook or underestimate the influence and impact they have on their children.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that parents will realize how important the gift of a child is and the trust You place in them to raise them to know, love, trust and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why Fathers Matter

We rarely think of Joseph when we speak of Mary and her son, Jesus. But Joseph was a very special individual as well.

In describing him, Matthew says that he was a “just” or “righteous” man. And because of that, he was a “decent,” “fair” and “righteous” man. When he was faced with an incredibly difficult decision - whether or not he should abandon Mary - an angel appeared and advised him to “go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”

Initially, Scripture informs us, “that not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away.” He was well aware of the fact that stoning was the legal prescription for what people would think of Mary’s being pregnant without being married. If he took Mary to be his wife he could be humiliated or ridiculed by those around him. But he chose to obey the command of the angel to marry her. As a “righteous” man he was also a “merciful” man, a man willing to listen to, hear and obey God. Joseph was a man of great character.

But there is more. Not only was he righteous, merciful and obedient to the voice of God, but he was a man who was sensitive and discrete. Joseph was open to the voice of God and responded immediately when God spoke to him and protected the reputation and honor of Mary - thereby revealing he was a man of integrity.

Prayer: Lord, we pray for fathers everywhere who will strive to be like the earthly father of Your Son. We ask that You will raise up men of integrity to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:18-25

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why Mothers Matter

One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture is found in Luke’s Gospel. It is called “The Magnificat.” It with Mary proclaiming, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The word soul is a special word and in Hebrew is used to reveal or describe a person’s entire identity. It is the very essence - or being or character - of a person. In this one word, Mary reveals that all of her is committed to the Lord. The sum and substance of her life was to worship God in all of His Majesty!

If we want to study the smallest particle of God’s creation we put it under a microscope to magnify it. This enlarges, or expands, every detail of the particle so we can discover its intricacies, its subtleties and its structure. Mary was determined to put God under her “microscope” so she could understand Him personally, intimately and completely.

In her “song” she magnified her Lord - not her Son. Often we become overly concerned about the way our children look rather than what they look at. Not so Mary. She recognized her responsibility as a mother and knew that if God were first in her life, He would be first in her child’s life. She had her priorities right.

God entrusted Mary with the Messiah because He was at the center of her life and knew that her Son would be nurtured in what matters most in the life of a child: knowing, understanding and following His will.

Prayer: We ask, Lord, that all mothers everywhere will recognize the importance of being a mother and the trust You place in them to raise children to know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:46-55

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Birth of Jesus

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

Luke 2:6-16
New Living Translation

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Joseph's Dream

…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.

Matthew 1:18-24 New Living Translation

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Angel's Visit To Mary

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think of what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen! I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38 New Living Translation

Thursday, December 19, 2013

No Mistake

Walter came home from Sunday school with a question all over his face. “Mom,” he asked, “did the shepherds have washing machines where they kept their sheep?”

“Shepherds? Washers?” After a moment she said, “No, darling, they did not have washing machines. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Mrs. Mathis was reading the story of the birth of Jesus and she said, ‘While shepherds washed their socks that night...’ and I didn’t understand what was going on.”

While we often think of the shepherds in the field that night, the glory that appeared with the angel and the fear that gripped them, we seldom connect the shepherds in that field with the Good Shepherd.

Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” twice in John’s Gospel. In those statements he summarizes all of the prophetic images of His role as prophesier in the Old Testament. This declaration is a claim to His divinity as revealed in the Old Testament and focuses on His love, protection and guidance of us - His lambs.

But there is more. Not only is He our Shepherd but He chose to identify Himself as the good shepherd - and good is a term that carries with it nobility. It stands in sharp contrast to shepherds who were hired hands who worked and cared only for their own self-interests.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for loving us, for being our Good Shepherd and for laying down Your life for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No Room, But...

The annual church Christmas play was rapidly approaching and Mrs. Adams was assigning roles to the children in her Sunday school class. “Albert,” she said, “I’d like you to be the inn keeper this year.”

“No way, not me, absolutely not!” said Albert. “I’m not going to be the one who turned Mary and Joseph away from a good nights rest.”

“Oh, please,” she begged. “I really need you to do this. We won’t be able to have the play without you,” she pleaded. Finally he agreed.

On the night of the performance, Joseph went to the door and knocked. “Who’s there?” he asked.

“My name’s Joseph and Mary and I need a place to sleep,” was the reply.

“I’m sorry,” he said politely. “We have no rooms available.” And then added kindly, “But if you’d like you can rest awhile and I’ll get you some cookies and milk.”

There are many, like Albert, who would gladly give our Lord some “cookies and milk” but would never allow Him to come into their hearts and change their lives. It’s enjoyable to visit the manger, sing a few carols, read the story of His birth and then exchange gifts. But to make Him a permanent resident?

See Him now: Patiently standing. Gently knocking. Carefully listening. Waiting hopefully. Wanting desperately to save us and give us eternal life.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for wanting to be our Savior and to fellowship with us. Come, dwell within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Never Quit!

“Don’t let this be you!” said a coach to his football team after a difficult loss. He was pointing to a picture of a player sitting in front of his locker. His helmet was between his feet. His elbows were on his knees and his head was between his hands with a look of sadness in his eyes. Under his helmet were the words, “I quit!”

As we look into the manger this Christmas we can rejoice together and say, “Thank You, God, that You never quit!”

Whenever we think of the eternal love that God has for us we often forget about the disappointments He must have endured. Imagine, if you can, what must have entered into His mind and heart when Adam and Eve rejected His path. Consider, if you will, the many agreements He made with people who promised to obey Him and then abandoned their word when they thought He was out of sight. We will never know the grief He suffered because of the hope He had that people would love Him and be obedient to Him.

But, He never gave up. He never quit. Finally, John wrote, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!”

All of us have suffered many losses in life. None, however, can ever be compared to God’s losses. But He refused to give up even though it cost the life of His Son.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love and determination to rescue us. We are overwhelmed when we think that You would sacrifice Your Son for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gifts

Christmas gifts generate great excitement and interest. After the presents are wrapped and placed under the tree, many people spend countless hours trying to figure out what might be on the inside. Sometimes the gifts are carefully shaken or lifted to see if the weight or size might give an indication about what could be inside.

But when God gave us the first Christmas gift its value was obvious. It was a gift of love that could not be measured or found outside of Him. It was a gift of mercy that only He could provide. And it was grace that we did not deserve but would die unless He provided it for us.

God’s love is ultimately expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His love is the source of His mercy and grace and it is because of His love that we have mercy and grace. It was because of His love that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will find His mercy and enjoy His grace and be with Him forever in eternity.

John says something very significant about this love. “If God loved us,” he says, “we ought to love one another.” His love does not end with our salvation, but with our obligation to share His love with others. It begins a pattern of self-sacrificing love that Christians must live by sharing His mercy and grace with others.

Prayer:  Lord, we often forget how responsible we are to share Your gifts of love, mercy and salvation with others. Give us no peace until we share Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Real Thing!

It has always been difficult for missionary families to be together at special times. Often hearts ache for the joy and happiness that unites loved ones at special times for special reasons and seasons.

The headmaster of a school for the children of missionaries knew that feeling well. His parents were missionaries and he spent many birthdays alone as well as many holidays. He knew that one of his students was having a particularly difficult time one Christmas and decided to visit him in his room.

After talking for a few minutes he asked, “John, what would you like for Christmas this year?”

Looking at a picture of his father on the wall he said, “I would like my father to step out of that frame.”

That’s what Jesus did. He “stepped out” of the Old Testament “frames” that prophesied of His coming. He became the “real thing” when he walked among the people, laid His hands on the sick and restored them to health, fed the hungry with bread that would last throughout eternity and gave the water of life to those dying of thirst.

