Friday, August 29, 2014

David's "Taste Test"

“Try it for thirty days. If you are not completely satisfied with the results, return the unused portion and you will receive a complete refund!”
“We guarantee that your pain will be gone in fourteen days and your joints will become pain free and function with no limitations or we will refund the cost of the tablets – plus the shipping and handling charges! How can you lose?”

Guarantees for anything and everything seem to be very popular. Most advertisers, manufacturers and marketing experts have combined their efforts to sell their products and give us the assurance that they will work – or else.

But that’s nothing new. In fact a king made that claim about his God years ago. David said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

He’d been through sickness and survived. He was hunted and escaped. He was emotionally drained and overwhelmed with guilt. He was so sick that his bones were wasting away. He watched as nations rose to prominence and collapsed. He saw armies that were well prepared lose battles. In fact, if we were to make a list of everything in his life that had gone wrong or if we were to compile a catalog of the disasters he faced and overcome in his life, it would be a book that would be very difficult to carry from one place to another.

Yet, with no hesitation he said, “God’s good! Try Him. You’ll see!”

Prayer: Help us Father, to recognize Your goodness in our lives. May we see Your hand at work and rejoice! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finally Free

A clerk in Birmingham, England was placing a package on a shelf in a post office. As he was lifting it from a cart, it broke open and out fell what appeared to be a pair of “heavy-duty” handcuffs that were not put together and locked.   

Jokingly, he said to an associate, “I dare you to try these on for size.”

“I’ll take the dare,” he said, put them on and locked them. After a few laughs, they went to the box to locate the key and unlock them. To their surprise, there was no key.

They hurried to the police station to get a key to release the lock. They inserted it properly, but when they turned the key, it broke. What was once comical now became serious. The broken key either had to be drilled from the cuffs or the thick, heavy chain sawed apart.

But, it was Sunday and no one could be found to help them out of their predicament. Finally, they went to the police chief who said, “Well, this looks like a good time to teach you a lesson. You’ll have to go to Derby, explain your problem to the person who made the handcuffs and then come back and we’ll remove them. You need to learn a lesson about playing with things that can harm you.”

What a picture of sin. At first, it promises to bring pleasure and enjoyment - a time of fun and pleasure. Then, it takes one “captive” and one is no longer free. But, we know there is one who can free us: Christ our Savior. “The Lord sets prisoners free,” promised the Psalmist.

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to accept the freedom that can be ours through Your Son. May we place our trust in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 146:7c The Lord sets prisoners free,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

God Our Supplier

How do we know we can count on God to supply our needs? Can we be assured that He will hear and help us when we ask for His assistance? If – and we must take into account the little word if – we meet two important conditions that He has established.
Psalm 145:19 is interpreted correctly in the Living Psalms to read: “He fulfills the desires of those who reverence and trust Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.”

Reverence leads to respect and respect to honor. If we honor God and if our requests are in agreement with His nature and character, what we ask for will be consistent with what He intends for us to have. When we ask for lavish and unnecessary things that will not honor Him we only deceive ourselves. Extravagance always makes a mockery of prayer and displays an irreverence to Him.

Years ago, while in college, I had a post office box that could only be opened with the right combination of letters and numbers. When I turned the small dial to the right sequence, the door would open and I could get my mail.

So it is with prayer. When we use the “right combination” of reverence and trust and our requests coincide with His plan and purpose for our lives, the “combination” will “work” and He will grant our requests.

Remember: when “my will” is consistent with “His will” prayers will be answered, God will be honored, lives changed, and His purpose accomplished on earth.

Prayer: Lord, may our lives revere, respect and honor You and our requests be consistent with Your nature. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When What Is - Is Not Enough

WHEN WHAT IS – IS NOT ENOUGH
Many doubt that our God is the creator of all that is and in control of what we see as well as what we cannot see. The Psalmist is not one who has any doubt about this fact. Yet, he goes far beyond the majestic statement that we hold dear: “In the beginning God created…” In simple words he acknowledged that “Your hands,” (God) “have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding that I may learn Your commands.” In other words, he realized that he was more than a creature that began in the mud. He was the most important part of God’s creation and needed God to give him His understanding of things.

“God,” he declared, “You not only took time to make me, but You actually fashioned me for a specific purpose in this, Your universe. I need You, God, to tell me what that purpose is!”

The word “fashioned” is a term that refers to the work of a potter making an object out of clay. Although the same clay may be used for different vessels or objects, each one has been “fashioned” for a specific purpose. The size, shape and purpose of each vessel the potter makes are always determined in the mind of the potter before he begins to form it on his wheel.

