Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Results Of Restoration

“I know I’m forgiven,” he said, “but I don’t have the same feelings I once had. Will they ever come back?”

While our salvation is established on facts, feelings play an important role in our relationship with God. They come from the Holy Spirit and from God to let us know what our condition or relationship is with Him. If there is joy and gladness in our lives, we know God is with us. When we are uncomfortable in His presence and feel a sense of alienation from Him, we know there is a need for us to confess our sins and repent.

When we go to God and experience His restoration, He, as well as others, will see the fruit of His forgiveness in our lives. David sets our example: “Then - after my restoration when I am given a recreated heart - I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will turn back to You.” When we receive a renewed heart there is a renewed desire in us to worship and witness for God. “Old things have passed away and all things are new again!” When we once again walk in God’s ways we, then once again do God’s work.

Is anyone a more powerful witness to the wonder of God’s grace than someone who has been redeemed from a hell they created for themselves by being disobedient to God’s laws? When we recover from our own self-inflicted wounds, we can recognize the pain and hurt in others who are suffering as we once suffered. We become more open to their needs because we “have been there, done that, suffered and recovered” because God continues to love us and then continues to grant us His mercy and grace.

And the more we witness the more we will worship God. Our strength to witness comes from our worship of Him.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, a journey with You that leads us to a life that is dedicated to worshiping You and witnessing to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:12-13 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The High Cost of Cleanliness


“Liquid gold” is a hot, black-market commodity of the “streets” these days. With rising prices and shrinking incomes people are becoming very creative in making ends meet. One new “industry” is stealing “Tide” - the popular laundry detergent.

Last year, police in Maryland broke up a crime ring that was stealing Tide and taking it to a nail salon that was buying the detergent and then reselling it to stores in other countries. Thieves would fill up their shopping carts with the product and then run for the exit doors.

Tide became the “cleaning agent of choice” because it is such a popular brand and has high resale value and it is used by homes in all countries no matter their income bracket - upper, middle or lower. One police detective told The Daily, “It’s the item to steal.”

We use cleaning products to get soil out of clothes and soap to get our bodies clean but they will not cleanse our hearts from sin. In fact, when David asked for God’s “cleansing” for his sins, he used the word “purge” which means un-sin me - purify me - from my uncleanness. He was so disturbed by the guilt he felt from the sins he committed that he used a word that was often used to describe the cleansing of a leper’s house. He wanted God to know he was serious and desperate for His cleansing.

Look at his words closely: “blot out,” “wash,” “cleanse me,” “hide Your face from me.” These words enable us to understand how much he wanted God’s forgiveness. His cry for forgiveness opens the curtain of his soul where we see a heart that was broken by sin, a mind deeply troubled because of sin, the solution for the removal of sin and his need for God’s approval.

What an example David set for every one of us!

Prayer: Father, trouble our hearts as You troubled David’s heart when we sin and give us no peace until we truly repent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:7-8a Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Love That Knows No Limits

Forgiveness, above everything else, is a sign of love. The more we love and value another person, the quicker we are to forgive that one if they have hurt or harmed us, injured or insulted us. Love, especially deep love, will forgive quickly and completely.

On the other hand, when someone does something to us that is on purpose, knowing that it will offend us deeply or cause us great pain, that’s another matter completely. We may replace forgiveness with grudges and wait for an appropriate opportunity to get even or settle the score.

David was threatened by his guilt and needed God’s forgiveness. It is obvious in the opening verses of Psalm 51. His guilt was destroying and overwhelming him. And, he could find nothing within himself that provided him any assurance that God would forgive him. He knew that he did not deserve God’s forgiveness. So, he appealed to God’s “lovingkindness, his steadfast love, his great compassion, his eternal compassion” - all words that are included in the translation of God’s hesed – God’s love. Why did he find it necessary to ask God to “blot out my transgressions, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin?” He feared God’s wrath.

David realized the significance and seriousness of his sins. According to the laws that governed the children of Israel at that time, God would not forgive him for what he had done. He was frightened! Where could he go? What could he do?

Appeal to God for His mercy, faithfulness and love. And that mercy, forgiveness and love have always been and always will be available. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of all unrighteousness.”

Prayer: How thankful we are, Father, for Your never-ending, always-available love, mercy, grace, presence and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Turn Now!

