Sunday, June 30, 2013

God's Way - The Only Way

There is, perhaps, no more reassuring picture of God’s presence and protection than that of a shepherd carrying a sheep or leading and protecting his flock. In fact, that image which we recall from Psalm 23 brings us comfort and assurance whenever we face insecure moments when our lives are filled with uncertainties. It brings to memory the grace and goodness, mercy and might of our God.

In bringing Psalm 77 to a conclusion our author presents a picture of the Good Shepherd - the One who was with the children of Israel and of the One who could come as Redeemer and one day Ruler. He writes, “You led your people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

Can you picture in your mind the picture in his mind that he wanted those who read this Psalm to visualize in their minds? Seas writhing and convulsing, drenching rains falling from dark clouds that covered their path; skies that cried out and echoed with deafening thunder; flaming arrows flying above their heads; a whirlwind with noise and lightning; earthquakes that shook the ground under their feet. He wanted to remind them that through it all and in it all was their Creator-Sustainer-God who not only brought them into existence and would not let them perish, but had a plan and purpose for their lives.

Here then is what the Psalmist said to them then and is saying to us today: “Whenever life seems to be coming to an end it is only the beginning for My chosen. I am your Shepherd and will love you and lead you. You are mine and no one can take you from me! I’ll always be with you.”

Prayer: May we always sense Your presence, Father, and be assured that You will never leave us or forsake us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The God Of Miracles

What is a miracle? And who decides what a miracle is? Is there some special committee that looks at various events in history and classifies them as being a miracle or an ordinary event? Or can two people look at the same event and one say, “This is indeed a miracle!” and the other say, “Nothing amazing here. It just happened to end up this way. That’s the way life works.”

Our Psalmist looked around and said, “You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your powers among the peoples.”

There is a beautiful theme in this Psalm. In the first several verses the writer seems to be having a difficult time seeing God. Then, suddenly, God’s Spirit jarred his thinking and brought God’s grace to his attention. When he finally puts things into context, he recalled that it was God who controls everything and it was his God who was the One who parted the waters and led the Israelites to safety. Those who were drown and destroyed by the “mighty waters” could not see their “misfortune” as God performing a miracle. But those whom He saved did!

And so it is today. Those who have been redeemed by the love, mercy and grace of God see His miracles in their lives every day. When we pray, He answers. If we become sick, He heals. When we need forgiveness, He alone can remove our guilt. When others abandon us, He is a friend who stands beside us. When we grieve, He comforts us. When we are stressed, He calms our heart. When we have nothing, He meets our needs. Our God performs miracles.

Prayer: Open our eyes, Heavenly Father, to see the many miracles You perform in our lives each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Marvels Of Memories

The mind has a mind of its own. Occasionally, it takes little trips and goes on interesting journeys that bring back memories from long ago. Memories that are both pleasant and painful. Memories that are both welcomed and worrisome. Memories that must have been stored there by God to help us remember His mercy and, at times, His judgment.

Psalm 77 is very egocentric. Take time, if you will, and count the number of times the personal pronoun “I” occurs. It is rather amazing.

It begins with the writer carefully reviewing many instances of feeling forsaken and abandoned by God. He writes of calling for help - but no voice responded. His eyes would not close - and he was reminded of tragedies he wanted to forget. He felt rejected and unloved and even gave up on God ever being faithful or kind to him again.

Then, suddenly, his mind called things to a halt. God seemed to awaken him and he said, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.”

Our minds do wander and walk through dark valleys filled with deep sorrows and painful valleys. And when it does, it only takes a moment, if we choose to turn things around and change the shadows and sorrows and valleys in to sunlight and smiles and mountain tops. God did this for the Psalmist. He wants to do the same for us: recall His miracles in our lives that give us eternal hope.

Prayer: Remind us, Lord, that in all things and through all things we know You will always bring good from evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 76:11, 12 Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. 12 He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It Comes From Somewhere!


A long time, political figure was asked, “How much power does it take to satisfy politicians?”

After thinking about the question for a moment, he responded with a twinkle in his eye: “Just a little more!” And then added, “The more we have the more we want.”

