Friday, November 29, 2013

A Reason To Be Glad

The word glad in Scripture carries with it the idea of happiness and joyfulness, pleasure and freedom. In God’s Word, however, there is a source for gladness: the Lord. The Psalmist writes, “For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

This source for our gladness does not come from anything we have accomplished or any ladder of success that we might have climbed. It does not come from wealth that we may have accumulated or records we have set. It does not come from any amount of power we have because of our achievements. This gladness that the Psalmist writes about comes from what God has done for us.

Another Psalmist wrote, “But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great.’” And another Psalmist said, “Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence.”

We often set “goals” for ourselves that we think will bring a sense of well-being and fulfillment to us - the “if only” statements we make: “If only I can get a promotion I will be satisfied,” or “If only we had a larger home our family would be happy,” or “If only...If only...” and the list goes on.

But the “glad” that comes from God that can fill our hearts and lives comes as a result of what He has done for us: made possible our salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior. Because of Him we can be glad and sing for joy, we can know that “all things are working together” for our good and His glory.

Prayer: How thankful we are, Lord, that we can have hearts filled with gladness because of Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trying To Escape God

God seems to appear when we least expect Him. He certainly will not be confined within the walls of a church or restrained within the rituals of a religion. He is, after all, God the Creator, Sustainer and Savior. He makes Himself known when and where and as He pleases.

Once, during the transatlantic crossing of a large ocean liner a major storm erupted, breaking the silence of calm seas. A huge wave swept over the bow of the ship and swept a sailor into the raging waters. His cry for help went unheard.

But in Philadelphia his Christian mother, who was sound asleep, suddenly awoke with an urgent desire to pray for him. Even though she was not aware of what had happened or his threatening situation, she prayed for his safety with urgency and intensity. She then returned to bed and fell asleep with peace in her heart.

Weeks later her son returned home, opened the door and shouted, “Mother, I’m saved!” Then he described what had happened, how he had been swept overboard. As he was sinking in the swirling waves he remembered thinking, “I’m lost forever!” He remembered a hymn he once sang in church about looking to Jesus to be saved. He cried out, “O God, I look to Jesus to be saved,” and another wave swept him back onto the ship.

When he finished his story, his mother told her story. They then thanked God for the storm that saved his soul. As the Psalmist wrote, “Pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with your storm.” Our God is amazing.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for what You are willing to do to save the lost. We will never understand Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 83:15 so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.

Wednesday, November 27, 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.

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, grace and forgiveness!

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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Worship and Sing Praises?

Each church has its own “temperament.” There are churches where you find happiness and hope, a warm fellowship and a welcoming spirit. Others are cold and closed, old and tired. In between are some that are looking for an identity and try one thing and then another.

Psalm 33 is filled with enthusiasm for God. And it has some great advice on how to worship God. “Sing joyfully,” said the Psalmist. “Praise the Lord with the harp and the ten-stringed lyre,” he continues. But why?
One reason is that “The Word of the Lord is right and true.” No one has ever rejected the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts the reader. “The only objection against the Bible,” said Wilmot the infidel when he was dying, “is a bad life.”

“The plans of the Lord stand true,” is another reason to sing. A father said to his son, “Go to the third step and jump. I’ll catch you!” But he didn’t and his son fell to the floor. “Now get up and remember,” he said, “not to trust anyone - not even your father.” Our Heavenly Father never tricks us nor tempts us. He is faithful in all things and at all times.

Finally, “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him. No army has ever saved a king,” said David. Warriors work together and combine their strength but are often defeated. But “God delivers His own from death and keeps them alive in famine.”

Humanists depend on human beings. But Christians depend on Jesus Christ to “deliver” and “nourish” them.

Prayer: Father, may our hearts and lives be centered on worshiping You in songs of joy and shouts of praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Right Way - Wrong Way

God created us to follow Him - not to forsake Him. He chooses for us triumph over temptation - not struggle with guilt for surrendering to sin. He wants us to walk with Him and not stray from Him because of our self-centeredness. He waits to help us achieve the potential He has given us and not be satisfied with less than what is possible. He is willing to share His wisdom and give His insights whenever we need to make any decision.