“At the next intersection make a complete ‘u’ turn and follow the direction to return to your original route,” said a calm voice wanting to correct the driver who failed to follow the “commands” coming from his GPS. “Then, in five hundred feet, make a left turn and resume your route.” It was not normal to listen to an unknown and unfamiliar voice to provide information that would direct a driver to a destination he had never seen before.

Following directions from an unknown source is risky. Trust becomes a critical - if not the most critical - factor. How do we know if the person who is giving us advice is credible and trustworthy? Is that person looking out for our best interests or wanting to play a game with our life in the balance? No doubt all of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves on a route that was wrong - either by being careless or by making a mistake.

David decided to follow a route that would take him in the wrong direction. He went against God’s GPS. As a result, he ended up being guilty of a series of sins that came from giving in to a powerful temptation. It set in motion a chain reaction that follows the normal sequence of sin: first, he faced temptation; secondly, he refused to listen to the warning of the Holy Spirit; thirdly, he refused His route of escape; fourth, he committed the sin and then suffered the consequences of the sin on himself and others. What a tragic route he followed. But out of this tragedy there was his triumph. A “voice” said to him, “you have sinned!”

When David heard God’s voice, (His GPS), he admitted his sins and made a “u” turn. He asked God to forgive him and He did. “Have mercy on me,” he cried, “and blot out my transgressions.” If we, like David, listen to His voice and follow His “commands,” He will lead us safely in paths of righteousness

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and unfailing love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Need Help? Want Hope?

On one special occasion, Queen Elizabeth, decided to honor a nobleman for his service by giving him a ring. As she presented him the ring she said, “If you are ever in trouble, send the ring to me and I will help you.”

But there is one who is much more powerful than a king or a queen, a president or a premiere who is available to us: “The Mighty One, God, the Lord,” declared the Psalmist. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honor Me,” is His enduring promise.

The language of The Mighty One is very significant. He did not say, “Don’t call me – I’ll call you when I have time.” Nor did He say, “That problem’s insignificant” or “Your concern does not matter to me,” or “I’ll refer that to someone else later.” Our God, who is richer than the richest and stronger than the strongest and the greatest friend we can have, says to each of us, “Call me when you are facing troubles and need help. I’m always available.” Is that not exciting? If you are facing a difficult problem as you are reading this “Seed” you can put it aside - right now - and He’s waiting for You to call on Him in prayer.

Not only is He available, but He gives us the assurance that He will deliver us. What good is His availability if He is too powerless to protect us, too weak to fight for us, too poor to meet our needs? Whatever trouble we are facing - large or small, ours or someone we love - He guarantees a timely, effective and positive solution. He will deliver us when we call!

But He does make one simple request of us: “You will honor me.” The goal of our prayer must not be to bring attention to ourselves for what He has done and will do for us, it must always be to bring honor to His name!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the hope we have in You and Your willingness to hear our prayer and Your ability to deliver us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 50:15b Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wisdom And Understanding

“You are not prepared to live,” said the professor to his philosophy class, “until you are ready to die.” Few, if any, live with that thought in mind.

When he was twenty years old, David was diagnosed with cancer. After a careful examination the attending physician said to him, “I’m sorry, but you have only a short time to live. At the most, two years.” David took the news without flinching. He had accepted Christ as his Savior six months before he was given the news.

As the disease progressed and his health deteriorated his faith continued to grow. And as his faith grew so did his willingness to witness and he gained a boldness about sharing God’s grace. On one occasion he said, “Cancer brought me to my knees and I realized I had no control over my life.”

During a visit with one of his physicians he was asked, “Do you want to live a short time for God or a long time for nothing?” He responded by saying, “Whether I live a short time or a long time it will be for God. My life is in His hands.”

Shortly before his death his mother would walk into his room and ask, “David, are you still here?” Each time he would answer, “Yes, Mother. I’m still here.”

On the last day of his life she went into his room and asked, “David are you still here?” His reply that day was, “Yes, Mother, but not for much longer. I’m going home.” He looked around the room and said, “Mother, faith is a lighted room.”

Where does a faith like David’s come from? “God will redeem my life from the grave,” said the Psalmist, “he will surely take me to Himself.” It comes from faith in Christ.

David lived his life knowing he was ready to die.

