Friday, May 31, 2013

What Size God Do You Worship?

Some years ago J.B. Phillips wrote a compelling book entitled, Your God Is Too Small. Most of the world was startled by its title. What could he mean that the Creator of heaven and earth and everything in it and on it could possibly be too small?

His purpose was to expose those of us who did not believe that our God was big enough or wise enough or powerful enough or compassionate enough or even willing to solve the problems of the world. Surely, he reasoned if He was, and if we who called Him Lord, had enough confidence in Him and concern for the world’s issues, we could expect Him to do something about them if we prevailed in prayer.

Sometimes we picture God as though He were Lincoln sitting in an arm chair looking out into the distance from His perch in Washington. Other times we picture Him with a flowing white beard having no place to sit as He floats around the universe. Some picture Him peeking over a cloud looking at the “mess” He created and wondering what to do.

Psalm 65 sees God as the Creator of all things and the One to whom all things - great and small, big or little, important or insignificant - belong. Additionally, He sustains His creation by His constant involvement in everything: from falling rains to the harvesting of grain.

But it does not end there: He is not only the Creator-Sustainer, He is the Redeemer-Savior. One day, He will reclaim His universe and make all things new!

Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to exceed the size of our problems knowing that You can do the impossible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Triumphant Tongue

A Greek philosopher asked his attendant to prepare a dinner for his closest friends. He advised him to “prepare your best meal for my distinguished guests.”

On the day before the banquet he asked, “What are you going to serve my friends?”

“Tongue,” he replied.

With curiosity he asked, “Why tongue?”

“Well, my lord, tongue is my best meal. With it we may bring happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair and inspire others,” he said quietly.

A few days later the philosopher went again to his attendant and said, “I want you to prepare your worst meal for my guests next week.”

On the day before the banquet, he asked the same question, “What are you going to serve my guests?”

“Tongue,” was the reply.

“Tongue?” he asked in amazement. “You said that tongue was your best meal. Now it’s your worst.”

“Yes,” said the attendant. “With the tongue we break hearts, destroy reputations, promote discord and begin wars.”

David said, “The righteous will ‘use their tongues’ to rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him. All the upright in heart will glory in Him.”

James said, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The tongue: It can be a blessing or a curse.

Prayer: What a power we have in our tongues, Lord. Help us to use them wisely to speak Your love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 64:10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Follow The Leader

Getting lost is something that comes naturally to me. At times I feel as though I was born with no sense of direction or the ability to use a compass.

Once, while driving my sons to a birthday party, they could sense I didn’t know where I was going. As I looked at the slip of paper in my hand that contained directions and an address, and looked from side to side at a four-way stop sign, not knowing what to do next, my eldest son said, “Are we lost yet, Dad?” He knew if I wasn’t I soon would be. His confidence was inspiring!

Fortunately, a police officer on a motorcycle saw me looking at the piece of paper and offered to help me. With compassion he asked, “May I help you, Sir?” Of course I said, “Yes,” and with a great sign of relief gave him the address of the party. He gave me careful and complete instructions. Then, looking at me and realizing I had no idea what he was talking about said with great compassion, “Never mind. Follow me, I’ll get you there.”

And it worked. In a few moments I looked at the name and address on the mail box and knew that I had arrived at my destination safely.

In the maze of life with its constant confusion and complex choices we often need help. David said, “I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Jesus, realizing our lost condition said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Follow me.”

God keeps those safe who follow His directions.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the directions we find in Your Word that provide us a map for life’s journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Satisfied Soul

Saint Augustine is well known for his oft quoted saying, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” His only desire was to know God intimately and worship Him faithfully.

One of God’s greatest gifts is the incompleteness we feel until we allow Him to make us complete in Christ. The emptiness we feel and the desire we have for “something more” seems to come with every beat of our hearts.

Often this longing is never realized unless God forces us into a corner or shuts us in a dark room. Recently a friend said, “The best thing that ever happened to me was to be diagnosed with cancer. It stopped me short and made me realize that everything I thought would bring me peace and satisfaction was an illusion. None of my accomplishments mattered any more nor could any of the wealth I accumulated purchase any peace. My cancer made me realize that everything I had could not be exchanged for one simple heart beat or a breath of fresh air.