So it is with God. His Word tells us that “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you…I set you apart…I appointed you…” Although God has a plan for us, the Psalmist says we must look to Him and His Word to understand it. He has made us in His image but we must allow Him to fashion us for the purpose He has for us.

Prayer: Father, give us an understanding of Your will and a willingness to follow it all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dark Valleys - Death's Shadow

It takes the darkness of the night to bring out the brilliance and beauty of the stars. When we face the fear of the unknown, however, we often find the grace of God. “Though I walk through,” David said, “the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me!”
We are all joyfully aware of God’s presence when days are filled with sunshine and warmth. All of us, however, have at one time or another, entered into valleys that are filled with ill-defined shadows that we find frightening and foreboding. We look for a light to shine over the rim of the mountain to give us the assurance that there is hope. Yet it is because of those days of sunshine and warmth that David reminds us to remember that God is also with us when all is not well and the light that faithfully guided us fades.

There are times when our “valley” may take the form of suffering. When it does, we must not forget that Jesus also suffered and understands our times of suffering. And when we feel abandoned and alone we must not forget that those whom He spent three years training to be His disciples forsook Him. And when He was laid to rest it was in someone else’s tomb.

Our Savior has walked through every “dark valley” that we will ever face. He understands our grief. Now, He is in heaven with His Father and when we go to Him in prayer with our needs, we have the assurance that He understands our needs. He was there before us.

Prayer: We are blest, Father, by Your presence and protection as we pass through life’s dark valleys. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

An Unusual Prescription

There was a physician in Wales who had an unusual remedy for some of his patients. If someone came to him with no specific symptoms other than being unhappy or unsatisfied, discouraged or disgruntled, he would give them his “Thank You Cure.”

He would write on a prescription pad, “For the next six weeks I want you to get up in the morning and before you do anything else say, ‘Thank You God for this new day’ ten times before doing anything else. And then before you get into bed at night you are to say, ‘Thank You God for being with me today.’ And in between getting up in the morning and going to bed at night, whenever anyone does something for you, you are to pause and say, ‘Thank you for...’”

When most of the patients returned after completing the “Thank You Cure,” they were happier and healthier.

This is a great prescription for each of us: not for six weeks or six months, but every day of our lives. Imagine a successful, powerful, wealthy, king who said, “Every day I will praise You, and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

“Every day?” Yes, every day! Days could be filed with glory or gloom, sunshine or shadows, pleasure or pain, happiness or horror - it did not matter. The king would fill each day, every day, all day with words of praise to God for His blessings and goodness.

When we pause and thank someone for an act of kindness or a deed showing us thoughtfulness, we are, in fact, praising God for His blessing us through their deeds.

Prayer: Lord, You have given us far more than we ever deserved. Yet, we ask for one more thing: a thankful heart! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What God Can Do

Has anyone ever looked at you and said, “You’ll never change! You’re hopeless! I can tell you are going no place in life.” Painful words that many of us have heard at one time or another. And, no doubt, there were times when we might have thought the “charges” were accurate, based on the number of times we’ve started something in our lives that ended in disaster.
Imagine a king feeling like he was almost “unfit for duty.” First he wrote, “Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down…reach down Your hand from on high…deliver me and rescue me…” Imagine a king feeling so alone and abandoned – even by a God he worshiped – that he could not feel His presence at all. Things must have been about as bad as they could get.

But they didn’t stay that way. God intervened – as He can and will – when our king or any one of us comes to the end of our strength and goes to Him for His!

God answered his cry and blessed him so mightily that he picked up a ten-stringed instrument and with it sang a “new song.”

God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. Our every need is important to Him: large or small, significant or insignificant. They all matter to Him! He is our Father and a father who loves his children, as God loves us, does not want his children to go without.

When God answered his prayer, the first thing he did was to praise God and give Him His due recognition. Might God not bless us because we are so ungrateful?

Prayer: Father, it’s so easy to live thankless and greedy lives. Make us aware of Your gifts. Give us grateful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 144:9 I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Searching, Everyone Is Searching

Not everyone knows what they are searching for. Most people seem to have an “emptiness” that they can’t fill. Search as they do and try as many different things as they can, travel to far distant places and ask one person after another for help, the emptiness lingers on and there seems to be no solution.