Prayer: We are grateful, Lord, for the confidence we have in You knowing that we are redeemed through the work of Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't Forget Your God!

Recently an item appeared on the news that told the story of a 34-year-old man suing his parents for “not preparing him to earn a living.” He asked the judge to force his parents to sell their home and from the proceeds purchase him a restaurant. Parents are responsible for providing a useful education for their children. This parental task is as old as mankind. It began with the children of Israel.

Psalm 48 begins with a call to praise the Lord. He is “great,” said the Psalmist, and “worthy of praise.” In between verses one and 14 the author gives many descriptions of the greatness of God and several reason why He was worthy of praise. But why is He great and why is He worthy of praise?

Contained in the Psalm is a description of the City of Zion - the “joy of the whole earth.” And what is this joy or its source? It is the City of the Great King - God Himself! And we read that “God is in her citadels; He has shown Himself to be her fortress; when kings joined forces and ‘saw her’ they fled in terror; it is the city of our God and in her temple God makes her secure forever; in His temple they meditate on His unfailing love; people in the villages are glad because of His judgments.”

The people are then told to “walk about Zion count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels that you may tell of them the next generation!”

Why were the contents of this Psalm important to the children of Israel? In His wisdom God advised the writers of this Psalm to produce a document that contained a record of God’s love and faithfulness, His goodness and guidance, His strength and power. This Psalm contains critical facts for the children of Israel to pass on to their children as a foundation for their faith.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the record of Your might and majesty that gives us reasons to trust You for our salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 48:14 For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What Size God Do You Worship?


“Is your God a great God or a little God?” asked a well-known skeptic of an elderly gentleman known for his deep love of God.

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “He’s both. He’s so great that the heavens cannot contain him, and He’s so little that He can live within my heart!”

This is the identical way that the writer of Psalm 46 spoke of his God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

We often have questions about God’s involvement in our everyday affairs and concerns. “Are my personal problems, even though they are small and only matter to me, important to Him? When I have the flu and feel horrible, does it make any difference to Him? What about the threat of violence, terrorism, children being gunned down at school? What about the preacher being tried in Iran as a heretic? What about the war in Afghanistan?”

“The Lord who is Almighty,” said the Psalmist, “is with us” - not may be or should be or will be - but is with us this very moment. Wherever we are - He is. From our smallest need to our greatest problem He is with us and is always ready, willing and able to do His will for us and through us.

Yet, there is more: He is not only with us, but He is our fortress. When this Psalm was written, a fortress was a place of security and safety. It was built on an isolated, elevated place to provide protection from the enemy. It was the place to go if an enemy was approaching.

What powerful thoughts: Our God is an Almighty God who cares for each of us and protects us from any threat in life.

Prayer: Lord, we marvel at Your greatness and are humbled by Your goodness when we understand Your concern for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Therefore...

Few of us ever stop to think about the fact that the continents on planet Earth are actually afloat. Geologists have discovered that the continents continue to change their shape and form by moving plates. Volcanoes are the earth’s “heating and air-conditioning vents” that are arranged around the plates that allow them to “exhale” when the heat and pressure build. We live on a dynamic planet that constantly expands and contracts, moves and reshapes itself.

God, our Creator, did not “begin” something and then turn it “loose” to go its own way. The universe, in all of its many intricacies, reflects purpose and meaning, design and direction. If, as the geologists have proven, the earth is moving and changing and not in a fixed position, where can we find security and stake out a place where we will be safe from all of the “turbulence” of life?

Scripture always has the answer for life’s essential questions and concerns. Psalm 46 begins with the statement that “God is our refuge, our strength and our help.” That verse is followed by another statement that gives us the assurance that “we need not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea!” In these two verses we are given God’s answer for life’s never ending uncertainties. When we face times of insecurity and instability “we do not need to fear” because our God Who created it all is in all and working out His plan for our lives.

The essential fact, however, is that we must have faith and hope. We must have unquestioning faith in our God Who created and now sustains the universe and everything and everyone in it and on it and hope in Him who does all things well.

