Friday, March 29, 2013

Friend Or Foe?

James wrote, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord!”

God’s power to heal has an important place in Scripture. In fact, of the 1,257 narrative verses in the four Gospels, 484 are related specifically to healing. We believe in God’s healing power and know He can heal. David also believed in God’s healing power and believed that God could heal him. But where did David begin in his plea for God’s help?

David was hanging on to life by a thread. He felt total rejection by God because of a major sin he had committed. It had become a burden that was too heavy to bear, too big to overlook and too obvious to ignore. In fact he said that God “pierced him and His hand came down hard upon him.” He knew he was being punished by God for sinning against God.

After thoroughly describing his mental, physical and spiritual sicknesses he cried out, “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” In his wisdom and from his former relationship with God, he realized that God would not bring about physical and mental healing unless David first confessed his need for spiritual healing.

There can be little doubt that sin and physical and mental illnesses are intimately connected. Yet, many only want God’s physical and mental healing. With God, all healing begins with confession and repentance.

Prayer: When we need healing, Lord, may we repent, ask for forgiveness and grace and then healing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Waiting On God

“Waiting” on God to act visibly on our behalf does not mean we are to be idle and do nothing. In fact, Paul gave the Thessalonians a warning, warning them “to stay from every brother who is idle and does not live according to his teachings.” Waiting on God is critical for the Christian because we learn to hope only in Him, be loyal and obedient to Him and have faith that He is working in our best interest.

“I know the plans I have for you,” said the Lord through Jeremiah. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Since these “plans” originate with the Lord, we are to place our lives in His hands and with hope wait only on Him. It is unfortunate when we lose patience in Him and move forward on our own and not really know where we are going. His plans are good plans, well designed and carefully thought out. So, we must wait before Him in silent expectancy.

But we must also keep His way - be obedient and loyal to Him. While waiting we will surely be tempted to give up or give in and seek a “shortcut” that could lead to defeat and disaster. When we keep or walk in His way, we can be certain that we will end up where He wants us to be not where we think He wants us to be.

Finally, we must “keep the faith.” Perhaps the greatest enemy of faith is false success. Waiting and keeping the faith assures us that we are growing into the likeness of Christ and fulfilling His plan for us.

Prayer: Lord, may we learn to wait on You, stay close by You, hope in You and enjoy a future with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:34 Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Do Good?

“Finders keepers! Losers weepers!”

That statement, which some think comes from an ancient Roman law, has provided guidance for the decisions of many children. It has also found its way into the lives of many adults. If someone loses “it,” and someone else finds “it,” what’s the right thing to do?

In Deuteronomy, the Hebrews were told that they were to care for and return animals, as well as any property that someone had lost, to their rightful owners. The reason for this rule is that when we protect and return the property of another person, we are kept from being envious and greedy. Envy and greed seem to be the “gateway” to almost every other sin.

“Turn from evil and do good,” advises David. He wanted the “just,” those who lived “moral lives,” to know that the Lord loved them and that He would always be faithful to them. Additionally, David added, that the “just” will “inherit the land” - have eternal life.

How blest we are to know that God wants us to have hope in Him and look forward to being with Him throughout eternity. God has placed within every heart a longing for Someone to bring completeness and purpose into their life. The emptiness, the loneliness, the “desire for something more” is the “inheritance” that awaits those “who turn from evil and do good.”

But there’s more than the future inheritance to look forward to: God’s presence every day of our lives. He loves the “just” and “will never forsake the faithful.”

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Son Who gives us hope in this life and the one to come! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Falling Is Not Failing

Watching a child take his or her first steps is a marvelous sight to behold. Pictures are taken, memories created and lives changed.

Recently a mother and father brought their infant son to the Garden for his first steps. After finding the “perfect” location for this historic event, the father gently placed his hands under the child’s arms. As the child looked down at his tiny feet and with uncertainty began to “toddle” forward, the father relaxed his grip. Slowly, as the child began to walk on his own, he removed his hands completely. After a few staggering and uncertain steps the little fellow began to carry his weight on his own two feet. The parents were thrilled!