Often it takes a serious illness or other tragedy in life to force us to face the reality of our helplessness, hopeless and emptiness. Many times we think that our “business” in church activities will bring us peace when we face the uncertainties of life.

When David faced a spiritual collapse he knew exactly what to do and where to go and Who had the solution: “My soul thirsts for You; my body longs for You.”

Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, that You care for us so much that You give us no rest till we rest in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:1b My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Seekers - Finders

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first astrologer to say that the sun was at the center of the universe. He has received great acclaim for that observation. He also said that “if the first button of your coat is buttoned wrong, all the rest will be out of place.” Same person, two dramatically different observations. However, few have ever heard of his observation about buttoning a coat.

“O God,” said David, “You are my God. Earnestly I seek You.” Much like buttoning a coat, if we begin a day earnestly seeking God, everything else will end up as it should.

Each day we live is a new gift from God and a new adventure. It leads us on paths that we have never walked before and brings sights to our eyes and sounds to our ears that we have never experienced before. For every day to be God-honoring and Christ-exalting it is essential that we begin it with the Lord in prayer and in reading His Word. If we want Him to guide us and guard us and keep us from temptation, we must go to Him in faith, believing that He will protect us.

“Earnestly seeking Him” means that our faith is not a past-time, part-time, some-time “thing” in our life. Copernicus, you will recall, recognized that the sun was the center of the universe and every planet revolved around it. If God is not at the center of our lives, we cannot expect peace and harmony, balance and control.

He promised that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” Unfortunately, it is us who leave and forsake Him.

Prayer: Father, may we understand the importance of beginning each day with You and asking for Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:1a O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You;

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Reality Of God's Rewards

What words best “describe” God? Are there some that are more precise, or accurate, to talk about Him? Is it more appropriate to use some words and not others to speak of Him?

Throughout the Psalms, from beginning to end, David uses many different words to describe the various acts of God. While some of them are “high and lofty,” most of them are practical and helpful. He speaks of God as his deliverer, protector, friend, savior, refuge, and stronghold. All words we could observe if we were to see God walking along a path with David.

In bringing Psalm 62 to a conclusion he speaks of his relationship with God as “strong” and “loving.” He had experienced God’s compassion and care, protection and presence and power - as we have. He also enjoyed God’s love, grace and mercy as we, too, have. And then he adds something that is most interesting: “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

David enjoyed God’s goodness. He mentions it again and again. He spoke often of those who wanted to kill him, defeat him, steal from him, embarrass him and even ruin his reputation. But through it all he survived and prospered. He was deeply grateful for the mercy and grace of God and recognized them as “God’s reward” for his faithfulness in spite of his failures.

David speaks bluntly of those who are evil and do evil things to harm and hurt His beloved. They will not endure. But the righteous will be rewarded lavishly.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for rewarding us with so many of Your gifts. May we shout Your praises forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

True Power And Mercy

“God has spoken once.” Then it seems as if he thought for a moment and then corrected himself. No, he said, “Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God!” God spoke a second time directly to him. That is the value of waiting in silence before God. When we are patient, we allow God to do His work in our lives and give us His directions!

David was surrounded by false gods and idols. But there was a dramatic difference between his God and the gods of those who did not worship the living God. David’s God, the one, true living God, addressed David and His chosen people in words, visions, dreams, angelic visitations and finally in and through His incarnate Son, Jesus.

The fact that God speaks directly to us is a basic difference between Himself and idols. David made a simple, straightforward, significant statement: “...You, O God are strong...You, O God are loving.” David drew a clear distinction between his God and other gods. His God was involved in the lives of His people in guiding and guarding them, in protecting and providing for them.

We could never enjoy or understand, recognize or appreciate the love of God if He did not demonstrate His power, strength and might. We see His strength and faithfulness in the many victories He gave David over his foes. And we can understand the depth of His love and mercy when He forgave David for his sins.

Prayer: You are mighty, Lord, not only when You demonstrate Your strength, but when You forgive our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11b, 12a God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;

Friday, May 24, 2013

Give Up? Why Not!


People are like weather reports: they change frequently and are not always reliable. Over the years the prescription for predicting the weather has changed dramatically. Now, when weather persons make their reports it is usually in “percentages.” They are always correct because they leave room for variations in their predictions as to what may or may not happen.

