Monday, September 30, 2013

Needed: Examples

It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “But I don’t want to be a role model.” But that’s not the way it is. All of us are, at one time or another, a model who someone will try to imitate for one reason or another. David made this observation a long time ago.

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,” he said. When David looked for a role model he did not look for one who was famous or powerful, one who had wealth or riches, he looked for one who was “faithful to the Lord.” He was committed to build his life on God’s principles – principles that were eternal and everlasting. So, he searched for those who had God’s purposes and plans in their minds and hearts, those were obedient to God. And when he found them he surrounded himself with them and even invited them to “dwell” with him.

Someone once asked John Rockefeller, “How did you become so successful?” He looked at him sternly and said, “Because I surround myself with successful people!”

Here we find a great lesson for life: If we want to achieve great things for God, we must surround ourselves with people who have done or are doing great things for God. We cannot become more than we are for God if we associate with and follow the examples of those who do not care much for God or do not have loving and serving God at the very center of their lives.

David expressed his need for being surrounded by the “faithful.” He knew that “He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” 

Prayer: Lord, may we be careful to choose friends who will encourage us to be faithful to You in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 101:6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What's So Good About God?

“Wow!” said an associate as a group of us left a restaurant after a dinner meeting. “That was a really good meal!”

“Good?” questioned another. “What do you mean good? That’s one of the worst meals I’ve ever paid for. It was horrible!”

“Not so fast,” said another. “Part of it was really bad and part was fairly good. At least, that’s my opinion.”

“Good” is in the eye of the beholder. You and I might experience the same event together - as the meal mentioned above - but have entirely different opinions about it. But when the author of Psalm 100 was ending his thoughts about God, he said, “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.” He was convinced that “God was good.” In fact, this entire Psalm is written as a Psalm that expresses his reasons to give thanks to God.

Years ago when the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christ they searched for a word in their language that they could all agree upon that expressed the character of the divine Being of the Bible.

They described stories of His faithfulness, His grace, His holiness, His mercy, His power, His love, His salvation and asked, “What one word will express all of these words?” After a discussion they all agreed: “The good!” And “good” is the old English word for “God.”

When we look at the “big picture” of all that God has done for us, to us and in us, it is certainly appropriate for us to describe Him, as they did, as “The Good.”

Prayer: Father, when we consider all of Your ways and the wonder of Your works we too agree, our Lord is Good! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Be Happy!

A deacon was asked by his pastor to meet a guest speaker at the local airport. He stood patiently waiting and looking at each traveler as they claimed their luggage and then left the airport. But he was not comfortable in approaching any of them and asking, “Are you the one who is scheduled to speak at the First Baptist Church?”

Finally, he noticed a gentleman who was wearing a dark blue suit, red tie and carrying a brief case. Ah, he thought, that’s our guest.

Approaching him he asked, “Pardon me, Sir, but are you the minister who is to speak at the First Baptist Church tomorrow?”

“No,” came the reply. “It’s my indigestion that makes me look like this.”

How sad it is that people associate gloom and doom with godliness and not happiness and gladness. If there is anything that should separate the born again from those who do not know Christ as Savior it is the sign of joy! We who have been released from the power of sin and the grip of Satan ought to always have a smile on our faces and thankfulness in our hearts.

“I might have been a minister myself,” confessed Oliver Wendell Holmes, “for all I know, if a certain clergyman had not looked and talked like an undertaker.”

God’s Word does not say, “Be careful not to smile. The world is in terrible shape. The end will soon be here.” Rather, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship Him with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.”

Prayer:  Father, if we cannot find a reason to be filled with “joyful songs” please open our eyes to Your goodness! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 100:1-2 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pardoned and Set Free

A soldier in a combat zone learned that his wife was desperately ill and not expected to live. He applied for an “emergency leave” but was denied. After a sleepless night he decided that he would desert his post and fellow soldiers and go to her bedside. As he was leaving his barracks, he was apprehended and placed in the stockade.

A few weeks later he was ordered to stand trial. After the evidence was presented to the judge and jury, he was found guilty and condemned to death for leaving his post.

“I understand, Sir,” he said to the judge “that I left my post and deserted my colors. I deserve the verdict of the court.” Asked the judge, “Do you have anything more to say?”

“No, your honor,” came the reply.

“Well, I do,” said the judge. “There is something more to say.” And he read the soldier a pardon.