Prayer: Grant us Your peace and the assurances that come only from You that our fears are unfounded if we trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Help When You Need It

There are few things that are more important to us than our safety and security. We depend on rules and regulations for our well-being and protection. We have the police to protect us and the military to guard us. We rely on individuals we have never met to enforce laws and be alert if there is an emergency. Yet, in spite of all of the layers of defense that have been placed around us, the threats of life continue to surround us. We search for a moment of peace in these times of turbulence.

However, the Christian has a resource that is always available. The Psalmist reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Not only are we reminded that God is our refuge and strength but that He is ever-present!

The word refuge means shelter. When the rains fall and the rivers rise we find a place of security in the arms of God. When days are dark and nights long we have His light to shine around us and keep us from falling. When sickness strikes and illness lingers we have the assurance of His presence and peace.

And His strength - His mighty power - is there as our shield and sword. No one would go into any battle without the proper equipment to protect and defend himself. Here, however, we are reminded that the battle belongs to our God and He will not only fight for us but will protect us from anyone who would hurt or harm us, destroy or defeat us.

And we can take great assurance that His refuge and strength are ever-present. He is with us - not will be with us - wherever we are. We have no reason to be frightened when the world seems to be closing in on us and the pressures of life are about to overcome us. God: our refuge and strength - here, now.

Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, Your presence in our lives and involvement in anything and everything that concerns us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Honor Him!

Honor gives recognition to the work of someone other than ourselves. It is placing significance, importance or value on what they have done or accomplished. It places them above us in a position that commands respect for what they have done or who they are.

To honor someone requires us, first and foremost, to be humble. We literally bow before them in recognition for what they have done for us or what they have contributed to our lives and to our well-being. What they have done has cost them something personally - perhaps they have had to make a sacrifice and the price is more than we can or are able to pay them for what they have done for us.

Honoring someone is not always easy. Pride gets in the way. Self-importance or not wanting to stand aside while others move to the front of the line often complicates things. It is not easy to give credit to someone when I am obligated to them for what they have done. When we honor someone, we make them look good - often at our expense - and that at times is not easy. Who wants to admit their shortcomings or inadequacies to someone who is esteemed.

The Psalmist wrote, “Honor Him for He is your Lord!” Not a very complicated statement. The problem is not understanding the statement that gives so many Christians a problem. It is in applying it. Honoring or bowing down before God is difficult. Pride gets in the way and becomes a problem for many.

Pride is what keeps us from serving Him and loving others as Jesus loved them. Pride is what keeps us from being submissive to Him when we refuse to serve Him in our churches and witness His saving grace to others who are lost and dying.

Prayer: Lord, give us a desire to become humble and honor You. Remove pride from our hearts and replace it with humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 45:11 So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A King for God's Kingdom?

A leading scientist at a convention of scientists was asked, “Is there anyone anywhere whom you know who could solve any of the problems of illness and famine, poverty and killing?”

“Indeed I do,” came his quick reply.

Astonished, the chairman of the committee asked, “Who?”

“A King!” came the quick, confident response.

In utter disbelief the chairman replied, “A king? Where can we find such a king? Where has he been hiding?”

“Oh, He is not hiding,” replied the scientist. “He has made Himself well known. It is just that people refuse to recognize Him. You see, this Man is incapable of making any mistakes, knows the power of healing - both physical healing and mental healing and He knows how to feed thousands and have food left over to feed many more. He can also take care of those without water and solve other problems that people bring to him.”

In disbelief, the chairman asked, “Who is this person you have described and where can we find him?”

“You can find Him in the Bible. He is known as Jesus. In His life on earth He did all of the things I have mentioned. And He is capable of doing many more miraculous things,” he said.

The audience was stunned as the scientist took his seat.

The Psalmist wrote, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your Kingdom.” The “throne” described in this Psalm is Christ’s throne in heaven and will last through eternity. From this throne He will rule the world in love, justice and righteousness.

Prayer: Father, we look forward to that day of days when You will rule the world with Your peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 45:6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Facts From Our Fathers

A family was seated together watching a science program on television describing the marvels of the rain forest. Shortly after the beginning of the program a biologist began a lecture on evolution. Mark, a bright freshman in high school, turned to his father and asked, “What do you think of that, Dad?”

“It’s not what I think, Mark,” he replied. “It’s what I know. It’s really quite simple. Something cannot come from nothing. So there had to be Someone somewhere who brought life into existence. It had to be Someone with wisdom and a plan. It had to be Someone with the power to create and control everything. It had to be God who designed what we see and know.”