God is not that way. If He declares it, we can depend on it. “Trust in Him,” said David. We have all trusted in family and friends only to be disappointed. Not that they intended to deceive us or disrupt our lives, it’s just that they are as human as we are and have the potential as well as the probability to be wrong. “People are still people,” Dean Edwards often said. “They are as human today as they were in Eden.”

Our ability to trust, however, fluctuates. It seems to come and go depending on the situation. That’s why he added “at all times.” Our trust in God is to be constant and continual, not casual and conditional. Some of us have a fair-weather faith. If we do not get the answers we want when we want them we usually rely on our own strengths and strategies and the results are usually second best rather than God’s best.

And we prove to Him that we trust in Him when we pour our hearts out to Him. It’s like emptying a jar of water by turning it upside down and letting every drop fall to the ground. We must “let go and let God” have all of our wishes and wants, our sighs and sorrows.

Prayer: Lord, give us courage to trust in You at all times for all things in all situations without hesitancy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Willing To Wait

A pastor decided to change the order of service. He convinced himself that his congregation was bored and disinterested in his messages because they had been following the same format for several years.

For years the ushers would take up the offering, the choir would sing and then he would preach. To “mix” things up he decided that he would have the choir sing, then he would preach and the ushers would take up the offering at the close of the service.

Little Janie sat quietly through a particularly boring message. Finally, realizing that something was different she whispered to her Mom, “Do you think if we paid him now he would quit?”

Waiting is often difficult. We pray from a deep reservoir of faith believing that God is anxiously waiting to hear and answer our prayers. Sometimes the answers come quickly. Other times we do not understand the delay and lose heart and hope. We may even wonder if God is deaf to our requests.

Sometimes physicians give us a prescription with a bit of advice: “Now I assure you that this medication will work. But you are going to have to wait a few days before you are relieved of all of your symptoms. Be patient.”

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him,” said David. He was able to rest in God because of God’s faithfulness to him in the past. He had been deeply disappointed by many others but never by his Lord who always protected and defended him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be patient as we wait on You to answer our prayers. May our hope equal our need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Basic Leadership

“There’s no shortage of writings on the subject of leadership,” said the author of an article in a business magazine. Perhaps it is because we are facing so much economic and financial insecurity. Everyone is looking for a way to reorganize their thinking about how we can recover what we have lost.

Another wrote, “The increasing rate of change is causing people a lot of fear. Facing the rapid rate of change in world markets is causing uncertainty and fear and people don’t know what to believe.”

“People need something that will give them safety and answer their questions about what is going to happen next,” said a professor of economics.

“Leaders and managers are looking for the ‘silver bullet’ to solve their problems, but there is none available,” said a consultant.

One leader sounded foolish, even silly. He wrote, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” But he, of all of the leaders who have taken their places in history, knew exactly what he was talking about.

From his experience as a shepherd and a king, a warrior and a parent, he had discovered that the Lord alone was able to lead him, to give him answers, provide solutions to his problems and enable him to make good decisions. He looked to his Leader, the Lord God of Israel who had led His people into paths of prosperity and peace. He looked to the ultimate Leader who had proven Himself “right” since the beginning of time.

Prayer: Lord, we look to You as our leader because You have never failed us, forsaken us or led us astray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alone And Abandoned

It’s not a popular topic to talk about but it is a common feeling we all have at one time or another. No matter how great our achievements or how powerful we become, no one seems to escape feelings of defeat that come our way as we make our way through life.

It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rejected the guidance of God. They decided to go their own way and do their own thing and leave God out of their lives. It is impossible to imagine the beauty they enjoyed or the tranquility they were given. They were not satisfied with God’s plan and chose to reject it.

We read in God’s Word that when Israel was faithful to God, God was faithful to Israel. The army was triumphant and the people prospered. And when the people were disobedient, discontent and doubting, they were defeated, and at times, nearly destroyed.

What was true then is equally true today. God cannot and will not bless any one or any nation that defies Him or His teachings. He will only bless those who follow His teachings and obey His laws. His nature demands righteousness and if we are faithful to Him we can count on His being faithful to us, giving us His best blessings individually and as a nation.

David experienced the rejection of God because of His disobedience. He could not restore his soul or the souls of his people. Only God could restore him when he repented. He knew this and prayed, “You have rejected us...You have been angry...now restore us!”

