Monday, July 31, 2017

When God Is Silent

\The second grade teacher stood before her noisy class, raised her voice and shouted, “I want you to be so quiet that you can hear a pin drop!”
Silence suddenly prevailed. When Danny could no longer contain himself, he shouted, “Let ‘er drop!”
It’s not unusual to have an attitude like that toward God. We pray and wait. Then pray again. Then wait a little longer. Still, nothing happens. It seems as though we are waiting for “the pin to drop.”
Psalm 28 begins with the “silence of God.” In fact, He is so silent that the Psalmist becomes impatient and shouts, “If you don’t answer soon, I will be like those going down to their grave – abandoned!”
The subtle message from David was that if God did not answer his prayer his enemies would rejoice. “They,” he reminds God, “care nothing for what You have done or what Your hands have made.” In other words, “God, I don’t want You to be embarrassed. I don’t want people to ridicule You. I’ve laid my life and Your reputation on the line and if You are silent, if You let me down, they will believe that You are untrustworthy!”
David was not afraid to present his case to God and demand help. He did not want “unbelievers” to look at his situation and say, “I told you so. Your God is no more dependable than ours. He’s not even listening!”
Not so. David looked at them and said, “I praise the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy.” David prayed. God answered. And everyone saw God “at work.”
Prayer: Father, when You seem silent may our faith never falter knowing that You will hear, help and heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 28:6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why Twelve?

Why did Jesus choose twelve disciples? Was there some significance in that number? Could it have been because there were twelve months in the Jewish calendar, or because they divided their day into twelve hours or because there were twelve tribes of Israel? Not at all.
We find the answer in Mark’s gospel: “that they might be with Him!” Jesus wanted His “friends” to be with Him and learn from Him. Psalm 24:14 says, “The Lord is a friend to those who fear Him. He teaches them His covenant” – His plan of salvation.
Someone once said, “A friend is a person who knows you and likes to be with you in spite of your faults.” This seems to go beyond “love.” Love is “doing” something for someone because as Christians it is our obligation.
It is a gracious thought to know that God wants us to be His “friends.” The picture represented in this verse is that of two friends sitting on a couch having a confidential conversation. What a wonderful way to think of our relationship with God: sitting next to Him and quietly talking to Him about eternal life – His covenant with His people – His friends!
How amazing it is to think that we can share every thought with God as a friend. What an opportunity He offers us: to sit with Him as a friend and ask Him to teach us what His covenant is all about: His promises, His presence, His protection, His provisions, His peace – His plan for our salvation.
We can do this – be with Him – by reading His Word and talking with Him in prayer and meditation.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for being our Friend and Teacher and willingly sharing Your salvation with us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:14 The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why Now, God?

Feelings of being abandoned and forsaken are, perhaps, among the most painful feelings of life. In desperation we cry for someone or anyone to come to our rescue. Tragedy strikes, hopes are dashed, one whom we deeply loved and have spent our lives with is suddenly taken from us. And there we are: alone. Our cries go unheard – and it seems as though the heavens above have turned to brass and the clouds have become marble. So, we cry out in fear and frustration for our God. But He does not answer. He’s not available.
Jesus knew those feelings. As life was ebbing from His body He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” David and Jesus felt abandoned, indeed were abandoned, by those who were their closest friends. They had invested time in training them, being open and honest with them, shared the ups and downs of life with them and came to believe and trust in them. And, then in their darkest moments felt the pain of desertion and the fear of being alone.
But they would not give up on God! The lamp of faith may have been dimmed by God’s silence but it had not been extinguished by life’s tragedies. Both confessed that He is still “My God!”
God never promised that if we believed in Him our lives would be free from the fear of isolation or loneliness. He did, however, promise to be with us in our darkest moments. He did not promise to take us around the dark valleys of life, but through them.
Prayer: We accept Your promises, Lord, and pray that in our moments of despair we will not lose faith in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Who Is My Shepherd?