Without any doubt the home was chosen by God to be the greatest center for teaching and learning on the planet. The most formative years of a child’s life are those early years of dependency when they look to a parent for the essentials of life. In the wisdom of God, He planned for the child to be open and filled with trust as needs for the basics of life unfold.

One of the needs is to come to know the goodness and grace of God. Children are blessed when parents know the book of Books, its message and meaning, its plan and purpose and share it with their gifts from God.

The writer of Psalm 44 in verse one makes this clear: “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us what you did...” How blest children are when they can say with the children of the writer of this Psalm those wonderful words.

Today most children are left to discover the important lessons of life from teachers who do not believe in our God, the Creator God, the Saving and Redeeming God. Unfortunately, if children are not taught the truth, they will not learn the truth.

Prayer: Father, we pray for children who have no one to teach them Your truth. May someone reach out to them today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 44:1 We have heard with our ears, O God, Our fathers have told us, The deeds You did in their days, In days of old:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Looking For Guidance?

Chris came home from school with a note describing his involvement in a fight with his best friend Will. They had a major disagreement over whose turn it was at bat and ended up in the principal’s office.

Embarrassed, his mother was lecturing him about the importance of settling disagreements without fighting. “I want you to be good!” she demanded.

Looking her in the eye he said, “But I don’t want to be good if I can’t have my way! That’s being a sissy!”

Many have an attitude like Chris’. It’s my way or no way. But there was one man who chose to be different. “Send forth Your light and Your truth let them guide me...to the place where you dwell.”

The Psalmist was in a difficult situation. He had strayed from God and was well aware of his need for restoration. He had lost his close and personal relationship with God who had been his stronghold. He was struggling in a life filled with darkness. He was well aware that the “light” that guided him was gone from his life and he was wandering aimlessly looking for forgiveness and direction. No matter what he possessed or who he knew there was only One who could help him.

In his heart of hearts he knew that he needed God’s light to be his guiding light and His truth to lead him to his Redeemer. Without His light to lead him and His truth to transform and restore him he had no hope. In desperation He asked God to give him His light and His truth that would lead him into His presence and he would once again enjoy his salvation.

This Psalm begins with “O God” - a God who seems far and distant. It ends with “My God” - one who is in his heart!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for being the light of our life and the giving us Your truth that leads us to dwell with You in peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Storms and Struggles

As James was preparing to leave for the weekend, the vice-president called him into his office and asked him to sit down across the desk from him. In a somber voice he said, “I’m sorry, James, but we are reducing the sales staff and this was you last day with this company. Here’s a severance check that will help you make the transition.”

Now he was not only out of work but facing a difficult job market. He was overwhelmed with the prospect of going home and telling his wife the news. She was a stay at home mom with a child that was paralyzed from an automobile accident. He could not help but ask, “Where’s God in all of this? Is He for me or against me?” Those certainly are fair questions.

Life often is one storm after another. None of us escape the crashing waves or the fierce winds and the storms that we cannot escape. Sometimes they come swiftly. Other times they seem to brew slowly and painfully. Often a problem that started as a whispering breeze turns out to be a tornado.

The Psalmist said, “Deep calls to deep...all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” It sounds as though he is accusing God of a conspiracy. But that is not true. He wants us to realize that our God is a God who, in the midst of life’s storms, will never forsake us.

Think of it this way: In the depth of life’s storms and in the midst of life’s sorrows, God wants us to call on Him for the depth of His sympathy and support. He is ever present and all powerful and His grace is more than sufficient.

Never forget that whatever sorrow we experience in our lives Jesus experienced it before us. He has been there, endured that and understands our greatest sorrows and deepest needs.

Prayer: We are comforted, Lord, to know that You have gone before us, know us and care for us. Give us your grace to survive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here's Hope!

Jake Hess, the great gospel singer was known to say, “Things are going to get better, get worse or stay about the same.” How true!

We all seem to face three types of trouble: things that troubled us in the past, things that are troubling us now and things we expect to trouble us in the future. Trouble seems to be a large part of everyone’s life.

David had his troubles, too. In fact, his troubles were so severe that he was downcast by what had happened in his past and when he viewed his future he became discouraged by what he expected to happen to him.