The Son of God willingly and voluntarily made Himself “nothing” when He assumed a human body and a human nature and became the “real thing.” Jesus is God seeing us through human eyes, hearing us with human ears, touching lives with human hands and loving us with a human heart. Jesus is God with us!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for sending us the “Real Thing.” Through Him we know how much You love us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:5-11 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Kind Of Day Will It Be?

As you look forward to Christmas, what special memories will remain with you? Will it be a “horrible day,” a “holiday” or a “holy day?”

For some it will be a “horrible” day. It will be a day when families gather and feuds erupt, unwanted gifts are exchanged, stomachs are stuffed, alcohol generated hangovers will dull minds and memories, and promises to “never do this again” are made. Not ever!

Or, will it be a holiday? Families traveling many miles to get together to share problems and pains that brought them closer together, share joyous memories of special events that united them in love and laughter, introducing a new-born child or one who will soon be the next in-law uniting two “love-birds.”

Would it not be special, however, if we made it a holy day - a day of worship and praise, a day when we set aside time to emphasize the gift of our new birth through Christ?

Paul wrote some inspiring words about the gift of our new birth made possible because of the birth of Jesus. “You have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.”

This “new nature” means it is possible for us to have a new life through His Son and one day we will be like Him and spend eternity with Him.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the gift of Jesus Who will give us a new life and the joy and peace of salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Where's Jesus' Present?

It was Christmas Eve. The tree was brightly decorated, the presents were wrapped with beautiful paper and bows, the meal was over and the family gathered together to read the Story of the Birth of Jesus.

"Now,” said Dad, “let each one of us say a prayer and I will end our prayer time before we go to bed.”

After praying, Susie went to the tree and began to look at each present. She looked at the name on each of them very carefully. The family was curious but quiet.

Finally, Susie looked at each member of the family and asked, “Where’s the present for Jesus? What are we giving Him this year?”

Stunned, the family sat in silence. No one had thought about a gift for Him.

Paul has a suggestion for the best gift we could give Christ this Christmas. Writing to the Romans he said, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies - your entire self - to God...be a living and holy sacrifice to Him - the kind He will accept.”

When we think of giving gifts this Christmas each of us would do well to think first of the gift we will give God. We need to take Paul’s words seriously, and give the most valuable gift - the gift of ourselves - to God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, trouble our hearts with the words of Paul this season, and carefully and prayerfully consider, first and foremost, the gift we will give You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whose Party?

Competent! Outstanding! Careful! Friendly! Supportive! Bright! Cheerful! Caring! Gracious! And the list of words to describe Beth, the secretary to the president of the company, could go on and on. She was loved by everyone in the company.

When it came time for her birthday one year, her co-workers decided to honor her with a lavish party. They rented a beautiful ballroom, hired the best caterer, designed a special cake, had special napkins with her name on them and collected money to buy a gift.

All went well. The tables were beautifully set, the caterer was on time, the guests arrived and there was excitement in the room. Everyone kept looking at the entrance awaiting the arrival of Beth. After waiting for fifteen minutes the co-worker who organized the event said to Beth’s best friend, “Where is she?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’ll phone her.”

She did - and discovered that she was at her favorite sandwich shop enjoying her lunch alone. No one thought to invite Beth to her celebration!

There will be many parties this Christmas. And as usual, the Guest will not be invited. Tables will be set, lights will blink, guests will arrive, laughter will ring out, gifts will be exchanged, everyone will have fun - but Jesus will not be present. No one will think to invite Him - the One who should be the main attraction.

Prayer: Lord of the season, may we place Your Son, our Savior, at the center of everything we do this Christmas. May we never forget, “It’s all about Him.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Can You See Him Now?

It was the very first Christmas that Jo Ann’s church had a Nativity scene on the front lawn. Working anxiously, she kept arranging, then rearranging, the figures to make certain they could all be seen.
Finally she sent her friend, Alice, to the edge of the lawn and asked, “How do they look?”

“Fine, they are all O.K.,” came the answer.

Suddenly Jo Ann began to rearrange them once again. “What are you doing? I said they were fine,” said Alice grumpily.

“Yes, I heard what you said,” responded Jo Ann. “But I just want to make sure that He is visible so all of the people can see Jesus!”

Often Santa gets more attention than our Savior does during these Holy Days. Children anxiously stand in line waiting their turn to ask for gifts and have their picture taken with him. Rarely, however, do children pose at the manger to have a picture taken with the Baby Jesus. Could it be that He is not visible to most people at Christmas? Do we make Him visible to all?

Matthew wrote about a group of shepherds who said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem...and see this wonderful thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.”

This “wonderful thing,” Jesus, is what the world needs to see. Let’s be certain He is always visible.

Prayer: Lord, may we not allow Your Son to be hidden or to be placed behind the “false idols” that so many worship at Christmas. Let us make Him visible! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:
Luke 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Friday, December 6, 2013

Never Mind, Santa....

Chris was sitting in Santa’s lap and going over a long list of presents that he wanted for Christmas. “I want a bicycle,” he said, “and I also want a wagon, a chemistry set, a telescope, an electric train, a football, a Kindle FIRE and pair of roller blades.”

“That’s a long list,” said Santa. “I’ll have to check carefully to see if you were a good boy.”

After thinking for a moment Chris said, “Don’t bother, Santa, I’ll just settle for the roller blades.”

Not many of us would be able to stand a really thorough investigation to discover if we were worthy of receiving a long list of gifts. We’d probably be like Chris and settle very quickly for very little. Not many of us would want to have someone investigate our lives and then decide if we deserved a gift or not. We would be nervous - if not completely frightened.

But God is so very different. He knows everything there is to know about us and offers us His Gift.
“Now, no one is likely to die for a good person,” said Paul, “though someone might be willing to die for someone who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Christ: the source of eternal life.

There you have it. It is not about whether or not we are good or deserving of eternal life through Him. It is because of the great love that God has for us.

Prayer: May we realize during this Holy Season, our Father, the great Gift we have because of Your love. May Your Son be our main interest and attraction this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:5-11 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How To Learn Understanding

James the Fifth of Scotland ruled his subjects quite differently than other rulers did. Historians say that he would often lay aside his royal robes, put on the clothes of an ordinary man, work as they worked and live as they lived. His disguise allowed him to move freely among his people without being recognized.

He did this, we are told, to gain an understanding of their needs and problems, sorrows and difficulties. Then, when he returned to his throne, he would have a clearer insight of his subjects and was better able to rule over them with compassion and care.

That is what Jesus, the King of kings, did. He laid aside His glory. Paul writing of this said, “Though he was God, He did not demand and cling to His right as God. He made himself nothing, He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form!”

It is common for most of us to be selfish and express our pride by “demanding our rights!” We want what we think is “rightfully” ours for any number of reasons. We believe that we have earned something or deserve something and therefore demand something!

But not Jesus. He laid aside every right that was rightfully His in order to serve others.
As His followers we are to live as He lived. We must develop an attitude of love and humility and voluntarily and sacrificially serve others as He did!

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for becoming like one of us and for going through everything that we go through. Knowing this enables us to know just how much You do care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 2:5-8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Love With Skin On It"

A young man, who grew up in a housing project, having little hope and few goods, heard an evangelist preaching “love” on a street corner. After listening for a few moments he shouted to the preacher, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I want to see love. I want to feel love. I want to see love with some skin on it!”

That’s Christmas: “God’s love with skin on it.”

Paul wrote, “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body!”

In Jesus, we see Someone bringing love to life - but a very special type of love. It is God’s love. We see this love coming to life when Jesus fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, offering water to a thirsty soul, calming the waves to relieve the fears of experienced fishermen, washing dirty feet, spending time with little children, teaching people the truth that brought meaning and purpose to their lives and finally hanging lifeless from a cross - abandoned and alone.