Politicians rise and fall, come and go, do helpful things and some things that seem to cause confusion and chaos. Whatever they do comes from the power that we seem to give them. Or does it?

Insightfully, the Psalmist said, “No one…can exalt a man...It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.” After all is said and done, there is no power apart from God. He is Almighty. He rules.

We often think of ourselves and others as being self-contained. We live, we breathe, we walk and talk, we do this and that, but - in fact - we live breath by breath and moment by moment according to God’s plan for our lives. Our physical life, and the life of those whom He allows to have power and influence over us, do so as He wills and wishes.

These are days of turbulence and turmoil, fear and frustration, uncertainty and anxiety. We do not know what is going to happen before our next heart beat. But it is comforting to know that God is in control of everyone and everything. He has fixed limits on their terms and time in office. He also has a plan in place for everything.

God often seems to move at the pace of a snail - but He is indeed moving. We can rest assured that all is well.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your Words that Your love and faithfulness watch over us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 75:6, 7 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Worship?

We live in a busy world. Days are crowded with more things to do than time allows. Instant texting and rapid responses to anything and everything, whether accurate or not, crown every moment of our lives. Everyone seems to have an opinion we need to hear on every subject - from the mundane to the insane, from the very important to “stuff” that does not matter. We have become conditioned to listen for something to listen to whether it matters or not.

Psalm 75 explodes with an important reminder. “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks for Your Name is near! Men tell of your wondrous works!” The fact that the word thanks appears twice in one sentence makes it intense and dramatic. But we should not be surprised. We are to thank God not only for His wondrous works but because He is near! God Himself, our God Who created everything and is in everything and sustains everything is close by.

Jesus once commanded Peter to cast his net into the water to catch some fish. He did and was amazed at the results. The disciple falls at His feet in fear and wonder. What a miracle! Jesus spoke and things happened. God’s presence and power came to life instantly.

The same is true for us today. While we may not see many extreme displays of His power, nonetheless He is at work. The little gifts in our lives as well as the immense miracles in our lives prove that He is near us and caring for us. We must always be aware of His presence.

Prayer: We cannot thank You enough, Father, for Your unending blessings in our lives. May we thank You continuously. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 75:1 We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

He Will Be King!

A comedian was known to have a quick mind and could turn any subject into a joke. On one occasion he said to his audience, “I can make a joke on any subject. Try me!”

A gentleman stood up and shouted, “The subject is The King.”

Quickly he replied, “The King can never be a subject!”

There is a Psalm that reflects this truth. The people of Israel had an unpredictable relationship with God. There were times when He was indeed their Lord and there were times when they refused to allow Him to be their King. They wanted their own way. They wanted Him to be subject to them.

But the writer of the Psalm was different. He said, “But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation to the earth.” He wanted God to be His Ruler - His King.

Jesus was born to be King. There were twelve whom He chose to become His disciples. And there were many who followed Him, listened to Him, believed in Him - yet never fully surrendered their hearts and lives to Him. They did not allow Him to be their King and refused to become His subjects. One day they shouted: “We will not have this Man rule over us!” And they crucified Him.

Many years ago hundreds of college students from around the world met in London before going to their mission fields. The group from Japan could not attend but sent a message that read, “Make Jesus King!”

We can change the world if Jesus is King in our lives.

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, and rule in our hearts. May we serve You as loyal subjects and honor Your Name forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 74:12 But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stay Close: Avoid Disaster

“That sure was close, Mom,” said Little George.

“What do you mean?” asked his mother.

“Well, I got three days behind in my prayers and when I heard the thunder and saw the lightning I prayed really hard and got caught up and now I’m not afraid.”

We all allow “gaps” to develop in our prayer life. When things are going the way we want them to go and there are no serious problems to deal with it’s easy to “let up” on the time we spend with God in prayer.

This life style is not uncommon. In fact, the Psalmist came to the same conclusion when he wrote, “But as for me, it is good to be near God.”

We have all met people in life that keep everyone at a distance. Whether they don’t want to know us or they don’t want us to know them may never be clear. But we feel the separation and there is not much, if anything, we can do about it. So, we move on.

