Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Birth Certificate From God

Not long ago I lost my billfold and all of its contents. It was simple to call the bank that issued me my credit card and ask them to cancel it. But when I went to get a new driver’s license it took much more than a phone call. I had to produce three different documents - including my birth certificate. Fortunately, I was able to locate them with no difficulty. Birth certificates are critical when we need to prove our identity.

But a birth certificate that says we are heaven-born and heaven-bound is certainly more important. In Psalm 87:6 we read that "The Lord will write in the register of the peoples this one was born in Zion" - referring to the community of believers - which for us is Heaven.

After dark one night a religious leader named Nicodemus went to visit Jesus. As their conversation unfolded Jesus said, "No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."

"Nicodemus," Jesus said, "your earthly birth record will not allow you entrance to heaven. You need a birth certificate that has been issued by God!"

When we are born the first time, we are born into an "earthly family" because we have an "earthly father." It is only when we are born a second time - "born again" - by accepting Christ as our Savior that we are assured of "seeing" the Kingdom of God. "I am the Way," said Jesus, "if You want to be a citizen in My Kingdom.”

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for inviting us into Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 87:6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Glorious Things!

The Psalmist wrote: “Glorious things are said of You!"

John Newton once was a slave trader. After becoming a Christian he became a powerful preacher, a leader in the fight against slavery and a famous hymn writer.

One of his hymns contains the Glorious Things!

"He whose Word cannot be broken" reminds us of the faithfulness of God - a centerpiece of the Psalms. In psalm after psalm we hear the echo of God's faithfulness giving strength, hope and encouragement to the children of Israel. Though they often abandoned God and at times paid a dear price for forsaking Him, He was there each time they called on Him and immediately answered their cry.

"Well supply thy sons and daughters, and all fear of want remove." There never was a time in their history that God did not feed them, go before them or watch over them. When they looked to Him for forgiveness, and repented of their sinful ways, His mercy met them at their point of need and His blessings followed. He was with them to meet their needs, remove their fear and grant them the desires of their heart.

"Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver, Never fails from age to age." If there ever was a time in the history of our nation that we needed to be reminded that God's grace would "never fail" it is now. Everywhere we look, we see a need for His love, mercy, grace, salvation and our nation's restoration. It is not His glory that has vanished - it is our unwillingness to share His grace with others.

Prayer: Lord, how disappointed You must be when You see what we can do to share Your grace, yet do nothing. Forgive us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 87:3a Glorious things are said of you, city of God:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why?

One of the most irritating, aggravating, frustrating - and yet stimulating - questions is - "Why?" It angers parents and annoys teachers. It disturbs moments of quiet reflection when we think we have the answers to "everything" then we realize we don't. It bothers us deeply when we are asked "why" did you do this or "why” did you do that. It seems to be planted deep within the brains of children to make us defensive or angry or even feel stupid.

But "Why" is an important question. It can force us to look at what we have done or what we are about to do. It can, in all reality, keep us from doing wrong or encourage us to do what is right.
David addresses the "Why" question quite frequently. In Psalm 86, however, he makes an observation and then answers it with "why."

He wrote, "I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever." Then he adds the why for us: "For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave."

"Praise" and "glorify" are a most important part of our worship. When we look at these two verses together, we find an important reason to remind us why we worship God: it is because of His love and mercy.

We may not know what he is referring to when He said that "God delivered me from the depths of the grave."

And perhaps that's good. What's don't matter - God does! There are many days when we feel we are about to be "buried alive.” Then, God delivers us. It's time to worship.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the endless times You rescued us from disaster. May we always praise Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 86:12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Friday, July 26, 2013

God's Peace

There is an interesting theme that runs throughout the Bible. It is an if/then theme. If we are obedient to God, then we can be confident of His blessings, favor, gifts and a sense of His presence in our lives. If on the other hand, we are disobedient and willingly disobey His laws and teachings then we will experience guilt and a separation from Him.

Certainly the feelings of separation can be a good thing. It is God within us stirring up the gift He has given us - the gift of the Holy Spirit who is to guide us and guard us. When we become "disconnected" from God, He is to "alert us" of impending dangers and convict us to return to the path and plan God has designed for us. He is eager to do His work if we are willing to allow Him to do so.