We all have this “built-in-thirst” that the world cannot quench. It begins at birth and for many, it is still there at death. It comes from our Creator and was placed in us by Him for a reason. He put his “built-in-unquenchable-thirst” within us to cause us to seek Him with all of our heart.

But most people do not understand what they are looking for or why. All they know is “it” is not there: that life is empty and meaningless and purposeless. There is a feeling deep inside that there is more to life than what they have discovered. So, the search is on.

When a person begins this search, it grows until the emptiness, hopefully, is filled and the “right” thing found. A certain king describes his search like this: “I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land!”

And God made this promise to the searcher: “When you seek Me, you will find Me if you search for Me with all your heart.”

God will fill every longing in every heart if we turn to Him in faith believing. And when we find Him, we are obligated to Him to help others fill their needs with Him.

Prayer:  Father, You have created us for Yourself, and our hearts will be restless until we open them to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 143:6 I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Cares for the Lonely?

Some time ago, the body of a man was found in a deserted building in New York. In his pocket was a note that read, “I’m nobody. Nobody cares for me. I’m like the shell of a peanut on the walkway in Yankee Stadium. So, I decided to stomp on myself once and for all.”

There is no feeling that runs so deep, is so acute or more widespread than loneliness. The feeling of being abandoned or uncared for or unloved is one that grips the souls of far too many - even the Christian.

We read in the Bible of a man who had been forced to run and hide from others to save his life. Years later he wrote, “Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for me.” His words are all too familiar and his feelings universal.

But notice: He looked around but he did not look up. Had he done so he could have discovered someOne who cared deeply for him, was looking for him and loved him. This One not only cares, but He did something to show us that He cares.

The Bible states that, “Since God did not even spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?”

Remember the story of Noah in the ark, Job in the pile of ashes, Moses being hid in a basket, Jonah in the belly of a fish, Daniel in the lions’ den and Paul in prison?

He carefully cared for them and He will also carefully care for us!

Remember: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Prayer:  In moments of loneliness, Lord, may we look upward and find Your outstretched arms waiting for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 
Scripture for Today:  Psalm 142:4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Strong Heart

After walking for what seemed to be miles, he stopped at the corner of an apple orchard to admire the beautiful apples. The owner of the orchard noticed him and asked, “Son, are you trying to steal my apples?”
“No, sir,” he replied, “I’m trying not to. But my trying not to is losing to my wanting to.”

It was that way with David. Deep in his heart he wanted to do what was right. But one day he realized that his friendship with evil men was a strong force that was often more powerful than his desire to do the right things.

As his walk with the Lord grew stronger he began to realize that there was a power beyond human power and if he wanted to, he could choose victory over defeat by depending on that power. He was able to move from being overcome by their power to overcoming temptation and sin by calling upon God’s power.

So, he went to God in prayer and asked, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in evil deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.”

One of the most powerful thoughts that the devil places in our minds is that we are human and that God realizes we may be overcome by temptation and sin. It’s so easy to rationalize sin’s power and our weakness.

But Paul refused to accept that excuse. “There is no temptation that is more powerful than God’s power. And He’ll provide a way of escape if you want it,” he added.

Prayer: Lord, help us to confront our excuse of being human as a reason to sin. May we run to You for safety. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 141:4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Aaking God For a Favor

Some time ago a clergyman shouted with all of his might, “God, damn America!” Standing behind his pulpit with his colorful clerical robe and embroidered stole, his rant and rage shocked many who saw him on television.

The longer I watched and wondered, the more his words confused and disturbed me. I could not help but think about the impact this would have on those who were in his congregation or watching him on television or read his words in newspapers and magazines. Surely some would be as disturbed as I was. But, there would be others who would agree with him and cheer for him.

Most often when we and others call on God it is for a favor or something we cannot do. It could be for healing, a financial need, a loved one who has wandered from God, or insight or wisdom. Then there are others who call on God because they want Him to use His power to do things that are destructive - like “God, I hate America so much that I want You to use Your power to hurt people I can’t.”

David spoke of them: “They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name.” We need to remind ourselves that God will only answer our prayers if our requests are consistent with His name or in keeping with His character. He is not available to hurt or harm His children or His creation or to satisfy our anger or do our “dirty work” or evil intentions.

God is always there, willing to hear our requests and answer them in the way that will bring honor and glory to Him. If we call on Him “with evil intent,” He will not hear us.

Prayer:  Lord, grant us purity of heart and mind when we approach You in prayer. May our requests honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 139:20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"God Is Now Here!"

