Friday, February 28, 2014

Suffering And Obedience

A member of a tourist group noticed a shepherd carrying food to one of his sheep. He was very curious and asked, “What happened? Is one of your sheep having problems?”

“Yes,” came the reply. “I have a sheep with a broken leg.”

“What happened? Did he fall over a cliff? Did an animal bite him?” he asked.

“Oh, no,” said the shepherd. “I broke it.”

“My goodness,” said the tourist. “You broke your sheep’s leg on purpose? I thought that shepherds loved their sheep more than anything else. I’ve even heard stories about shepherds searching for a lost sheep all night long. How could you do such a thing? Were you angry? Don’t you love your sheep?”

“Of course I love my sheep,” replied the shepherd. “That’s why I broke its leg. This was a ‘wayward’ sheep. When it strayed from the flock it led other sheep with it. Something had to be done to preserve the life of this sheep and to prevent it from leading other sheep astray. I broke its leg and reset it to teach it obedience. Now, it waits for me to feed it and eats out of my hand. It will never leave me again and will stay by my side. Finally, it is obedient.”

There was a Psalmist who must have had an experience like the sheep in this story. In writing of his experience he said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your voice.” Suffering has a purpose.

Prayer: No one likes to hurt, Lord. Yet, we ask that You do whatever is necessary to keep us close to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Friends, Followers and Faith

Will and his friends had an enjoyable afternoon playing in his back yard. Suddenly there was a severe disagreement and he shouted, “Go home. I can play by myself.”

His father heard the “noise” and asked, “What happened, Son?”

Angrily he said, “They wouldn’t let me have my turn on the teeter-totter so I told them to go!”

“Well,” said his Dad, “let me see how it works with you on one end and no one else on the other.”

Life is very much like a teeter-totter. We need to have others around to make it “work.” And no matter how many friends we may have it seems like there is always room for another one.

But who we choose to have as friends is very important. Our friends tend to tear us down, they give us strength or cause us to stumble and they either lead us closer to the Lord or get between us. A wise proverb reads, “Tell me whom you are with, and I will tell you what you are.”

We are not like roses. If we find a bush full of beautiful roses in a field of weeds, it will not take away from their fragrance or beauty. Friends are different because of the influence they have on us. And it seems more likely that it is easier for them to involve us in their vices than we are to get them involved in our virtues.

Wisely the Psalmist said, “I am a friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts.”

Prayer: Guide and guard us, Lord, as we choose our friends. May we be aware of their influence on our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Midnight Thanks

There is a story of a young girl who was demon-possessed and a qualified fortune teller. A group of men saw an opportunity to make large sums of money from her talents so they formed a syndicate, bought her time and talents and made a good deal of money.

Not long after they formed their syndicate, an evangelist and his young associate saw the girl and felt sorry for her. The evangelist stood before her, addressed the demon in her and said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Instantly, the demon left her when he heard the voice of the evangelist.

When the owners of the girl realized that their investment and future income was gone they succeeded in having Paul and Silas arrested. They were given a bloody beating and then thrown into a dungeon and their hands and feet were clamped into stocks.

When we look at this story up to this point we see two men imprisoned for doing what was good and right yet were deeply wronged. Did they stop and pity themselves and complain to the God they were serving? Indeed not! At midnight they began to pray and sing praises to God and a revival broke out: the jailer was converted.

One thing that cannot be taken away from a Christian is the presence of Christ. With Him and in Him there is a freedom that only He can give - even at midnight. Might they have been familiar with the words of the Psalmist: “At midnight I rise to give You thanks.”

Prayer: It’s easy, Father, to give thanks when things are going our way. May we also give thanks in our trials. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

To Think or Not To Think

Someone said that there are two types of people: those who stop to think or those who stop thinking. If someone stops thinking life will go on without them. On the other hand it is important for those who do think to think about things that matter.