Suddenly, the child lost his balance and fell to the ground. Rushing to pick him up the father smiled, hugged him and encouraged him to “try again.” There was no scolding nor rejection for falling down. Rather, the father lifted him, dried his tears and helped him to begin again.

How like our Heavenly Father. If the Lord is delighted in the way we walk - even though we fall - He will come to our rescue, lift us up and “make our steps firm.” As long as we do our part to walk in His ways, He will do His part to give us the stability to “move on.”

When we fall, He does not consider us a failure. He lovingly lifts us up, tenderly dries our tears and then carefully watches over us as we struggle to walk in His ways. He will never leave us nor forsake us if we fall.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your care, concern and compassion that always supports and sustains us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:23, 24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Reward For Being Meek


Who are the “meek” who will “inherit the earth?” Are they the ones we would classify as weak? Would they fall into a special category labeled “non assertive?” Is the “meek” person one who has no expectations or goals in life? Have you ever seen an ad in the classified section of a newspaper where an insurance company is searching for sale persons that says, “Only the meek should apply?”

David said, “The meek will inherit the land.” And Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Who are these “meek” people anyway? Is there any way we can recognize them?

Yes, there is, according to Scripture. The “meek” are the ones who are the opposites of the “know it all” or possess a “false-pride.” They are the proud and believe that worldly might and power are an end in themselves. They present themselves as the ultimate resource of all knowledge, wisdom, insight and understanding. They consider themselves to be worldly-wise. It is those who think they are the “light of the world” - not Jesus.

In God’s Word, however a truly “meek” person is one whose goal is to know Christ and make Him known. We become meek when we are willing to have God alter every detail of our lives by surrendering to the teachings of God’s Word and desiring to honor Him alone.

When it comes to weakness, our “meekness” will allow us to become “weak” in the hands of God. Then He can shape us into becoming who He would have us to be.

Prayer: Lord, fill our hearts with a meekness that opens our lives to Your Word, Your will and Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.



Friday, March 22, 2013

The Greatness Of God


Scripture contains many words to describe God. They occur throughout the Bible. In Psalm 36 there are four short sentences that contain four words to describe God’s greatness: Love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. Then, there is one short phrase that tells us how He applies those characteristics: He preserves both man and beast. Because of His character, God holds all of His creation together. Creation is because of Him.

What is so interesting here is that within a few verses David moves from the darkness that possesses the human heart to the light that comes from God. It all starts with His love - a love that will never fail and will never end. God’s love is revealed in His faithfulness.

If we were not able to depend on God being faithful at all times and in all situations, His love would be worthless. Imagine how tragic life would be, if when we needed God’s grace or mercy, He was “unavailable” for three weeks. Love and faithfulness belong together!

Yet there is more! God is also righteous and just which affects our salvation. It is His righteousness that allows us to “become righteous” - to move from darkness to light - and have fellowship with Him. But if He were not just, some of us might not qualify for His salvation. What if we had to meet certain financial requirements that were beyond us? What if we were disqualified if we could not pass a test that was designed for those with a high IQ? What if we were unattractive or shy?

But, ”What if’s” do not count. “Whosoever” does!

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Your grace that is well beyond our imaginations but not our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Fear!

“Hear ye! Hear ye!” were the words of the “Town Crier” in many English towns years ago. His job was to stand in public places where people gathered and shout or “cry out” official announcements. When there was an important event he would often ring a bell to get people to gather quickly to listen to what he was sent to say.

David received an important message from the Lord. It was so important that he “cried out” for the people to listen to him. “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked,” he shouted. An oracle is an utterance - or a message - linked to God or coming from Him. These were serious words and as always reflected the love and concern that God has for people to know Him, come to Him and worship Him.

His message was simple, clear and direct, “Your ears are not open to God, you flatter yourselves so much that you cannot recognize your sins or hate them.”

But he does not stop there. He continues, “The words that come out of your mouths are deceitful, you are no longer wise or do good.” Quite an indictment.