A professor of biology, who was an atheist, wrote on the dry erase board, “God is no where!” A student raised his hand and asked, “Sir, may I try something?”
“Of course,” said the professor.

Walking to the front of the class he moved the “w” from “where” to the end of the word “no” and the sentence read, “God is now here!”

Wherever anyone is, God is! There is no place, nor can there be any place, where He is not. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Governor of the universe.

There are approximately seven billion people on our planet occupying seven billion different places. Each of them could, if they would, say with equal certainty, “God is now here.” No one is closer to or further from God at any time in any place. Again, wherever anyone is, God is.

Do you remember the story of Jonah? God had a plan for him. It was to travel east – to Nineveh. But Jonah had his own plan and he decided to go west – to Tarshish. He crossed half of the world trying to get away from God and when he got there he found God waiting for him.

There was a king who made the same discovery. He said, “If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

We may be above the clouds in an aircraft or on the floor of the ocean in a submarine, He will be there waiting.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your presence in our lives knowing that “You will never leave us.” Never! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:8

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Being Alone Is a Choice

We all enter this world alone and we all depart this world alone. But we do not need to go through life alone.

A visitor walked through the Garden and then came into the office. After sitting quietly for a moment he began to weep loudly, his body trembling. “You know,” he said, “I am so alone and so misunderstood. I wish I belonged to somebody, anybody. I hate life with all of its bitterness and loneliness but I am afraid to die.”

Continuing on he said, “I have wealth and property, success and influence. But I would rather feel accepted by someone, anyone in exchange for all of my possessions.”

Unfortunately, he was not aware of our Father. The Psalmist said, “O, Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord.”

Many lead lonely lives because of a fear of being known - or as some might say, “being found out.” This comes from a fear of not being acceptable to others for who we are or what we might have done in the past. “If you know me,” so it seems, “you probably won’t like me.”

Perhaps that may be true of people, but not God! He has searched us, knows everything about us, and in spite of it all, loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son to die on our behalf so we can be saved.” And if we accept His salvation, He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, that You offer us a love we do not deserve and Your salvation that we cannot earn. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 139:2, 2a-4b You know when I sit and when I rise; Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Will Power Or His Power?

“It’s no use,” said Tom to his youth minister. “I’m unable to resist the temptation to sin. I’ve tried again and again to resist the devil and run from him when I’m tempted but it never works. Something must be wrong with my will power, so why should I try any longer?”
“Perhaps that’s the problem – trying to resist temptation with ‘will, power.’ No doubt it’s time to turn to God’s power,” said Jeremy.

Then he opened his Bible to Psalm 138:3 and read, “As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.”

The Psalmist had it right: Rather than using his power, he depended on God for His power. And as we read that verse we can learn from his struggle how to be faithful to God. Obviously, there must have been a period of time in the life of the Psalmist when he tried to “make it on his own” and was unsuccessful. From his failure came his success because he was willing to turn from will-power to God-power. Notice that he wrote, “As soon as I pray…”

He learned an important “life-lesson.” He could not resist the temptation to sin if he depended on himself. But “as soon as” he turned from himself to his Savior, he got exactly what he needed: “encouragement and strength” that comes only from God. So, he literally “gave up” on himself and his will power. His power did not work.

There is nothing that pleases God more than for one of His children to depend on Him for “survival.” And we must never forget that “as soon as” you call, He answers!

Prayer: Help up us, Lord, to be strong enough to be weak and to call on You for encouragement and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Good Habit For Christians

The word “habit” cannot be found in the Bible. Now, we might ask, “Is that good or bad?” It’s neither. But that does not mean that it can’t be placed in front of the word “habit.” For surely there are both good and bad habits and most of us have some of each.

Unfortunately, most of us develop habits without realizing it. They just “seem to happen” when we least expect them and are troublesome to get rid of once we become attached to them. Some of them can be toxic and troublesome like excessive snacking, texting unnecessary messages or wasting time doing things that lead nowhere. Others can be nourishing and nurturing like walking with a pet, setting aside time for prayer and Bible reading or attending church. So, depending on the nature of a habit it can be helpful or hindering.

A helpful habit for every Christian to cultivate is the habit to praise God for His grace, gifts and goodness. The Psalmist said, “I praise Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.” While this sounds straightforward and simple, we receive so many gifts from God that we scarcely recognize most of them. Unless they are out of the ordinary or we see an answer to a prayer we thought He might have overlooked, we rarely pause and praise Him. How very sad!