There are many wrong ways but only one “best” way - His way. And no one but God can reveal that way to us. We may search one way and then another, try this route until it comes to a dead end. However, only when we allow God to lead us will we be in the center of His will.

Israel’s experience during the Exodus gives us a great example of God’s guidance and guardianship.
The Psalmist gives us a vivid picture of what can happen when people “try to make it on their own” and do not follow God: “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no ways to a city where they could settle. Some were hungry and thirsty and their lives ebbed away.” How sad. How true. Without God’s guidance we all wanderers!

“Then they cried out to the Lord!” And listen to what happened. “He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.”

No one will ever find a “straight way” to a “safe place” in life unless they surrender their life to God and follow Him. Life without God is a “wasteland” and unless we accept His salvation our lives will “ebb away.”

Prayer: Lord, we come to You and ask You to save us from our sins and then lead us safely into Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grace For Our Grief

God’s grace is greater than any grief we may ever have to endure. In Psalm 107 His grace is made plain.
First, we are pilgrims: “They wandered in desert wastelands...” We are all “wandering” as pilgrims most of the time. We struggle to determine right from wrong and often make wrong decisions because we have left God out of our thoughts. We have a great example of what to do when this happens: When the Children of Israel realized that they were wandering aimlessly they returned to the Lord and asked for His directions. He would always welcome them back and point them, once again, in the right direction. Remember, too, the words of Jesus: “I am the way.” When we wander, His grace welcomes us back.

Second, we are all prisoners: “Some of them (were) prisoners, suffering in chains.” Sin fascinates for a while but it soon fastens us in chains that bind us from enjoying God’s best. Habits are easy to form but difficult to forsake. But when the Israelites called upon God to free them, He always “snapped” their chains and they were released from their bondage. Whom God saves His grace sets free.

Third, we are often overwhelmed with grief when persons we thought loved us turned on us and hurt and harm us. “...give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love.” We have all suffered unbearable pain when someone whom we thought loved us turned against us and tried to destroy us. Being abandoned is difficult to survive alone. Thank God Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you!” We have His promise of His never-ending presence.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You love us, care for us and will always be there for us. Thank You for Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:1-43 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quiet Christians

For many years two neighbors rode the same train to work in downtown Chicago. George went to church regularly and if pressed, would admit to being a Christian. But he never allowed being a Christian interfere with his life. On the other hand, Will never went to church and had no use for godly things. As they rode the train each day, they discussed business strategies, sports, politics, religion and current events. They rarely mentioned God.

One morning Will became violently ill and was rushed to the hospital. After a series of tests his physician informed his wife that he could not live longer than a few days - if that long. Frightened, his wife said, “Perhaps we’d better call George and talk about God.”

“George? Talk about God? Why George? He rarely mentioned God to me or that he knew Him. So I doubt that he would be the right person to call,” said Will. Without saying another word he passed into eternity - lost.

When George heard the news, he was stunned and filled with guilt. There was nothing he could do for Will now but go to God and ask for forgiveness and promise to become faithful. The words of the Psalmist echoed loudly in his ears: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

Unfortunately, the Kingdom of God is filled with too many citizens like George. They know the Lord from a distance but are unwilling to speak as His ambassadors. They believe that they have “theirs” and that’s all that matters. But there is no denying that if indeed God has redeemed us, we will present Him faithfully to others!

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for our silence and refusal to be faithful in presenting Your message to the lost around us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our God Is a Good God!

Mary Jo spent part of her spring vacation with her Grandmother. When she returned home her mother asked, “Were you a good girl?”

“Mom, I was so good that I could hardly stand it,” she replied. “It’s a wonder I had any fun I was so good.”

The word “good” is difficult to measure. There is no “gooder” or “goodest.” Why? Because the word good is only applicable to God. And we must never forget that it is not possible for God to improve on anything He does or do anything any “gooder.”