Our Psalmist reminds us that God "speaks peace to His people and to His saints." His peace is what brings us "wholeness and completeness" and unites us with Him. It dissolves the fear we have of Him and removes the guilt that we carry within us from being disobedient to Him.

So our Psalmist wisely adds, "but let them not return to their folly" - or perhaps a more appropriate translation of the word "folly" is "stupidity." What might this mean?

Often we become "presumptuous" and assume that we deserve God's blessings. We take an inventory of our lives and things appear to be "just about as wonderful as wonderful can be." We have no "fear" of God and take His goodness for granted. "What stupidity!" says the Psalmist. "Be careful of falling into Your past sinful ways."

Prayer: May we be constantly alert, Lord, to any sin that will separate us from You, Your peace and blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hope's Foundation

Many of us live struggle through difficult times and painful days because of past memories. We recall with pleasure what God has done in the past with gratitude - knowing that it was His mercy and grace that enabled us to get through difficult days and long nights. Because of those joyous memories, we base our hope in Him that He will shepherd us through dark valleys and sunless days.

In Psalm 85 our author is apparently reflecting on a loss suffered by Israel in a military battle. They looked at their loss as punishment from God. But the Psalmist does not focus on the loss, he focuses on the fact that God has brought them out of captivity in the past and forgave them of their sins. With confidence and boldness he says, "Restore us again, O God, our Savior."

The message for us to take away from this Psalm is that in times of depression, defeat and darkness we must remember God's grace in the past and pray in the present for His restoration.

Sometimes when we look at our past and are buried with the guilt of our sins we are fearful of going to God and asking for His grace in these moments. We feel that we are undeserving and unworthy. We approach His throne of grace in fear and trembling, wondering if we have any right to ask for forgiveness, cleansing and restoration.

But when these thoughts plague us, we must remember that God's judgment is always tempered by His mercy and He will always forgive us, restore us and revive us again.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to remember Your blessings in the past as we pass through the problems we face today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:4a Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And In Conclusion...

We are all familiar with the Beatitudes of Jesus in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. But Psalm 84 contains three beatitudes.

The first talks about our relationship with God - about being with Him and worshiping Him and praising Him. "Blessed," said the psalmist, "are those who dwell in Your House; they are ever praising You." Indeed, we are truly blest that His invitation to us is "Come, now is the day of salvation" - an invitation to be with Him today and every day throughout eternity. To dwell in His presence forever.

The second beatitude we find is "Blessed are those whose strength in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Throughout this life we are not on our own to struggle with the difficulties of life. His strength is always available to us when we are weak, weary and worn out. He knew pilgrimage would be long and difficult, so He made Himself available to us whenever we call on Him.

And, perhaps the last beatitude actually sums us the other two: "O Lord Almighty, blessed in the man who trusts in You."

A young college student was dying from cancer at home. He had been heavily sedated for days. Every now and then his Mother would sit by his bedside and ask, "Dennis, are you here?" He would answer her, "Yes, Mom, I'm still here." On the day of his death, however, he responded to her question, "No, Mother I'm going home."

Above his bed in an empty room are the words: "I hear you, Christian, happy, unafraid, For you hear a song from the other side of death."

Prayer: Thank You Father, for being our dwelling place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

God's Grace

Every now and then it is good to take a "morning inventory" and reflect on the grace of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Speaking Of Grace...


The word grace in Scripture is used in many different ways. In the Old Testament it is often included with "grace-words" when the writer is speaking of God's loyalty or forgiveness, His steadfast love or loving-kindness. It is also used in association with relationships, such as the relationship of a superior to an inferior. And this is noteworthy: An inferior cannot show a superior grace. In other words, we cannot show God grace. Everything flows from His grace and there is nothing we have that did not come from Him.

In the New Testament the word for grace is charis - a word used when speaking of forgiveness. From it comes our word "charity" - giving something to someone when they do not deserve "it" or cannot get "it" themselves. It also implies being "gracious" - that is, grace in action.

Showing God's grace is what Christians are to do after they accept God’s grace. And unless we show it we might question whether or not we really have it!

For example, when we are saved by grace we are to become gracious and act differently. Cruelty is to be replaced with kindness, anger with acceptance, rejection with reconciliation and giving instead of always getting.