But with God it is different. We can get as close to Him as we desire. In fact, we all know that drawing close to God is something that He wants us to do. His gracious invitation “to come to me” is always available.

Because life is like an “incline” if we are not walking upward toward Him we are slipping downward away from Him. My mother once said to me, “Larry, if you are not as close to God as you once were, you are the one who has moved.” And she added, “Draw close to Him and He will get closer to you.”

God not only waits for us to come to Him, but seeks us.

Prayer: Lord, may we feel Your presence each moment of every day and stay close to You as we face life’s storms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Didn't Have Anyone To Turn To

A young child had been lost in the woods. After a long search the rescue team found him and returned him to his anxious parents. With tear-filled eyes he looked at his mother and said, “Mom, when I was lost in the woods I had no one to turn to. Now that I’m back in your arms, I do!”

A Psalmist made the same statements: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing that I desire besides You.”

No one or no thing can do for us what our Heavenly Father can do for us. Nor is there anyone anywhere who will ever mean more to us or be more for us than our Lord - if we allow Him.

Some, we know, turn to materialism rather than the Master. There is nothing wrong with having money but it is wrong when we worship money, allow our lives to be consumed with making money so we can acquire the things of this world. In the end, materialism consumes us because there is never enough to calm our fears or give us peace.

Others look for the answers to life in science. Science has provided many benefits and increased and made our lives more enjoyable. But science cannot cleanse us from sin or assure us of peace and hope in this world and a life with our Father in the world to come. Science can improve our earthly lives but it cannot impart eternal life.

Wisely the Psalmist reviewed his past carefully and realized that apart from God there was little more in life.

Prayer: Help us to understand, Father, that in You we find peace and satisfaction, completeness and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The End!

Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man seeking a god. But in Christianity it is exactly the opposite: it is God seeking man through Jesus Christ. Scripture informs us that God “sent His Son” into the world to seek and to save us that we might have a relationship with Him. It is a relationship that is certain, constant and continual.

It begins with a grip. A visitor to the Alps decided to go mountain climbing with a famous guide. As they ascended the mountain all went well until they came to a dangerous crevice. His guide held out his hand but the visitor was reluctant and hesitated. “Grab my hand,” shouted the guide. “That hand has never lost anyone.” So it is with God. “I am always with you,” said the Psalmist, “You hold me by my right hand.”

It continues with a Guide. God has a plan for each of us. He knows our possibilities and our limitations. Only He can guide us in the right path because He created us to be God-guided in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We often fall short of what God intended us to be and become but if we are willing he will lead us carefully and safely through life. The Psalmist wisely wrote, “You guide me with Your counsel.”

It ends in glory - not a grave. What a blessed hope! He extends His sure-handed grip to keep us from falling. And with our hand in His, He guides us every day of our lives. Finally we end up living eternally with Him in heaven. All because our Father loves us with an everlasting love.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your presence and power in our lives - today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:23-24 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Discovering The Goodness Of God

If God is good, why do the godly have grief? If God is fair, why do the faithful fail? If God cares, why does He allow Christians to have cancer? If God is powerful, why are innocent people murdered?

And why are the ungodly prosperous? Why are the ungodly happy? Why are the ungodly recipients of any good thing? After all, they are ungodly!

The writer of Psalm 73 had a problem with bad people living godless lives and receiving earthly rewards. He was a bit angry when he saw their lavish lives. They appeared to have everything their hearts desired, lived lives of ease and were healthy. Their riches multiplied even though they scoffed God and threatened His children. What’s up?

So the writer of the Psalm became vain. He avoided evil and when he sinned he immediately confessed and asked God to forgive him. He read God’s Word, engaged in prayer and tried to live a godly life. But all he got from God was trouble: all day, every day! Finally he asked God, “Am I wasting my time? Why should I bother to be godly?”

Fortunately, he went to the right place for an answer. “Finally,” he concluded when he went to the sanctuary to worship, “I understood their end!” Wrongs in this life will be corrected in the next! Remember: Dives lived in pleasure and Lazarus in pain. But there came a day when things were reversed: Dives was tormented by flames and Lazarus went to live lavishly in his Father’s Home.