When he realized his situation, however, he asked himself two questions: “Why are you downcast, O my soul, Why so disturbed within me?” The word “downcast” means “to be depressed” and the word “disturbed” means “to growl like a bear.”

When he looked within himself at his depression, he became so troubled that it sounded like a bear was growling inside of him. But suddenly, he decided to look upward and said to his soul, - himself - “Put your hope in God,” not in yourself!

And when he did he said, “For I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” His inner feelings expressed themselves in questions of despair and defeat. In this moment of loneliness his faith was tested and tried but not trampled by doubt. Ultimately he triumphed by giving himself some great advice: “Put your hope in God,” he said, “and continue to praise Him!” And he did.

Faith and doubt often appear as twins. But when doubt was about to triumph, his hope surged within him and he overcame the troubles he faced by the hope he had in God.

Prayer: Father, in our moments of despair may we turn to You with a never-ending hope that assures us of Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Soul Food"

“Mother,” cried Sally as she climbed into bed, “you forgot my soul!”

“What do you mean, Sweetheart?” asked her Mom. “I don’t understand.”

“Well, when we said our prayers you didn’t say, ‘I pray the Lord my soul to keep.’ What if God forgets about my soul tonight? What will happen?”

It is difficult to watch television, listen to the radio, or read a paper or magazine without the ever present emphasis to lose weight, get in shape, have cosmetic surgery or try a new shampoo. We are constantly challenged to nourish our bodies more carefully, strengthen our muscles to become healthier or do something to look more appealing.

Certainly God expects us to care for our bodies. He created us in His image and gave us the breath of life. But too often we are encouraged to care for our bodies at the expense of caring for our souls.

David longed desperately for God’s presence in his life. He compared his longing to that of a thirsty deer panting for water. “My soul,” he cried, “thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

The Psalmist’s soul in himself and only the living God can satisfy him in the same way that streams of water will satisfy a thirsty deer.

God places in each of us a thirst that cannot be quenched by the waters of the world. As appealing as they are, fame and fortune, power and prestige, wealth and well-being can never satisfy the thirst that God has placed within us. Only “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied,” said Jesus.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for that never-ending thirst that can only be satisfied when our lives are filled with Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Call For Courage

One of the major influences in our society today is the emphasis on being “politically correct.” The threat or possibility of offending anyone about anything at any time has silenced many of us. We fear that we will be condemned or criticized. Unfortunately, many Christians now remain silent when opportunities to speak of or for their faith arise. Rather than defending the gospel we have become fearful of offending others even if their values are wrong and beliefs unscriptural.

Being politically correct was not a problem for David. In fact, it was the exact opposite. He was not ashamed to speak boldly and publicly about God’s involvement in his life. He had no hesitancy or fear to talk about his relationship with God. Once at a very special occasion in front or a large crowd he said, “I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly!” He put his faith on public display.

He had been through an intense struggle with God. It must have been both long and difficult. But finally, his patience and perseverance, his respect and reverence for God were rewarded and his prayer was finally answered.

As he reflected on God’s goodness and thought about His mercy and blessings, he could not contain himself. “I speak of your faithfulness - Your salvation, love and truth,” he proclaimed. “I do not seal...I could not conceal...my gratitude.”

If we were taking about this event today, we would say that David “gave his testimony to a large gathering.” However, it was not the size of the group that mattered to David. It was his need “to proclaim” God’s salvation and faithfulness to others. He could not be contained when it came to sharing his faith.
Prayer: Father, give us a courageous attitude and deep desire to share your blessings with everyone, anywhere or anytime! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:9 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beyond Gifts

Often we deceive ourselves without realizing it. Our hearts can be deeply moved when we learn of an urgent need to do something special for our Lord. We gladly give - sometimes to the point when we ourselves have to do without. That is God-honoring and will not go unnoticed by Him. We tend to take great satisfaction when He honors us when we honor Him.

And no doubt there have been times when we have done this and God has blessed us in ways that we never thought possible. Again, it is His way of blessing us for blessing Him. And heaven rejoices.

But David reminds us that there is something more that God wants from us than any gift we could give Him. In fact, he says that “sacrifices and offerings,” even “burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.” What is it, then that you want from me God?