Jesus is God loving through a human heart, healing with a human hand, walking on errands of mercy with human feet, showing love to those who would do Him harm with grace and mercy.
Jesus is God loving the least, the last and the lost. In Jesus, God showed His love with “skin on it.”

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to put Your “love in our skin” and take Your love to those in need. May we be as faithful in caring for others as You are in caring for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Gift?

Joyce fell behind in her Christmas shopping and suddenly realized that she had neglected to purchase cards for her friends. Hurriedly, she ran to the card section of a large greeting card store and purchased 100 cards with a beautiful scene of a family gathered in front of a glowing fireplace enjoying its warmth.

Returning home she hastily signed each of the cards without reading the message. Several days later she was sitting with her husband reviewing the guest list for a family dinner. She decided to show him the card she had sent to their friends.

After looking at the picture, she opened the card and read the verse to Jason, her husband:
“This card is sent to you to say,
A lovely gift is on the way!”

God sent us a “card” to inform us that He would and did send us a “lovely gift” - His Son. All of the books of the Bible tell us of the Gift that He was going to send, tell us the reason He sent us this gift and what we can enjoy now and in the life to come because of this gift.

But as with every gift, there are two parts: one is giving and the other is receiving. An angel rejoiced and proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That is God giving. And John said, “As many as received Him...to them He gave life.” But the choice to receive is ours.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the Gift of life You provided for each of us. May we accept Your Gift in faith believing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:11 and John 1:12

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Reason To Be Glad

The word glad in Scripture carries with it the idea of happiness and joyfulness, pleasure and freedom. In God’s Word, however, there is a source for gladness: the Lord. The Psalmist writes, “For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

This source for our gladness does not come from anything we have accomplished or any ladder of success that we might have climbed. It does not come from wealth that we may have accumulated or records we have set. It does not come from any amount of power we have because of our achievements. This gladness that the Psalmist writes about comes from what God has done for us.

Another Psalmist wrote, “But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great.’” And another Psalmist said, “Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence.”

We often set “goals” for ourselves that we think will bring a sense of well-being and fulfillment to us - the “if only” statements we make: “If only I can get a promotion I will be satisfied,” or “If only we had a larger home our family would be happy,” or “If only...If only...” and the list goes on.

But the “glad” that comes from God that can fill our hearts and lives comes as a result of what He has done for us: made possible our salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior. Because of Him we can be glad and sing for joy, we can know that “all things are working together” for our good and His glory.

Prayer: How thankful we are, Lord, that we can have hearts filled with gladness because of Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trying To Escape God

God seems to appear when we least expect Him. He certainly will not be confined within the walls of a church or restrained within the rituals of a religion. He is, after all, God the Creator, Sustainer and Savior. He makes Himself known when and where and as He pleases.

Once, during the transatlantic crossing of a large ocean liner a major storm erupted, breaking the silence of calm seas. A huge wave swept over the bow of the ship and swept a sailor into the raging waters. His cry for help went unheard.

But in Philadelphia his Christian mother, who was sound asleep, suddenly awoke with an urgent desire to pray for him. Even though she was not aware of what had happened or his threatening situation, she prayed for his safety with urgency and intensity. She then returned to bed and fell asleep with peace in her heart.

Weeks later her son returned home, opened the door and shouted, “Mother, I’m saved!” Then he described what had happened, how he had been swept overboard. As he was sinking in the swirling waves he remembered thinking, “I’m lost forever!” He remembered a hymn he once sang in church about looking to Jesus to be saved. He cried out, “O God, I look to Jesus to be saved,” and another wave swept him back onto the ship.

When he finished his story, his mother told her story. They then thanked God for the storm that saved his soul. As the Psalmist wrote, “Pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with your storm.” Our God is amazing.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for what You are willing to do to save the lost. We will never understand Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 83:15 so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

God's Grace

Every now and then it is good to take a “morning inventory” and reflect on the grace of God.
This morning when I opened my eyes I thanked God for protecting me while I slept. As I turned off the alarm clock, I thanked Him for sounds and my hearing. As I rested for a moment before I got out of bed I could feel my beating heart which He kept going while I slept. As I stood up, I thanked Him for my balance, healthy legs and my slippers. As I took a shower, I thanked Him for the warm water, shampoo, soap, a towel and a mat on the floor to keep me from slipping. Then I continued by thanking Him for a mirror, razor, deodorant and on and on until I thanked Him for all of the articles of clothing He provided for me to wear.

And then I thanked Him for the words of the Psalmist that reminded me of His promise: “no good thing will He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

It was then that I had to pause in deep humility and gratefully thank Him for His love and grace that I do not deserve. It is so easy for me to accept the gifts of God - including my salvation - without realizing that everything I have or ever have had are gifts from God.

And as I reflected on that verse the word blameless kept ringing in my ears as though it was my friendly alarm clock. I, of all people, am certainly not blameless. As I meditated on the word blameless for a few minutes and thought about everything I am or have, it’s not because I am blameless. It’s because of His unending love, grace and forgiveness!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for loving us, saving us and giving us everything we have. May we be ever grateful! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:11c no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Worship and Sing Praises?

Each church has its own “temperament.” There are churches where you find happiness and hope, a warm fellowship and a welcoming spirit. Others are cold and closed, old and tired. In between are some that are looking for an identity and try one thing and then another.

Psalm 33 is filled with enthusiasm for God. And it has some great advice on how to worship God. “Sing joyfully,” said the Psalmist. “Praise the Lord with the harp and the ten-stringed lyre,” he continues. But why?
One reason is that “The Word of the Lord is right and true.” No one has ever rejected the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts the reader. “The only objection against the Bible,” said Wilmot the infidel when he was dying, “is a bad life.”

“The plans of the Lord stand true,” is another reason to sing. A father said to his son, “Go to the third step and jump. I’ll catch you!” But he didn’t and his son fell to the floor. “Now get up and remember,” he said, “not to trust anyone - not even your father.” Our Heavenly Father never tricks us nor tempts us. He is faithful in all things and at all times.

Finally, “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him. No army has ever saved a king,” said David. Warriors work together and combine their strength but are often defeated. But “God delivers His own from death and keeps them alive in famine.”

Humanists depend on human beings. But Christians depend on Jesus Christ to “deliver” and “nourish” them.

Prayer: Father, may our hearts and lives be centered on worshiping You in songs of joy and shouts of praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Right Way - Wrong Way

God created us to follow Him - not to forsake Him. He chooses for us triumph over temptation - not struggle with guilt for surrendering to sin. He wants us to walk with Him and not stray from Him because of our self-centeredness. He waits to help us achieve the potential He has given us and not be satisfied with less than what is possible. He is willing to share His wisdom and give His insights whenever we need to make any decision.

There are many wrong ways but only one “best” way - His way. And no one but God can reveal that way to us. We may search one way and then another, try this route until it comes to a dead end. However, only when we allow God to lead us will we be in the center of His will.

Israel’s experience during the Exodus gives us a great example of God’s guidance and guardianship.
The Psalmist gives us a vivid picture of what can happen when people “try to make it on their own” and do not follow God: “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no ways to a city where they could settle. Some were hungry and thirsty and their lives ebbed away.” How sad. How true. Without God’s guidance we all wanderers!

“Then they cried out to the Lord!” And listen to what happened. “He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.”

No one will ever find a “straight way” to a “safe place” in life unless they surrender their life to God and follow Him. Life without God is a “wasteland” and unless we accept His salvation our lives will “ebb away.”

Prayer: Lord, we come to You and ask You to save us from our sins and then lead us safely into Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grace For Our Grief

God’s grace is greater than any grief we may ever have to endure. In Psalm 107 His grace is made plain.
First, we are pilgrims: “They wandered in desert wastelands...” We are all “wandering” as pilgrims most of the time. We struggle to determine right from wrong and often make wrong decisions because we have left God out of our thoughts. We have a great example of what to do when this happens: When the Children of Israel realized that they were wandering aimlessly they returned to the Lord and asked for His directions. He would always welcome them back and point them, once again, in the right direction. Remember, too, the words of Jesus: “I am the way.” When we wander, His grace welcomes us back.