Grace is certainly a comprehensive word. It is as wide as the world. Remember what Jesus said: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall be saved."

Our indebtedness to God for His grace is beyond us. Our indebtedness to show His grace to others is not optional.

Prayer: Your love, Father, is beyond our comprehension and Your grace can never be understood - only accepted. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:11b the Lord bestows favor and honor;

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Lovely Dwelling Place

It was Sunday morning and James said to his mother, "I don't feel good." Worried she asked, "Where don't you feel good?" Quickly he replied, "When I'm in church."

One psalmist wrote, "How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!"

What was it that made the "dwelling place" lovely? It was the presence of the Lord. But anywhere a believer is can be a dwelling place where we can find the presence of the Lord. Wherever we are He is and we can commune with Him and express the desires of our heart.

Many believe that God can only be found in church when they "report" for worship. For some it may be once a week or twice a month. For a few, worship only happens on special days or occasions. Every attempt is made to "discharge" all of their obligations by making one or two trips to church in any given year.

But if God is not worshiped seven days a week it does not seem reasonable that we will truly worship Him one day a week or once a year. Worship that is worthy of Him is something we who are His children are to do consciously and constantly every moment of every day. It does not matter where we are or what we are doing. We are to offer our words and our work, our hearts and our habits to Him as gestures of love and adoration.

Worship is not something we do; it is the way we live. Worship is presenting all that we do as a sacrifice to Him.

Prayer: Lord, may we gladly present all of us - whatever we do, wherever we are - as a gift of ourselves to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:1-2 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When God Is Silent

For thirty-five years a man had faithfully served as a "Keeper of the Lighthouse." In addition to the bright light swirling through the darkness, a warning gun was fired automatically every five minutes. He had heard its "shot" so often for so long that it did not disturb him.

One night while he was asleep, the gun did not fire as it normally did. He awakened with a shout and said to his wife, "What happened?"

Our psalmist prayed for many years. God had always answered his prayers. One day, however, his prayer was answered with silence. So, he cried out, "O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still."

Sometimes God is silent because He is testing us. One night a storm arose and high water started to flood their little boat. Jesus was sound asleep. In fear, the disciples awakened Him shouting, "Doesn't it bother You that we are about to perish?" Calmly He rebuked the wind and the waves and things settled down. They had faith in His power but it was a limited faith. After they tested Him and saw what He could do, their faith became firm and their trust in Him complete. He was silent up to a certain point because He wanted to strengthen their belief in Him.
Sometimes God is still because He has something to teach us. When He is, it is a signal from Him that we are to search our lives to see what has separated us from Him.

Isaiah said, "Your sins have hid His face from you, so that He will not hear you." But with our confession comes His cleansing and the restoration of our communication.

Prayer: When we cannot hear Your voice, Father, may we realize it is because of our sins and need forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 83:1 O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Accountability

There was a time on earth when there were no nations or governments. People did as they pleased. As a result, God's creation - the human race - sank into disgraceful depths of despair. God wanted to solve the problem so He covered the earth with a flood in judgment. Then He put government in the world to restrain wickedness. That first government came from God and every government ever since, has come from God.

Why? Because no one has any authority except from God. Whether those who govern us are good or bad, right or wrong, gracious or greedy - they are there because God put them there. Some use their power to do God's will. Others use their power in an attempt to go against God's will. Whoever serves the people as leaders serve as He pleases with His permission.

Yet, it follows that those who refuse to obey the laws of God will ultimately be punished for their disobedience. Perhaps they will get away with it here, but certainly not in the "hereafter."

"God presides in the great assembly," wrote Asaph, the author of Psalm 82. And he concluded, "He gives judgment among the 'gods'." In other words, if those whom God has placed in positions of leadership as rulers or judges do not rule with God’s laws and commandments as their guide they will face His judgment.

Not long ago, one ruler who was dying cried out, "Now I must face the Judge. This is what disturbs me." We, too, must face this Judge. What will we face on that day?

Prayer: Lord, may we live our lives realizing that someday we will stand before You as Judge of all we have done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 82:1 God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's All About Choice

A reader recently wrote and asked a question that many of us ask at one time or another: "If there is a God, and if He is a good and loving God, why does He allow sin and suffering?"