Yahweh is my Shepherd are the first words of Psalm 23. These words announce the protection and provisions of a personal God. The emphasis is on the fact that Yahweh – the Creator of the universe – recognizes me as an individual and wants me to speak His name and call on Him for my deepest and most personal needs.
Often when we worship we speak of our God. And He is indeed our God. We come together as believers to worship and praise Him. But David, who once was a lonely shepherd watching his flock, wants us to know that this Shepherd takes a personal interest in the individual needs of each sheep in His flock. Sheep are, perhaps, the most dependent of all animals and cannot survive without the care and constant attention of the shepherd. If any of his sheep have any need at any time, the shepherd is available, night or day, ready and able to meet every and any need of his sheep.
Most of us would not want to depend on anyone for everything the way sheep depend on their shepherd. But Yahweh, our Creator, wants us to depend on Him that way. Why? It keeps us close to Him and makes us rely on Him for all things. He proves our faith and trust in Him and on Him and not ourselves.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to look to You and trust in You to meet our every need in life. May we recognize how blest we are to have You as our personal Shepherd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Threat Of God's Silence

Prayer puts our faith at risk.
When we “pray to God in faith believing” and nothing happens or the results are different from what we expected or there is no answer at all, the tendency is to question the goodness and wisdom of God. We often doubt the need for prayer when we don’t get what we want.
As we begin to read Psalm 28 David seems to be having a problem in his prayer life. “I pray to You, O Lord, my Rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me.” Notice the way he begins: “I pray to You!” His prayer is direct and intense. But there is something very important to be noted here. In this moment of need David, in no uncertain terms, lets us into his heart. Prayer was not just part of his life. It was at the center of his life. He was completely dependent upon the Lord for help. “You, O Lord, are my Rock!” This prayer, though we do not know specifically what David was praying for, arose from a definite need at a specific time in his life. Perhaps years later, when he wrote this psalm, he could not remember specifically what his request was. But he could not forget that he had a need that only God could meet. And God met that need and granted his request.
In this prayer we hear his cry and see his hands raised to God demonstrating his dependence on Yahweh. And his prayer was answered. “Praise be to the Lord,” he finally shouted, “for He has heard my cry for mercy.”
God always answers us – but on His terms and in His time.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to depend only on You – not on ourselves or others – when we face our greatest needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 28:1 To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Potential In Prayer

Understanding the Word of God is important. But applying the Word of God to our lives is essential if we want to become who God wants us to be. Sin, we know, is a barrier to our relationship with God. It keeps us from enjoying His presence and power in our lives. In Psalm 19 we discover three important facts about sin and its consequences.
“How can I know the sins lurking in my heart?” asked the Psalmist. What a question! If we want to know how we look, we have at least three options: We can look into a mirror, ask someone to tell us how we look or search the Word of God. Only His Word, however, will give us a true picture of who we are, our sinful condition and the consequences that await us. We will quickly discover our faults and failures and see ourselves as God sees us. His Word will become our mirror when we hold up our lives to it, compare our lives with its teachings and ask God to reveal our sins to us. Then, with the Psalmist, we can pray “Cleanse me!”
But there is another request from the Psalmist: “Keep your servant from deliberate sins.” To be cleansed is not enough. We need His power and protection to live the life that God would have us to live and become who He expects us to be. Through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, God will answer this prayer. But we must be sincere when we pray and willing to surrender our lives to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, guard us and have control of us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to read Your Word, know Your Word, accept Your Word and live Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Object Of Our Desires

We often hear phrases such as “I just didn’t have enough time,” or “I ran out of time,” or “If I only had more time.” Time seems to elude all of us. Yet all of us try to regulate our lives by time. We wear watches, have clocks and are time sensitive.
One of the most interesting facts about time, however, is that it reveals our priorities. If we say that we love our wife and children, yet have little time for them or to be with them, our words are meaningless. If we say that we love our Lord and Savior, yet have no time for church or take no time to serve Him, our behavior mocks us and cancels our words. Our priorities are what matter. Our priorities are known to us and visible to others by the time we spend on “things.”
Psalm 24 makes a bold statement: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” It reflects the words that introduce us to God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!” This verse states that God was the Creator. Furthermore, this psalm states that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him. If so, He is to be the priority of our lives and everything we do is to be an act of worship – honoring Him in all that we do.
This psalm clearly announces the Kingship of God. We are quick to recognize God as Creator but that is not enough for Him. As our Creator-King, He has every right to expect us, His subjects, to place Him first and foremost in our lives. We know He is our priority when we honor Him by what we do with our time.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to make You the priority of our lives by being obedient to Your Word and serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Book!