Prayer: May we realize, Father, it is not You who rejects us, but we who reject You. Restore us, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 60:1 O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Overcoming The Overwhelming

David was hunted, haunted and harassed. Often he was forced into a crevice and had little room to move or stretch. But in his moments of oppression he did not seem to suffer from depression. He felt free to sing a song of hope that God planted in his heart. He found a source of strength that came to him from his dearest friend and constant companion - God!

“I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble!” wrote David as he reflected on the troubled times of his life. And he was not the only one who found themselves in life threatening and even life ending situations.

Do you remember what Paul and Silas did when they were thrown into prison for serving the Lord? At midnight they were praying and singing hymns of praise to the Lord while the other prisoners listened to them. God joined in the celebration, sent an earthquake that caused so much shaking that the prisoners’ chains fell off and doors flew open. The confines and chains of being in prison could not silence them.

Josephus, the historian, wrote of the Christians awaiting death in the Coliseum. Waiting on the lions to maul and mangle them, they sang songs of joy so loudly that their voices were heard above the roar of the lions and the cheers of the crowd. As they faced the lions that would devour them, God put His song in their mouths, His peace in their hearts and angels to comfort them.

Prayer: Lord, when we face the confinement of a cell or the threat of being devoured, we know You are present. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 59:16 But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is Life Ever Fair?

“Why should Christians be good and help others and never get much wealth when so many who don’t believe in Christ prosper and have so much?” he asked angrily. His wife died following a lengthy illness that drained all of the family’s emotional, spiritual and financial resources. His anger, coupled with grief, was understandable. Most of us have experienced feelings like that to some degree.

However, let’s think of Job for a moment. He was good and his friends were evil. He experienced much pain and suffering while his friends seemed to enjoy the good things of life.

Then there is the story of Joseph. He was a good and decent man and his “superior’s” wife was not. She had him arrested on an unjust charge and he was imprisoned.

Sometimes it seems as though being good has no reward. It is an end in itself. We receive no recognition or appreciation.

That is when we need to recall the words of the Psalmist: “The people will say ‘Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.’“

Job’s boils became his blessings and if Joseph had not been a prisoner he would not have become a prime minister.

God will take the worst events of our lives and ultimately transform them into our greatest blessings.

Prayer: Grant us patience, Father, knowing that You are faithful and will turn our tragedies into triumphs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 58:11 So that men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hearts That Sing Praises

Music has been called “the universal language.” Wherever there are people there is music. It seems to come from the very nature of man. Every tribe on every continent has had musicians that make their own type of music. It is different from place to place, from being as irritating as fingernail on a chalk board to sounding like the “voices of angels.”

The first “recognized” musician was Jabal who is mentioned in Genesis 4:21. He was the “father” of all who played the harp and flute. And music was very important to Moses and the Children of Israel. One of their earliest songs is introduced in Exodus 15:1 - “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.”

Music has always played an important role in the history of Christianity. In fact, before the followers of Christ met to worship God the choirs of heaven sang on the night that Christ was born. And Jesus Himself led His followers in singing a hymn of praise before going to Gethsemane!

Pliny was commissioned by a Roman Emperor to investigate the belief and behavior of Christians. He reported, “They have a custom of meeting before dawn on an appointed day, and singing hymns to Christ.”

Although music is everywhere, why is the music of God’s children different? David said, “I will sing and make music!” immediately after he found a new steadfastness, or confidence, in God’s grace. That’s why!

When hearts are at peace with God, people sing!

Prayer: Thank You, God, for putting a song of joy in our hearts, praise on our lips and a smile on our faces! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What Is An Azimuth?

He stood before my desk with a set of orders and said, “FTC Nichols reporting for duty, Sir.” Not hearing his designator very clearly I asked, “What do you do for the Navy?”

“Sir,” he said crisply, “I recently completed a tour of duty on a guided missile frigate. I was the one who was responsible for making certain that the azimuth on each weapon system was operational and accurate, Sir.” He certainly had my attention and spoke in a convincing manner. There was no doubt in my mind that he was competent to do his job and that all weapon systems under his control would deliver their missiles to the intended target at the precise moment.

God wants to place His “azimuth” in our hearts. David wrote, “My heart is steadfast O God; My heart is steadfast.” So committed was he to the Lord that he emphasized the word “steadfast” by stating it twice. But there is something more.