Standing tall and filled with gratitude, he began to weep violently for the mercy the court offered him. In humility he offered his gratitude, and saluted the judge. He was then restored to duty and returned to combat.
Our God is a holy God and cannot look at our sins. And because we have sinned, we deserve to be punished. But because of His great love He offers us a pardon through the death of His Son. It was His Son, who on our behalf, accepted our punishment, rescued us and set us free from the penalty of death. The moment we accept His mercy we are set free from our punishment.

Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, for the reminder of the Psalmist that YOU are “the God who forgives!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 99:8 Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"His Master's Voice"

There once was a dog named “Nipper,” a terrier who was very devoted to his master, Mark Barraud. The two were best friends and were rarely seen apart from each other. When Mark died, his brother Francis ‘adopted’ him and after a lengthy period of mourning, “Nipper” became very attached to Francis, an artist. Eventually they too developed a very close relationship.

Mark and Francis lived in the latter 1800s and at that time phonographs with wax cylinders were used for recording voices and music. Some of Francis’ cylinders contained recordings of his voice and each time he played one of his recordings “Nipper” would place his head near the phonograph and look intently into it as though he was looking for his new master to appear. “Nipper’s” pose inspired the artist and he painted a picture of it that became the symbol of one of the most famous and recognizable brands in all the world, called “His Master’s Voice.”

In Psalm 99:7 we read that “He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud.” What an unusual means of communication. Imagine walking through a field and suddenly hearing a cloud call you by name and give you a special message. Seems improbable but that’s what God did to Moses and Aaron. And He can do that today.

Our God is constantly speaking to us in different ways at different times and from different places. He will do everything He can to get our attention and share His message with us. If we want to hear our Master’s voice, we must be open, attentive and waiting to hear Him speak.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to eliminate the unnecessary noise in our lives so we can hear You when You speak. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 99:7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

We Are What We Worship

There are some religions in the Orient that follow practices that are condemned by Scripture and society. A member of one of them was jailed for robbery and murder which was part of his “faith.” While imprisoned he was visited by a missionary who shared with him the message of salvation. After he accepted Christ, the missionary gave him a Bible which became his dearest possession.

When he appeared before the judge, he testified that he had been brought up to be a worshiper of Kali. As a young child he was taught that if he shed the blood of the victims he robbed he would please Kali - a Hindu goddess - and win her favor. He faithfully practiced his belief in this goddess all of his life.

When the judge confronted him with his crime, he broke down and began to weep. After a few moments he was able to speak and with tears streaming down his face told the judge that he had committed many murders - more than he could remember.

“How could you be guilty of enormities like these?” asked the judge.

Taking his worn Bible from his pocket and holding it up for the judge to see, he replied, “Had I but received this Book as a child, this book of Jesus, my Savior whom I now worship, I would not have done such horrible things.”

“Exalt the Lord, our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy,” proclaims the Psalmist. How sad it is that so many who have His Word in their homes never allow it to enter their hearts and change their lives.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will open our hearts to the message of Your Word and live by its truths. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 99:5 Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Celebrate!

It is a day I will always remember. It was hot and humid and the black gowns and colorful “hoods” provoked more sweat than satisfaction. It was a day that brought three long and difficult years of study to a conclusion and I was now going to be identified as “Doctor.”
 
As I stood in a line with my classmates who had struggled with me we could not help but wonder what changes the degree would make in our lives. A new day had dawned. Things would be different for us from that day forward. We would have new opportunities and new status. People would look at us differently. It was time to celebrate. We believed that we had earned it!
 
Psalm 98 begins with a call to celebrate: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.” This call to celebrate was not for anything that the people did or had accomplished. It was a call to celebrate what God had done for them. It was a call to celebrate the “marvelous things” that God had done for them. This phrase “marvelous things” refers to God’s direct, supernatural interventions in the life of “His people.” It refers to God’s power and authority, His protection and care, His interest in the well-being of His people on this earth. And as important as those gifts of God are, they cannot compare to the gift of His salvation and deliverance!
 
There are many special events and days in our lives and the life of our nation that give us reasons to celebrate. But nothing provides a greater cause for us to celebrate than the hope we have in Christ our Lord!
 
Prayer: Lord, fill our hearts with this “New Song.” May we sing a of song joy as we celebrate Your gift of salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 
Scripture for Today: Psalm 98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My God! My Joy!

A professor of philosophy stood before his class and said, “The whole world is desperately searching for joy and happiness. But no one has been able to find its source. Psychologists cannot find it, physicians cannot find it, comedians cannot find it. It has eluded everyone. Some feel that they have been close to its source only to discover that they were on the wrong path. It is so very illusive and all were left disillusioned and disappointed.”