There is a good example of this principle in Psalm 119:59: “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to Your statues.” What we spend our time thinking about matters more than anything else in our lives. It is our thinking that enables us to discern right from wrong, good from bad, what is helpful from what is hurtful. And the list goes on. Thinking leads to choices and our choices determine our destiny. In fact, that’s what the Psalmist wrote about: “When I stopped to consider what I was doing and where I was going, it led me to change my course of direction and follow the laws of the Lord.”

Many are too involved in the things of this world to “stop and consider” where they are going or whom they are following. Life becomes a blur and there is not much difference between night and day: everything looks like a long piece of grey flannel that has no beginning or end.

The Psalmist said, “I considered - I turned.” It does not take much time to see the difference between God’s way and the world’s way. And when one sees the benefits of what God has to offer us in contrast to what the world takes from us the choice is clear: life or death. It is wise to stop, consider our choices and turn to God.

Prayer: We have in You, Father, all that we need for today and after “today” a life with You in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

What's In Your Name?

One of the greatest musicians to ever lead any band was John Phillips Sousa. He followed the musical legacy of his father and achieved world acclaim as both a musician and writer of band music. Most people who have ever played in a band have played one of the many marches he wrote many of them becoming favorites of people around the world. Eventually he became known as the "March King" and when his marches were played people could identify him as the composer.

Names were once used to identify a person’s place of origin or their vocation or occupation. They had a great deal of significance because they gave away so much information about a person. Today they have little significance and tell us little, if anything, important.

In the Bible, however, names had meaning and purpose and were selected very carefully. For example, when we read the different names that were given to God we soon realize that they were given to Him as a title to describe or recognize what He was doing for His children or something that He wanted to do for His own.

A beautiful example of this is found in Psalm 119:55. One of His very own had a very particular need and he needed help immediately! So, he prayed, “In the night, Lord, I remember Your name.” When we read the word “night” in the Bible it usually refers to a “time of distress.” Not wanting to be overcome by defeat he knew that his God was with him at that moment and that His power was available to keep him from defeat.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that Your presence and power are available in nights of distress or days of delight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today
: Psalm 119:54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making His Message Known

\God chose many ways to make Himself known. We hear Him speaking through His prophet and writing His standards in stone. There was a bush that burst into flames and birds that brought food to starving people. There were clouds that led people in the day and pillars of fire that led them at night. Angels were sent to speak on His behalf and announce the birth of His Son. A sea was once parted and His “chosen” walked through it to safety. In many ways and on many different occasions He did what He had to do to get the attention of people to hear or see His message of love, salvation and hope.

But one method that no Christian can ignore is contained in the final words of Jesus: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” If we remove the letter “p” we have the word “reach.” Then, if we remove the letter “r” we have the word “each.” So, Jesus is commanding us to “preach” His message that we may “reach” “each” person He brings into our lives.

The Psalmist took this responsibility seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he started at the “top” of the ladder: “I will speak of Your statues before kings and will not be put to shame!” Imagine him standing before a king and saying, “Excuse me, Sir, but I need to begin our conversation with a message from the Lord. It is rather brief and will only take a few minutes.”

The limitless love of God is not limited by ones title or address. It reaches to kings and servants, family members and friends. Wherever we are, we are to preach.

Prayer: Lord, it is difficult to share Your Word. But if we take our responsibility seriously we have no choice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Universal Truth

Jim, the Chairman of the Deacons, had been ill for quite some time. His pastor had been very faithful in visiting him several times each week. Every time he visited him, he would read a passage of Scripture from his Bible and pray with him.

On this particular day he forgot his Bible and asked, “May I borrow your Bible, Jim?”

“Certainly. Son,” he shouted, “bring my favorite book. The Pastor wants to read something to me.”

Immediately his son appeared and handed the Pastor his “favorite book” - the TV Guide.

A Psalmist spoke of his favorite book with these words: “I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in Your Word...never take Your word of truth from my mouth for I have put my hope in Your laws...I will obey Your laws for ever and ever.”