Might God’s blessings be slow in coming because we do not burst forth in praise each time He shows His favor to us? Might His gifts increase if we focus more on His goodness and less on our greed? Let’s make praise a habit!

Prayer:  How very sad, Father, that we need to be reminded to give You praise. Grant us grateful hearts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 138:2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Finding Satisfaction

Satisfaction is an elusive goal. Although it is high on most people’s agendas, few ever find it without a struggle. Perhaps it is because most people overlook their spiritual needs as a source of satisfaction and try to find it in the material things of life.

But satisfaction cannot be found in material things. Those who seek the material world never have “enough” of anything - whether it is money, education, property or power. “More” does not fill any need. It simply generates the desire for “more.”

David addressed this issue in Psalm 131. “Lord,” he began, “my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters that are too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” What a remarkable statement: he had the wisdom and insight to “think small.”

It is interesting to note that David willingly took a step backward to take a step forward - “my heart is not proud.” To move to the “higher ground” in life, we must begin with an attitude of humility. A proud heart comes from thinking of ourselves “more highly than we ought to.” But humility, on the other hand, puts us in a place where God can reach us and bless us with the good things He has to offer us.

And notice what he said about being too ambitious: “I’m not going to get involved with matters that are too great or too awesome.” He made a conscious decision to focus on what was within his power and potential to achieve. He was willing to be content with the gifts God had for him.

Prayer: Lord, help us to take our eyes off of the “things” of this world and find all that we need in honoring You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 131:1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Looking For Hope?

His professors and fellow students recognized him as one of the most brilliant students on campus. He had the most when it came to worldly goods. From any vantage point he seemed to “have it all.”

Early one morning while the campus was wrapped in silence, he jumped to his death from his room in the dorm. As his family went through the items left behind in his room, they discovered a note that read, “There is utterly no hope.”

Hopelessness has many causes and few cures. Many searching for some form of hope turn to alcohol or other drugs. Others lose themselves in their work or worry for a way out of their despair. Many seek relief by trying new experiences or adventures. Few find long-lasting results.

Hopelessness may be caused by sorrow or grief. We all seem to want a life without a “pile of problems.” No one looks for tragedies as a form of entertainment. And we rarely have an opportunity to “pick our pain.” Pain is as much a part of life as sunshine or rain, night or day.

Is there a sure source where everyone can find hope? The Psalmist believes there is. “...hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.”

Hoping is different from wishing. Wishing is a desire for something we don’t have. Hope, on the other hand, is a gift from God. Hope in God gives us confidence that He is with us and will fulfill every promise He has ever made to protect us and empower us to meet the dangers of life.

Prayer:  Lord, as long as we have You we have hope and know that Your unfailing love will guide us and guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Waiting Without Worrying

Fishing often seems futile and foolish. There may be long periods of time when the only progress to be seen is the movement of the hands on a clock. While some would say it is a great way to relax and think, others would say it is ridiculous and unjustifiable in this fast paced world.

And there are many who consider prayer much that way. Why wait for the Lord to hear our prayers when we can get by on our own? The Psalmist gave us a good reason to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.”

Waiting on the Lord is profitable and productive. It is the best way to become efficient and effective. How?
The person who does not wait on the Lord may be going places - but they may not be the right places. Often we move forward in haste and end up in a place other than what we had in mind. Often the consequences of rushing ahead of God results in destroying the plan He has laid out for us. Do you remember the wise bumper sticker that read, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”?

Waiting on the Lord is the way to empowerment. If we do not wait on the Lord, it may lead to exhaustion. Our Lord is adequate to meet our every need but there are times when we must wait on Him for whatever our need may be. We must wait on Him if we want His goodness and guidance, His wisdom and wealth, His healing and happiness.

The Psalmist said, “In His Word I put my hope.” In Hebrews we read, “We have this hope as an anchor.”

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for reminding us of our need to place our hope in You. Grant us the gift of trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mercy Without Measure

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the first spies ever to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage for giving information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. As a result of their conviction, they were put to death in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison, New York.

In his summation at the end of the grueling and bitter trial, the lawyer for the Rosenbergs said with deep emotion, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice.”

“The court has given what you have asked for - justice!” replied Judge Irving Kaufman. “What you really wanted is mercy. But that is something that this court has no right to give.”

This response from the judge has scriptural bearing: no one is good - no one in all the world. Each and every one of us have sinned. If God gave us justice, each one of us would have our place in hell - separated from God forever.