Even the word happiness is deceptive. It gives its self away. The root of the word is “hap” which means “chance.” Human happiness is dependent on the chances and changes in life. It is something which life may give and then suddenly take away.

A diagnosis of cancer, a crash in the stock market, a new management team at work - even a change in the weather can take away the passing sensation of joy and happiness.

But there is a sure, certain source of joy and happiness - or gladness as the Bible calls it - that is available to everyone who seeks it. It cannot be destroyed or disturbed; it provides a serenity that is immovable. It “covers” loss and grief, pain and sickness, darkness and death. No one or nothing can destroy it.

The writer of Psalm 97 said, “Lord, may Your people rejoice in You; and praise Your holy name.” God will give His everlasting joy and gladness to those who place their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ, His Son. His peace and presence are promised to His beloved.

Prayer: We thank You, Heavenly Father, for the joy that is ours today and every day through Your Son our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Light In Dark Places

It was Jim’s birthday and his dad wanted it to be one he would long remember. So he decided to take him to the Christian book store to buy him a picture of Jesus that he could hang in his room.

Upon entering the store he said, “Son, which picture of Jesus do you want for your room? Look around carefully and then tell me which one you want.”

After looking at most of the pictures in the store very carefully, he said, “Dad, I want a picture of Jesus that will shine in my room when it is dark.”

We live in a world filled with darkness that would, if it could, put out the light of God. But this is nothing new. Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil.”

Jesus brought the light of God into a world that has been darkened by sin. But His light has a condition to it: it must be received through faith in what He did for us on the cross. Those who receive Him are made righteous.
Hear what the Psalmist said, “Light is shed upon those who are righteous - the godly.” His light dissipates the darkness of despair and brings the hope of eternal life.

In Him we are no longer victims but victors and through Him we need no longer fear the darkness and despair that surround the lost and those facing death.

It was King David who once said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me” ... “shedding Your light.”

Prayer: What a comfort it is, Lord, to know that You are the Light of the world and will always be our Guide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:11a Light shines on the righteous

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Kind Of Love Is This?

“You know how much I love you, Josie - more than anyone or anything in the world!” began his text message. “Can’t wait until I see you this evening. Will be there if I don’t go to the ball game with Rob. Love, Steve.”

It didn’t take Josie long to erase the message and text her friend Ruth asking if they could get together for dinner. She had trouble understanding that kind of love. And so does God. We say one thing to Him and then live a life that is entirely inconsistent with His understanding of love and what He expects us to do if we love Him.

“You who love the Lord,” said the Psalmist, “hate evil!” That is a very straight forward, simple statement. It is one of Scriptures If/Then challenges that God puts in our pathway. Put another way we might ask, “If we don’t hate evil can we truly love God? And, if we hate evil, how will our lives show those around us that we do?

 Loving God means that we will do whatever is necessary to align ourselves with His plan and purpose for His world. We will work with Him to reach out to those around us with a heart full of His love to show them His grace and mercy. We will be uncomfortable if we know of someone, somewhere who needs something that we have that we can share with them that will bring hope and healing to their lives. People who lie abandoned in convalescent homes and children who are abused through no fault of their own and individuals who crave a smile and a hug need to know that “we love the Lord.” They will if we reach out.

Prayer: Trouble our hearts and minds, Father, and give us no peace if we know someone in need and do nothing! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:10a Let those who love the Lord hate evil,

Friday, September 13, 2013

God Will Judge!

Robert G. Ingersoll is recognized as one of the most influential agnostics who ever lived. One night in New York he was dramatically and forcefully giving a lecture that explained his doubts about judgment and hell. When the gifted lecturer finished his address, a man who was very drunk stumbled his way to the front of the auditorium and said in slobbering terms, “I sure hope you are right, Brother Bob. I sure hope you are right because I’m counting on that!”

Few today want to think of God as a Judge. It is much more pleasant to think of Him as a loving, caring, compassionate and gracious Father - which He certainly is - than as a stern judge who will “judge the world in righteousness.” Many would apologize for considering their God in such terms, but this way of thinking is inconsistent with what God’s Word teaches.

And there are many who want to fashion Him after their own likes and dislikes and endow Him the nature and character they would like Him to possess. They want to make Him consistent with their own wishful thinking so that they will be comfortable in their sins. Their god has the attributes of our God in that he is compassionate and loving but they refuse to accept the fact that His attributes also contain wrath and justice. This would mean that there would be no judgment and no punishment for sins. However, our God is a Holy God.