David’s words were true then and are equally true today. He paints a vivid picture of human darkness that includes the mind, heart and will. When we do not fear God’s judgment, our egos become inflated, we flatter ourselves falsely and wicked thoughts come out of our minds that deceive ourselves and others. When we no longer fear God we are in serious trouble. We must fear Him, remain in His Word and rely on His strength.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that Your Spirit will convict us of any sin that would deceive us and destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:1 An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Unceasing Praise

Sunday evenings were always a special time in our small church in Northern Ohio. After singing a few hymns, Pastor Stanley would walk to the pulpit and ask, “Who would like to stand up tonight and thank the Lord publicly for His goodness and blessings during the last week?” We would all wait anxiously to hear what God had “been doing” since last Sunday evening. It was a time of sharing and rejoicing. We were always happy when someone was healed or helped. God got all the credit but we all rejoiced with the one who He had honored. We believed that when we asked, God would answer. And when He answered we all enjoyed the results and gave thanks together.

God heard and answered David’s prayer. But the nature of his prayer or the problems he was facing are not defined. However, in his concluding remarks he writes of God being “delighted in the well-being of His servant.” Well-being includes everything and anything that concerns us. Big or little, large or small. Whatever concerns us concerned God first because His goodness and grace has no limit. They exceed our imagination.

The answer to his prayer was the beginning of an important event in his life. He did not go quietly to his room and thank God by himself. No! He insisted on sharing his joy with others and said, “Come and join me. Let those who are happy with God’s blessings on me rejoice with me - all day!” What a way to grow.

After we pray together, let’s praise together.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to sing and shout praises together when we see Your goodness and grace at work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fight For Me, God!

Perhaps the deepest wounds any of us carry are the wounds that come from being betrayed. They leave a bitter taste in our mouths and a desire for revenge in our minds and hearts. When a trusted friend turns out to be an enemy, especially without cause, it fractures - sometimes forever - what was expected to be a confidant for life. Trust turns into resentment and love seeks revenge. Anger turns into grief and a large hole grows in our heart. We question what to do or where to go for help.

What is the best course of action for us to take? Spread rumors about “the enemy?” Seek ways to destroy that person’s reputation? Allow depression to overtake us and hide from the light of day? It’s too difficult to remain calm when our insides churn.

When David was being destroyed by those who he thought were his closest friends and advisors, he turned to God. He did not ask God to forgive them. Nor did he ask God to convict them and make amends to him. No! He asked God to arm Himself with a shield, buckler and spear and go after them.

And then he asked God to speak to him, bring a peace to his heart and assure him that “I God, am your salvation!” He was anxious but trusted in God.

David had done no wrong in this instance. He deserved to be vindicated. He was aware, however, that if he took things into his own hands it might have been disastrous if he lost control of his anger. So, in his wisdom, he asked God to vindicate him. And God did!

Prayer: Help us, God, to turn to You when we are wronged by others and to trust in You to make things right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Whenever

Whenever is a gracious word that sounds very comforting when someone offers to help us when we are going through a difficult time. We know that someone will help when we dial 911. Our homes are wrapped in security systems “in case” someone tries to enter if they are not invited. There are endless “alerts” available to notify someone, somewhere if we fall, encounter pain or face an emergency. We are to be thankful for these and many other devices that let us know that help is available.

In Psalm 34 we are reminded of the realities of life. “God’s eyes,” says David “are on the righteous,” His “ears attentive to their cry.” So, whenever the righteous cry out, “the Lord hears them.” Not may or might hear them, could or should hear them - but will hear them. We do not have to get in line, dial a number on a phone or press a button. Just “call out.” Whenever. David is very realistic about life. He’s been there and endured that. When he speaks about the tragedies in his life, we can enter into his experience with him. We have walked through the deep valleys as he has and have stumbled through similar shadows. Christians are not given a “free pass” to a life without problems.

But we are given the assurance that God is more than present. “His eyes are on us” and “His ears open to us.” So, when our hearts are broken by the tragedies of life, our spirits crushed in grief, our joints ache and our illnesses never seem to end, He’s with us!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for seeing our problems, hearing our cries, and healing our hearts and bodies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Come! Praise The Lord!


