Friday, January 31, 2014

Who Do You Trust?

Have you ever made a list of the persons you trust? How many were on that list? Who was first and who was last? And how did you know who to include on that list? Who did you exclude from that list? Trust is an important trait that we look for in family and friends. Many times those whom we loved best have disappointed us most. They have betrayed us when we confided in them and poured out the secrets of our hearts to them. Everyone needs someone who can be trusted without any reservation.

One man in the Bible had a very short list. In fact, it was limited to one name. The Psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” What a profound statement. On the one hand it seems very disappointing. Yet, on the other it gives us the assurance that there is One whom we can turn to when we need a confidant. Though everyone else fails us, God cannot.

Notice, however that the Psalmist said the Lord. Our Lord is unique. He is not indifferent to our needs and has no limitations when it comes to meeting them. His power is limitless and His compassion has no criteria. He is perfect and He has loved us from the beginning of time.

The Psalmist also made his statement in the present tense by using the verb is. We need His help now: moment by moment - each hour and every hour of the day.

There is no one other than the Lord who we can turn to when we have a heart that is broken or a life that is in shambles who will care for us more than He. There are others who can help us but none more caring than He.

Prayer: May we look to You first Lord, when we need someone we can trust to guide us and guard us always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is The Right Person On Your Side?

The Civil War was a dark period in the history of the United States. President Abraham Lincoln had little time for anything else in his life. The demands on him were overwhelming and he went for days without enjoying his family.

On one occasion while meeting with Secretary of State William Seward in the Cabinet room, his son burst through the doors in tears and said, “I want my father!”

The secretary could have said, “Your father is too busy for you. Let me get you a teacher who can help you with your problems.” Or, he could have said, “Let me get you an attorney who will represent you wisely and get you out of any problem you might have.”

The child knew who he wanted and it was not the Secretary of State or some other highly qualified person. He wanted his father. No one else could fill that need.

And that is essentially what the Psalmist said when he cried, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” God was his first responder.

Sometimes it is easy to turn to the person who we consider to be our closest friend when we face a difficult time in our lives. Or we may look for a person who is known for his brilliance or knowledge or wisdom or status to rescue us from any number of problems that are beyond our capabilities. That may not be wise.

When we face the uncertainties of life, the first person we need to call on for guidance is our God. We must go to him as a child to a father knowing He is waiting to help.

Lord, we know that no one cares for us as much as You do. May we look to You first when we are in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's There - Waiting

Mary and I had been on a long trip. We had been driving for hours. We arrived home in the midst of a storm. The wind seemed to be coming from every direction and the rain was cold and biting. We sat in our car for a moment looking at our home that was dark and empty. I left the lights on in the car and made my way up the steps, turned on the lights and turned up the thermostat. Suddenly, what had once been dark and dismal was now warm and welcoming.

Although our home was cold and dark, power was available to eliminate the darkness and provide energy for warmth. But it was necessary for me to do “something” to change things.

In a spiritual sense, this is true of prayer. The writer of Psalm 118 was in a situation where he desperately needed help. He knew there was a source of power that was beyond himself that he could go to if he chose to. And he did! Hear his words: “In my anguish I cried to the Lord and He answered me by setting me free!”
The prayer of faith is far more powerful than any source of power we know about. It is the greatest force for good that is available to man.

It was Jesus who challenged us to go to this Source of power for anything and everything: “You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it!” Jesus set no limits on what we might ask for as long as it is in keeping with His nature and character. Whatever we ask for, if it will bring honor and glory to His name, He will give us.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to take Your challenge to pray for anything that we might need as long as it honors You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Does Size Make A Difference?

Have you ever heard that “bigger is better” or that “smaller is insufficient”? Some think that size makes a difference. And there may be times when both are true.

Psalm 117 provides a significant statement on size. It is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Yet it contains some of the largest themes in the Word of God.