But our God, Who “is love,” will one day judge “the world with righteousness and the people with truth.”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to live in the light of Your judgment and know we will hear You say, “Well done!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 96:13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Worthy Of Praise

Bud Wilkerson, a nationally respected football coach was once asked by a reporter, “Coach, how much has football contributed to the nation’s desire to be physically fit?”

Looking at the reporter, he said, “Nothing - not one thing.”

Surprised, the reporter asked, “Would you care to elaborate on that?”

“Certainly,” said Wilkerson. “I define football as twenty-two men on a field desperately needing rest and forty-thousand people in the stands desperately needing exercise.”

The writer of Psalm 96 must have thought the same way the coach did. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Here the Psalmist is talking about those who are in the stands cheering and shouting about His greatness. But before there was cheering he wrote of those who were taking God’s message of salvation to the lost and dying - those who were on the “field” involved in a battle for the souls of mankind - the ones who were “declaring God’s glory and marvelous deeds” and “sharing and proclaiming His salvation!”

John R. Mott once said, “If a man has religion he must do one of two things with it. If it is false, he must give it up. And if it is true, he must give it away.”

Imagine how loud the shouts would be in heaven if we had more people on the field battling for the souls of the lost and dying? We must give it away.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, that we may work with You to win the lost and then shout for joy when they believe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 96:4a For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Showing His Salvation

“Brother,” said St. Francis of Assisi to a young monk who had just entered the monastery, “let’s go to town and preach.” They left the monastery and walked to the town and did not say a word to each other or the people they passed in the marketplace. After several hours they retraced their steps and returned to the monastery.

The young monk wondered what was going on and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity he finally broke his silence and asked, “I thought we were going to town to preach. When are we going to preach?”

“We have been preaching,” replied St. Francis. “As we walked, we were observed: people watched our manners, our faces, our behavior, and our clothes, what people thought we stood for. We have been preaching.”

All of us preach all of the time. Our behavior is our message and our places of interest our pulpits. Our lives become lectures and our pursuits are examples of our priorities. People watch us even as we watch them. And each time we pass from view and our words can no longer be heard our sermon ends and a decision about the value and importance we place on being like Christ in all we do and whatever we say is made.

The problem we face today is not the quantity of Christians but the quality. And if we want to win more, we must be more. How different would the world be if when we “declared God’s glory,” we also lived God’s glory. How we live is more important than words.

Prayer:  Give us courage and strength Lord, to live as we ought to live and show the world Your glory and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 96:2b proclaim his salvation day after day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time For A New Song?

Sunday church bulletins quite often reveal more than the words printed on them. Other than the date on the front of the bulletin the order of service changes very little. There seems to be three important words that appear in every order of service: Invocation, Offering and Benediction. And in between those words the hymns, Scripture and special music will be “recycled” from week to week. But there is little new or different. Even contemporary worship services seem to follow the same format and formula week after week.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

Perhaps that’s why Psalm 96:1 explodes with a challenge: “Sing to the Lord a NEW SONG!” - which literally means “NEW THINGS!” If God is alive and well in our lives and in our churches we will surely be seeing new things and singing new songs because we will see Him at work in our lives and in the life of our churches. Prayers will be answered and lives changed, sinners will be saved and His disciples will be called to serve Him in new and different ways showing His love and care to those around us. We will have to rearrange the order of service to make time for public praise to share what He is doing and sing new songs because He is doing new things!

And then in verse two we read, “Proclaim His salvation day after day!” When the proclamation of His salvation is the centerpiece of our work and worship, we will be overcome with His joy and “sing new songs!”

Prayer: Lord, may we accept Your challenge to sing a “new song” by living and sharing Your great salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Are You Listening?

ARE YOU LISTENING?

A family in Calgary, Alberta, Canada purchased a well trained and very expensive guard dog to protect their home and belongings. It brought them great peace and comfort and reduced their fears of someone invading their home.

One evening as the family gathered together to watch their favorite television program the dog began to bark. “Hush, Sarge,” said the father. But Sarge refused to stop barking and looked anxiously from one family member to another. They refused to be bothered as they watched the show. It was too entertaining.

Finally, the program was over and the father excused himself and went upstairs to go to bed. As he entered his bedroom, he realized that the dog had been trying to get their attention. A thief had carefully and quietly entered their home, opened their safe and stolen their most valuable possessions. The warning of the dog could not get their attention and alert them to danger.