Notice the significance of what the Psalmist read: When he sought the “ultimate” truth he turned to the Word of God. No matter who challenged his beliefs he would answer them with God’s truth. In God’s Word we find the best way to live and the most comfortable way to die. It answers all of our questions, contains a solution for every one of our problems and a cure for all of our ills.

It also provides the reason for being optimistic. “I will walk, in freedom!” No bondage. No worries. No fears. No doubts. Nothing in this world can take away the gracious gifts God gives us if we accept His Word.

Prayer: How thankful we are, Father, for Your Word that contains a solution for every problem in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One - Yet Everyone

There is an ongoing argument in society that is contradictory, even confusing. There are those who say, “One size fits all. We are all the same.” In other words there are no differences in our needs. What affects me affects everyone else and what matters to me matters to everyone else.

The others say, “I’m different and cannot be compared to anyone else and no one can understand me or my needs but me. So, don’t try to force me into someone else’s box!”

Who’s right? Both. Each of us is different from everyone else, yet in the eyes of God we all have the same needs.

The Psalmist cried, “May Your unfailing love come to me, Lord, Your salvation according to Your promises.”

There can be little doubt that when he looked at his life and his particular issues he wanted God to recognize him. Perhaps he saw his sins as being more hideous and harmful than everyone else’s and the problems he created for himself as more difficult to solve and more painful than anyone else’s. So, he singled himself out and wanted the Lord to be sure that His “unfailing love” would include even Him.

And of course it did. When Jesus said that “God so loved the world,” He was as much a part of that world as anyone else. We sometimes forget that the cross of Christ is the great “leveler” of mankind. No one is above His cross and certainly no one is beyond it.

Prayer:
Thank You, Father, for a love that has no limits or favorites. Thank You for including each of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Where's Worth?

“What’s this diamond worth?” he asked the sales person.

“Well, it all depends,” came the reply.

“Depends on what?” he asked as though the sales person was playing a game with him.

“Many different things,” he responded. “Its size and weight, its cut and clarity to begin with. But in the end its worth depends on what you would pay for it.”

Worth is a purely personal thing. And the more desire we have for some “thing” the more we are willing to give something up for it or sacrifice to get it.

This section of Psalm 119 is very interesting. Its author has a burning desire to have a close relationship with God. His desire for this relationship is very clear: “Teach me...give me...direct me...turn my heart...” are pleas he makes to God to enable him to “live” God’s “words” in his life. He speaks of God’s decrees, His laws, His commands and His statues.

And then he adds one very profound statement: “Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to Your word.” He realized the fact that his eyes were the gate into his mind and that the things he looked at were the things that could draw him away from God’s Word and turn his attention to things that are worthless and most often destructive.

Someone has wisely said that “What the eyes do not see, the heart does not crave. But what the eyes admire, the heart desires.”

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to keep our mind on Your words and our eyes focused on things above. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Which Way Are We To Go?

A shabbily dressed man begging for money was asked, “When you awaken in the morning how do you determine which way you are going to go?” Puzzled for a moment, he thought and then answered, “I always turn my back to the wind,” he replied. “Where I go does not make any difference.” In refusing to go against the wind he always took the path of least resistance.

Not so the courageous man of God who declared, “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees that I may follow it to the end. Direct me in the path of Your commands for there I find delight.”

Some individuals are destroyed because they are ignorant and do not want the insight or advice of anyone - especially God. They do not know which way is the right way and rather than seeking answers to life’s questions, they follow any path before them even if it leads to destruction and death. All along life’s journey we need to constantly pray, “Teach me, Lord, Your way.”

There are some who begin to walk in “the Lord’s way” but when difficulties arise or if they are faced with challenges, they abandon the journey. They find that following “His way” may require too many sacrifices.
But those who are willing to follow His path and obey His commands will “find delight.” Now, it does not mean that there will not be difficult days or long painful nights waiting to hear God’s calming, comforting voice. It means that obeying His way is what brings us joy.

Prayer: May we be willing to obey Your laws, Lord, and realize that apart from You there is no satisfaction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:33-35 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

Friday, February 14, 2014

From Beginning To End

Sitting across the desk from me were two heart-broken parents. They had followed the suggestions and recommendations of other parents on the best methods to raise children in a Christ-honoring home. However, their son had recently entered a recovery program for addicts.