On one occasion when Jesus was starting on a trip a man came running up to Him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get into heaven?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good!”

His reply did not disclaim that He, too, was good. On the contrary! He claimed and proclaimed His goodness when He confessed that He was God!

Unfortunately, the young man regarded Jesus as a human teacher only. For him to attach the word “good” to a mere human being was a bad thing. So, it was necessary for him to understand that only God is good and that no one other than God is, in fact, good. Jesus is good because He is God.

Whenever we think of ourselves, we must always remember who we are, how we think and that we are human. When we think of God, however, we must shout with the Psalmist, “Give thanks to God for He is good!”

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that You are so good and in that goodness we see Your love, grace and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Danger of Anger

Sin is not a behavior to belittle. When it no longer frightens us, we have lost contact with God. A small sin can lead to a large tragedy. All sin has consequences.

One day, while the Children of Israel were on the path to the Promised Land they came to a place that had no water. Rather than trusting their God who had always provided for their every need they became frightened. And when fear takes over in anyone’s life, faultfinding follows.

Our Psalmist gives us a vivid report of the consequences of their behavior: it “angered” Moses. The Lord told him to take his rod, gather the people together, speak to the rock in their presence and it would give them all the water they needed.

But Moses did not speak to the rock. He struck it twice with his rod. Then, in anger, he spoke harshly to the people. Instead of doing what God asked him to do, he did what he wanted to do and then reacted in anger.
Notice that the word anger is only one letter short of danger – it lacks a “d.” The result of his disobedience is seen in his anger. And there is always great danger when we are disobedient to God. His disobedience led to anger – which led to sin. As a result he lost the great honor and privilege of leading his people into the Promised Land.

How sad. How tragic. Moses did many great and glorious things. He had worked hard and done well. He was so close to reaching the goal God had given him. But he disobeyed God, lost control of his emotions and had to pay the consequences. A moment of anger can destroy anyone. 

Prayer: Lord, only You can give us victory over things that will so easily destroy us. May we follow Your advice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;

Friday, November 15, 2013

Where Is He When We Need him?

The night was so dark that even the stars were hidden behind the clouds. The winds were so fierce and the rains so heavy that it was nearly impossible to see. A chaplain noticed a young sailor trying to hide behind the ship’s guns where there was a dim light. Trying to comfort him, the Chaplain opened his New Testament to John 3:16 and asked him to read that verse. He wanted to talk to him about God. “For God so loved the world,” he began reading quietly, “that He gave His only forgotten Son.”

Many of us frequently forget the Lord, His Word and His works until we need His help. This happened to the people of Israel. In fact, the Psalmist reminds us of this in two simple words that all of us, unfortunately, can relate to: “They forgot.”

Often when we face a crisis it is easy to focus on the crisis rather than the Christ who can guide and guard us through it safely if we will only allow Him. We think of everything that we can do rather than what He can do. So we delay calling on Him. More than we can realize He is waiting to hear our voice. He wants to comfort and care for us, strengthen and sustain us. But we choose to tackle the task by ourselves – believing that we can live life without Him. Then, when we realize that we are helpless we turn to Him and, as always, He responds. Perhaps He allows us to “try it” on our own and fail just so He can remind us of our weakness and His enduring love.

His promise? “Call to me and I will answer you…” And again, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” 

Prayer: How foolish we are, Father, to ever forget that You are always present waiting and wanting to help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fortified By Faith

If we knew what was going to happen we would not need faith. We could plan for tomorrow and the next day and the next with confidence. But only God knows what tomorrow will bring into our lives. So, we need faith.

Faith enables us to live courageously, live life with confidence and know that with God beside us, His Son within us and the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can be more than conquerors.

Unfortunately, not all Christians walk by faith. Some squeak through life by sight. But the two principles of action are exclusive of each other and contradictory.

Sight is concerned with things that are material and visible. Faith is occupied with things invisible and spiritual. Each principle struggles to master the other. As Christians we must choose which one will be our master.
If we walk by sight, we will encounter many things that will frighten us. We see this in the lives of the people of Israel. When they left Israel, they were followed by the best fighters that Egypt had.