“Today,” (or listen now) warned the Psalmist, “if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!” Often God tries to “get our attention” to warn us of impending dangers. He does His best to speak to us through His Word or a friend, a verse of Scripture or a sermon. He reaches out to us in love and compassion - anxious to warn us of the attractiveness of sin, the power of temptation and the destruction that awaits us. But, like the family in Canada, we are so often too involved in the things of this world to hear His warning.

Prayer:  Lord, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and make our hearts ready to respond to Your voice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 95:8 Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Worthy Of Worship

Everyone seems to worship someone or something for one reason or another. Early in life we realize that we need help to survive and cannot make it on our own. Initially it is a parent or a parent-substitute that is there to help us. Then, as we get older and become more independent, we begin to realize that there are other sources to meet our needs. We begin to look to them for what they can do for us or perhaps give to us in exchange for our allegiance or respect. We think that they will bring us something we need. It’s only natural.

The question is not whether or not we worship - but what or whom we worship. It can be fame or fortune, power or prestige, a person or a philosophy B someone or something that we believe is greater than ourselves and will bring us peace and happiness, joy and satisfaction. It is someone or something that we believe is superior to us and we are willing to surrender and submit ourselves to it. But, really, it only reveals our lostness and our need for Someone Who is above us, beyond us - yet cares for us.

The Psalmist invites us to, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” He wants us to recognize the superiority and sufficiency of God our Creator. Once we acknowledged God as our Creator we immediately recognize Him as the source of all that we have or ever will have. Worship becomes God-centered and not man or thing centered. Worship results in turning our lives over to God and recognizing His grace and sovereignty as we bow before Him in awe.

Prayer:  Lord, we join the Psalmist in worship and praise and thank You for meeting our every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 95:6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

Friday, September 6, 2013

Everyone Has A Part

Martin Luther, who is recognized for his work in reforming the church, had one deep desire that drove him every day of his life: he wanted everyone to have a copy of the Bible and a song book in their own language. He had an unswerving belief that people needed God to speak to them directly through His Word and the songs they sang during times of worship at home. This was not a new idea, but one that had its beginnings in the earliest worship of the Lord.

Music and God’s Word have always been a very important ingredient in worship. When there is joy in the hearts of the faithful, praising God is a natural part of life and is always evident in times of worship. With shame and sorrow the captives of Babylon admitted this in Psalm 137:4. As their captors ridiculed them for it they said, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Sin separated them from God and they lost the joy of their salvation. It will do the same to us.

In the Old Testament we find many occasions of God’s children coming together to sing and shout and praise the Lord. In Psalm 95:1 the “worship leader” looked at the crowd before him and said let’s “sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” That invitation remains open to us today.

When we pause and ponder the grace of God in saving us and becoming our “Rock” - our only source of safety and security in times of trial and temptation, defeat and despair - it’s time to lift our voices in worship.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to rejoice in the goodness of Your grace and lift our voices in shouts of joy and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Important Warning!

The road to spiritual, mental and physical healing is often long and difficult. Sometimes it takes us through long periods of dark days and long nights when it seems as though we are left to survive on our own. We struggle and strain and worry and work but it seems as though we will be left to our own abilities.

There is great advice in today’s verse: “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, O Lord, supported me.” Before the Psalmist fell, he recognized that he was facing a situation, having to solve a problem or make a decision that could have been disastrous to his well-being. So, he did not wait until calling on God was too late - that his testimony and witness to the grace of God would be too late - he out maneuvered Satan. When he realized that his foot was slipping he called on God and God’s love supported him! He did not need to ask for forgiveness - he asked God to intervene immediately and sustain him.

As Paul brought his second letter to Timothy to a close, he must have had this verse in mind. “Timothy,” he wrote, “the Lord stood at my side and gave me the strength that I needed, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and that all the Gentiles might hear it.”

Paul recognized how important it was for him to depend on God’s strength and not his own. He knew that the battle was not his but the Lord’s. So, rather than let his witness be destroyed, He called on God.

Prayer:  Father, help us to realize that our strength is limited and Yours isn’t. May we learn to depend on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 94:18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hope When We Need It

There is a big difference between power and influence. Power comes from a position we have in a group or organization. We gain influence by what we know or are able to do. In our relationship with God, He has all of the power and He uses it to shape us into the plan He has for us. But we can go to Him in prayer and ask Him to grant us His power to overcome some sin in our life and bring hope, healing and wholeness to us or our loved ones when we are sick or broken.