After a moment’s thought he said, “Then I realized,” what You want. ME! “Here I am, I have come back and desire to do your will, O my God, Your law is within my heart.” He could not get away from God’s law that was written in his heart. God’s word convicted Him.

Now David realized that none of his possessions made any difference to God. Nothing he had given or could give to God was of any significance - now or in the future. God wanted him completely to Himself to do whatever He, his Master, had for him to do. David, the Lord’s anointed, finally presented himself in complete dedication to his God.

Prayer: Lord, may Your Spirit trouble our hearts and give us no peace until we surrender ourselves to You to do the work You have for us. Let us be the gift You most desire. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Who Do You Look Up To?

Many celebrities do not want to be “recognized” as “role models.” They do want attention and accolades, recognition and rewards, popularity and prestige. But they do not want the “pressure” to have to live lives that reflect integrity and honesty, purity and decency. They do not want, as many of them have said, “to be a role model.” And continue, “I want to live my life as I choose.”

Many of us, however, do want “role models.” We do want someone to look up to, to follow, to be our hero, our example. Often we think, “If I can see it, I can do it. If there is someone who has done it, I know others can do it and so can I!”

David, in many ways, can be “a hero” for most of us. However, he did not want that responsibility. Not because of the pressure that it would put on him. He knew and wanted everyone else to know that his hero was his Lord and he wanted others to “hero-up” to Him.

“Blessed,” he said, is the person who “trusts in the Lord,” and does not “look to the proud or turn aside to false gods.” Whenever we look at David, we see a man who knew victory as well as defeat, who sinned and had to plead with God for His forgiveness. He recognized his failures and would never set himself up as a model. And he recognized that there was only One person he could look up to as a model: his Lord and Savior.

When we put our faith in Him we know that He is not a “false god.” We can follow Him confidently!

Prayer: We look to You, Lord, as the “author and finisher” of our salvation and our guide in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:4 Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Singing His Praises

“Congratulations” is a word of encouragement that we all enjoy hearing. Being recognized for any of our accomplishments means that someone has noticed what we have done. It usually brings us feelings of worth and value, importance and significance. Often we swell with pride saying, “Look at me! I’m someone special.”

When things had finally stabilized in David’s life he paused briefly and rejoiced by saying, “He put a new song in my heart.” This was not the first time that God heard and answered his prayers. God had delivered him many times - perhaps more times than he could ever remember. And this may not necessarily have been a new song. It could have been one that he sang many times before. Thanksgiving and praise were a central part of his life. Recognizing God’s goodness is a predominant theme in the Psalms. But “a new song in his mouth, a new hymn of praise.” What could this possibly mean?

All too often we take God’s goodness for granted. We expect His deliverance from “messy” situations. We expect Him to heal us when we are sick, we expect Him to provide for our financial needs, we expect Him to be with us when we travel. And He is. And He does guide and guard us and give us what we need. And we express our thanks. Usually. But every time God does protect us and provide for our needs is a new act of deliverance. Each day is a new day and each gift a new gift because we have never been where we are today. It’s all new!

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to stand in awe, be surprised and sing a hymn of praise for your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:3 He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Waiting For Results

Fast food restaurants and high speed internet access have conditioned us to rush our way through life. We resent deeply having to stand in a grocery line, wait for someone to answer a phone call or return a message. If it isn’t instant, it isn’t worth “my” time.

But there is value in waiting on some things. Especially for God to work in our lives. It was for David. It certainly is for us.

“I waited patiently for the Lord,” he said. We do not know what David was waiting for or the problems he was facing. It may be that this time of waiting for a response from God was different from the other times he looked to God for help. There are many instances in the Psalms when he called on God and He responded immediately and rescued him. This time was different. He not only waited - but he waited patiently. His anxiety did not overpower him. His needs or wants were not driving him to distraction or irrational behavior. No, his mind was focused on God’s love, grace, mercy and wisdom. From times past he knew God would respond.

And the results of his patience were, as we would say today, unreal. “He turned to me...He heard me...He lifted me...He set my feet on a rock...He gave me a firm place to stand!” From adversity to abundance!

In humility and submissiveness he waited for God. He knew that God had the answer that was in his best interest: “make him a man after My own heart.”

Prayer: May we learn from David, Lord, to wait on You patiently, knowing that You are at work in us, for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.