A simple answer is that God gave each of us, from Adam and Eve, to the newest born baby, the opportunity and responsibility to make and live with the consequences. But there is a liability that came with this freedom. Even though we can make a poor choice, God will not interfere with our freedom to make it. Unfortunately we all live with the choice that Adam and Eve made: it introduced sin into the world and we have to live with their choice.

But it seems that we all make decisions that are not in keeping with what is in our best interests. Consider the case history of Israel. The psalmist wrote, "My people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts."

Without choice there could be no love or liberty, grace or goodness, caring or compassion. We are free to choose what is right and righteous or what is destructive and devastating. This is true of individuals and nations alike. We have sin and suffering because of wrong choices.

And why do we make wrong choices? Again our psalmist has the answer: "If my people would but listen to me...I would subdue their enemies."

Whenever we walk in our own ways, individually or as a nation, we will suffer from our "enemies" - whatever would defeat or destroy us. God allows us that choice.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will allow Your Word to speak to our hearts, guide our decisions and bring hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 81:11, 12 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What's In Your Mouth?

Few of us enjoy going to a dentist. The first words we usually hear are, "Open your mouth wide, please." Most of us from our previous experiences with dentists would rather keep our mouths shut. When the Psalms were written there were different ways to show favors to individuals. For example, if a king wanted to extend a favor to a
guest he would sometimes say, "Open your mouth wide," and then fill it with gems or sweets.

Our King said to us in Psalm 81, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!" What an unusual statement. Yet, when we think of it, our King's love is limitless and His might is measureless and His knowledge of our needs is ever on His mind!

What an encouragement to pray. When we pray we open our mouths and express our needs and desires to God. If, when we pray, we are earnest and expect God to hear us and if we have been obedient to His teachings and if in our prayers we are asking Him to bless our requests in a way that will honor Him, surely He will respond to our requests.

God is able and anxious to meet our every need. If we have a loved one who has not accepted His grace, or if we have a need for food on our tables, or if we have a spouse or parent or child who is suffering with a disease that some say is incurable - are all gifts He is willing to grant us. We most never forget that God is able and anxious to hear us and help us if we "open our mouths wide in prayer."

Prayer: Give us faith, Heavenly Father, to accept Your Word as "truth we can believe in" whenever we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 81:10b Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Wonder Of Worship

Many anthropologists who study human behavior say that the one universal behavior is worship. There seems to be an internal compass in everyone, everywhere that says, "There is someone, somewhere who is greater, more powerful than any of us here or all of us combined.” Man seems to be incurably religious - having a deep desire or need to have a god. Shrines and idols of all shapes and sizes are as old as history. And if people do not worship the God of the Bible they will make a god of themselves or another object.

A story is told of a British scientist who had a famous chameleon named "Billy the Lizard." Before he left for a vacation he asked his butler to take special care of him while he was away. When he returned home, he went to Billy's cage but did not see him. He went to his butler and demanded an explanation.

"Sir," said his butler, "it was this way. Some of the villagers wanted to see Billy. So we put him on a piece of red cloth and he turned red. Then we put him on a green cloth and he turned green. Then we put him on a piece of striped cloth and he exploded. What can I say?"

"Hear, O my people," God said to the Israelites, "I will warn you...You shall have no foreign gods before me!" It is almost impossible to believe that after all God had done for Israel He had to warm them about worshiping idols.

Is it any different today? Not really. The problems we face in the world today are not political problems but spiritual problems. We worship too many "foreign" false gods.

Prayer:  Guard us, Father, from allowing the "things" of this world to become our "gods" and take Your place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 81:9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Revive Us!

Many lament the spiritual decline in our nation. We see a culture in decline and the rising tide of secularism. We know that our God is powerful - that He can dominate the lives of those who profess to love Him - if they will only allow Him. He is willing and able. But we must become willing and available if we want renewal and revival. The responsibility is on us. The possibility is with Him.

God's children in all ages come close to and then turn away from Him. It's as though at some point in time God becomes a liability, a burden, an interferer in the lives of those who profess Him as Lord. He seems to get in the way or He keeps them from enjoying the things in life that bring delight and pleasure to so many.
But this God, our God, Who is willing and waiting on those who are also willing to "call on His name." And that just may be the problem.