Second, we are all prisoners: “Some of them (were) prisoners, suffering in chains.” Sin fascinates for a while but it soon fastens us in chains that bind us from enjoying God’s best. Habits are easy to form but difficult to forsake. But when the Israelites called upon God to free them, He always “snapped” their chains and they were released from their bondage. Whom God saves His grace sets free.

Third, we are often overwhelmed with grief when persons we thought loved us turned on us and hurt and harm us. “...give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love.” We have all suffered unbearable pain when someone whom we thought loved us turned against us and tried to destroy us. Being abandoned is difficult to survive alone. Thank God Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you!” We have His promise of His never-ending presence.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You love us, care for us and will always be there for us. Thank You for Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:1-43 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quiet Christians

For many years two neighbors rode the same train to work in downtown Chicago. George went to church regularly and if pressed, would admit to being a Christian. But he never allowed being a Christian interfere with his life. On the other hand, Will never went to church and had no use for godly things. As they rode the train each day, they discussed business strategies, sports, politics, religion and current events. They rarely mentioned God.

One morning Will became violently ill and was rushed to the hospital. After a series of tests his physician informed his wife that he could not live longer than a few days - if that long. Frightened, his wife said, “Perhaps we’d better call George and talk about God.”

“George? Talk about God? Why George? He rarely mentioned God to me or that he knew Him. So I doubt that he would be the right person to call,” said Will. Without saying another word he passed into eternity - lost.

When George heard the news, he was stunned and filled with guilt. There was nothing he could do for Will now but go to God and ask for forgiveness and promise to become faithful. The words of the Psalmist echoed loudly in his ears: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

Unfortunately, the Kingdom of God is filled with too many citizens like George. They know the Lord from a distance but are unwilling to speak as His ambassadors. They believe that they have “theirs” and that’s all that matters. But there is no denying that if indeed God has redeemed us, we will present Him faithfully to others!

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for our silence and refusal to be faithful in presenting Your message to the lost around us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our God Is a Good God!

Mary Jo spent part of her spring vacation with her Grandmother. When she returned home her mother asked, “Were you a good girl?”

“Mom, I was so good that I could hardly stand it,” she replied. “It’s a wonder I had any fun I was so good.”

The word “good” is difficult to measure. There is no “gooder” or “goodest.” Why? Because the word good is only applicable to God. And we must never forget that it is not possible for God to improve on anything He does or do anything any “gooder.”

On one occasion when Jesus was starting on a trip a man came running up to Him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get into heaven?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good!”

His reply did not disclaim that He, too, was good. On the contrary! He claimed and proclaimed His goodness when He confessed that He was God!

Unfortunately, the young man regarded Jesus as a human teacher only. For him to attach the word “good” to a mere human being was a bad thing. So, it was necessary for him to understand that only God is good and that no one other than God is, in fact, good. Jesus is good because He is God.

Whenever we think of ourselves, we must always remember who we are, how we think and that we are human. When we think of God, however, we must shout with the Psalmist, “Give thanks to God for He is good!”

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that You are so good and in that goodness we see Your love, grace and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Danger of Anger

Sin is not a behavior to belittle. When it no longer frightens us, we have lost contact with God. A small sin can lead to a large tragedy. All sin has consequences.

One day, while the Children of Israel were on the path to the Promised Land they came to a place that had no water. Rather than trusting their God who had always provided for their every need they became frightened. And when fear takes over in anyone’s life, faultfinding follows.

Our Psalmist gives us a vivid report of the consequences of their behavior: it “angered” Moses. The Lord told him to take his rod, gather the people together, speak to the rock in their presence and it would give them all the water they needed.

But Moses did not speak to the rock. He struck it twice with his rod. Then, in anger, he spoke harshly to the people. Instead of doing what God asked him to do, he did what he wanted to do and then reacted in anger.
Notice that the word anger is only one letter short of danger – it lacks a “d.” The result of his disobedience is seen in his anger. And there is always great danger when we are disobedient to God. His disobedience led to anger – which led to sin. As a result he lost the great honor and privilege of leading his people into the Promised Land.

How sad. How tragic. Moses did many great and glorious things. He had worked hard and done well. He was so close to reaching the goal God had given him. But he disobeyed God, lost control of his emotions and had to pay the consequences. A moment of anger can destroy anyone. 

Prayer: Lord, only You can give us victory over things that will so easily destroy us. May we follow Your advice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;

Friday, November 15, 2013

Where Is He When We Need him?

The night was so dark that even the stars were hidden behind the clouds. The winds were so fierce and the rains so heavy that it was nearly impossible to see. A chaplain noticed a young sailor trying to hide behind the ship’s guns where there was a dim light. Trying to comfort him, the Chaplain opened his New Testament to John 3:16 and asked him to read that verse. He wanted to talk to him about God. “For God so loved the world,” he began reading quietly, “that He gave His only forgotten Son.”

Many of us frequently forget the Lord, His Word and His works until we need His help. This happened to the people of Israel. In fact, the Psalmist reminds us of this in two simple words that all of us, unfortunately, can relate to: “They forgot.”

Often when we face a crisis it is easy to focus on the crisis rather than the Christ who can guide and guard us through it safely if we will only allow Him. We think of everything that we can do rather than what He can do. So we delay calling on Him. More than we can realize He is waiting to hear our voice. He wants to comfort and care for us, strengthen and sustain us. But we choose to tackle the task by ourselves – believing that we can live life without Him. Then, when we realize that we are helpless we turn to Him and, as always, He responds. Perhaps He allows us to “try it” on our own and fail just so He can remind us of our weakness and His enduring love.

His promise? “Call to me and I will answer you…” And again, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” 

Prayer: How foolish we are, Father, to ever forget that You are always present waiting and wanting to help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fortified By Faith

If we knew what was going to happen we would not need faith. We could plan for tomorrow and the next day and the next with confidence. But only God knows what tomorrow will bring into our lives. So, we need faith.

Faith enables us to live courageously, live life with confidence and know that with God beside us, His Son within us and the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can be more than conquerors.

Unfortunately, not all Christians walk by faith. Some squeak through life by sight. But the two principles of action are exclusive of each other and contradictory.

Sight is concerned with things that are material and visible. Faith is occupied with things invisible and spiritual. Each principle struggles to master the other. As Christians we must choose which one will be our master.
If we walk by sight, we will encounter many things that will frighten us. We see this in the lives of the people of Israel. When they left Israel, they were followed by the best fighters that Egypt had.

When they came to the Red Sea and saw the enemy about to destroy them they were frightened. But in spite of their lack of faith the Lord saved them. He caused the Sea to divide and provided a dry road for their escape.

“Then,” states the Psalmist, “they believed His words.” When? After they saw His miracle. It was not necessary for them to experience such despair and the fear of destruction. But their lack of faith in the presence and power of God caused them to doubt His promises.

Prayer: Lord, help us to take You at Your Word and trust in You for everything. Please increase our faith now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember Me!

“But I’m not that important to God. I have not accomplished anything with my life and I’m too old now to do anything about it. I can’t imagine that I will make any difference in God’s scheme of things,” he said. “How could any God love someone as worthless as I? I’m hopeless!”

It seems as though the writer of Psalm 106 felt the same way. “Remember me, O Lord, when You show favor to Your people, come to my aid when You save them.” He felt alone, abandoned, forsaken - perhaps even worthless. He could not imagine God including him in His plan of redemption. “I’m excluded!” he cried. “No hope.”