The ungodly leave their treasures at death but the godly only begin to enjoy theirs with their Father.

Prayer: Give us a strong faith, Father, to look beyond what is to what will be when we are at last with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cardio-Care

Our hearts are amazing! The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a life time.

Although the adult heart only weighs about 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. If laid out end to end it would circle the globe two times. It pumps blood to almost all of the body’s 75 trillion cells. Only our cornea receives no blood. During an average lifetime, the heart will pump nearly 1.5 billion barrels of blood - enough to fill 200 train tank cars. And every day the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, it will create enough energy to drive it to the moon and back.

When we consider all that our hearts do for us, its importance cannot be measured. Without its constant beating we could not live. It sustains our lives. Its every beat is a gift from God but we rarely think about it unless we have “heart-problems.” Yet, physical-heart problems are not as serious as spiritual-heart problems. Only God can do miracles with “both” hearts.

The word “heart” occurs six times in Psalm 73. But in verse one it speaks of “those who are pure in heart” - those whose heart is completely committed to God and place Him first in their lives and love Him unconditionally.

Over this God-centered heart is the heart that Jeremiah describes: “a heart that is deceitful and beyond cure.” A heart in this condition needs the Great Physician to cleanse it, restore it, live in it and fill it with His love.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to make room in our hearts for You - to allow Your Spirit to occupy it completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Qualifications For Leaders

Books on leadership line the shelves of bookstores. Each month, it seems, there are new titles that describe some new technique that will make any leader a better leader. From the “who to,” to the “how to,” to the “where to,” to the “what to,” to the “why to” and the “when to” these books cover every imaginable topic. But none of them ever give a money back guarantee that promises that “if you do this you will become successful and rise to the top.”

Solomon is recognized as a great leader. And as the author of Psalm 72 he describes the leadership qualities of a king that would be honored and blessed of God.

It is no wonder, then that he begins with justice and righteousness. It is almost impossible to imagine what it would be like if every leader at every level in every organization was committed to being just and righteous. Yet, this is what God wants and expects of leaders.

“Endow the king with Your justice, O God...May he judge Your people with righteousness!” Although our text reads justice, Solomon was asking God for leaders to set in motion a process that every leader would “do acts of justice, based on righteousness” that flowed from the top down. Solomon wanted everyone to be treated fairly.

Of course, we say, “That’s not possible, Lord.” But He says to each of us “as one of my disciples you must do this. Even if no one else demonstrates my justice and if no one else shows my righteousness to those around them then you must set the example. You are accountable to me!”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that we either bring others to You or drive them from You by the way we lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 72:1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Eternal Security

Many place their hope in the stock market or the price of gold or the property they own. Some look to the security of a pension or promise of a retirement account. Others hide money should the economy collapse. A few store food in containers that they have been told will last for years should a famine occur. Yet in the final analysis all of us know - deep down inside of us - that there is no promise that cannot be broken or possession that cannot be taken from us.

Psalm 71 was written by an old person. It seems as though he is reflecting on a life that has had many ups and downs, problems and pitfalls. But it is a Psalm that proclaims the faithfulness of God - past, present and future. “From my birth I have relied on You...You brought me forth from my mother’s womb...I will always have hope and praise You more and more!”

If there is any comfort we can take from God’s Word it is this: The record of His deeds in the past gives us the assurance of His grace today and throughout eternity. In this Psalm the author gives us a powerful description of the fact that there is no shadow of doubt in his mind that God’s great acts in the past are sufficient evidence for us to believe that He will be with us today and tomorrow: “I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come!”

What more can we ask for? Whatever God has done for anyone at anytime, He will do for us. He alone is faithful and worthy of worship. He alone endures forever.

Prayer: We rejoice together, Father, knowing that You have been with us and will be with us forever. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Need You Right Now, God!

Someone has called this Psalm an “Arrow Prayer.” David was in a life-threatening situation and needed help. There was no time for flowery words or trite phrases. It was now or never: If God did not respond immediately, it would be all over for him. He was frightened!