There seems to be an attitude of arrogance in the world today. It is summed up in the epigram that was written above the door of the saloon on the Titanic: “Not even God can sink this ship!” Imagine the irony of those words. They are carved in a piece of wood that is still rotting after all of these years.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no fear of God in the world any longer. Today, the list of the world’s fears include a nuclear disaster, global warming, the national deficit, health care, a flu epidemic, identity theft or a stock market crash. It seems as though God has been assigned the role of being an ex-officio member of the “Board of Governors.” It is a “position” with no power or influence. He is no longer recognized as one who makes any difference in the day to day operation of the universe. He’s simply around to humor some people. Man is in charge now, thank you, and will bring good things to pass now that God is out of the way!

Psalm 34 takes the opposite view of God. The author blesses the Lord for what He has done. In deep humility he recognizes the power and presence of God. His view of the world is God-centered not man-exalting. Therefore, “His praise should always be on our lips.”

How different it is today. People seem to do what they do for the recognition they may receive. Glory and honor belong to the one who can score the most points, accumulate vast wealth or demonstrate great power over people. God, to them is a “thing” in the past.

Prayer: Father, may we praise You at all times and in all things for Your unending, unfailing, steadfast love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why Wait On God


Waiting, at best, is difficult. Giving up, however, can be disastrous.

We often hear the warning, “Don’t ever pray for patience. God may take you at your word and hide from you for a long, long time.” Whether or not we pray for patience, we often end up waiting on God for a long, long time. It is easy to convince ourselves that “I’ve waited long enough. It’s time for me to strike out on my own. God will eventually catch up with me.”

“We wait in hope for the Lord,” said David, “He is our help and shield!” Why would a king with armies and wise men, property and power advise people to wait? Why not, as a warrior, “move into combat?”

From his past David could predict his future. First, the God who created all things, is above all things, sees all things, controls all things will, when it is time, come and “do His thing.” David had experienced God at work in his life and certainly came to believe in God’s presence and power in his life. So, he reassures us and reminds us that He “is now and will be in the future our helper and our shield.”

As our helper, He will, at the appropriate time, deliver us. We may not know when or understand what method of deliverance He will use, but we do know that He will deliver those who trust in Him. We have His word because it is in His Word. However, until He does, we are reminded that He is our shield - the One who will defend us. Our hope is in His hands.

Prayer: Give us, O Lord, a confident faith that will not fail as we wait on You, our helper and shield. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blessed Is The Nation!

The destiny of a nation is not determined by its armed forces or material resources. Nor is it empowered by its political philosophy or intellectual achievements. God’s Word reveals and the records of history prove that it is “not by power, nor by might, but by my spirit” that nations survive over time.

The destiny of any nation is determined by the spiritual life of its people. “Blessed is the nation,” David declared, “whose God is the Lord.”

Every nation has had an opportunity to accept the Word of God and follow His ways, to worship Him and to do His will. If they accept His offer, that nation will be blessed. However, if a nation chooses to reject Him and His teachings and refuses to worship and follow Him and establish their own foundation, they will eventually be destroyed. This is an obvious fact of history.

Rome became a great empire but it collapsed. Why? The celebrated Italian historian, Papini, wrote that “the temple, the bank, and the academy were against Jesus of Nazareth.”

Germany became great but was reduced to rubble. Wrote a German philosopher, “They pushed God out of the universities and that was the beginning of the death sentence for the empire.”

What will be our destiny when we are no longer “one nation under God?” We are the ones responsible to “humble ourselves, pray, call upon the Lord and repent” if we do not want to be a memory on the pages of history.

Prayer: Father, we who profess Your name are to call upon Your name and stand against the forces of evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Ten-Stringed Instrument


A wealthy gentleman was known for having an extensive violin collection. When Fritz Kreisler heard of the collection, he went to see the instruments and meet the person who owned them.

When he saw them, he was overcome with joy. Turning to their owner, he pointed at one of the instruments and said, “May I play that one?”

“I’m sorry,” said the owner, “but I will not allow you to touch that violin. It is too costly.”

Kreisler visited the gentleman once again and made the same request. On this occasion, however, the man relented and gave him permission to play the violin. Gently and lovingly Kreisler removed the violin from the case and played it as only a master could.