Our Psalmist reminds us of this important fact. When we feel alone or abandoned, depressed or have a doubt about God’s care or concern for us, he reminds us to look to God for help: “Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt it the silence of death.”

Unfortunately, we do not know what was going on in the life of the writer. He may have been facing a life-threatening illness, grieving over the loss of a loved one or perhaps facing financial disaster. He reminds us that “it” made no difference. Whatever problem he was facing or whatever disaster may have been on the horizon or whatever sickness may have stricken him no one could have made a difference in his life but God.

“Unless the Lord...,” he wrote. Not “unless I find” or “a friend helps me find” the right physician or the right attorney or the right banker. No. He realized the limitations of man. His situation was beyond them. But he knew first hand that only his Lord could rescue him.

Prayer:  What a blessed reality it is to know, Lord, that You have the power to solve any problem we have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 94:17 For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When Does Never End?

Can you remember a time in your life when you thought, “God has abandoned me! I can’t find Him anywhere! When I pray, my words bounce back from the sky and when I cry God won’t wipe away the tears. What did I do to deserve this?”

Often in our journey to become disciples of Christ we resent the discipline that comes with our calling. We want the journey to be sunshine and flowers and not showers and lightening. Yet in the midst of those times of drought we do indeed wonder. No doubt that’s why the Psalmist gave us some choice words of comfort: “The Lord will not abandon or reject His people, He will never forsake His inheritance.”

The Bible tells us of two men who “went out from the presence of the Lord.” One was Cain and the other Jonah. When Cain went out, the Lord left Him alone. He chose not to go after him and bring him back into His presence. But when Jonah went out, the Lord did not choose to leave him alone. Why the difference? Cain was not one of the Lord’s - but Jonah was.

Jonah was disobedient to the calling of God but was willing to accept God’s discipline. He had a terrible time surrendering to God but God never left him because he did want God’s will for his life. God stayed with him and disciplined him because he accepted God’s plan for his life. Cain was different. He refused to honor God and do what was right. And God rejected him because he would not give God his best.

Prayer:  Father, may our hearts always be open to hear Your voice and answer You in sincerity and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 94:14 For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pain Management

“This is going to hurt me more than it does you,” said the father to his young son as he took him from the family room for interrupting our conversation. I’d heard that statement many times and always wondered what the parent wanted the child to understand when it was used. If it was used to redirect a child’s behavior and teach him or her an important lesson about life, why not say so. That’s what the author of Psalm 94 meant when he wrote, “If God disciplines you, consider yourself blessed” or “full of blessings!”

To discipline means “to teach.” Discipline is not punishment as we understand it - though it may involve suffering and loss, disappointment and feelings of rejection. When God disciplines us, it is His method to bring us back to live within His commandments and laws and the teachings of Jesus. It is about “getting our attention” when we are overcome by temptation and fall into sin. It’s about being confronted by God when He corrects us for allowing the “things or the people or the attractions of this world” to take His place. It is about worshiping those things rather than the Creator of those “things.”

One of the blessings of discipline is that it has long term benefits for the Christian. If in His mercy He brings loss or suffering to teach us a lesson today, and if we are willing to learn from the loss or suffering when it happens, we will be spared from greater losses or more suffering in the future - and bring more honor to Him.

Prayer:  May we understand, Father, that when You discipline us it is a sign of Your love and care for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 94:12a Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Eyes Have It!

Returning to earth after several orbital circles in outer space, a Russian cosmonaut proudly boasted, “I looked everywhere, but I didn’t see God.” That statement made me wonder what evidence would have been acceptable to him to prove that there is a God. Paul once wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen.”

The eye, our “window to the world,” seems to be a very special part of God’s creation. But before the eye was formed, in His unfathomable wisdom a process was set in motion: “Let there be light!” He ordered. For us to see anything light must be reflected off of an object to form a “picture” or the eye is useless.

Before God created our eyes He prepared a special place for them: He formed the bones of the skull to give them a safe place to do their work. He then fashioned our eyelids to keep out dirt and dust and made eyebrows to keep glaring light from damaging them. Finally He developed a lubricating process to keep our eyes moist and clean by causing tears to flow.

Finally, there is the cornea. It allows rays of light to pass through the iris and form a scene in our brain. And here the process becomes complete: Our brain takes what we see and enables us to make sense of God’s creation, love and salvation through His word.

“Seeing” God, however, takes more than the eye. “If you search for Me with all your heart, you’ll find Me.”

Prayer:  Open our hearts, Father, as well as our eyes to discover Your beauty and majesty, love and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 94:9b Does he who formed the eye not see?