And because of the urgency of this situation, there are different ways to describe his immediate need: “Hasten, Lord; Please God, come quickly; Please God, rescue me right now; Come quickly, Lord, and help me!”

At the time David offered this prayer there were some who were trying to kill him, humiliate him, put him to shame and take delight in the problems he was facing. Some of his closest friends threatened to destroy him. He was disappointed. He felt empty and forsaken. Those whom he had trusted betrayed him and those whom he had helped turned against him. This happens to us all.

David felt empty, broken, alone and forgotten by everyone but his Lord. So, he did what he always did: he turned to God during a critical life-crisis begging for immediate assistance. He knew that God alone could and would help him, save him, sustain him and shield him from harm. We, too, do the same.

But in the midst his cry for help, David did as he always did: he praised God. Tucked away in the middle of this “Arrow Prayer” David said, “May those who long for Your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is Great.’”

What a wonderful lesson for each of us. When we face moments of distress let us never forget God’s greatness!

Prayer: Lord, may we always remember to praise You for Your grace and goodness even when our faith is weak. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 70:1 Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Right Time

David did not have a calm and quiet life. It was a life that was filled with trials and tragedies, anxieties and anguish. He had moments of ecstasy followed by days of despair. He was honest with God and willing to admit his mistakes yet lived with the fact that forgiveness does remove the consequences of sin.

In Psalm 69 David cries out to God to “Save me, O God for the waters have come up to my neck.” And that was just the beginning of his list of problems. Listen to his prayer: “I am sinking to the depths of the mire...I am in deep waters and floods are overwhelming me...I am worn out in calling to You for help...my eyes fail because they cannot see You, O God, and I am forced to restore what I did not steal!” Could things be any worse?

The easy way out would have been for him to give up on God. He even said, “You, God know my folly and my guilt is not hidden from You.” Why care for me, God?

Why not cave in, David? Why not give up? Time after time you willingly made a mess of your life. God owes you nothing and now you are getting what you deserve!

But David did not give up on himself or God. He knew God loved him in spite of his wrong doings. So he prayed, “In the time of Your favor, in Your great love answer me with Your salvation!” My life is in Your hands!

David was beaten down. But his faith lifted him up. In spite of his sins and short comings he knew that God would not abandon him. God’s love is as eternal as He is.

Life is never hopeless as long as our hope is in God.

Prayer: Lord, give us patience as we place our hope in You to deliver us from any problem that would destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:13 But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Sure Source Of Strength

Are we failures if we fail or do we fail because we are failures?

All of us fail at one time or another or at one task or another. Not because we do not try - because trying is not the problem. It is because we do not make use of the help - or power - that’s available to us. God is ready to help us whenever we call upon Him. There are no preconditions.

Sometimes I think that David must have faced more problems than any other person in the Bible. But he knew what to do and where to go when things were about to destroy him. There were times when he was weak from suffering. There were days when doing what God called him to do caused some serious difficulties for him. When he faced these challenges, he knew where to go and what to do!

“Summon Your power, God; show us Your strength, our God, as You have done before.”

God provides His strength when we suffer. Paul had no easy life. His life often seemed to go from bad to worse. But God said, “Paul, my grace will be sufficient for every problem you will ever face, my Son’s presence in every cell you occupy and My healing each time you are beaten.”

He gives us strength when He calls us to serve Him. An elderly lady was asked, “Where do you get all of your energy to help so many people?” “Well,” she said, “the first thing I do in the morning is to connect with God’s power through my time of prayer. As I put my hand in God’s hand, I can feel His strength pass into me. Then I can do whatever it is He leads me to do in His name!”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe that no matter what problems we face we can do all things through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:28 Summon your power, God; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Escaping Death

“The one inescapable fact of life is death. Yet, man usually refuses to face it,” wrote a psychologist recently. Then he quoted La Rochefoucauld, who said, “One cannot focus on either the sun or death for any length of time.”

But the Psalmist looked at death differently: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death!”

Our God, through His Son Jesus Christ, not only saves and delivers us from sin and its consequences in this life but also after death. Salvation, for example, does not assure us of a life of prosperity and worldly success, a life free from sickness and suffering, a life that has no stress or conflict, a life that is all sunshine and no showers. But we do have the assurance of God’s forgiveness and the freedom from the law and its curse, from judgment and fear and guilt and certainly death.