When they came to the Red Sea and saw the enemy about to destroy them they were frightened. But in spite of their lack of faith the Lord saved them. He caused the Sea to divide and provided a dry road for their escape.

“Then,” states the Psalmist, “they believed His words.” When? After they saw His miracle. It was not necessary for them to experience such despair and the fear of destruction. But their lack of faith in the presence and power of God caused them to doubt His promises.

Prayer: Lord, help us to take You at Your Word and trust in You for everything. Please increase our faith now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember Me!

“But I’m not that important to God. I have not accomplished anything with my life and I’m too old now to do anything about it. I can’t imagine that I will make any difference in God’s scheme of things,” he said. “How could any God love someone as worthless as I? I’m hopeless!”

It seems as though the writer of Psalm 106 felt the same way. “Remember me, O Lord, when You show favor to Your people, come to my aid when You save them.” He felt alone, abandoned, forsaken - perhaps even worthless. He could not imagine God including him in His plan of redemption. “I’m excluded!” he cried. “No hope.”

Another man made a similar statement. This one was a thief hanging on a cross dying for his crimes. How interesting it is to note that he was hanging next to some-One who had never committed any crimes but was dying for the crimes he - the thief - had committed. He had no time to turn over a new leaf and lead a better life. He could not go to the people he had wronged and ask for forgiveness or attend a religious ceremony for cleansing. He could not perform any good works - his hands were nailed to a cross. All he could do was to call on the name of the Lord and ask Jesus to “Remember me!” And, we too, must remember: no one is beyond the grace of God.

Although he was a thief condemned to die for his crimes, our Lord loved him just as much as He loves us. “Today,” Jesus assured him, “you will be with Me in paradise.”

God has no favorites. His love includes everyone.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your love that includes all of us no matter who we are or what we have done! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:4 Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do Right!

“Blessed are they...,” said the Psalmist, “who constantly do what is right.” Jesus, too, emphasized the importance of righteousness when He began His public ministry. “Blessed,” said Jesus, “are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Doing what is right and hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not a priority in the lives of many who call themselves “Christian.” It is as though it is a lifestyle that is more suitable for monks who live in a monastery and spend their time reading the Bible and praying. They can avoid the “real things” of life and be righteous.

Perhaps when we think of being “righteous” and “doing what is right” we shudder because it sounds so “limiting” on the one hand and “impossible” on the other. “What fun is there in being righteous?” we ask? Or, “If I ‘do right’ I’ll live a life of gloom and doom with no room for happiness and joy.” What a grim prospect.

But the exact opposite is true. God has a plan for each of our lives and has laid out this plan for each of us. It will ultimately lead us into His presence. If we seek and follow the plan and purpose He has for our lives we will walk in paths of “righteousness for His name’s sake.” If we want to know the “path of righteousness” He has for our lives we must study His Word. And the more we study His Word the more we will become like Him. If our desire is to “do right” and become “righteous” we will need to spend time alone with Him, get to know Him and grow closer to Him. To do right is up to each of us. 

Prayer: Lord, we all want to “do right.” But we cannot “do right” unless we are willing to spend time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Proclaim His Mighty Acts!

Not many people have ever heard of Mithridates the Great, King of Pontus from northern Asia Minor in 88 B.C. He was famous for his size, his strength and his skill of mastering the languages of the twenty-five nations that he ruled. There’s also Cardinal Mezzofanti, who was born in Bologna, Italy who spoke more than one hundred languages and dialects. Language is important. It connects us.

Today, philologists claim that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 different languages that people use to communicate with one another. The majority of the languages in our world flow from one person to another. Some languages exist that have never been reduced to writing. And every one of them evolves and changes. When people connect with other people in other places, languages become richer and more inclusive. Some languages add new words while other words are deleted when they no longer make sense. Some words lose their meaning and are soon forgotten.