Sir Walter Scott was a prominent novelist and poet whose writings were well known, respected and read throughout the world. As he approached death he called for his son-in-law and said, “Bring me the Book!”
Knowing that he had a massive library, he was thoroughly puzzled by the request and had no idea what the title of “the Book” might be. Realizing that there were more than 20,000 volumes in Scott’s library, he asked, “What book?”
“Need you ask?” replied the literary genius. “There is only one Book, the Bible!” Sir Walter Scott, author of many books and owner of thousands of books, spoke wisely. He knew personally the Author of the Book of books, the message it contained and its importance.
In this psalm the writer declares convincingly that “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.” Perfect because it contains God’s message of love, forgiveness and redemption and in it we find everything that is necessary for our salvation.
The author also wants us to know that it can be trusted – that its contents are reliable and dependable. So, he adds that “the decrees – or teachings – of the Lord can be trusted...to revive the soul.” Only God’s Word can bring joy to our hearts, guidance for our journey, light for our path, wisdom for our decisions and eternal life through Christ.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, we stand in awe before You, rejoicing in Your Word and the hope we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Challenging God

Knowledge is one thing. Knowing is quite another. We may know about someone and yet not know that one as a person. We may know the “vital statistics” about a person and never know the “hidden stories” kept deep inside. To get to know someone usually involves the other person disclosing some personal, sensitive and previously unknown things.
David wanted to know God. Really know Him. So he prayed: “Show me, teach me, lead me.” He knew of God but wanted to understand what it meant for Him to be the Lord of his life. Notice what he did.
First, he said: “Show me!” Here he asked Got to “reveal” Himself so David could actually see what He was like. If, we like David, want to see a true representation of what God is like we need to look deeply into His Word. It is impossible to know God apart from His without mastering the content of His Word.
Secondly, he said, “Teach me!” If we have truly repented we will want God to teach us His ways, come to understand His will for our lives and become obedient to His teachings and commandments. And God will show us His way if and when we truly desire it. But, only then.
Finally David courageously said, “Lead me in Your Truth.” He realized that he could not be successful in his walk with God if he was not willing to completely surrender his life to Him. He didn’t ask God to “be there when I need you,” or “answer when I call.” No! He wanted God to open His eyes to the eternal truth and then he would willingly follow Him.
Prayer: Father, may we willingly open our minds and hearts to Your truth, to learn from You and then serve You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Teach Me And Lead Me, Lord

TEACH ME AND LEAD ME, LORD
Success in the Christian life begins with our being willing to be willing. It is our willingness, our innermost desire, to want to know God, understand Him and do His will that makes the difference in who we become, what we live for and give our lives to.
David set the example and gives us an excellent program of being willing to be willing to become a “man after God’s own heart.” He asked God to “Teach me how to live, O Lord, (and) Lead me along right paths.” This short, simple and specific prayer exposes David’s desire: to know God and to make Him known.
When he asked God to “teach” him, David was pleading for God to give him guidance. This prayer did not arise out of need to confess his sins. It came from a deep desire to have an intimate relationship with God – to experience Him as a friend and confidant. David was well aware of the fact that if he did not allow God to be his teacher, he would not enjoy God’s protection and would not be “led along right paths.” And if he did not travel on “right paths,” he certainly could not make God known to those seeking Him.
David, in this verse, also prays for “victory over his enemies” who were waiting to destroy him. David knew that if God was with him no force was powerful enough to harm him or hurt him. Regardless of whom the enemy might be, those who believe in God have nothing to fear. No one or no thing can undo the work of God. What He has done will withstand any attack of Satan.
Prayer: Give us Your assurance, Lord, that as we know You and do Your will, You will always guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Searching For God