The word “steadfast” can also be interpreted, even more correctly in this verse, as “confident!” Here we find David, after trying many different paths to find satisfaction, finally found it in God. It was his firm faith that was the result of an inner transformation that was now going to be visible by the way he worshiped and served God.

When we completely commit our lives to God, He will give us His guidance system to control the destiny of our lives. His Word will become our “azimuth.”

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your Word that can be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path to guide us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's Either - Or

It’s been wisely said that “If He is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all. If we do not value Him above all, we do not really value Him at all.” Strong are words that find their conclusion when we say, “Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.” There is a natural progression that begins with Jesus as our Savior and ends with Him as our Lord.

Shouting in a loud voice with words that came from the bottom of his heart, David proclaimed, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”

With God being Who He is and What He is and you and I being who we are and what we are, establishes a very specific relationship. It declares His role and our role: He is our Sovereign. And as our Sovereign we are to be submissive to Him. All that we are or ever will be and all that we have or ever will have is a result of the grace and mercy that comes from Him: our Sovereign.

If God were not Sovereign, He would have no authority to dispense grace and mercy. That is what sovereigns do: they rule over their subjects and choose who will receive their favor. And the more power that any sovereign has the more important and precious is the grace and mercy they bestow upon their subjects.

Our Sovereign said, “Whoever chooses me to be their Savior and Lord will receive my love, mercy and grace and will have eternal life with me.” He also said, “Remember I am with you every step of life’s journey to protect you.” No wonder David said, “Be exalted, O God.”

Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, for the blessings You give us each day. We bow before You in humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Purpose And Possibilities

It began when I bought him his first pair of cowboy boots. He looked at them lovingly and wore them with great pride. Even to bed. After he fell asleep, I would quietly go into his room and remove them gently not wanting to awaken him.

Michael and I “progressed” from the boots to jeans and a plaid shirt. Then a vest. Finally, a cowboy hat. Standing in front of the mirror in his room one day, he declared with pride: “I’m Cowboy Mike.” At that moment in his young life, he decided who he was and what he wanted to be: he discovered his destiny by the clothes he wore and the dreams he had as he watched cowboy movies. It ended when his friends laughed at him.

Each of us, at one time or another, had a dream about who we wanted to become and what we planned to do with the life that God gave us. We wanted to bring the future into the present with carefully detailed plans and goals. We chose classes and programs of study to help us prepare for occupations that fit into our dreams. We looked forward to accomplishments that would bring us joy and happiness, satisfaction and success. For some life unfolds as planned. For others there were starts and stalls and stops. We worked hard at life.

To make the most of life, however, we must not eliminate God from our plans. He knows what is best for us because He gave us life. Writing from a cave one day David finally said, “I cry out to God Most High Who has a plan for me.” It’s never too late to seek His plan.

Prayer: Lord, may we look to You to discover the plan You have for each of us and make You the center of our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Seeking A Safe Shelter

It was a stormy day. Fierce winds and heavy rains made the windows of his office shake intensely. Suddenly one of the panes came loose and the wind and rain came rushing in and soaked the desk and papers of the great hymn writer, Charles Wesley.

Suddenly, he was startled by the sounds of a bird chirping. He looked around and discovered that a small bird had been carried into his room with the wind and the rain and had taken refuge in his coat that he had laid across a chair near his desk.

Noticing that the bird was frightened, he silently made his way to the chair and began to softly stroke the feathers of the bird to calm its fast-beating heart. But he noticed that the bird did not respond to his gentleness. Then he noticed that a hawk was perched on a bookcase, carefully watching the proceedings. He walked from his office with the bird and when the rain ceased released it into the sky. He went back to his desk and wrote the beloved hymn, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly.”

David had fierce “storms” in his life. There were many times in his life when he had no place to go or any person he could turn to for help. But he had God and he knew that he could turn to Him at any moment in any of the storms of his life.

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,” he wrote. “For in You my soul takes refuge. I take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster passes.”

Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for being our refuge when the storms of life arise. Protect us, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:1b Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You;

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Does God Do What He Does For Us?