For example, “Praise the Lord, all you nations.” The Lord is not limited to any one nation or country. God did not send His Son to be the Savior of one particular group. His Word clearly states that “The Father sent the Son to be the savior of the world...” There is no Biblical basis to believe that our Lord loves some one more than every one. The word world includes every continent - from the most God-hating to the most God-honoring.

It also states that His love is not limited: “For great is His love toward us.” Our God has no favorites. We may question why others are more prosperous than we are or have more of life’s goods than we do, but that does not mean that they are loved more than any one else. God gave them what He did for a particular reason and He gives us what He did for a particular reason. They, as well as the rest of us, will be accountable to Him for all of His gifts. It is never what He gives us, but how we bless God and others with His gifts.

Finally, His “faithfulness endures forever.” God is not nice today and spiteful tomorrow. Who He is today He will be tomorrow and throughout eternity. His pledges and promises are predictable. His Word proves that fact.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for a love that includes all of us and Your faithfulness that will not waiver. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 117 Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Speaking of Death...

Not many of us enjoy the topic of death. In fact, for most of us, it is a topic that we avoid until it is absolutely necessary. But the author of Psalm 116 made a rather significant statement that Christians can rely on with assurance, confidence and the hope that comes from being born again.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” What might this mean?

Certainly, we know that God is in control of our lives and everything that happens to the Christian. Nothing happens by chance because He is ultimately responsible for every event in our lives from our birth until our death. All of us have our individual obligation to Him and until our work is completed, death will not overtake us!

This verse also speaks of God’s compassion. The word “precious” means “costly” or “dear.” The death of a Christian is an object of great value to our Lord. All throughout our lives we have been born in to the Kingdom of God and have His guardian angels surrounding us. Their very last responsibility is to carry us to be with Him eternally.

Another gracious implication in this verse is the consequences of death. There will be no more sadness or sorrow or suffering. We will be free from our worries and woes. When we are with our Lord we will enjoy the peace of His presence and the joy of being reunited with our family and friends. There will be no more feelings of separation or loneliness and the longings of our hearts will be filled with the promise of life with Him.

Prayer: How great is the hope in our hearts, Heavenly Father, as we anticipate being with You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Save Me, Lord

Jennifer never met a stranger. No matter where she was or who she met, she always made friends quickly.

Once when traveling on a train, she became bored and decided to walk down the aisle and chat with the folk who were traveling with her. Smilingly she went from seat to seat greeting the passengers. Everyone wanted to know who she was and who she was traveling with. Without any notice, the train entered a tunnel and darkness filled the passenger car before the bright lights came on. Little Jennifer ran down the aisle shouting, “Help, Mom! Where are you? I need you!” Standing in the aisle her mother reached out to her, hugged her and said, “It’s O.K. I’m right here with you, Jennifer. Don’t be afraid.”

When things are going well and we are surrounded by prosperity, it is difficult to admit that we need anyone’s help. But when the “lights go out,” we all tend to run to someone who we believe can help us.

There author of Psalm 116 was going through a dark and difficult time in his life. Things looked dismal. He was overcome with trouble and sorrow. “Then,” he wrote, “I called on the name of the Lord; O Lord, Save me!”

In four simple words he said everything that needed to be said. There was no time for formalities and no need for any particular posture. Problems erupted. Help was needed. God was listening. Problem solved!

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Length is not part of the equation. Sincerity and righteousness are what makes prayer powerful.

Prayer: Lord, we have ample advice on how to pray. What we need is to live righteous lives and want Your help! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 116:4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Don't Leave Yet, Lord"

Tina and Sue, five-year-old twins, were saying their prayers before crawling into bed. Sue prayed first, and as she was about to end her prayer, said, “Don’t leave just yet, Lord, Tina has something to add.”

The Psalmist assured us that our God will always be there when we need Him. “Because He turned His ear to me,” he wrote, “I will call on Him as long as I live.” God is waiting to do His part but we must be willing to do ours.