Yet, no matter how many words there may be or how many languages are spoken, the Psalmist put things into the proper context when he asked, “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of God, or fully declare His praise?”

We will never be able to praise God as much as He deserves to be praised but we can praise Him with a heart that is sincere. If we ever begin to realize the magnitude of God’s love and mercy that saved us and now sustains us, our hearts will be filled with such joy that our voices will never cease to express our gratitude and thanks!

Prayer: Father, may we lift our voices in praise to You for Your love for us and the gift of Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Wonder Working God!

All of us know individuals whose lives have gone from pinnacles of prosperity to places of poverty. We know the temptations that overtake some soon pass and that one is enslaved and imprisoned by harmful habits. Once they were blest. Now they are in bondage. There seems to be a pattern of self-destruction that overcomes many who are not satisfied with the gifts of God. They apparently will not allow His grace and goodness satisfy them.

This is what happened to the people of Israel. It seems that the more God gave them the less satisfied they were. Finally, their greed led them into slavery. But, thank God, their story does not end there. His love and mercy eventually brought redemption and restoration to them. When? When they repented and returned to the Covenant He made with them. God keeps His Word.

Not only did He rescue them from their captors, but “they were laden with silver and gold.” When we allow God to redeem us by His grace, His Word promises us that “It is He who will supply all of our needs from His riches in glory because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.” God will keep His Word with us, too.

He also empowers those whom He redeems: “From among their tribes no one faltered.” When God redeems us, we are called to serve Him faithfully. He has a plan for each of our lives and that plan contains many opportunities for us to serve Him. And for each of those opportunities He gives us, we know that He will empower us and we will not falter or fail if we are faithful to Him.

Prayer: Father, if we have strayed from the plan You have for us forgive and restore us to the joy of serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

God Works

“Do you know what U.N. stands for?” he asked.

“The United Nations,” I replied quickly and confidently.

“Not at all,” was his reply. “It stands for Unsettled Nations,” he informed me.

Then he continued, “Does the Lord care about the condition of the nations of the world? And if He does care, why doesn’t He intervene and make things better?”

“Yes, He cares,” I answered. “But we need to see how God has intervened in the past by studying His Word so we can understand what He is doing today.”

One nation above all others seems to be the center of God’s attention: Israel. Psalm 105:24 describes what we might call an “explosion of people.” “The Lord made His people very fruitful. He made them too numerous for their foes.” We have often heard that there is “strength in numbers.” Here we see this “in action.” As the Israelites grew in numbers they grew in strength and they were able to overcome their adversaries.

This “strength in numbers” then made the Exodus possible. The historian continues by sharing another fact with us: those “whose hearts He turned to hate His people, to conspire against His servants” were led by Moses His servant and Aaron His chosen one to lead them into the land that God had chosen for them. Ultimately, it was the persecution that led them to the Promised Land.

Is God involved in the affairs of nations? Indeed He is. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!”

Prayer: May we look to You, Lord, as the only One who can save our nation. May our leaders seek Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:24, 25 The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Humiliation to Exaltation

One evening when my son John came home from football practice, I noticed that his arms and hands had an unusual number of cuts and bruises on them. “What happened?” I asked.

“Have you ever noticed, Dad,” he replied, “that pain is optional but suffering isn’t? I wanted to be on the starting team so I knew it would take more effort on my part. I’ve been ‘playing’ and this is what it took.”

The Psalmist reminded us that Joseph was sold as a slave, and that “They bruised his feet with shackles and that his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.”

Tucked away in the great plan that God has for each of us is our fair share of suffering. After Joseph was sold into slavery, he did not complain about his condition. He exceeded the horrible expectations that were placed on him. By honoring God the King honored him.