In Scripture, name always refers to the nature or the character or the identity of the person. And when we think of the name of God we must always associate it with holiness, purity, righteousness, sacrifice, justice, mercy, grace, love and compassion.

The writer of Psalm 80 asks "revive us," or "quicken us" and "restore us that we may be saved." Surely, God will do this because He wants to do this. But we cannot expect Him to do this unless we are willing to identify with His character and repent and become as He is. If we want things to revive, revival must begin in each of us.

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to recognize that each of us is responsible to You to repent if we want revival in our land. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 80:18b-19 revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

He Never Quit!

We are reminded throughout God's Word that He has given us the gift of choice and its consequences. Nowhere are we told that we cannot choose our destinies. But we are told that our choices determine our destinies.

Even a casual reading of the New Testament tells us that there were those who followed Jesus because they wanted to get something from Him for selfish reasons. We read that when things looked horrible at His trial those who had been with Him for years fled for their lives. In His days of glamour and glory they were close by His side. There were others who wanted to be with Him but they refused to make any sacrifices and went their own way.

A graduate of a Midwestern university was just an average student. He played sports but never made any of the varsity teams. He was never elected to any office and did not make it far up the corporate ladder. When war broke out he was among the first to volunteer. After completing basic training he was sent to a war zone in France.

One day in combat he was serving alongside a soldier in the French army. His comrade was severely wounded and with no thought of himself, he made a decision to get him help. Unfortunately, he did not succeed and was killed on his way to find a medic.

The French Government learned of his act of bravery and awarded him The Croix de Guerre - Cross of War. And his alma mater posted a plaque in his honor that read, "He played with the scrubs for four years - but never quit."

The psalmist said, "We will not turn away from You."

PrayerGive us courage, Father, to stand with You and for You when we are tempted to turn from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 80:18a Then we will not turn away from you;

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Traveling In The Wrong Direction

G.K. Chesterton was a famous English writer. He is held in high esteem for his poetry, respected for his work as a journalist and his works in philosophy. He was once named by Time magazine as a "man of colossal genius."

Once, while traveling on a train, he became so engrossed in the book he was reading that he forgot his destination. As the train made its last stop, the conductor went to him and said, "Sir, this is the end of the line."

He frantically searched his pockets for his ticket but could not find it. Not being able to find it, he looked bewildered and confused. Sensing his predicament, the conductor asked, "Where were you going?"

After a lengthy pause he said to the conductor, "I can't remember. I'll have to phone my wife and ask her."

The writer of Psalm 80 recognized that the children of Israel had abandoned their relationship with God. With a heavy heart he prayed, "Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us that we may be saved." Realizing that they were going in the wrong direction he asked God to "restore them and save them." And He did!

Throughout history, from the dawn of Creation until this very moment, God has never abandoned anyone. It is always the other way around: we have abandoned Him.

A mother received a letter from her son in prison. In his despair he wrote her and said that he got into trouble because God had abandoned him. With a heart filled with love and sadness she wrote, "Son, if you do not feel the closeness of God it is because you have left Him."

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for Your promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us - no matter what! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cleansed!

Recently there was an article tucked away in a newspaper about a young girl in Georgia who feels no pain. She suffers from a rare congenital disease that affects the nervous system. She and other individuals who are born with congenital insensitivity must be carefully guarded. They must be taught that fire burns or that if they fall a bone might be broken or if they are struck in the head it may result in a concussion. It is frightening to think of having to live with no warning system to alert us to pain or sickness. It requires them to be under constant surveillance for their own protection.

There is another insensitivity, however, that is more serious - it is becoming insensitive to sin. Our minds become numb to the dangers of sin as we see degrading pictures of people improperly exposing themselves to attract attention to their sensuality. Or the constant stories of the happiness and pleasures that come from drinking alcoholic beverages. Then there are the endless stories about children being born out of wedlock to famous Hollywood celebrities and attractive pictures of them being praised and celebrated. Children, not old enough to understand God's plan for marriage, are taught that it is appropriate for families to have two moms or two dads. What was once identified as wrong is now right.