And we do have the assurance of Christ’s presence in our lives that promises us that “He will never leave us nor forsake us,” be with us when we are sick and suffer, will give us His peace “that passes all understanding” when we are stressed and threatened by the challenges of life.

But ultimately and finally “from the Lord comes (our) escape from death.” Escape literally means exit. As Christians we can, with David, be assured that while there are many entrances to death - or many ways that we might die - our exit from death has been provided by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

This exit, however, is also our entrance into heaven.

Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for saving us and giving us peace and hope and the assurance of eternal life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Daily Deliverance

A preacher was complaining to a close friend, “Oh my, I have so many burdens to bear on behalf of others that I am ready to give up!”

“I am so very sorry,” replied his friend. “But wait until you hear what I discovered this morning. David left me a note in the Psalms this morning that says, ‘Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.’ Why don’t you share them with the Lord rather than trying to carry the load by yourself?”

Often we feel crushed with the cares of life. There are times when we dwell on our defeats. We sometimes assume that our grief is so great that it will be with us for a lifetime. We expect to be overwhelmed with the life’s obstacles and even want to hang on to past failures and seem to take pride when life is unfair.

Could it be that we take pleasure in thinking we have more problems than anyone else in the world? Do we want to be known for having the longest list of unanswered prayers or for being forgotten and forsaken by God? Is it possible that we might even take great pleasure for what we do not have so we can be constant complainers?

Or do we need to change our view of God?

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,” said David, “who daily bears our burdens!”

Peter put it this way: “Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for You.” And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” We can “cast or carry” - be “burdened or blest.”

Prayer: It’s really up to us, Lord. Either we take You at Your Word or reject Your offer to bear our burdens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Announce The Word!

Years ago someone carved an image in a block of wood by allowing the object to remain above the area that had been chiseled away. They covered the image with ink and placed it on another surface and made a copy of the image and some say that “printing was born.”

In A.D. 779 the Chinese carved words and pictures by hand and invented “wood block printing.” Years later however, Johannes Gutenberg, a man from Germany, invented a machine with moveable type and called it a “printing press.”

It is not possible to estimate the power of the printed page. It has brought knowledge and insight since the fifteenth century. It has also corrupted minds and been used to lead people into paths of destruction.

Napoleon once said, “There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the pen, and in the end, the former is always conquered by the latter.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.”

G. Christian Weiss, a missionary-statesman wrote, “The battle for the men’s minds will be won by the printer’s ink. Make no mistake about it!”

Many years ago David wrote, “The Lord announced the Word.”

Christians have no greater responsibility or obligation than to “announce” the Word of the Lord. Wherever we are and no matter what we are doing we must constantly and consciously “announce the Word” to the world.

Prayer: Help us to be faithful, Lord, to “announce” the Word in and through our lives whether by word or deed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:11a The Lord announces the word,

Saturday, June 8, 2013

To Protect And To Provide

A biographer once wrote of Christopher Columbus that “He discovered no island or sea as lonely as himself.”

How different for those who trust God!

David wrote, “When You, God, went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness...You provided for the poor!”

The writer of Hebrews echoed those words when he wrote, “I will never leave you nor ever forsake you.”

King Nebuchadnezzar refused to hear the testimony of three young men. He bound them and threw them into a fiery furnace. In amazement, when he looked into the furnace he did not see three men, but four: unharmed and unbound. He shouted, “Servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” God went before them, protected them and rescued them.

On one occasion the disciples of Jesus were frightened by the winds and the waves that were threatening them. They were in a little boat with little hope. Then Jesus appeared and said, “Take courage. Don’t be afraid. It is I!” He went to them, calmed their fears and then said, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

A Psalmist was traveling through a deep valley with dark shadows. He was filled with great fear as he faced the “unknown.” Yet, he was able to say, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff will comfort me!” He trusted God because He never abandoned Him.