Another man made a similar statement. This one was a thief hanging on a cross dying for his crimes. How interesting it is to note that he was hanging next to some-One who had never committed any crimes but was dying for the crimes he - the thief - had committed. He had no time to turn over a new leaf and lead a better life. He could not go to the people he had wronged and ask for forgiveness or attend a religious ceremony for cleansing. He could not perform any good works - his hands were nailed to a cross. All he could do was to call on the name of the Lord and ask Jesus to “Remember me!” And, we too, must remember: no one is beyond the grace of God.

Although he was a thief condemned to die for his crimes, our Lord loved him just as much as He loves us. “Today,” Jesus assured him, “you will be with Me in paradise.”

God has no favorites. His love includes everyone.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your love that includes all of us no matter who we are or what we have done! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:4 Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do Right!

“Blessed are they...,” said the Psalmist, “who constantly do what is right.” Jesus, too, emphasized the importance of righteousness when He began His public ministry. “Blessed,” said Jesus, “are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Doing what is right and hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not a priority in the lives of many who call themselves “Christian.” It is as though it is a lifestyle that is more suitable for monks who live in a monastery and spend their time reading the Bible and praying. They can avoid the “real things” of life and be righteous.

Perhaps when we think of being “righteous” and “doing what is right” we shudder because it sounds so “limiting” on the one hand and “impossible” on the other. “What fun is there in being righteous?” we ask? Or, “If I ‘do right’ I’ll live a life of gloom and doom with no room for happiness and joy.” What a grim prospect.

But the exact opposite is true. God has a plan for each of our lives and has laid out this plan for each of us. It will ultimately lead us into His presence. If we seek and follow the plan and purpose He has for our lives we will walk in paths of “righteousness for His name’s sake.” If we want to know the “path of righteousness” He has for our lives we must study His Word. And the more we study His Word the more we will become like Him. If our desire is to “do right” and become “righteous” we will need to spend time alone with Him, get to know Him and grow closer to Him. To do right is up to each of us. 

Prayer: Lord, we all want to “do right.” But we cannot “do right” unless we are willing to spend time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Proclaim His Mighty Acts!

Not many people have ever heard of Mithridates the Great, King of Pontus from northern Asia Minor in 88 B.C. He was famous for his size, his strength and his skill of mastering the languages of the twenty-five nations that he ruled. There’s also Cardinal Mezzofanti, who was born in Bologna, Italy who spoke more than one hundred languages and dialects. Language is important. It connects us.

Today, philologists claim that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 different languages that people use to communicate with one another. The majority of the languages in our world flow from one person to another. Some languages exist that have never been reduced to writing. And every one of them evolves and changes. When people connect with other people in other places, languages become richer and more inclusive. Some languages add new words while other words are deleted when they no longer make sense. Some words lose their meaning and are soon forgotten.

Yet, no matter how many words there may be or how many languages are spoken, the Psalmist put things into the proper context when he asked, “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of God, or fully declare His praise?”

We will never be able to praise God as much as He deserves to be praised but we can praise Him with a heart that is sincere. If we ever begin to realize the magnitude of God’s love and mercy that saved us and now sustains us, our hearts will be filled with such joy that our voices will never cease to express our gratitude and thanks!

Prayer: Father, may we lift our voices in praise to You for Your love for us and the gift of Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Wonder Working God!

All of us know individuals whose lives have gone from pinnacles of prosperity to places of poverty. We know the temptations that overtake some soon pass and that one is enslaved and imprisoned by harmful habits. Once they were blest. Now they are in bondage. There seems to be a pattern of self-destruction that overcomes many who are not satisfied with the gifts of God. They apparently will not allow His grace and goodness satisfy them.

This is what happened to the people of Israel. It seems that the more God gave them the less satisfied they were. Finally, their greed led them into slavery. But, thank God, their story does not end there. His love and mercy eventually brought redemption and restoration to them. When? When they repented and returned to the Covenant He made with them. God keeps His Word.

Not only did He rescue them from their captors, but “they were laden with silver and gold.” When we allow God to redeem us by His grace, His Word promises us that “It is He who will supply all of our needs from His riches in glory because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.” God will keep His Word with us, too.

He also empowers those whom He redeems: “From among their tribes no one faltered.” When God redeems us, we are called to serve Him faithfully. He has a plan for each of our lives and that plan contains many opportunities for us to serve Him. And for each of those opportunities He gives us, we know that He will empower us and we will not falter or fail if we are faithful to Him.

Prayer: Father, if we have strayed from the plan You have for us forgive and restore us to the joy of serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

God Works

“Do you know what U.N. stands for?” he asked.

“The United Nations,” I replied quickly and confidently.

“Not at all,” was his reply. “It stands for Unsettled Nations,” he informed me.

Then he continued, “Does the Lord care about the condition of the nations of the world? And if He does care, why doesn’t He intervene and make things better?”

“Yes, He cares,” I answered. “But we need to see how God has intervened in the past by studying His Word so we can understand what He is doing today.”

One nation above all others seems to be the center of God’s attention: Israel. Psalm 105:24 describes what we might call an “explosion of people.” “The Lord made His people very fruitful. He made them too numerous for their foes.” We have often heard that there is “strength in numbers.” Here we see this “in action.” As the Israelites grew in numbers they grew in strength and they were able to overcome their adversaries.

This “strength in numbers” then made the Exodus possible. The historian continues by sharing another fact with us: those “whose hearts He turned to hate His people, to conspire against His servants” were led by Moses His servant and Aaron His chosen one to lead them into the land that God had chosen for them. Ultimately, it was the persecution that led them to the Promised Land.

Is God involved in the affairs of nations? Indeed He is. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!”

Prayer: May we look to You, Lord, as the only One who can save our nation. May our leaders seek Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:24, 25 The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Humiliation to Exaltation

One evening when my son John came home from football practice, I noticed that his arms and hands had an unusual number of cuts and bruises on them. “What happened?” I asked.

“Have you ever noticed, Dad,” he replied, “that pain is optional but suffering isn’t? I wanted to be on the starting team so I knew it would take more effort on my part. I’ve been ‘playing’ and this is what it took.”

The Psalmist reminded us that Joseph was sold as a slave, and that “They bruised his feet with shackles and that his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.”

Tucked away in the great plan that God has for each of us is our fair share of suffering. After Joseph was sold into slavery, he did not complain about his condition. He exceeded the horrible expectations that were placed on him. By honoring God the King honored him.

When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he resisted her seductive behaviors. She did everything she could do to seduce him but through his dependence on God he did not give into his passions. And when she grabbed him physically he was able to escape through God’s strength. When she lied about him, he was thrown into prison. And rather than becoming bitter he became better. Because he was true to God he triumphed and eventually became the premier of Egypt. His path to power was through suffering and imprisonment. If we are true to God in our times of trial, we will be triumphant.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be faithful to You, knowing that temptation and suffering, is part of Your plan for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:17 and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guarded by God

There was a large stag - a red-coated deer - that roamed through the hills of Rome. No one ever came near it or tried to capture or kill it. It was protected by Caesar and all were forbidden to disturb it. On its sides were the words, “Touch me not! I belong to Caesar.” It was a sign of ownership and no one dared to harm or hurt that animal.

There is a far more important statement about ownership in Psalm 105. It is a statement about those who belong to God: “Do not touch My anointed ones.”
Sometimes the words of God are overlooked by the children of God. This verse is a good example of an “overlooked” rule from the Lord. Few of us will admit to having never spoken evil of a fellow Christian. But...

We often listen carefully while one “saint” criticizes or condemns another “saint.” We carefully listen to every detail when a fellow church member ridicules or runs down the person who sits next to us during the worship service. We do not see “for whom Christ died” on the forehead of someone whose marriage is falling apart - so we anxiously listen to the sordid details of an unfaithful spouse. We blame others for “bad parenting skills” when their children become addicts rather than grieve with them over their loss. We carelessly pass on rumors about the honesty of someone who has more than we do. The tongue can easily become a weapon of wickedness and ultimately destroy “the Lord’s anointed ones.”