But thank God that His Spirit is alive and anxious to convict hearts and change lives. "Deliver us and forgive us our sins for Your name's sake," said the psalmist. If we awaken to the danger of sin and confess, God will forgive us.

Prayer: Open our eyes and give us sensitive minds, Father, to the things of this world that will destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 79:9 Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Heart Transplants

Following a horrible accident, one of the victims who was in critical condition was medevaced to the emergency department of a hospital in a large metropolitan city. As the staff was removing his shirt, they noticed the name "Jesus" tattooed across his chest in large red letters. Quite amazed the ER nurse said to the attending physician, "From the way he looks and how he's dressed and his lack of cleanliness, I would assume that the name 'Jesus' on his chest is only skin deep."

If we who are Christ's disciples are to be worthwhile witnesses of God's Message, His name on us must be more than skin deep. It must be heart deep. Not only is His name to be on our lips but penetrate every area of our lives. Not only should it come out of our mouths, but it should be obvious in everything we do. The psalmist said, "But they would flatter Him with their mouths, lying to Him with their tongues, their hearts were not loyal to His covenant."

Perhaps we can understand what the psalmist was talking about when we think of those who sing, "I Love to Tell the Story" but never witness to anyone. Or someone who sings, "Have Thine Own Way Lord" with everyone but me. Or, "Take My Life and Let It Be" - yes, let it be right where it is - please don't bother me. I'm too busy.

Unfortunately, the church has far too many members who say one thing with their mouths and another thing with their lives.

We need to "transplant" our hearts with His heart.

Prayer: Grant us, Father, a heart like Jesus, the mind of Christ and a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues;

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can God Really?

"Can God really clean up the mess in my life? Am I so important to Him that He would hear my voice above all the other voices that call on Him every day? Do I make a difference to Him when so many others seem to have more significant issues than I? Should I really bother Him if I don't really have much faith? Can God do a few miracles for me? If I don't have money to give will He still hear me?"

We often hear of God's power but question whether or not He can do what He says He is able to do. Sometimes when we ask the question can God we do so with hope and other times with hopelessness even resignation wondering if He really is a can do God!

In Psalm 78:19 our writer makes an interesting statement: "They spoke against God" because they questioned His ability when the Israelites were walking in the wilderness and had no food. They even asked, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" They questioned God's ability to do something when they saw nothing. But God can do anything with nothing. Perhaps they forgot about Creation: "In the beginning God created" everything - and He did it from nothing. Nothing!

God has unlimited resources and might that exceed anything we can imagine. And we must not forget His unlimited love! So, when we add His resources to His might and mix in His love then add His wisdom with the plan He has laid out for each of us, it is not "CAN GOD” - it is GOD CAN! Our God is a CAN DO GOD!

Prayer: Father, may we realize that the only reason our prayers go unanswered is because we lack faith in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:19 They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Divine Directions

It is always wise to think before we talk and ask Good to guide our words. And it is important to look to the Lord for insight before we leap into the unknown. It is certainly critical to pray before we proceed with any plan. If we ever fear we are failing it's time to fall on our knees and ask God to come to our rescue. Looking to the Lord for His directions will give us confidence that we are following His will for our lives and can then count on His presence. To make the right choice we must listen for God's voice.

Not only is God interested in who we are but what we do. He is no more interested in the missionary than he is the mechanic. He is no more concerned for a preacher than He is a politician. We read in His Word that "God so loved the world" - and that means everyone on it! That assures us that He has a plan for every life and will reveal His plan to those who willingly search for it and carefully follow it.

But one plan does not fit all any more than one size fits all. He has a different plan for each of us and various methods to speak to us. For some it may be a sermon, for others a passage of Scripture. He may speak quietly during a moment of worship or boldly during a time of sickness.

We must always be alert for His voice. He constantly speaks to each of us and wants to lead us on the path He has designed for us. As He was with the Israelites then so He is with us now: "He guided with a cloud by day and light from a fire all night." His presence is constant.