The Lord always goes before us to protect us. He will provide for everything we need now and through eternity.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for assuring us that we do not face the threats of life alone. Thank You for Your protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:7 & 10b When you, God, went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, 10b God, you provided for the poor.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Destination And Direction

It was the end of our summer break and my roommate and I were returning for our final year in seminary.

After driving several miles I asked, “Fritz, why is the sun shining in our eyes when we are supposed to be going west?”

Suddenly he realized that instead of turning right at the end of our driveway, he had turned left and we were going east and not west. Realizing our mistake, we laughed at ourselves, turned the car around and headed in the right direction.

No one can travel in the wrong direction and expect to reach the right destination. A wise Psalmist once wrote, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine on us so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

God has made His wants known through Jesus Christ, His Son who said, “I am the way!” Every person on earth is going “somewhere” but if they refuse His “where” they will end up “nowhere” and spend eternity in hell.

Some of those we know are traveling the “Religion Roadway.” They have respect for what is sacred but have not accepted God’s Son as their Savior and made Him their Lord. They are depending on “something” to get them “somewhere” in life but do not know that there is “Someone” who can save them and give them eternal life.

Everyone we know is on their way going somewhere depending on something to get them some place. But it is our responsibility to show them the right way - His way!

Prayer: Father, may we accept our responsibility as Your disciples to present the right “Way” to those who are lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 67:1-2 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep..."

One night before climbing into bed, Brad knelt with his mother to pray. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake...” There was a long pause and suddenly he stopped praying.

“Go on,” said his mother to encourage him.

“I can’t,” he cried and ran from the room.

A few moments later he returned and finished the prayer, “I pray Thee Lord my soul to take.”

“What happened?” his Mother asked.

“Well,” he confessed, “just before we knelt to pray, I went into James’ room and took all of his toy soldiers and hid them. Then I hid his tanks, cannons and trucks so he couldn’t see them. And after I started to pray I had to stop and make everything right because I knew that God wouldn’t hear me.”

Many times we pray and get no answers. Often we think that God is not willing to hear us or unable to help us. But that is not true.

We cannot knowingly have sin in our hearts and lives and go to God and expect Him to answer our prayers. If we expect God to hear and answer our prayers we must make things right first.

Said the Psalmist, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” It is only when we willingly confess and forsake our sins that we can expect God to answer our prayers. It may be time to stop in the middle of a prayer, right some wrongs and then pray.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to accept the fact that we cannot expect You to answer our prayers if we keep sin in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Triumph Through Tragedy

A fierce tornado destroyed his home. Finally, when the rains stopped and floods subsided, he returned to look at the damage. All had been destroyed. His home was gone. His belongings had been washed away. There was little more than the foundation and piles of rubble.

But as he stood at the site, dazed and discouraged, he noticed something shining in the midst of a pile of debris. As he looked closely at the glimmering object, he discovered it was a large piece of gold bullion. He did his best to find the owner but to no avail. No one knew where the gold came from or who it belonged to.

After waiting for weeks for an owner to come identify the gold he was told by his attorney and the police department to keep what he had found. What the flood destroyed and took from him also brought him wealth.

Many of us have stories that are similar to this one. What we once viewed as a tragedy turned into a triumph. What we once believed was a trial and time of testing eventually turned into a gracious gift of God’s grace as He protected us from being destroyed by the Enemy.

Beethoven, the great musician lost his hearing but became a great composer and his music still lives. John Bunyan was thrown into prison and forgotten for years. But through his adversity he glorified God by writing Pilgrim’s Progress. Fanny Crosby lost her sight but wrote over 6,000 Christian songs.

“We went through fire and water,” wrote the Psalmist, “but you brought us to a place of abundance!”

Prayer: Enable us, Father, to trust in the wisdom of the plan You have designed for each of our lives as we follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:12 You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

He Rules Forever

He who created all things rules everything! Kingdoms that were once great and powerful can no longer be found on a map. Nations that were once feared and wealthy are now weak and impoverished. Countries that once were respected are now looked upon as failures.

God has been, is and always will be the Creator-Ruler.

His sovereignty began when the universe began and kingdoms, nations and countries were in existence according to His divine plan. He reigned before time began and will continue to reign even when clocks cease to tick. “He rules forever by His power.”