When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he resisted her seductive behaviors. She did everything she could do to seduce him but through his dependence on God he did not give into his passions. And when she grabbed him physically he was able to escape through God’s strength. When she lied about him, he was thrown into prison. And rather than becoming bitter he became better. Because he was true to God he triumphed and eventually became the premier of Egypt. His path to power was through suffering and imprisonment. If we are true to God in our times of trial, we will be triumphant.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be faithful to You, knowing that temptation and suffering, is part of Your plan for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:17 and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guarded by God

There was a large stag - a red-coated deer - that roamed through the hills of Rome. No one ever came near it or tried to capture or kill it. It was protected by Caesar and all were forbidden to disturb it. On its sides were the words, “Touch me not! I belong to Caesar.” It was a sign of ownership and no one dared to harm or hurt that animal.

There is a far more important statement about ownership in Psalm 105. It is a statement about those who belong to God: “Do not touch My anointed ones.”
Sometimes the words of God are overlooked by the children of God. This verse is a good example of an “overlooked” rule from the Lord. Few of us will admit to having never spoken evil of a fellow Christian. But...

We often listen carefully while one “saint” criticizes or condemns another “saint.” We carefully listen to every detail when a fellow church member ridicules or runs down the person who sits next to us during the worship service. We do not see “for whom Christ died” on the forehead of someone whose marriage is falling apart - so we anxiously listen to the sordid details of an unfaithful spouse. We blame others for “bad parenting skills” when their children become addicts rather than grieve with them over their loss. We carelessly pass on rumors about the honesty of someone who has more than we do. The tongue can easily become a weapon of wickedness and ultimately destroy “the Lord’s anointed ones.”

We must use our tongues to help not harm!

Prayer: Father, may we turn deaf ears to words that harm others and speak kind words about Your anointed ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:15a “Do not touch my anointed ones;

Monday, November 4, 2013

Promises? Promises!

Years ago a firm handshake and a sincere look in the eye meant that “my word is my bond as long as I live.” No questions were asked and no exceptions were included. “If I said it I meant it and I will do it. I will not deny what I said nor offer any excuses if I fail!”

How different it is today. Contracts, warranties and agreements are written with clauses that are vague and difficult to understand and often need the interpretation of an attorney. Word of mouth promises rarely last longer than the time it takes to speak them.

How different it is with God. In Psalm 105 we are reminded of His faithfulness to Israel. If He said it He did it. If He promised something to them there is proof in His Word that He made it happen. All of the promises He made to them have been fulfilled and offer us the assurance that “God is a Man of His Word.” This gives encouragement for today and hope for the future.

Some Biblical scholars who carefully researched “His Word” have discovered that it contains 3,000 promises! And if we look at this fact - that most of His promises have been fulfilled while we wait for others to be fulfilled we can be confident that He will fulfill them.

Here are two great promises for today:

“The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble!” So, whenever we can’t handle “things” He certainly can!

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in My name.” What a wonderful, never-ending, open ended promise if we call on Him in faith and trust.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to take You at Your Word: To claim Your promises and know that You will fulfill them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:8a He remembers his covenant forever,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks

Sometimes it seems as though we have more holidays and days to celebrate people and events than there are days on the calendar. But this month contains a national holiday that has special religious significance. This day that has been set aside for us to pause, ponder, praise, pray and give thanks to God for His blessings.
Many families will gather together and share stories of God’s love and mercy, grace and salvation. They will talk of God’s peace and presence and tell of His goodness and guidance, hope and healing, power and protection. God’s generous blessings will be the most important topic of their discussions. He will be honored!

There will also be families where God will not be respected or mentioned. It is not that there will be an absence of thanks, but God will not be recognized as the giver of all gifts. They will focus on what they have or have accomplished or achieved believing that they have “done it on my own.” They will fail to recognize His gifts.

Some will resent the day because they feel short changed or even forgotten by God. They have had trials too tragic to share and losses too great to describe. Their lives seem hopeless with nothing before them but darkness. The consequences of wrong choices have left them scarred for life. But God still loves them!
But, everyone can join the Psalmist and say, “Praise the Lord and give Him thanks!” - Even those who feel hopeless and ungrateful. Why? This verse talks of His mercy which is always available to everyone: the humble, the proud and the resentful.

Prayer: Lord, You have given us so very much. Yet, we ask for and need one more thing: A thankful heart! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 105:1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.