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God!” Do they really? When the writer looks into the heavens does he really believe that He can actually see God? Does he see an outline of God in a constellation? Are there stars shining somewhere that actually point to God’s eternal residence?
No. This psalm, more than any other, reflects the beauty, splendor, power and handiwork of God. He is speaking of the revelation of God in the world of nature. His belief in God as Creator is not an argument against the theory of evolution. For him, Creation reveals the Lord’s royal majesty, sovereignty, power and design. He simply declares God’s existence and presence and wants to praise Him in worship and wonder.
We see God’s glory each morning when we are awakened by a majestic sunrise that erupts from the darkness of the night. We see His handiwork each time we look into the face of a rose, watch a bird in flight or see the crashing of waves. All of creation clearly and convincingly announces the greatness and glory of God.
This Psalm reveals a God who communicates to us through the majesty of His creation. The fact that He speaks openly to us through the work of His hands is a gracious expression of His love and His desire for us to know and worship Him. Although sin has attempted to hide His glory it is still with us and cannot be denied!
Prayer: How great You are, O Lord, our Creator and Redeemer, our source of hope and eternal life. We thank You for our salvation and making Yourself known to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Right Living

When we are born, we know nothing, have no plan to follow and must be taught how to live. Before us are opportunities and options, choices and consequences that await us. Unfortunately, we do not have any “second chances” in life to live our lives over again. No matter how deep our desire may be or how desperate we are, we cannot relive one second nor retrace one step. Each step is final and every second gone forever.
David, however, says that the Good Shepherd will “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Note carefully that He does simply want us to understand what righteousness is, but that He leads His own “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” – so we can avoid many tragedies in life.
This is very important. The “righteousness” that David is speaking of here is not an end in itself. If it were, it would lead us to a state of “self-righteousness” – not godly righteousness. God does not want us to stray or walk in paths that are unrighteous because they will lead us to defeat and destruction, sin and shame. He wants to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Nothing is more important for us. Why?
Because of the Shepherd’s name – His reputation – is at stake. Like it or not, His name will be respected or rejected by the way we live. Our lives say it all.
Alexander the Great once said to one of his soldiers, “Your name is Alexander and my name is Alexander. But you are bringing disgrace to my name. Change your name or change the way you live.”
PrayerEnable, us Father, to walk righteously in Your power for Your Name’s sake, to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:3 He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Restoration

The word “want” in this Psalm covers anything and everything that we might ever desire. It is all inclusive – covering the mental, physical and emotional as well as the spiritual areas of our lives. And if a “want” is important to us, we need to realize that it was important to God before we ever recognized it.
David left none of our “wants” beyond God’s grace and mercy. Even the important need to “lie down” in “green pastures” beside “still waters” so our “souls” could be “restored” is important to the Good Shepherd! It is so important to Him that He often makes us take time to replenish and refresh ourselves.
There are times when He intervenes in our lives and causes us to “be still.” Why? Not only does He want to guide us but He often has to guard us from ourselves. Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” If we refuse to “rest awhile” we may “come apart” and then need Him to be put us back together again so He can use us.
The Good Shepherd loves and cares for His sheep. He not only guides them but guards them. His protection brings His peace and with His peace comes His promise to make us “lie down beside still waters” where He will “restore” us – refresh and renew us.
In our frantic lives God expects us to rest in Him, trust in Him, take time for Him and worship Him. If we do not follow His pattern He may even force His rest upon us in ways we would not choose. We need the benefits that come from resting in Him and with Him.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to recognize our need to be alone with You and be renewed, refreshed and restored. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Our Source Of Security

Life is unpredictable. Rarely does a day pass without someone or something interrupting our best laid plans. We look forward to days without worry and nights that are peaceful. Then, suddenly and without our permission, we are jolted into the realm of the unknown and the unexpected. We strive to be safe and secure but we have no assurance that tragedy will not strike without warning.
Psalm 23 is no doubt the world’s most loved psalm. The helpless image of sheep who want to stray from the flock and their need for protection by an ever present and always watchful shepherd gives us comfort and calmness. We all need and want that kind of Shepherd. It gives hope and assurance that we will never be left alone during the dark hours of life and that we will never have to face dangerous valleys or dimly lit pathways by ourselves.
In this psalm David presents a picture of God that reveals His love, His loyalty and His presence. As long as we live we can say He is “my” shepherd – not “a” shepherd or “someone else’s shepherd” but “my” very own shepherd who watches over me and every step we take.
And finally, when we are face to face with the certainty of death after the uncertainties of life, we know that He is – not might be – but actually is with us as we “pass through” the dark valley of death and enter into eternity where we will enjoy His presence forever!
Prayer: We are grateful to You, Lord, for giving us Your peace, presence and protection, today and every day and that You, our Creator, are also our Shepherd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Need Directions?