His eyes are never closed as He watches over every nation. Deeds that show compassion and deeds that are cruel do not escape His careful observation. Though He is invisible to us, nations are not invisible to Him. He is aware of every citizen in every country and carefully records the actions of the rulers and leaders. “His eyes watch the nations,” wrote the Psalmist.

The rebellious and unrighteous, the godless and the god-restricting will not escape His judgment. No nation has ever succeeded when they have rebelled against God, His laws or His truth. Nations sin, people sin and God warns them and waits for them to repent.

If they repent He spares His judgment and voids their punishment that is rightfully theirs because of their sin. But when nations continue to sin they will collapse from within or be destroyed from without.

Only nations who have honored God have survived.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that our nation will repent and return to our heritage that once followed Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:7 He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations— let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The God Who Can

God often brings a difficult situation into our lives so He can turn it into a delightful memory so we can remind ourselves of His love and mercy. Often when we face an impossible dilemma, He turns it into a blessing that will provide a story of His incredible power that we can share with our children. There are times when He turns overwhelming obstacles into great opportunities to demonstrate His power and terrible times and trials into triumphs and testimonies of His strength.

David wanted to remind the children of God about the greatness of God and wrote, “He turned the sea into dry land (and) they passed through the waters on foot - come let us rejoice in Him!”

The children of Israel were on their way to the Promised Land. When they came to the coast, they made their camp. Suddenly they turned around and saw their enemy coming to destroy them. Before them was the sea. Behind them was their enemy. When they looked at their options, they came to the conclusion that they would either drown or be destroyed. But God was there.

And as He was with them He is with us! God is always between His children and the catastrophes of life. He never abandons us when we face the difficult decisions or demands of life.

If God could turn the sea into dry land and if the children of Israel were able to pass through the waters on foot, He can do the same for us today. With problems before us and danger behind us He can deliver us.

Prayer: Give us a faith, Father, that will overcome every fear we face trusting in You alone to deliver us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:6 He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in him.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Evidence And Facts!

“Take nothing on its looks. Take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule!” wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations.

Years later, a fictional detective, Sgt. Joe Friday became famous for the phrase, “Just the facts, Ma’am. All I want are the facts.” If there were no facts there could be no reliable evidence.

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth...Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power...All the earth bows down to You,’” wrote David.

Everywhere David looked, he saw God’s “awesome deeds.” And these “deeds” provided all the “evidence” he, and those who met with him in worship, needed to have to believe in the God of Israel.

These “awesome deeds” can be seen in His-story: God judging and punishing those who were disobedient to Him; those who broke His laws and disregarded and disobeyed His commandments. They paid the price. His-story also includes examples of His countless blessings and unending love, mercy and grace that He graciously blest those who trusted Him. He protected them and provided for their every need as long as they were obedient to His Word and His ways. And He still does.

The Bible contains all of the evidence that is needed for us to see the “awesome deeds” of God. In His-story He gives us “evidence” and “facts” that are undeniable.

Christian faith is a faith established on truths that cannot be denied. With David we can “Shout for joy!”

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see Your mighty acts of strength and power and shout for joy as we worship You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

To Touch God And Be Touched By God

A PSALM TO PRAY EACH DAY IN JUNE

PSALM 16

Lord, keep me safe!

Because I trust in You.

My soul proclaims: You are my Lord!

Apart from You I have nothing to hope for.

Those who worship earthly gods will never find peace,

I will not worship nor confess my sins to idols.

Lord, You are my future inheritance;

You are my satisfaction and will protect me.

You have given me a good life,

I bless You Lord for guiding me each day.

You gave me advice when I faced life’s problems,

I want You to be my guide forever!

I will not ever be shaken when death comes;

Because You have been at my right hand.

Now, when I face death, I am satisfied and unafraid;

When I die I will trust in Your resurrection!

You will not leave me in death.

You did not leave the Messiah in the grave.

You will raise us up to live again.

We will have fullness of joy in Your presence;

We will have pleasures in You forever!

Through Christ our Lord,

Amen