“How did this happen?” the father asked me. I had been asked this question many times and each time I attempted to answer the question it become more difficult. After a moment’s pause I tried, to the best of my ability, to explain that in the process of addiction the early experiences seemed to solve problems for people and after the initial experiment with drugs, what once was a problem solver became a problem creator and the “fun” or pleasure once associated with the drug vanished with the joy.

Then I told them the fable of a honey bee that discovered a large jar of honey with no lid on it. So, it decided to enjoy the sweet nectar without the amount of work it normally took to get the “joy of sweetness.” As it reveled in the honey its wings slowly became glued together and there it was - dying. The promise of pleasure ended up in the grip of death.

A Psalmist warned us of this process: “I am laid low in the dust,” he wrote. Another way to interpret it is “I am glued to the things of earth.” But he found an escape route: “Preserve my life according to Your Word.”

Stuck in sin? Release is ours through Christ!

Prayer: Please, Father, enable us to see the path to happiness goes through Your Son into eternal life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Do You Think?

There are many things in the Bible that we do not understand. There are other things in the Bible that we think we understand. There are many things in the Bible that we cannot understand. But there are many things in the Bible that we do understand but simply chose to do nothing about.
So, what’s the problem?

If we want to know a person, we must spend time with that one. And more than anything else the Bible is about a Person. So if we want to know that Person, we must spend time in the Bible. Now, there are two important facts here. The Bible was given to us by men who God inspired to write it.

Because it is God’s inspired Word, we need His Spirit to illuminate it for us. But we cannot expect Him to illuminate it for us unless we are willing to allow His Spirit to open our eyes to see Him as He is in His Word.

A child was born blind and spent years unable to see the world around him. Researchers finally found a way to restore his sight. Not knowing what the outcome would be the surgeons were cautious not to give him too much hope. The day finally arrived when they were to remove his bandages. They led him to a window that overlooked a flower garden. When the bandages were removed, he stood in amazement and said, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me how beautiful the flowers are?”

“I tried,” she said, “but you have to see them for yourself.” So it is with God. We have to see Him for ourselves.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to see You as You are - in all of Your loveliness - as we find You in Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Centered

The word “heart” in the Bible refers to “the center of things” or the “inner man” or “the governing center” of man. There is no suggestion in Scripture that the brain is the center of our consciousness, our wills or our thoughts. In fact some Biblical scholars believe that the “First great commandment probably means ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart’ - that is with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In other words, what is in our hearts is what comes out in our lives.

Looked at from this point of view that the heart is essentially where our thoughts and desires and goals and values originate, we can say that for the Christian, life is “lived from the inside out.” Sooner or later, if it’s on the inside, it will surface on the outside. Then people will know who we are and what matters the most to us. Indeed, seeing is believing.

The Psalmist gave us this truth when he wrote: “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Jesus added His wisdom to this very basic truth when He said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart...For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

One of the most popular advertisements on TV is the one that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” But in the end the answer to that question is not really important. It’s “What’s in your heart” that matters most. If God’s Word is in our hearts He will be obvious in our lives!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to spend time in Your Word and with Your Word so others will see Your Word in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

That's Why I Asked

James didn’t want to be a farmer like his Dad. He resented the long days, hard work and low pay. So, every time Dad asked him to do something he would ask sarcastically, “Why?” or “Why should I do that?” or “Why me?” or “Why do you want that done?” It bothered his Dad who planned on leaving the farm to him when he died.

One day he gave him a basket with a rope on it and said, “Go to the well and fill it with water.” “Why?” asked his son. “None of your ‘whys’ this time - just do as you’re told.”

He dipped the basket in the well and pulled it to the top. He watched the water flow out between the spaces in the basket and became angry. “It won’t hold water,” he shouted. “Do it again,” said the Dad. Again the water seeped out of the basket. “Do it again,” said his Dad. “I will not. You’re not going to make a fool of me! I’m not going to do it again! Take your old basket back!”