Life’s journey is never simple, straight, certain or serene. It is like a complicated maze that has sharp turns and sudden stops. Getting from the beginning to the end is no easy task. Life is often like a “maze”.
How blest we are to have the Lord who is personally interested in each of us, is willing to guide us, guard us and give us detailed instructions. But we must be willing to surrender to Him and trust in Him. Not only will God rescue us when we ask Him, but He will guide us if we allow Him.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,” said David. He did not approach God asking for directions and say, “Lord, if You promise me an easy path I will cooperate with You.” He went to God before he started his journey and said, “Show me – teach me,” then I will make my next move. By voluntarily asking God for help before he started his journey, he could expect God to be with him and protect him on his journey. But he did not stop there.
He asked God to “teach him His path.”
When he asked God to show him his way he wanted more than directions. He wanted God to be his teacher – his guide through life – explaining His world and His ways to him. It is easy to ask God to show us where to go. But, it is difficult for us to open our hearts and allow Him to teach us His ways!
What a beautiful picture of surrender! Show me where to go, God, and teach me what I need to learn.
Prayer: Lord, fill us with an attitude of humility and trust and help us look to You as our Leader and Teacher. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Look At Me, God!

LOOK AT ME, GOD!
“How bad do you want to be good?” he asked.
Confused, I asked, “What do you mean? Being bad to be good doesn’t make sense.”
“This has to do with motivation,” came the reply. “Do you really want to be ‘outstanding’ or be just like so many others who do things half-heartedly or to just get by in life?” To be outstanding takes determination and David was a man of determination.
He was determined to be the man God wanted him to be. He was not content to go about his daily activities without making sure that he was a “man after God’s own heart.” So he asked God to “Test my motives and my heart.”
That must have taken a great amount of courage – especially after he demanded, “Declare me innocent, O Lord!” Imagine his boldness: “I have acted with integrity...I have trusted without wavering...put me on trial and cross-examine me.”
Rarely do we hear of God’s judgment anymore. It is no longer a popular topic. Perhaps we have become so accustomed to God’s blessings that we have forgotten that there will be a day when we will stand before our Savior and give an account to Him of every deed – good or bad – that we have ever done. Let us never forget that.
While this took courage for David to ask God to examine him, he had no fear or apprehension. Why? Because he was “aware of God’s unfailing love” that far exceeds His judgment and certain punishment.
What a great example for each of us!
Prayer: Lord, search our hearts thoroughly. If there is any sin in our hearts, please forgive us and cleanse us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:1 Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Life's Final Moments

If the two options we have in life are faith or fear, then we can come to enjoy and take comfort in the peace we have in a living God as our light, salvation and hope. If we do not have a hope that comes from the Lord, we are condemned to a life of anguish as we move toward our final hours on earth.
Bertrand Russell said, “The older I get the more nervous I become.” In contrast to his fear is the faith we see in Pope John XXIII. Two weeks before his death he said, “My bags are packed. I’m ready to go!”
David had an unusual boldness as he faced life and death. “Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Even though he is confronted by an army or fighting to win a war or survive with his very life, he says that “I am confident.” Confident of what? His well-trained troops? His superior skills as a leader?
Indeed not. His confidence was in his Lord who was his light, salvation and hope. The word David uses for confidence in this verse means to feel secure or to be unconcerned. His confidence, the security he enjoyed, when facing the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death, was in the Lord Himself.
David’s passion was to live in the Lord’s house and to behold His beauty forever. Living in the Lord’s house means much more than being an occasional visitor. It implies being a resident now and in eternity. To behold His beauty means to enjoy God’s goodness and blessings – today, tomorrow and through eternity.
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know that faith in You gives us hope for this life and the one to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Life's Choices