We are reminded of this fact in Psalm 130:3 where we read, “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? “ He then answers it with a gracious promise that brings the peace of God: “But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence serve You.”

If God kept a record of our sins - or if He held a grudge against us - we could say that He purposefully built a barrier between Himself and us so that we would be separated from Him forever.

But He did not do that. He sent His one and only begotten Son to be our one and only Savior. Now, we have access to Him, when we repent, because of His mercy.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your willingness to forgive us of our sins and grant us Your love and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:3-4 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunshine And Storms

“What’s that, Dad?” asked his son, Ben.

“A rainbow,” responded his father.

“What’s a rainbow, Dad?” was his next question.

“Well, Ben, a rainbow is a promise from God that He loves us and will always care for us,” said Ben’s Dad.

What a comforting answer for us to think about when we face troubling times. The beauty and brilliance of the colors found in a rainbow are the result of “reflections and refractions” of the sun’s rays as they “light-up” the drops of rain that fall from the sky after the storm passes over us. But without the storm there would be no rainbow.

We only see rainbows when the sun is behind us and the rain is falling in front of us. As the rays of the sun pass through a drop of rain it is “bent” - or refracted - and separated into the different colors that light up the sky. What we see is a brilliant display of colors produced in the countless drops of rain that fall in front of the sun.

All of us have experienced many drops of rain falling on our paths and into our lives. But God’s love shines through each of them as the sun shines through the drops of rain that fall from the sky. It is the glow of His love that shines through the tears of grief, pain, hurt and suffering that fall from our eyes and brings us His comfort.

No one has lived a “tear-free life.” We have all been caught up in the “storms of life” - yet have survived. The Psalmist wrote, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me.” Storms and tears come and go, but God’s love always protects us.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your love. May we look to You for healing when others harm us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 129:2 they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Free For Now

Two long time friends were quail hunting - one was a Christian, the other a nonbeliever. “Why,” said the nonbeliever, “is it that the devil always seems to find and tempt you to do the wrong thing and he never bothers me?”

“Oh, you don’t understand it,” replied his friend. “You see, the devil has you and now he spends his time trying to get me back. It’s like hunting for quail. We’re not after the dead ones. We want those that are still alive. You see, you’re dead and the devil doesn’t have to worry about you. But he wants me back!”

All Christians face the dangers of temptation that come from the devil. Even Jesus was constantly being tempted and tested. And we must always remember that being tempted is not a sin. Sin “happens” when we yield to the temptation.

We must also remember that when we are tempted, it is by the devil. The Lord does not tempt anyone and it is through His power that we are able to resist any temptation that comes our way. It is the devil who is the source of the temptation.

That’s his business and he is very successful at what he does. It is a good thing to remember that mice do not like traps but are caught when the power of the bait overcomes them. He knows the “bait” that is most likely to tempt and trap us to sin and will use any friend or foe, picture or place to his advantage.

David put it this way: “Praise be to the Lord...we have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare...Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

We are always going to be tempted. We have years of experience to prove that fact. But we also have the power of God’s Word to protect us. As Paul said, “There is no temptation that you cannot bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Escape is always possible.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your strength and power that enables us to escape the temptation to sin. Help us to rely on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 124:7-8 We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Promises! Promises!

He spent many years living alone not having the necessities of life. One day in his despair he looked at the top shelf of an old bookcase cluttered with pictures and the mementoes of his life. As his eyes passed from item to item, he noticed his mother’s Bible that he had not touched since her death.

Slowly, he opened the well-worn Book and very carefully began to leaf through its pages. As he made his way through Genesis he found $1,000.00. He did the same with Exodus and found another $1,000.00. His excitement grew as he went from book to book and found $1,000.00 in each one of them.

Imagine having $66,000 within arm’s reach and not even knowing it was there, waiting to be discovered. We may fault the old man for living in poverty when it was totally unnecessary and riches were available. We might say, “How sad! Why didn’t he look sooner?”

But sadder than the fact that the money was in his mother's Bible waiting for him to discover it is the fact that there are 3,573 promises in the Bible waiting for us to discover and claim. Our good and gracious God placed them there for each of us. Yet, most of us do not know where to find them and they go unclaimed.

The Psalmist said, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promises preserve my life.” Each promise is a benefit God has placed in His Word waiting for us to claim. Jesus addressed this same issue when He said, “For everyone who asks receives.” Don’t go without!

Prayer: The best things in life, Father, are ours for the asking. Increase our faith to meet our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.