“Look,” said his Dad with a smile. “Now the basket is clean - which is what it needed and you didn't have to ask ‘why.’ The water did what it was supposed to do. It washed away the dirt. Now it’s clean and we can use it to put our crops in.”

How like God’s Word. We don’t need to ask God “Why” we need to read His Word. It’s the way it works - it cleanses us from sin and keeps us pure. The Psalmist had it right: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word.”

Prayer: Lord, give us a deep desire to read Your Word and allow it to fill our lives. Help us to become pure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Living The Word

“Papa, what do you want more than anything else in the whole world?” asked my Grandson Keller.

We had been watching a commercial on popular hand-held football games and he hadn’t blinked once during the entire advertisement. My first thought was that he wanted me to state the name of the computer game. But suddenly, the words of Jesus came to my mind: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

“Well, Keller,” I said, “most of all I want to be like Jesus and then I’d also like to be the best Papa I can be. That’s really important to me and other than being like Jesus that’s number one. I want to be a good example for you.”

Not long ago I read a story of a man in a foreign country who wanted to “Be like Jesus.” So, he decided to memorize the New Testament and made it through the Beatitudes. One day he ran into the missionary who had led him to the Lord and baptized him. Immediately, he told him about his goal. After he heard them recited, he said, “Good. Now go and put them in to practice.”

A few weeks later he met the missionary again and said, “You know I tried doing what you said and it didn’t work out. I got confused. So, I started over with just the first one and it worked better. Now I’m trying number two. I want to live what I know.”

Knowing the Bible is one thing. Living it is very different. The Psalmist said, “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying Your decrees.”

Prayer: Lord, help us to keep it simple but steady as we grow into the likeness of Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Here's Happiness!

“You’re the happiest person I know, Bill. Why are you not only happy, but happy all the time?” asked Marie.

“Well, I wasn’t this like this all the time. In fact, I’ve even considered suicide very seriously a time or two, to be honest with you. But one day I decided to study happiness as a science and discovered how to be happy whether I’m actually happy or not. But, after all is said and done, it’s a choice.” Then after he thought for moment he added, “You know, Abe Lincoln had it right. He said, ‘Most people are about as happy as they want to be.’ So, I guess there must have been a day when I just decided to be happy.”

But the Bible has a different source for being happy. The Psalmist under the inspiration of God wrote, “Blessed - or happy - are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” There it is: God’s promise for our happiness! Simple, indeed. But it is not very easy!
In the center of the verse are the words, “whose ways” or more precisely, “who follow the instructions of the Lord.”

“Following” the ways of the Lord is to come first in the life of anyone who wants to be blest or who wants true happiness. His ways are the ways to happiness!

Shortly after being discharged from the military a soldier was being interviewed for a job. “What did you do in the service?” asked the interviewer. With no hesitation he answered, “I did as I was told!” Can Christians do less?

Prayer: Lord, many of us seek happiness in ways that lead us from You rather than to You. May we turn to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Didn't Really Mean It

Marcie stood before her Dad looking at her favorite toy car. Suddenly she jumped up in his lap and said, “You know, Daddy, this is my favorite toy. But I want you to have it.”

Surprised, he asked, “Why, I know that you love this little car. Why are you giving it to me?”

“Because I love you,” was her reply.

A few moments later she climbed back into his lap and said, “Daddy, I want my car back. I guess I didn’t love you as much as I thought I did,” and took her car back.

Many Christians have the same attitude toward God. We give ourselves to Him and then realize that it’s going to bring about changes in our lives that we did not realize. So, we take back our “gift.”

In Psalm 118 we read of a “festal” procession with people going “up to the horns of the altar.” The people in this procession are taking a sacrifice to God. This is not unusual because throughout the Bible people take many different sacrifices to God. In this verse, however, the people in the procession are required to take their “bough” in their hands - their sacrifice - and “bind” it to the altar. Once the sacrifice was bound to the altar, it could not be taken back!