Everything we do in life is the result of a choice or decision we make. Every choice has its consequence or outcome. There are times when we make a choice and we are pleased with the outcome or result. Other times we make decisions that hurt or haunt us; bring results that embarrass us or bring our lives or our goals to a grinding halt. Sometimes the results of the choices we make force us to look carefully at what we have done with our lives. Every choice, however, contributes to the legacy that we will leave behind us.

David made some very important decisions that caused him pain and suffering, grief and fear. He knew that he was disobedient to the promises he made to God and also knew that he had to face the consequences of his choices. With deep humility he recognized the poor decisions he made and said, “I am under vows to You, O God!” Making a commitment or decision to honor and serve God is serious and it is not to be made without considering the implications it will have on our lives and the lives of others. A vow to God is the beginning of a chapter of righteous living.

We all know of the tragedies in David’s life because he consciously broke his vows to God: he, with careful planning and deliberate choices, committed crimes against both God and man. He knew what he deserved but went to God asking for and receiving forgiveness. The result? “You have delivered me from death...that I may walk before You in the light of life.”

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that You will make us conscious of the choices we make and the consequences that follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 56:12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eternal Tears

One day, John promised us, “God will wipe away all tears.” Sickness and sadness, sorrow and suffering - whatever causes people pain or problems - will be gone, banished forever. We all look forward to that special day!

So it is strange that David said that “God will record my sorrows, and list my tears on His scroll and in His record.” Whatever could be God’s reason for doing this to David? And might He do the same for us? Does it make sense that God would make a permanent record of grief - David’s grief and our grief as well?

God knew of David’s suffering and He knows when we suffer. Our God is a God who cares for us and has compassion for us when we are gripped with grief. Why keep such a record?

Because God will respond to our suffering!

Too often when we are overcome with illness or are struggling with sickness, we turn to the products we have stored in our medicine cabinet or to the countless remedies on the shelves of our pharmacies. And if and when they do not work we turn to a physician and seek his counsel and cure. It is the normal thing to do.

Unfortunately, all too often we only pray when all else fails. It is as if God was not aware of our sickness or had no time to be concerned with our health.

Not so, says David. God has a permanent record of each and every tear that falls from our eyes because they matter to Him. This is His way of saying, I do care!

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for Your constant concern and never-ending care. We praise You for our well-being. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 56:8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Facing Our Fears

Fear is a gift from God. It is actually one of God’s great gifts. It alerts us to dangers that may be waiting in dark alleys. It awakens us at night when we hear strange sounds that make no sense. It causes us to take precautions when accidents happen. It summons our senses when things are out of “the ordinary.” It’s God’s “early warning system” that notifies us that something unusual or unique is about to happen. Fear, after all is said and done, is necessary for us to survive.

Some fears are helpful, some are harmful. Dr. Samuel Johnson, for example, would never step into a room with his left foot. He sincerely believed that something terrible would happen to him in that room if he “stuck” his left foot in first. Julius Caesar was terrified by the sound of thunder and would hide. Even Peter the Great, with all of his power, cried out in fear when he was forced to cross a bridge. Those, we might say, are harmful.

David also had his fears. His friends forsook him, his confidants betrayed him and his family was not loyal to him. But he overcame all of his fears by his faith in the faithfulness of God. “When I am afraid,” he said, “I will trust in You - In my God, whose Word I praise.” He was not fear free. He was faith focused.

When doubts surfaced and threats surrounded him, when times were uncertain and days filled with dangers, he always turned to God in faith knowing that God had His hands over him and His arms around him.

Prayer: Remove our unfounded fears, Father. May we learn to trust in You as our protector and defender. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 56:3, 4a Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust;

Friday, May 10, 2013

Give It Up!

Years ago an elderly lady boarded a train for the very first time in her life. As she sat comfortably in her seat, she continued to clutch her small suitcase tightly, fearing something might happen to it.

As the train left the depot a conductor came to her and said, “Madam, if you’ll allow me I’ll place your suitcase under your seat so it won’t burden you down. The train is perfectly capable of carrying you and your baggage.”

“Oh, no,” she objected. “I want to take care of my baggage by myself.”

Many of us are like that gracious, yet frightened elderly lady. We want to take care of our “baggage” by ourselves.

In the most loving and encouraging way David advised us to “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall!” The word “care” in Hebrew means “what is given to you in life, your lot.” And the word “sustains” means that He will “support and nourish” us.