In daylight or darkness, He waits to be our guide.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, that You will guide and guard us, equip and enable us to do what You call us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Faithful Hearts And Right Living

Throughout Scripture the "heart" is used as the center of a person’s being. It describes the heart as the personality or inner life or character of a person 257 times. It states that the heart is the center of a person’s emotional state or consciousness 166 times. It presents the heart as the source of intellectual activities 204 times and this includes what we pay attention to or reflect on during our quiet moments or what makes sense to us as we consider the things that cross our paths or what enters our minds. It also speaks of the heart as the source that gives us purpose or direction in life 195 times.

We must never overlook the importance of "the heart."

Certainly the author of Psalm 78 had this in mind. As he reflected on the trials and tragedies of the Israelites, he called attention to the fact that the preceding generations did not put their trust in God and forgot the gracious gifts He gave them. He encouraged them to obey God's laws and not be like their forefathers.

And how were they to do this? What was his "prescription" for them? They were to have "hearts that were loyal to God and spirits that were faithful to Him."

Wisely, this psalmist gave a warning to his listeners. And, thankfully, God passed it on to us in His Word.

Someone once said to me, "Larry, learn from what sin has done in the lives of others. If you do, you will be blessed of God and able to enjoy the best He has to offer."

Surely this is the right moment for each of us to look deep within our "hearts" and be sure we are loyal to God.

Prayer: We are grateful, Father, for the warnings Your Word gives us. May we follow Your guidance each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:8 They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wishing, Hoping And Facts

"Be careful what you wish for - it just might come true!" is a saying most of us have grown up with. It comes with no guarantee or assurance that what we ask for is what we will get. In fact, according to some, it may be the exact opposite and result in problems.

Wishing is imagining something in our minds that we want to come true - believing that our lives will be better or filled with happiness or joy or riches. It is wanting our lives to be more fulfilling or better or happier without our having to do anything or making any effort or changes.

But wishing is different from hoping - especially the hope that believers have in God. We can have unflinching and unwavering hope in God because He has done everything He has ever said He would do. There is no room for any doubt in Him or any of His promises. They are well documented and are a testimony to the fact that God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His Word.

God's faithfulness, the psalmist reminds us, is so predictable that it has become "a law in Israel." And this testimony of God's faithfulness is to be passed on by fathers to their children so they put their hope in God and "never forget His deeds."

God wants fathers to teach their children that hope does not come from politicians or policies. Nor does He want fathers to teach their children that they are to place their hope in acquiring wealth or worldly goods. And He does not want them to teach their children to place their hope in the knowledge or skills or talents they possess.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that fathers will realize their responsibility to raise their children to hope only in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pass It On!

"How many more times do I have to tell you before you remember what I'm trying to teach you?" asked Jim's Dad.

"Probably as many times as it takes for me to see what's in it for me," answered Jim.

Most of us have been involved in similar "discussions." Some "lessons" are more difficult to learn than others if we see no immediate benefits.

So it was with the Children of Israel. Psalm 78 begins with a plea from God: "Oh my people, hear my teaching!" Notice that God is pleading with His people to hear Him. There is a difference between listening and hearing. We often listen but do not hear. So God emphasized that fact: "listen to the words of my mouth."

Of course we want to know what He means when He asks us to "listen to the words of my mouth."

Then, as now, many only listen when any speaker has anything to say that has value to them - even God. If we do not believe that the words of the speaker - even God - will benefit us personally and tangibly we will not hear their voice. Sadly, what was true then is true today.

God spoke to the Israelites many times on many different occasions through many different individuals and unexpected miracles. Yet, His message did not penetrate into the depth of their hearts and make a lasting impression in their lives. They seemed to forget the importance of His teachings and paid a price.

If we listen to and obey His Word, He will reward us.

Prayer: We pray, Father, for ears that listen to Your voice and hearts that are open and obedient to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:1, 2 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

Monday, July 1, 2013

To Touch God And Be Touched By God

A PSALM TO PRAY EACH DAY IN JULY
PSALM 18


I love You, Lord!
You are my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior;
my God is my rock in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise
and He saved me from my enemies.

To the faithful You show Yourself faithful,
to those with integrity You show integrity.
You rescue the humble
but You humiliate the proud.
You light a lamp for me.
The Lord my God lights up my darkness.
In Your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.

God's way is perfect.
All the Lord's promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.
God arms me with His strength,
And He makes my way perfect.
Thank You Father!
Through Christ our Lord,

Amen.