An important element in prayer is companionship. We must keep company with God. Charles Spurgeon, who was considered the “Prince of Preachers,” put it this way: “Not an hour passes during my day but that I am in conscious communion with my Lord.” Prayer, to him, was as important as breathing: He could not live without it.

When we pray we are in communication with God. There are two parts in effective communication: sending and receiving. Unfortunately, for many, prayer is a one-way operation: sending. We are anxious, often driven, when things are bad, to go to God in prayer. We send our needs to Him because we know He “turns His ear to us.” But we must also “tune our ear” to Him by spending time with Him in His Word. The writer of Psalm 119 said that His Word is a “lamp to my feet and a light for our path.” When we read His Word we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts, open our minds and find answers to the needs we take to God in prayer.
For our prayers to be effective we must stay as close to God as we do with our best friend: we talk - we listen.

Prayer: Lord, may we become as attentive to Your voice as You are to ours. May we walk close to You each day. In Jesus’ Name.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 116:2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why Pray?

“Prayer,” said the anthropologist, “is a universal behavior.” He continued his remarks by saying, “No matter where I have traveled or who I have talked to, everyone seems to need someone who is ‘bigger’ than they are. Everybody needs somebody when they have a problem they can’t solve or are faced with a sickness that won’t go away. Prayer seems to be a big part of everyone’s soul.”

The people that the researcher talked about prayed because they needed help. They faced certain situations that were beyond their ability to change - so they prayed. Of course we wonder what may have happened when they prayed or if it made any difference in their lives. We’ll never know. It’s sad, however, to think that most people who pray do not know whether or not the one they are praying to is listening to their cries or can do anything about their needs.

One Psalmist, however, has good news about prayer. “I love the Lord because He heard my voice. He heard my cry for mercy.” Twice, in one sentence, the Psalmist said that when he prayed his God heard him. Not only did his God hear his voice and his cry for mercy but his God met his every need! What a great, gracious God we worship.

The God of Christians is responsive to the needs of Christians. We can always reach our God if we reach out to Him. Our God willingly “bends down to listen” to our prayers - meaning that He is always nearby waiting for our voice and willing to “hear our cry for mercy.”

No wonder the Psalmist said, “I love the Lord!”

Thank You, Father, for always being nearby as You wait anxiously to hear the voice of Your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 116:2 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our God Will Bless Us

“My,” said the guest to the owner of a dairy farm, “I have never seen such a beautiful herd of cows. They must be worth a lot of money.”

“We don’t look at the herd as far as value goes,” he replied. “We look at each cow individually. Each one has its own record,” he continued. “It does not matter how handsome these purebred Holstein are, their value is their ‘Record of Performance.’ Every day we keep track of the milk each cow produces. First, it is measured by its weight. Then it is tested for butterfat content. Then we enter it into the cow’s individual record.”

Our Creator also keeps a “Record of Performance” on each of us. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord remembers us and will bless us...He will bless those who fear the Lord - small and great alike.”

It does not matter what we have or do not have, the size of our home, the amount of education we have, the titles we have earned, or our position in society - God’s blessings come from our attitude toward Him. If we fear Him, or stand in awe of Him and bow in respect to Him and submit to His Lordship, He will indeed bless us.

Each of us has a “Record of Performance” - we are all measured by God’s standards. Each day we are tempted by Satan in various settings. In these settings we have many opportunities to expose our attitude toward God. Do we honor Him by what we say and how we behave? Do we stand up for righteousness?
 Are we faithful to His Word? Does our language express God’s love? Do we care?

Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father, that our Record of Performance will bring honor and praise to Your Name! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 115:12 & 13 The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord— small and great alike.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The God of the Bible

No one can live without worshiping something or someone.

Man has a need to worship someone or something that is above him, beyond him, more intelligent, more powerful, more “whatever” than he is. Someone whom he is willing to bow before or something that he builds his life on.

That one or that thing may have beauty or be ugly in the final analysis - depending on who makes the decision about that one or thing. It may be material or physical, it may be mental or personal. It is someone or something that is “worthy” of bending a knee or bowing a head in the eyes of the worshiper.