We must use our tongues to help not harm!

Prayer: Father, may we turn deaf ears to words that harm others and speak kind words about Your anointed ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:15a “Do not touch my anointed ones;

Monday, November 4, 2013

Promises? Promises!

Years ago a firm handshake and a sincere look in the eye meant that “my word is my bond as long as I live.” No questions were asked and no exceptions were included. “If I said it I meant it and I will do it. I will not deny what I said nor offer any excuses if I fail!”

How different it is today. Contracts, warranties and agreements are written with clauses that are vague and difficult to understand and often need the interpretation of an attorney. Word of mouth promises rarely last longer than the time it takes to speak them.

How different it is with God. In Psalm 105 we are reminded of His faithfulness to Israel. If He said it He did it. If He promised something to them there is proof in His Word that He made it happen. All of the promises He made to them have been fulfilled and offer us the assurance that “God is a Man of His Word.” This gives encouragement for today and hope for the future.

Some Biblical scholars who carefully researched “His Word” have discovered that it contains 3,000 promises! And if we look at this fact - that most of His promises have been fulfilled while we wait for others to be fulfilled we can be confident that He will fulfill them.

Here are two great promises for today:

“The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble!” So, whenever we can’t handle “things” He certainly can!

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in My name.” What a wonderful, never-ending, open ended promise if we call on Him in faith and trust.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to take You at Your Word: To claim Your promises and know that You will fulfill them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:8a He remembers his covenant forever,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks

Sometimes it seems as though we have more holidays and days to celebrate people and events than there are days on the calendar. But this month contains a national holiday that has special religious significance. This day that has been set aside for us to pause, ponder, praise, pray and give thanks to God for His blessings.
Many families will gather together and share stories of God’s love and mercy, grace and salvation. They will talk of God’s peace and presence and tell of His goodness and guidance, hope and healing, power and protection. God’s generous blessings will be the most important topic of their discussions. He will be honored!

There will also be families where God will not be respected or mentioned. It is not that there will be an absence of thanks, but God will not be recognized as the giver of all gifts. They will focus on what they have or have accomplished or achieved believing that they have “done it on my own.” They will fail to recognize His gifts.

Some will resent the day because they feel short changed or even forgotten by God. They have had trials too tragic to share and losses too great to describe. Their lives seem hopeless with nothing before them but darkness. The consequences of wrong choices have left them scarred for life. But God still loves them!
But, everyone can join the Psalmist and say, “Praise the Lord and give Him thanks!” - Even those who feel hopeless and ungrateful. Why? This verse talks of His mercy which is always available to everyone: the humble, the proud and the resentful.

Prayer: Lord, You have given us so very much. Yet, we ask for and need one more thing: A thankful heart! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cows, Cuds and Meditation

Have you ever watched a cow, lying beneath a tree, quietly looking through its leaves at the puffy clouds that are passing across the soft blue sky? They seem to be concentrating on something far beyond themselves, yet important to them. Their stillness reflects a sense of peace and confidence that “all is well in my world and there’s nothing for me to worry about.” All the while they are chewing on “cuds” - round balls of grass that they bring up from their stomachs and chew some 30,000 times each day to get all of the nourishment out of them.

Could that not be a picture of meditation for the Christian to adopt? A time when we quietly “chew” on a piece of Scripture that God brings to our minds from His Word that we have hidden in our hearts.
Imagine how our lives would be different if we sat quietly and brought a verse of Scripture from His Word into our minds and then looked to Him to give us all the nourishment that it contains. Imagine the changes that would take place in our lives if we would invest even a small amount of time “chewing” on a verse or two from His Word each day asking Him to “nourish our lives” with its meaning. Imagine the peace and comfort that could be ours if we simply asked His Spirit to use His Word to calm our fears, lift our depression, eliminate our doubts, change our attitudes and convict us of our sins.

If we can imagine it we can do it! God troubles our hearts and minds to get our attention. Then we must submit to His Spirit to work in us as we meditate on Him. 

Prayer: Lord, speak to our hearts and change our lives as we willingly ask Your Spirit to guide and guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sing to the Lord!


When Herbert Hoover was president he asked Rudy Vallee to sing at the White House. He was very impressed by the famous “megaphone crooner” and entertainer and at the end of his performance said, “You are great, Mr. Vallee. If you can sing a song that would make people feel good, forget their problems and relieve their depression, I will give you a medal.” However, Vallee did not have a song that he could sing that would bring about those results.

But there is One who can do that. David said, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him as I rejoice in the Lord.”

The Hebrew word for meditate includes two words from the English language: one is “think” and the other suggests “speech” or “audible thinking.” If we put them together they can bring about amazing results!

Imagine how our lives would be different if when we thought about God’s Word we would begin to talk to Him. For example, if 1 John 1:9 came to mind during a time of meditation, we might say something like, “Oh, thank You Lord for Your forgiveness. How grateful I am that if I come to You, confess my sin, ask You for Your forgiveness and repent, You will forgive me. Thank You for the assurance of Your grace and mercy. How much I need it. And please, Lord, fill my life with Your Spirit so that when I am tempted to sin, I can ask You to give me the strength to overcome the temptation!” 

Prayer: Father, fill my mind with Your Word. Let it speak to my heart and then may my heart speak to You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:33, 34 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Thought Of Eternity

There was no one to write about it, and actually, nothing to write about. There was no calendar to record the number of days or years or even centuries or ages. It was a beginning without a beginning and the only Person there was God. He needed no one and was in need of nothing.

But He chose to create the heavens and the earth. And with no pre-existing materials or anyone to help Him, it was the power of His words that brought everything into existence that is or ever will be.

When He said, “Let us make man,” we know what happened: He formed man’s body from the “dust” of the ground. And we know that this “dust” is a combination of all of the various chemical elements that make up the physical body of man.

Our bodies did not “evolve.” Our bodies were “built” by God from the earth that He created. God also breathed the breath - or the spirit - of life into that body. At that moment, man became a living soul.

We do much to take care of our bodies. Daily we are reminded of the cost of “healthcare” and how very important it is for us to take proper care of our bodies. But we seem to have forgotten the words of Jesus: “What good,” He asked, “will it be for someone to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul?” Why is this an important question?

Our Psalmist said: “When You take away their breath they die and return to the dust.” But not the soul.

Prayer: We thank You Lord, for Jesus, Your Son and our Savior, who gave His life for us to live for You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.

Monday, October 28, 2013

God Forgets No One

Birthdays and anniversaries are special days and times in the lives of most people. We look forward to being remembered with a card or letter, phone call or bouquet of flowers, a special meal or perhaps even a cake.

Poor Mrs. Hattie Hollowell spent three years, four months and sixteen days in a New York jail and no one seemed to know she was there. Fortunately, someone started an investigation for some reason and in the process discovered her. As a result of the search she came to be known as “The Forgotten Woman.” When asked, a judge blamed the tragedy on the “slipshod work” of an attorney. “Instead of helping her, he actually hurt her,” he said.

The Psalmist wrote that “All creatures look to You to give them their food at the proper time.” Our Psalmist wants us to know that our God cares for us and will, at the right time, provide for our every need. But there is a very interesting statement about God and our relationship to Him in this verse that is completed in the following verse: “When You open Your hand they are satisfied with good things.”

Notice that “At the proper time,” “He will open His hand,” and “satisfy us with good things.” We are to be completely dependent on God. There is His time, His hand and good things. Often we try to force the hand of God: We want what we want when we want it. But that is not how He works. He knows what we need and when we need it. We must wait upon Him for what is best for us.