When we throw our “lot” - or ourselves and all of our problems - on the Lord, He will not only hold us up and “sustain” us but he will “never let us fall!”

David was nearly destroyed by men who wanted to deceive and destroy him. But it did not happen. He took all of his pain and problems, his attackers and adversaries, his sins and short comings to the Lord and God upheld him and stabilized him and saved him!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the example You gave us in David. Give us a faith like his that we may not fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Now God! Right Now!

“Don’t worry about the sweet by-and-by,” said the president of the university I attended years ago. “That will be here soon enough. God has promised it and that’s all we need to know. As sure as God has kept His Word in the past He will honor it today, tomorrow and every day, from now until the sweet by-and-by is here. What we need to worry about is the nasty now-and-now.”

That goes with the phrase we often hear: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”

While being concerned about and planning for the future makes good sense, we need to be much more concerned about what we might do every moment of every hour to honor God every day. With that thought in mind, David said, “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and at noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice.”

Notice his priorities: He would not retire at night without going to God in prayer, asking for His forgiveness, peace and protection so he might rest well and be at ease with God. Nor would he begin his day without asking God to guide him and guard him and give him His power and protection. And then - right in the middle of the day - he would stop everything and go to his Lord in prayer. He needed His help in the “now!”

Prayer, for David, was not a trivial ritual. It was his life - his source of strength. “I cry out...He hears!”
Prayer: May we, like David, Lord, recognize our need for prayer. Let it become the centerpiece of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:16-17 As for me, I will call upon God, And the Lord shall save me.Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fight Or Flight?

All of us seem to have similar responses when we face common events in our lives. There are certain scenes that bring emotions of sadness to most of us - when we see a child suffer or face starvation. We tend to shrivel inside when we see a person suffering from an incurable illness. We want to lift up the fallen or protect the vulnerable from abusive individuals. God planted a common thread in all of us that links us together.

He also gave us “common sense” when we face threatening conditions in our lives. We all seem to have two immediate reactions to life threatening situations: we want immediate relief. We either want to “fight” or take “flight.” Psychologists would have us to think they discovered the “fight or flight” syndrome - or if we want to be more scientific - the general adaptation syndrome. This means we want things to return to a normal state after we are threatened. We want to be calm once again.

Although David didn’t use such “language” he knew what to do when it looked like things were about to threaten his well-being: he looked to the Lord. When faced with his destruction he asked God to “let death take my enemies by surprise.” He believed God would destroy those who wanted to destroy him. He also asked God for “the wings of a dove” so he could “fly away and be at rest.” He also believed that God would rescue him.

It is natural and normal to want to live a life that is peaceful and calm. It is God-promised. Whenever we face threats and trials, God will rescue us from them.

Prayer: How precious is Your Word, Father, that has promised us hope, help and happiness in difficult times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:6-7 So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Source Of Praise

Someone recently reminded me that my heart beats 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day, 3,600,000 times a year and, if I live what would be considered a “normal life span,” it will beat 2.5 billion times. It only weighs about 11 ounces yet will pump about 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. Rather amazing, to say the least.

Yet I rarely stop to consider those facts. It’s God at work in my body taking care of me, watching over me, providing life for me and within me.

Often in life we seek God’s presence and power to protect us and provide for our needs. But are we aware of the magnitude of His grace, gifts and goodness? Are we sincerely thankful for His constant care, concern and compassion?

Do we ever pause to think of the work our heart does without our having to do anything to make it “work?” Do we realize that God is alive and involved in our lives without our even mentioning His name?

God gives us life without asking for it and help when we call upon Him when we are having difficult times.

David needed God’s help. He knew that in God’s “name” there was help and hope. He experienced it in the past and knew it was available in the present.

And when God helped him, the first thing he did was to “praise His name.” Praise is what we are to “do” when we recognize God at work in our lives.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be aware of all that You do in our lives and to praise You for each gift - big or little. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 54:6 I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What Do I Do - Where Do I Go?

“I really need help. I don’t even know how to explain it. Many people think my problems are insignificant and quite trivial. I can even understand that. I know some people that have been through so much more than me who have survived and have lived to tell their story. I really, really need help but don’t know what to do or who to turn to.” So went the story.