What is so interesting about what or who we choose to worship is that we eventually become like that god. For example if our God is a God of love, we will love as that God loves. If our God is faithful, or caring, or holy, or compassionate, or truthful, or pure, or sinless - we will strive to become like that God.

If our god is sinful, we will sin willingly. If our god is cruel, or hateful, or untrustworthy, or covetous, or jealous, or inhumane, or self-centered we will allow those traits to become evident or obvious in our lives.
Centuries ago the Psalmist predicted this: “Those who make them are like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

Our behavior reflects the one whom we choose to bow before. Our lives reflect the one we worship.

Prayer: Father, we cannot fool anyone - especially You. Our lives are either Godlike or godlike - but not both. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 115:8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Let Him In!

He’d been away at school for several months. When he arrived home it was one o’clock in the morning. But he was anxious to see his fiancée. After all, he drove for many hours with a box of candy and a large bouquet of flowers next to him on the front seat.

When he arrived at his fiancée’s home he ran up the steps - flowers and candy tucked under his arm - and rang the doorbell. From a window in her room upstairs she shouted, “Go away. Come back in the morning. I’ve been asleep for hours.”

Anger swept over him. First, he rammed his fist through the window in the door. Then he stuffed the candy and flowers through the broken window. Still in a rage, he started his car and drove it into the front of her house. Finally, when there was no response he left.

Our Lord is much different. He gently knocks at the door of our hearts wanting to enter into our lives. “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” While the Lord stands at the door of our heart and gently knocks, He will not force His way in nor leave in anger.

The Psalmist wrote, “Judah became His sanctuary.” What a beautiful picture! Their hearts became His very own holy place. God redeems us because He wants to dwell within us, that we might become His holy place!

He wants to make our hearts His home but we must invite Him in. He will never force His way in to our lives.

Prayer: Come, Heavenly Father, and make our heart Your home and allow us to become Your Holy Place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 114:2 Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Finding Faith

QUESTION: Which is stronger in your life - faith or fear?

God never promised Christians freedom from fear or immunity from trouble. Nor are we assured that every day will be filled with sunshine and smiling flowers. But He did promise His presence and power.

Unfortunately, it is our thoughts of terrible things that bring us worry and fear.

We often think about our past: our failures and flaws. Or we think about the future: the “might” happens or the “surely” will occurs.

When we confess our shortcomings of the past, God forgives them and forgets them. And if we allow Him, He can and will turn them into triumphs and our setbacks in to successes.
But what of the future? We must commit it to our God because He is in control of tomorrow - not circumstances of fate. He can turn what we see as obstacles into opportunities and what threatens us into triumphs.

Sir Henry Lauder was an internationally known Scottish entertainer. He visited many hospitals where the wounded were recovering. One day he received news that his son had been killed in combat. He turned to a friend and said, “At a time like this a man can turn to many things that could destroy him. I will turn to Christ.”

The Psalmist said, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear...”

Prayer: Give us, Lord, the peace of Your presence and the guarantee of Your guidance in uncertain times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:7-8 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Beginnings

“There’s nothing left for me. I’ve made such a mess out of my life that I have nothing to look forward to. And the tragedy of it all is that things looked great for so many years. Now, when I look into the future all I see is gloom and darkness. Where can I find anything to look forward to?” he asked.

“There is an answer - I can assure you of that,” I said. Turning to Psalm 112:4, I read, “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.”

God will always provide His Light for those who seek it. No matter how far we have fallen or how little hope we may have, God can take the bitterness of defeat and despair and turn them in to stepping stones of success. When we willingly face and acknowledge our faults and shortcomings, ask for and accept His forgiveness and surrender our lives to Him, He will bring victory out of defeat.