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That seems to sum up the journey before all of us in one way or another. We are constantly faced with making a decision about which way we are to go when we come to the “forks in life’s road.”
Each morning when we begin the day’s journey there is no assurance that what we intend to do will unfold as we planned it. Interruptions come from every side and what may have been peaceful and calm ends up being frantic and out of control. So, we are confronted with two ever present options: chose to have faith in God or be fearful of what is in us, in front of us, or around us. We are faced with the only two choices life has to offer: faith or fear. So, what does faith in God have to offer us?
In Psalm 27 David describes his Lord as his light, salvation and fortress. As his light David knew that God would reveal His plan for him and dispel the darkness that might come over him. He also believed that God was his salvation. This meant that God would deliver him from anything that would harm him or rescue him from tragedy when things went badly. He believed that the Lord was his strength – stronghold or fortress – a place where he could take refuge and restore his soul when he was overwhelmed with life’s demands.
No wonder he proclaimed: Why fear anything?
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for being our light, salvation and strength to meet the challenges of life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

God's Mercy

February 14 is a day that has been set aside as a day to express love and affection. Cards and candy, gifts and flowers are given freely and are usually intended to make a statement of appreciation to someone who has a special place in our heart.
We read in Psalm 23 that the “goodness and mercy of God will follow us all the days of our lives.” But the word mercy is best translated “love” – a love that is not readily visible in our world but is vitally needed by each of us. It is God’s love that we can only know and experience through His promises.
Rather than being pursued and punished by a god who is angry with us for breaking his laws, we have a God who pursues us and promises to provide for our every need from His limitless love and grace. It is this God that David knew and trusted. It is this God that David knew that he could go to for hope and help, love and forgiveness. It is this God that David knew could be trusted to protect him in times of trouble. It is this God that David knew.
And, we too can come to know this God as David knew Him. And, we too can come to trust Him as David trusted Him.
When we speak of God’s love, we speak of a love that comes first from loyalty – He will never leave us nor abandon us. We know that it is a love that will surround us with care and compassion. We know that this love will be available to meet our every need every day.
Prayer: We thank You, loving Father, for a love that is never ending, always available and freely given. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Getting There From Here

Following directions to get from one place to another is sometimes difficult. Even using a map or listening to a distant voice speak to us on a global positioning system often create suspicion. Often we have feelings of uncertainty until we arrive safely at our intended destination.
There was no doubt in the mind of David of what if someone wanted directions from God. It is a clear if/then. “If,” David wrote, “you want to stand in His presence, ‘then’ you must have clean hands and a pure heart.” Hands refer to our actions and hearts refer to our attitudes. Certainly, the word “pure” would eliminate most of us. In our moments of honesty and openness before God, we all recognize soiled hands and devious hearts. What then are we to do if we want to plead our case before God? Who can say, “My hands are clean and my heart is pure?”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” There is little doubt that any of us will achieve a pure heart in this life. Was Jesus teasing us? Indeed not!
In the beatitudes Jesus is talking about how we are to live. And He knew that we could never achieve the goals for Christian living that He was talking about.
So, what are we to do? Give up? No! In the beatitudes He is talking about motives! He wants us to have an inner attitude and desire to continually seek the Lord by reading His Word, seeking to know Him and then honoring Him.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Word that shows us the way to find our way into Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?

Monday, July 10, 2017

From Head To Heart

JoAnn was watching her grandfather mulch the soil around his smiling pansies. “PaPa,” she asked, “may I please have the yellow one with a purple face?” “Of course, my dear,” he said, handing her a flower with a stem that was once near the center of the plant.
After carefully examining its intricate details she said, “Here, now take it back and put it where it was.”
“I can’t do that, my dear,” he replied. “It came from the heart of the plant and there is no way to put it back.”
Words are like that pansy. They come from the heart. Whatever we say or whatever anyone else says comes from the heart and words once spoken can never be returned to their source. Our words either help or harm, do good or cause damage, build up or tear down, bring out the best in people or make them fearful to act.
How wise of David to want his words and thoughts to be pleasing to God. God wants us to love Him, worship Him, serve Him and please Him. But if we do not know Him we will never be able to honor Him. And we cannot know Him unless we study His Word and allow its message to penetrate our minds.
Then, as we think Godly thoughts we will speak Godly words and do Godly deeds that come from Godly hearts and our lives will be pleasing to Him. Whatever is in our heart will eventually come out in our words and deeds.
Prayer: We ask, Father, for hearts that are filled with Your Word and lives that are pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Faith, Fear And Facts