Paul wrote, “Give your bodies to God and let them be a living sacrifice.” The sacrifice he writes of in this verse is not for our sin but for our salvation. When we accept His salvation He expects us to willingly “bind” ourselves to Him in loving service.

Prayer: Convict us, Lord, to become “willing” sacrifices and abandon ourselves in service to You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:27b With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rejection Is Not Final Or Fatal

One of the world’s greatest violinists, Paganini, once commissioned a composer to write a concerto that would display the artist’s magnificent skills. The violinist said that he wanted the concerto to include quiet melodies that would move the audience to a hushed silence. He also wanted it to contain bursts of music that would expose his ability to play loud and with breathtaking speed.

After several weeks the composer returned to the studio of Paganini and presented his concerto. After he reviewed it briefly, he turned to the composer and said, “This lacks life. It is not good enough for Paganini.”

Later, while attending a concert by another violinist Paganini heard him play the concerto that the composer had written for him. The performance moved him to tears and the audience responded with applause that went on for many minutes. When the applause ended, Paganini went to the composer, dropped to his knees before the stunned audience and kissed his hand. After a moment he looked humbly at the composer and admitted his mistake and asked for his forgiveness.

Years ago a Psalmist wrote, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus referred to this verse when He spoke of being rejected by His own people. Although He was once rejected Jesus is now the cornerstone - the most important part - of our salvation and His church. We must always be alert to what God wants to bring into our lives. Unless we are open to the gentle calling of His spirit, we may miss His best for us.

Prayer: Open our ears and our hearts to Your voice, O Lord, that we may always be ready to accept Your gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Make Me Good, Daddy

Recently a new diagnosis was introduced to explain the out-of-control behavior of a high school student. While under the influence of alcohol, he killed four people with his automobile. Rather than charging him with vehicular manslaughter and sentencing him to spend time in a correctional facility, he was given probation for “affluenza,” an entirely new mental disorder.

Many were curious about the cause of this “disease” until a psychiatrist explained its source: it came from parents who gave their child everything he wanted, held him accountable for nothing and as a result he never learned right from wrong.

However, this is not the way our Heavenly Father “educates” us. One of His “children” provided us with an insightful detail into His method of child-rearing: “The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”

The word “chasten” means to “punish, restrain or moderate” someone’s behavior. So, when God “chastens” us, He is in fact confronting our un-Christ-like behavior and urging us to repent. We are instructed in God’s Word to “let God train you, for He is doing what any loving father does for his children. For whoever heard of a son who was never corrected.”

One day a father found it necessary to chastise his son. After the punishment he looked at his Dad and said, “I understand, Dad. I did wrong and you were trying to make me good. I know you love me, Dad, and I love you.”

Prayer: Father, keep us focused on living as Your Son, our Savior lived and correct us swiftly when we go astray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Strength For The Journey

There are “woods” and there are “woulds.” And there is a great difference between the two of them. We know that “forests” are made of “trees” that we call “woods.” And there are many Christians who have “woulds” in their lives.

Every now and then we hear some say, “I know that what I am doing is wrong - but I’m going to do it anyway. I would do the right thing but there is some thing inside me that is stronger than me and it makes me do these evil things. I would do the Lord’s will, but there is some thing deep within me that continues to make me a slave to sin and I would give it up but have not been able to.”

That’s being lost “in the woulds.” But the Psalmist decided that he would not be lost in the “woulds.” Rather, he confidently cried out from the depths of his heart and said, “The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation!”

None of us are sufficient in ourselves to be or do all that God would have us to. We have proven this time and time again: we often intend to do what was right only to realize that our best and most earnest efforts were not enough. We needed someone Who was above us and beyond us but willingly and lovingly lived within us.

Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” But Paul gave us the solution to our lack of strength and the resource that is available to enable us to do God’s will: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

If we would do right and live right, He must be Lord.

Prayer: Often, Lord, we would do what is right only to fail. Strengthen us with Your Spirit to honor You always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.