Consider the story of Peter. When someone asked if He was a follower of Jesus, he lied, saying, “I am not!” A few moments before His denial he attempted to protect Jesus with His sword. And there was Mark - the author of the second book in the New Testament. He started as a strong believer with complete trust in the message of Jesus. Suddenly, things grew boring and the excitement evaporated. So, he gave up the “call” and quit.

But in spite of their failures He did not give up on them. And neither will He give up on us. He forgave them, as He will us, and bring His light back into our lives.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to understand that “failure is not final” because Your grace provides a new beginning. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Something To "Crow" About!

Early each morning, often before the sun rises, a “rooster” who lives nearby sends a message announcing to his neighbors that “a new day has arrived - get up and go.”

For some, this is unwelcomed news. But for others it is an announcement that a new day has dawned and there are new opportunities of the way to serve and honor God.

How “roosters” got their name is interesting. All birds - and chickens are considered birds - “roost” at night. So, the one that wakes up first and “leaves the roost” and begins to “crow” is considered “the” rooster. What makes a rooster crow is not known. But how a rooster crows is.

A rooster never crows with his neck bent and his head down. Whenever he crows he lifts up his head proudly as if he is thanking his Creator. Roosters never crow with their heads bent.

Psalm 111:1 reminds me of the cry of a rooster as a good way to begin each day. “Praise the Lord! I will extol the Lord with all my heart.” Why? The Psalmist then gives thirteen reasons:
“Great are the works of the Lord.”
“Glorious and majestic are His deeds.”
“His righteousness endures forever.”
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate.”
“He provides food for those who fear - stand in awe - of Him.”
“He has shown His people the power of His world.”
“The words of the hands are faithful – trustworthy - steadfast - upright - just - and He provides redemption.”

Prayer: How great You are, Heavenly Father, for Your great gifts. May we shout of Your greatness every day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:
Psalm 111:1-2 Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Heart That Does Kind Things

It was the final set in a tennis match. One of the players had demonstrated his strength and skill as his opponent struggled to stay competitive. Suddenly the player who had been doing so well began to hit the ball outside of the lines, into the net and even miss the ball completely. It seemed as though he had lost his focus.
His father approached him during a break and asked, “Keller, what’s going on? You were doing so good and now you may lose the match and not go to the state finals. What’s going on?” he demanded.

“It’s O.K., Dad. Let me alone. I know I can win. I’ve been missing the balls on purpose. I don’t want him to feel bad about losing. I want to encourage him.”

Keller did go on to win. But in the process he not only thought of “doing a kindness” but actually showed what kindness “looked like” to someone who was struggling to defeat him and win the match.

Life gives us many opportunities to “do kindness.” In fact, God “makes them available” each day. For example, we can open a door for a senior citizen; or be gracious and express our gratitude to a cashier during the rush hour at a grocery store; or give a smile to someone who looks like they need encouragement; or give a compliment to one who is guiding us when we place an order on the phone or take care to explain something that is unfamiliar to us.

“Doing kindness” is one of the most important things we Christians can do. It represents what God’s grace is all about. If an opportunity to “do kindness” appears, seize it!

Prayer: Help us to be alert, Lord, for opportunities to show Your grace through acts of kindness and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 109:16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prayer: Force or Foolishness

9thPrayer, for some, is a force that enables them to approach God in worship and wonder or in times of need for the necessities of life. For others, prayer is utter and complete foolishness because they believe it is foolish and a waste of time.

In the life of David, it was a powerful force. Whenever he was hurt by harmful words, received a wound from a battle or had a need that was beyond his limitations he turned to God in prayer. Listen carefully to his words: “I am a man of prayer.”

It is always interesting to listen carefully to someone introduce themselves: “I am a doctor...I am the CEO of...I am a sales representative at...I work for...I am the one who...I set a record by...I am the owner of.” We seem to want others to recognize us for what we have done not who we are.

But with all his power and prestige, wealth and wisdom, David wanted others to recognize him as someone who was completely dependent on God: “I am a man of prayer.”