Walking in “paths of righteousness” does not protect us from the “valleys” of life, but we can be sure that the Lord Himself is with us and will protect us. Though we may be surrounded by what may seem to be the ultimate darkness brought about by evil, we can rest in confidence because we know that God’s presence guarantees His protection.
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” wrote David. These two powerful words, rod and staff were not meaningless words – but words that describe the ways that the shepherds guarded and protected their sheep.
The rod was used by shepherds to beat away any external enemy that might harm his sheep. The “crooked” staff was used by shepherds to snatch his sheep from getting in harm’s way. So, here we have a picture of how our Shepherd watches over us. He guards us from any external enemy that would attack, defeat or destroy us. He makes certain that they will not come near us nor harm us because His arm is around us. Nor will he allow internal enemies – thoughts or ideas – that would cause us to doubt His love, mercy, grace or salvation to destroy the peace His presence brings us.
Our Shepherd’s rod and staff summarize His role and describe the ways He will care for us if we allow Him. And when we allow Him to become our Shepherd we can say with David, “I will walk through valleys and fear no evil! They will not overcome me.”
Prayer: Lord, give us faith to believe in the facts of Your Word that in Your strength we need fear no evil. 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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Facing The Unknown

Imagine, if you can, leaving your loved ones behind as you depart for a war zone. Think, if it is it possible, how you would feel if you were told you had stage-four cancer and there was no treatment to help prolong your life. Consider, if you will, what you would do if you discovered that your loved one had abandoned you.
While we hear of these tragedies impacting on others, few of us would welcome or want them to invade our lives or the lives of our loved ones. But what happens if they do? The Psalmist gives us comfort if or when we must embrace the unwelcome tragedies of life.
“In times of trouble may the Lord answer your cry,” he writes. Not hear your cry, nor think about your cry nor put your cry on His waiting list. But may He answer your cry.
Life is filled with unexpected tragedies. One moment everything is the way we had planned it to be and the next moment things are upside down. Often we are faced with unforeseen temptations that present choices we never thought we would have to face. But we do not face life alone. We have the protection of God, the power of the risen Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit to rescue us from defeat.
We cannot avoid the trials or tragedies of life. Nor do we need to face them alone. God is there to protect and defend us. Victory is ours when our lives are in God’s hands.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that Your ear is open to our cry and Your strength available when we need help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 20:1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Don't Give Up!

The endless questions of growing children often become boring and frustrating. There are times when no answer will do and no explanation is ever sufficient. The child persists, refuses to be satisfied with our best answers. The questions never stop.
Perhaps David had times in his life, as we all do, when it seemed as though his “King” would not answer his questions. It seemed as though the Lord stood far beyond and above him, unavailable, unable and unwilling to answer when he called. So, what did David do? He thought that he understood God, did what he knew God expected of him to the best of his ability. Yet we see him standing there in wonder – wanting and waiting to hear a voice, unable to bear the silence.
What was his problem? And do we have this same problem today? Perhaps.
Instant gratification and sudden success do not breed faith in God. But patient expectation and utter dependence on Him does. Perhaps our “fast-food-lanes” and “any-time-bank-tellers” have eroded the importance of waiting and watching and wondering. Hopefully, deep within us we believe that He will answer our prayers and meet our needs. We know that His power is beyond our imagination. David realized this, too.
David had an intimate knowledge of God and knew Him personally. Yet, he asked the who question twice as though His power was not available. But it was! God wanted David to wait and trust and grow.
Prayer: We know, Lord, that Your power is more than sufficient to meet our needs. Increase our faith and trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dark Valleys - Death's Shadow

It takes the darkness and fear of the night to bring out the brilliance and beauty of the stars. When we face the fear of the unknown, 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. So it is with us. When we face the fear and darkness of the unknown we often discover the grace of God. And when we feel abandoned and alone we must not forget that those who He spent three years training to be His disciples forsook Him. And remember – 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 have. 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, understands us and will deliver us. Know that God will do for us what He did for His Son.
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.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Choices And Consequences