There are times in each of our lives, no doubt, when we have made similar statements or cried words that echoed the same desperate feelings. We were defeated by the demands of life and felt desperate and empty with no strength to go on. Our words were inadequate or unavailable to share our misery. And if we were able to “get it out,” would anyone understand our fears and frustrations. And if they did, would they extend a helping hand or offer a listening ear?

Sometimes we are threatened by people we don’t even know. We hear of their attacks through the warnings of others and know they want to hurt us. Sometimes we know who our oppressors are yet can do nothing to eliminate the power they have over us.

David found himself in a similar situation. He looked around for help and deliverance and found no one ready to help him. But he knew that there was saving power in the name of God and cried out, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One Who sustains me.”

Often God brings us to a place in our lives to force us to realize that He alone is the ultimate Savior!

Prayer: What a joy it is to know, Father, that You will never leave us or forsake us or let any enemy destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 54:4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where Do You Go For Help?

“Help me, someone help me! I’ve fallen and can’t get up. Someone help me, please!” cried a lady in obvious pain and distress. Actually, there was no real person calling for help. It was a television commercial advertising personal security systems for people who live alone and might need help if they were fell or were having a difficult time and had no one to rescue them.

All of us know that feeling of being helpless, perhaps even hopeless at times. Problems surface, or seem to descend from the sky when we least expect them. We know they are beyond us, recognize our limits and cry out for help. Life’s demands are beyond us. They force us to see that we cannot take care of ourselves by ourselves. We are forced to reach out and up. There is something inside all of us that tells each of us that life is beyond every one of us. That “something” is a gift from God. He wants us to search for Someone. It begins at birth when we utter that first cry for help not knowing who will respond. It only ends when we turn to Him.

Most of us have turned to God recognizing His power and strength and desire to help us. That need for Him is normal and natural because He planted it there when He created us. He knew we would search for Him and He also knew that He would respond in love when we call on Him to make us complete in Christ.

David said those who say “there is no God are fools.” Are they dumb or stupid or ignorant? No! They are fools because they choose to live life without God.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for hearing and answering our calls for help. Thank You for meeting our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ready Or Not

“I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die,” he whispered in desperation. He was a world leader - loved by many, dreaded by some, questioned by others. He was a prominent figure on the world’s stage having great power and prestige, wealth and control that could not be denied. But in his final moments everything that he had or had accomplished could not extend the life of Hugo Chavez one moment nor release him from his fear of dying. David wrote of a life that could end this way. “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold.”

Another man came to the end of his life who was also a world leader. His résumé describes him as a ruler with great power and authority, vast wealth and owner of beautiful buildings, a soldier, a poet, one who cared deeply for others and was “a man after God’s own heart.” When he faced death he said, “When I walk through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid.”

Two different men, two different destinies because of two different choices. One lived his life with no fear of God. He sought fame and the favor of man. The other lived his life in fear of God and sought His favor, often His forgiveness but always His approval.

All of us have these same choices. We can live for ourselves, as Hugo Chavez did, seeking recognition and power and die in fear as he did. Or, we can choose to live for God as David did, serve Him faithfully with great love and passion and die as he did in peace.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the hope we have in You, Your love and salvation and the gift of eternal life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 52:7 “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Psalm To Pray Each Day In May

TO TOUCH GOD AND BE TOUCHED BY GOD


A PSALM TO PRAY EACH DAY IN MAY

PSALM 19

Lord, the Heavens declare Your glory;

The stars reveal Your craftsmanship.

Each new day reminds me that You are the Creator.

Each new night shows me Your mighty power.

No one on earth can debate that You began all things,

Because the universe answers their arguments.

Your hand in creating the universe is seen everywhere,

Your majestic plan extends to the last detail.

You made the night as a tent for the sun,

Sunrise is like a bride coming out of that tent.

The new day is like a runner beginning a marathon,

The sun rises from one horizon to the other.

The sun gives life to everything it touches.

Your Scripture, like the universe, is perfect;

Converting the soul when applied.

Your principles never change,

Making the ignorant wise when learned.

Fearing You takes away doubts and ignorance,

Those who apply Your truth live forever.

Your decisions are always accurate,

Those who obey You live right.

Lord, Your truth is better than riches;

Obeying Your principles satisfies me completely.

Your truth keeps me on guard against danger,

The satisfaction of obedience is its own reward.

Because no one but You has the truth,

Keep me from making ignorant decisions as I follow Your word!