Prayer was a force in the life of David. As we read his prayer in the Psalms we discover that he had no definite time of prayer, no specific place to pray, no particular position he assumed when he prayed and it seems as though most of the time when he prayed he was alone.

David realized that prayer was a force in his life. It brought forgiveness when he sinned, peace when he was anxious, and victory when he was embattled and constant joy
Prayer:  Father, may we see the need for prayer in our lives when we see the results of prayer in the life of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 109:4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Need For God's Help

Years ago, while living in California, I was walking through the aisles of a grocery store when suddenly the shelves began to shake. Items fell to the floor and the lights went out and people began to push and shove. A man standing near me shouted, “God, if I ever need Your help it’s right now. Please save me!”

David must have felt that way as he faced a large and well trained army waiting for him in a heavily fortified city. His heart must have been filled with fear - and rightly so. The city was situated among rugged hills and was almost inaccessible. He knew the enemy was waiting for him, prepared and seemingly invincible. So, he too, called on God. “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?”

Realizing the greatness of his enemy and his need for help he prayed, “Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless.”

All of us face our “Edom’s.” It may be in the form of a dreaded disease and there are no more options. It may be the dissolution of a marriage and children will be left with feelings of fear and wonder. It may be the loss of a loved one and feelings of grief that haunt us night and day. It may be the loss of a child to an addiction. It may be the result of an accident that leaves a spouse paralyzed. It may be the confinement of a prison cell with little hope for freedom.

We all face our “Edom’s.” Yet, we can all pray with David, “With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies.” No enemy can escape God.

Prayer:  Give us faith and fortitude, Father, to look to You for victory through Christ our Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stay Focused

“Rivers and streams are crooked because they follow the line of least resistance.” True of flowing water and true of most of us.

Being “steadfast” or committed in our devotion to God is crucial. We are not worth very much to our Savior if He is not our Lord. And if He is the Lord of our lives others will see His influence in all that we do.

Unfortunately, many who profess to be followers of the Lord are not consistent in their witness for Him - they are not “steadfast.” When in church they do as others do and when they are away from the church they do whatever is convenient. A psychologist might classify them as having a “split-personality.” Like a river or stream, they “follow the line of least resistance.”

David did not follow the “line of least resistance.” He clearly declared his commitment to God when he wrote, “My heart is steadfast, O God!” He did not leave any room to roam or waver in his willingness to walk with and be faithful to His Lord. He did not stray when life became a struggle or run in defeat when times became difficult. He was one who was “steadfast” and can be seen turning his troubles into triumph when he trusted the Lord.

Those around us need to see us as being “steadfast” in the Lord. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our feet planted in His Word, our ears open to hear His voice, our hearts filled with His compassion and our eyes fixed on His path and our minds centered on doing His will.

Prayer: Lord, it is possible for us to be “steadfast” if we are willing to “stand fast” in our commitment to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:1 My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Try It - It May Surprise You

An atheist confronted a young believer in a park and began to ridicule him for his faith in God. He dared the Christian to refute any of his arguments that he believed disproved the God of believers.
Quietly, another Christian, who had been watching the exchange between the atheist and the Christian, stepped forward and stood next to the young believer.

He did not say a word as he took an orange from his pocket and started to peel it. “What are you doing, fool. If you have something to say, then say it. Otherwise let ‘the believer’ defend his faith.”

After he finished peeling the orange he asked the atheist, “Tell me, is this orange sweet or sour?” Angrily the skeptic shouted and waved his fist and said, “How should I know. I haven’t tried it.”

“Then,” said the Christian, “you would be wise to stop criticizing the Word of God until you’ve tried it.”

Major General Lew Wallace is the author of Ben Hur, the most influential Christian novel of the nineteenth century. At one time in his life he was considered to be an atheist. However, in answer to that statement he wrote, “As a result of my own personal research and many years of study, I became convinced that Jesus Christ was not only a Savior of the world, not only the Savior of the world, but that He was my Savior, too, and being thus convinced I wrote Ben Hur.

“Whosoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord,” wrote the Psalmist.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your Word that no one can destroy or diminish, and is the source of our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:43 Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wonderful Words of Life

Johnny Bartek grew up in Freehold, New Jersey. He attended one year of high school before “flunking out” at age 16. For the next several years he worked at various jobs but could not find one that he enjoyed. Dissatisfied with his opportunities at home he decided to join the Army Air Force soon after turning 18. He became a flight mechanic and was aboard the aircraft carrying Captain Eddie Rickenbacker that was lost at sea because of bad weather and inadequate navigation equipment. The crew spent three weeks at sea in a crowded life raft and all but one survived the horrific, harrowing ordeal.

Very few supplies were on the raft and after three days they ran out of food and water. One of the few items on the raft was a Bible. The inscription in the Bible read “A Sacred Token, to John F. Bartek by the First Baptist Church, Freehold, NJ, April 7, 1942.”

On the eighth day, a few minutes after they read a portion of Scripture from the Bible, a sea gull landed on the head of Captain Rickenbacker which became food and fish bait to help keep the men alive until they were rescued. The men on the raft believed that it was a sign from God.

What verse did they read? “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’...for...your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

Many years before those eight men on that raft needed nourishment the Psalmist wrote, “He sent forth His Word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave.”

Prayer: How faithful You are, Father, to keep Your Word, meet our every need and protect us from danger. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What To Give To The Giver Of Gifts

“They cried” when they were in trouble and He “saved them from their distress.” Then when “they were in darkness and the deepest gloom,” He provided light for their path. And when they were in bondage He “broke away their chains” and set them free.

God’s grace and goodness for the Children of Israel reminds me of His grace and goodness for His children today. Many speak of God comforting them when He “saved” them from the distress of an emotional crisis that would have destroyed them. Often we hear stories of God’s Word providing light for His children who had a difficult time in finding direction for their lives. Quite frequently we hear testimonies of individuals who were in “bondage” caused by alcohol or other drugs who were set free by His grace.

But the stories and testimonies of God’s goodness must never end with the release from distress and the restoration of His blessings. His light for our path or the joy that comes from being set free from the bondage of sin must always lead to words of thanksgiving and times of worship. The words must always lead were selected to emphasize the importance and obligation we have to be grateful to God and honor Him for His goodness and grace.

Self-centeredness will reign in our hearts and control our lives until we honor God publicly for everything He does for us. When we honor Him in praise and worship for His “unfailing love and wonderful deeds,” we show others how dependent we are on God for all that we are or have.

Prayer: Father, fill our hearts with gratitude and our lives with humility so others can see Your greatness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:13-15 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

From Rebellion To Restoration

Going against God’s will comes naturally. Our wants and God’s needs seem to be at odds with one another. It’s part of our sinful nature that needs our constant attention and never ending vigilance.

Psalm 107 describes the outcome when we become careless or lax or when we do not struggle to stay close to God. It presents a picture of those who have strayed from God as “sitting in darkness,”...“in the shadow of death” and being “bound in affliction and in irons.” Here, this “darkness” is what life is like without the Light of God in a person’s life. And we also know that when God is not present and active in our lives death looms large!

This struggle to be obedient and close to and with God is nothing new. Rebellion and self-centeredness began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. They rejected God’s requirement for them to be obedience and faithful. And when they disobeyed Him, the battle against sin and any desire that any one would ever have to do what right in the eyes of God began. But the battle to be righteous and the desire to please God are certainly possible.

Notice this reminder from the Psalmist: “They cried to the Lord in their trouble and He saved them from their distress.” Any “trouble” we may have had, are having now or will have in the future is included when anyone at any time from anyplace cries out to God for His deliverance.

Our loving, gracious, merciful and faithful God will never desert us no matter how far we have strayed or how sinful our lives may be. “Call on me and I will answer!”

Prayer: Father, as we enter this year cleanse, forgive and deliver us from all of our sins and restore our joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107:13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.