Prayer: Help us Lord, to wait patiently on You, knowing that You are doing what is best for us – always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:27, 28 All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Wonder of Work

Years ago a “hobo” came to the back porch as my mother sat there “shelling peas.” “Pardon me, Ma’am, but could you spare a meal to a starving traveler?”

Graciously, but firmly, my mother responded and said she would be happy to provide a meal but he would have to do some yard work first. Politely, he declined. He was “too weak” to work before he had something to eat. He then walked away quietly and went next door.

God intended for man to work. As soon as He created man He planted a garden in Eden and gave him a job to do: he was told to cultivate the garden. The Psalmist reminded us of the importance of work when he wrote, “Man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.”

Perhaps it is good to remember that in the days of His flesh our Lord Jesus worked. He must have gone to His daily tasks with enthusiasm - not because it was easy or financially rewarding. But because He was using the skills His Father gave Him to do His will and honor Him through the work of His hands. On one occasion, early in His life He said, “I always do the things that please Him.” He did what was necessary yet never sinned.

How comforting it is to know that the Carpenter of Nazareth faced every situation that we face today. This fact assures us that He understands us completely. He faced the same trials and temptations that we face so He understands us. Yet He never gave in to any temptation or committed any sin so He could become our Savior.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for living a life that sets the example of how we should live so others can see You in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:23 Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trees of the Lord

William Jackson was a prominent figure in the American Revolution. But even more important was his role as the Secretary of the United States Constitutional Convention. Although we know much about him and his many accomplishments, there is one fact that is rarely mentioned when people speak of him: a fondness that he had for a large oak tree. Its great size and the strength that is suggested gave him so much inspiration that he wrote a deed conveying it to full possession of itself and the land that surrounded it so even its roots would be protected from harm.

Trees have a special significance in the Bible. The Psalmist wrote that “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted.” Why was the cedar singled out?

Cedars are trees whose branches reach high into the heavens. Their stateliness stands in stark contrast to other trees as they soar well over one hundred feet into the sky – as though they were reaching up for the God who created them. Certainly this represents a worthy characteristic for Christians to follow.

Cedars also are deep-rooted. They send their “anchors” deep into the earth as they reach up to their Creator. While many trees fall when storms “attack” them the cedar remains undisturbed.

Cedars are broad-branched – it spreads its arms widely as it grows old. It appears as though it wants to “embrace” others and protect them from harm. So do we. 

Prayer: Lord, make us like cedars: to reach up to be near to You, down to abide in You and out to help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:16 The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Songs Of Birds

Ornithologists claim that there are over 9,000 birds that live throughout the world. Some make their homes in places that are covered by ice the entire year. Others make their homes in hot and arid places. Many live on the land but some actually live on the water.

The largest bird is the male African ostrich. It may grow eight feet tall and weigh three hundred pounds. The smallest bird is the Cuban fairy hummingbird. It is about two inches long and weighs about one tenth of an ounce.

The fastest fliers are the common swifts of Europe. They can fly as fast as two hundred miles an hour. But the highest flyers are the geese. They have been sighted at a height of more that twenty-nine thousand feet.

The graceful flight of birds, their sweet songs and beautiful colors have inspired artists, musicians and poets. The Psalmist wrote, “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.”

Each kind of singing bird has its own special song. However, we are told that sparrows can sing as many as twenty variations of the same song! They, as every other bird, are God-fashioned and “God-tuned.” No other bird has such God-given skills.

Just as God has planted songs in the heart of every bird, He has also planted songs in the heart of every Christian: songs of peace and pardon and joy. With His songs in our hearts let us sing His praises!

Prayer: We ask, Father, that “songs of salvation” will rise from our hearts as we enjoy the gifts of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Winds And Flames" His Servants

Missionary Rachel Smith was carefully telling the Christmas Story to a group of primitive headhunters in the jungles of Peru. With simplicity she told the story of some men who were in the fields guarding their sheep when an angel suddenly appeared.

“What did he look like?” asked one. “Just like a man,” she answered. “Did he have feathers?” he asked.

“No,” she replied. “Then he could not fly and the story is not true,” he shouted.

“Have you seen the missionary plane?” she asked. “Yes,” came his reply. “Have you touched it?” she asked.

“I have,” he said. “Did it have feathers?” she wanted to know. “No,” he admitted. “You see,” she explained, “one need not have feathers to fly.”

Immediately the questioner and the tribe went in to an intense discussion. After several moments they agreed that the Christmas Story could be true. God used an angel that first Christmas evening to be a messenger with the most important announcement that was ever made to man.

The Bible has much to say about angels and their actions but little about their appearance. In Psalm 104:4 we read that “He makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants.”

These “messengers” - or angels - are sent by God to help and care for those who receive His salvation. The Lord will always meet the needs of His children through one way or another - even if it takes one of His angels.

Prayer: With grateful hearts, Father, we give You our thanks for Your unending care and constant protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:4 He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lord Over All!

The Taj Mahal of India is one of the most costly and beautiful tombs in all of the world. It was built by an Indian ruler, using twenty thousand men, in memory of his favorite wife.

It is built of white marble and rests on an eight-sided platform of red sandstone. Each side is one hundred thirty feet long. A beautiful dome covers the center part of the building. It is famous for its remarkable acoustics and visitors entering the building are advised to be cautious of their voices and the sounds they make. It is to be a place of quiet respect.

Years ago Henrietta Mears, founder of Gospel Light Publications and one of the greatest Christian educators in the history of the church, visited the Taj Mahal and asked the guide, “May I say something?” When she was granted permission she walked on the platform and exclaimed in a moving voice, “Jesus, Christ, Son of God is Lord over all!”

Like rolls of thunder echoing in a canyon between majestic mountains her powerful voice reverberated from wall to wall and down the corridors and all inside of the tomb heard the message, “Lord over all, over all, over all, over all...”

There are times when we look at the conditions that surround us and the problems facing us when we doubt that essential fact - “Lord over all!” God had David encode that fact in Psalm 103:19b: “His kingdom rules over all.” It was then; it is now and ever will be. God rules!

Prayer: May we never doubt, Lord, that You are the one who controls all things - and trust in Your sovereignty! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our "No Assurance" Policy

Quite frequently a dear, young friend who is very concerned about my health comes to my office to visit me. Each time we meet he “reviews” my work schedule and responsibilities in great detail. He wants to know what time I get to work and what time I leave; what I did on each Saturday and Sunday since we last talked. He wants to know the last time I preached at a church, where it was and how long it took me to drive to and from it. His questions are not meant to be invasive or abusive. He is concerned about my health and wants to know whether or not I am taking proper care of myself.

After we conclude his lengthy interrogation, he looks at me and makes the same statements every time we visit: “You’re working too hard. You’re working too much. You need to go on a vacation or you will kill yourself. Why do you work so hard? Do you want to die?”

Each time we have this discussion I give him the same answer: “Dear friend, I am going to die. But I do not know when. So, I want to get as much done for the Lord as I possibly can. But I promise I will care for myself.”

And then I remind him of Psalm 103:15-16: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

Our days may be few or they may be many. But one thing is for certain: We have fewer days to serve Him after today than we did yesterday. We must make each one count for our Lord. 

Prayer: Help us Lord, to realize the importance of each day knowing that we have no assurance of tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:15-16 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How Much Is Enough?

While watching a large oceangoing cargo ship slip quietly into the Atlantic I noticed a mark on the side of the ship. Having been in the Navy for several years, I was rather embarrassed to ask my friend what it meant.
“It’s a Plimsoll Mark,” he said with authority. It was not an answer that helped at all, so I asked, “What’s a Plimsoll Mark?”

“It’s a load-line on the ship that shows how much cargo the ship can carry safely under different conditions. For example, the closer the line is to the water, the more ‘at-risk’ the ship would be in a storm.”