With tears in his eyes the owner said, “Take it - it’s yours. It must be owned by someone who can play it as you can.”

Make “music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre,” said David. Every string on that harp was to be used to proclaim the glory of God in worship!

Someone has said that “the body is to be used as that ten-stringed” instrument. We have two ears, two eyes, two feet, two hands, one tongue and one heart. But as the owner had to give permission to Kreisler to play the violin, we too must “offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.” It’s only “reasonable,” says Paul, in view of all that God has done for us. Reasonable, indeed, but the choice is ours.

Prayer: Lord, may we be an instrument of beauty and wonder in Your hands as we willingly surrender to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:2 Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Worship And Sing Praises?


Each church has its own “temperament.” There are those 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. 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, “don’t 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. 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 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sin And Forgiveness

“Are we sinners because we sin or do we sin because we are sinners?” asked the Sunday school teacher. An immediate debate erupted in the class as the members attempted to sort out the issues.

Finally, Jess quoted Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “Seems to me,” he continued, “that if everyone ‘falls short’ we must all be sinners because we all sin. Someone other than Jesus might have slipped through. Certainly, not me.”

In Psalm 32 David uses the words transgress and sin. Transgress means to step across or to go beyond a set boundary. It carries with it the idea of an athlete stepping out of bounds while competing in a contest. The word sin means to miss the mark - like failing a test or not meeting a specific standard.

If we recognize God’s laws as boundaries, we would all have to admit that we have stepped beyond the limits for right living that God set. And where is that person who can say that they have hit the target and meet every standard that God has set?

Though David speaks of iniquity, sin and transgression, he emphasizes forgiveness and the fact that our sins can be removed. He writes, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.” Paul quotes these same words in Romans.

Thank God that Paul explains what we are to do if we want our sins removed: “For by grace you can be saved - your sins removed - through God’s gift!”

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your salvation which is only possible through Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Let Go - Let God

“You have stage three transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder,” said the urologist in a calm, yet hardly reassuring voice. Anytime, anyone is diagnosed with cancer is a day to remember. “Why me and why now God?” is the standard response for most individuals who hear these words. The initial impact of those words is difficult to accept and usually faith-threatening. How could a loving Father do such a mean, ugly thing to one of His children? When life caves in, what are we to do?

David was experiencing a difficult time in his life. And although he was uncertain about his future he was confident in the One who controlled it. In a burst of trust he said, “My times are in Your hands!”

There is something comforting in those words. A reassurance that God has a plan and purpose for each of us. We did not wander into this world by accident. God did not intend for us to drift through life like clouds in the sky. He brought each of us into this world with something to do, some place to go and some plan to fulfill. All throughout our lives we are in the hands of God.

We are often tempted to think, “If I were in control I would have done things differently.” No pain, no suffering, no temptations, no mistakes. But, thank God, we are not in control. We do not know the future nor do we know what is best for us. But we do know that whatever God is doing in our lives is in our best interest. He wants us to be conformed to His image and He is the only One who knows how to do that.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to see Your hand shaping our lives and guiding our steps as You lead us through life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When Faith Faces Fear


“Life is Good” are the words beneath a happy face on a T-shirt. The moon-shaped circle with two slashes and a curvy mouth always seem to remind us of the importance of having fun and locking up moments of pleasure. We want to believe that “Life is Good!”

But is it? And when it isn’t, what are we to do?

Imagine a day that begins with a beautiful sunrise and soon after breakfast dark clouds filled with dreadful news bring some of life’s realities into sharp focus. Imagine a conversation with God that goes something like this: “You know, God, I do trust You and believe that You are concerned about me but that phone call informed me that I lost my job.” Or “My daughter has just confessed to being addicted to crack cocaine.” Or “My son got his girlfriend pregnant and they are juniors in high school.” Or “God my spouse left me for someone else!” Life happens. It did to David. It does to us.

God was his “rock,” his “strong fortress” and his “refuge.” Suddenly, life changed. He was “afflicted,” in “anguish” and about to be “ensnared by a trap that was set” for him by his friends. His “eyes and bones were weak,” he was a “dread to his friends” and his “name was being slandered.” Where’s your God, David?