The Lord has a “load-line” marking on each of us. As we read in Psalm 103:14, “for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” The Psalmist assures us that God knows our limitations - what we can safely and securely “carry.”

None of us are immune to trials - nor are any of us excused from being tempted. All of us, in one way or another and at one time or another, face similar types of trials and temptations. None are new. None are different. They come at different times in different situations from different directions appealing to our different weaknesses.

As Paul wrote, “No temptation has seized you that is not common to others, And, God is faithful! He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide you a way out.”

He knows our “load-lines” and will not let us sink. However, we must be careful not to put ourselves at risk.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that You created us, that You know us and that You will protect us if we allow You to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Relief From Searching

Missionaries who travel to visit distant tribes in the most remote villages of the world seem to have a similar experience: when the natives learn and understand that there is only one God whose story is told in the Bible and whom they can come to know through Jesus Christ, they lose their fear of “their gods.” Most of them have many different gods whom they do not know nor understand - only fear. So, they live lives filled with fear - afraid that they will displease the god they have created who may punish or kill them, their families or tribe at any time. So, they live lives that are haunted, not helped by their beliefs.

How different is the God of the Bible whom we can come to know, love and understand. Our God has the heart of a loving Father. The Psalmist described Him in wonderful, gracious terms when he wrote, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear - stand in awe of - Him.”

He has compassion on us when we are weak and need His strength to make it through difficult days and long nights. He has compassion on us when we hurt and need His hope and healing. He has compassion on us when we have failed Him and need His forgiveness.

One day two fathers were talking. “If your son was my son, I would never speak to him again for what he’s done to you.” “Yes,” replied the father who was filled with grief, “but he’s not. He’s my son and I’ll always love him.” How like our compassionate Heavenly Father.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your compassion which we so desperately need - yet can never earn nor deserve. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Great Is God's Love?

Miss Burrell was my second grade teacher and next door neighbor. It seemed as though I could never get beyond her “watchful” eye. When she called on me in class I would “shrivel” up inside and have difficulty getting any words out of my mouth. And when I was out in our yard playing, I imagined that she was “peeking” at me and my friends from the corner of a window. Perhaps it was feelings of guilt for not being a better student or more gracious when she came to visit my mother.

But in spite of those feelings I remember the many evenings she would knock on our front door and ask me to join her in the front yard and study the stars and constellations. She would bring her flashlight and point out “The Big Dipper” and “The Little Dipper” and all of the constellations that God formed in the sky. She would also point out different stars - some that shined brightly and some that we could barely see. I remember asking her often how many miles they were from where we were standing.

“No one will ever be able to measure the most-distant star because we will always be finding new ones that are even farther away.” So, “we’ll never know” was her answer every time I asked that question.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who stand in awe of Him,” said the Psalmist. What a marvelous statement about the love of God. It is so immense, as are His heavens, that we will never be able to measure it.

Prayer: Lord, we will never understand why You love us, nor how very much You love us. But we do thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:11, 12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Renewed Like Eagles

Eagles have a unique place in nature - certainly a place that differs from all other birds. They represent strength, power and freedom from the things of this world that would distract them. No wonder they have a special place in God’s Word. Isaiah promised, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles.” No doubt David had this in mind when he wrote, “so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” What makes eagles special?

Eagles have fine vision and sharp focus. Their eyes were designed by God for long distance and clarity. This gives the eagles great vision and enables them to see what other birds do not see. We as Christians need God’s vision so we can see what we need to do for Him.

Eagles are fearless. As God’s representatives we need to be fearless as we represent Him and present His message to others. We must never bow to others in fear.

Eagles are tenacious. Other birds fly from a storm. But eagles fly into the storm - taking advantage of life’s difficulties - and rise to greater heights, never giving up.

Eagles are “high flyers.” They easily fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet. Pigeons stay on the ground and “grumble” all day long. The eagle quietly soars above the noises of life and finds peace with God.

Eagles possess vitality. They are full of life yet find time to re-energize themselves and extend their lives.

Eagles nurture their young ones. No other bird is more attentive or gentle to its young than the eagle.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, the qualities of an eagle. May we live lives that distinguish us from others as we serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:
Psalm 103:5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crowns and Compassion

He “crowns you with love and compassion,” wrote David. What an amazing statement. Is it possible for us to understand what this means? God Himself crowning us with His love and compassion? What might our author have had in mind when he wrote this? Could it mean that we are kings in God’s eyes?

Not really. It means that when we became His children He crowned us with His loyal, never-ending, steadfast love. We are His now and we will be His forever throughout eternity and nothing will ever separate us from Him or His love.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that “If we die with Him we will also live with Him, and if we endure hardship we will also reign with Him.”

Although we may suffer great hardships in this life, God assures us that someday we will live eternally with Him. So, it’s worth it. And when we live in Christ’s Kingdom, we will share His eternal reign with Him.

There may be times when our suffering may cause us to doubt God’s love. When these doubts arise, we must never forget that we have been crowned with His love and compassion. “Our present sufferings,” said Paul, “are not worth comparing with the incredible glory that will be revealed in us.” The assurance of His love gives us hope.

Once crowned with His love and compassion we need to remember that we will, as Paul also said, “see the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness.” When we are crowned by God Himself, what more can we ask. 

Prayer: Father, Your love is beyond our understanding. But we accept it with grateful hearts and rejoice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:4b and crowns you with love and compassion,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rescued From the Pit

It is well known that time has a way of bringing about a “lapse in memory.” Many of the important events in our lives - especially when God has intervened in a very dramatic way - have been forgotten over the years. Yes, there are moments when they come to mind, but for the most part, unless we record them somewhere they are forgotten. Certainly this is a shortcoming for many of us and it would be good if we had a “remember this” list.

No doubt that is why God had David add this “benefit” to his list of “Do not forget.”
“Do not forget that he redeems - or more literally - rescues you - from the pit.” In the previous verse we are reminded about His healing. Now we are reminded to “store this ‘benefit’ - being rescued from death inside us.”

“The pit” quite literally means “death.” Those who have ever “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” understand the significance of the “walking back into the light” of life. So, we dare not forget the great benefit and blessing of the restoration of health and healing, hope and happiness.

But we must also remember the “benefit” of having been rescued from “eternal death!” Jesus promised us that, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me, will never die.” This great benefit, eternity with Him, is the greatest of all benefits!
May we remember and rejoice each day that we enjoy the benefit of eternal life and the hope it gives us.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to somehow understand the tremendous cost of our salvation and the benefit it is to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:4a who redeems your life from the pit

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Healing

A few years ago I was sitting in the office of a dear friend and orthopedic surgeon. Because of his God-given skills he was able to correct the misdiagnosis of another physician that enabled me to walk once again.

As we sat and talked he asked me how things had been going with my health. After explaining my ordeal with cancer and several other illnesses, he looked at me and said very seriously, “You have no reason to be alive!”

But he was wrong.

There was every reason for me to be alive. It was God who brought the healing to my body even though there were several physicians who worked with Him along the way. David was certainly aware of God’s role in the healing process when he wrote, “and heals all your diseases.” If God is the one who heals all of our diseases, why does He do this? Who is the beneficiary of His healing? Us or Him?

 There is no doubt in my mind that God heals us that we might bring honor and glory to Him by serving Him faithfully. If He restores our health, we must realize that it is a gift of His grace and we show our gratefulness to Him by giving Him the glory and working with Him in this, His world.

We can only demonstrate our gratitude to Him, after we thank Him, by what we do for Him. Gratitude is not gratitude unless we become involved in building His Kingdom. Working with Him and through Him is not an option. It is a requirement if He has “healed our diseases.” 

Prayer: Lord, we are not our own, but Yours. When You heal us, let us show how thankful we are by serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:2b and forget not all his benefits—