Give up? No. He challenged the goodness of God and reminded Him that “I trust in You, O Lord. You are my God. Deliver me!” And God did. David challenges us to “Love the Lord because the Lord preserves the faithful. Be strong, take heart, and hope in the Lord!”

Prayer: Lord, give us a faith to exceed the obstacles of life that challenge Your goodness, greatness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Last Words

The uncertainties of life always end with the certainty of death. We know it is there waiting for us. No one knows when their heart will stop. Yet, when the time comes, most individuals have a few last words.

Cardinal Borgia said, “I have provided in the course of my life for everything except death, and now, alas, I am to die unprepared.”

Tony Hancock, a British comedian said, “No one will even know I existed. Nothing to leave behind me. Nothing to pass on. Nobody to mourn me. That’s the bitterest blow of all.”

Elizabeth the First: “All my possessions for one moment of time.”

Phillip III, King of France: “What an account I shall have to give God. How I should like to live otherwise than I have lived.”

Voltaire, a religious skeptic said, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.” Some years later, Voltaire’s house was used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles.

When Jesus died the words of Psalm 31:5 were on his lips, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit.” As He was ending His life’s work, hanging upon His cross and dying for our sins, He declared His faith, hope, trust and confidence in His Father. There was no fear, no regret, no questions about life or death. Only the assurance that His spirit was in His Father’s hands.

Prayer: Father, may we face life and death, as Jesus did, knowing that we are secure because we trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Forgetfulness

“Papa,” he asked in the innocent voice of a four-year-old, “how long will it take you to forget something?”

Puzzled and intrigued, I responded, “Well, Keller, I’m not sure. Sometimes I forget right away and sometimes I think about things for a long, long time.”

Just as puzzled and intrigued as I was, he then asked, “When you were a little boy did you ever break something and hide it? And when your Papa found it and got mad how long did it take him to forget that you broke something?”

“Oh my, Keller, I’m not sure I remember. Did something go wrong?” I asked.

“I broke Nonie’s cup and hid it under the bed and I want her to forget about it and not be mad at me,” came his answer.

David was aware that his sin had damaged his relationship with God. He sensed God’s displeasure with him and his feelings of guilt overwhelmed him and added to his problem. He knew why God “hid His face” from him.

But those feelings changed. Why? He repented, cried for God’s mercy and knew that he was forgiven. When he had God’s mercy he said, “You turned my wailing into dancing...and I will give You thanks forever.”

We all have experiences like Keller and David. We do something wrong, feel guilty, are filled with fear and want to know how long it will take to enjoy God’s blessings once again. Like David, ask, pray and repent.

Prayer: Lord, please give us the confidence to come to You for the forgiveness we need that will restore our joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 30:10 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!”

Friday, March 1, 2013

When God Is Silent

The second grade teacher stood before her noisy class, raised her voice and shouted, “I want you to be so quiet that you can hear a pin drop!”

Silence suddenly prevailed. When Danny could no longer contain himself, he shouted, “Let ‘er drop!”

It’s not unusual to have an attitude like that toward God. We pray and wait. Then pray again. Then wait a little longer. Still, nothing happens. It seems as though we are waiting for “the pin to drop.”

Psalm 28 begins with the “silence of God.” In fact, He is so silent that the Psalmist becomes impatient and shouts, “If you don’t answer soon, I will be like those going down to their grave - abandoned!”

The subtle message from David was that if God did not answer his prayer his enemies would rejoice. “They,” he reminds God, “care nothing for what the Lord has done or what His hands have made.” In other words, “God, I don’t want You to be embarrassed. I don’t want people to ridicule You. I’ve laid my life and Your reputation on the line and if You are silent, if you let me down, they will believe that You are untrustworthy!”

David was not afraid to present his case to God and demand help. He did not want “unbelievers” to look at his situation and say, “I told you so. Your God is no more dependable than ours. He’s not even listening!”

Not so. David looked at them and said, “Praise the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy.” David prayed. God answered. And everyone saw God “at work.”

Prayer: Father, when You seem silent may our faith never falter knowing that You will hear, help and heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 28:6 Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!