Failure is never a welcome guest. Nor does one choose failure to be an associate or companion. Yet it is something that often invades our lives even though it is unwanted. Yet, from it we can learn some of life’s most valuable lessons.
In Psalm 21 David begins with shouts of praise: “How the king rejoices in Your strength, O Lord...how he shouts with joy because You gave him victory...how You gave him a crown...how You preserved his life.” Here we find David rejoicing and praising his Lord for the gracious gifts that He gave him. He praised God for granting him the desires of his heart and giving him victory over his enemies.
But notice carefully: he realized that the source of his strength, the joy of his victories, his golden crown and the preservation of his life all came from his Lord. He recognized God as his source of strength, survival and success. And in doing so, he gave thanks!
David learned from his mistakes. And wisely, when he came humbly from his victories, he knew who to thank: His victories came from the Lord and he acknowledged it.
God often allows us to experience the agony of defeat and the sorrow of disappointment to learn that we must rely on Him for everything, every day. In this Psalm David reminds us that his strength, joy, victory, rewards and protection all come from God. He learned from experience to trust God. What a great lesson for us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that we can only expect victory if we look to You for our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 21:1 The king rejoices in your strength, LORD. How great is his joy in the victories you give!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Calling For God In A Crisis

There are some psychologists who believe that our need for safety, structure and stability are more important than nearly anything else. Perhaps they are right.
When we look around and feel threatened and insecure, we become frightened and build what we think are protective walls to make us safe and secure. Yet, often the protective walls we have wrapped around us are suddenly removed and we become frightened and afraid.
Could it be that God is offering us an unplanned opportunity to grow closer to Him? Disaster strikes and we immediately grasp for His protection. We suddenly realize we desperately need Him and since there is no one else to turn to we call on Him for help. We need a “miracle working God” and want Him to do something special for us. So, we call on Him in desperation because we need help and believe that only He can rescue us.
David did not have an easy life. From infancy to old age he knew and experienced the stress and strain and storms of life. We find many examples of this in his writings. One is when he cried, “I give my soul to You, O Lord. All of me – body, mind and spirit – Lord, is now Yours!” Save me and “Let me not be ashamed” for doubting You. David’s army and amour could not help.
Overwhelmed with fear he called upon God. He knew that he needed a power beyond himself and knew Who that power was. And when he called, God answered.
Prayer: May we, Lord, come to realize that in and of ourselves we are nothing and need Your protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:1-2 In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.  I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Divine Deliverance

Our God is a great and gracious God. We see His greatness when we look into the spacious skies at night and see stars that cannot be counted and know that there are galaxies beyond galaxies. We also see His greatness when His Son walked among the sick and healed them, the hungry and fed them, the grieving and comforted them, the distraught and encouraged them.
We see His power and greatness when we look at Jesus on the cross, His resurrection from the tomb when He defeated death, His offer of salvation, His promise of eternal life with Him and His invitation to call on Him “whenever” for “whatever” as long as it is in His name.
David said that God “rescued him because He delighted in him.” Delighted here means “to be mindful of, to be attentive to, to keep, to protect, to have pleasure in...” Imagine the great value that God placed on David. He had a special place in God’s heart and was delivered from God’s wrath and his enemies.
Christians have the same offer of deliverance and salvation through Christ as David did through God. Christ takes God’s wrath from us in the salvation He provides for us. He also delivers us from the power of Satan who would defeat us. He is with us now just as God was with David three thousand years ago.
Christ living in us gives us His presence and power. When we call upon Him and trust in Him, we can be assured that He “is attentive to us, will keep us, protect us and take great pleasure in us” because He delights in us just as He did David.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your greatness and grace that delivers us, cleanses us and empowers us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Someone has rightly said that when we speak a person’s name we call that one into existence. For example, we can go an entire day without someone mentioning our name. No one has recognized that we are even alive. Does that mean that we do not exist? No. It means that we have not been “called into existence” or “recognized”. We have been “overlooked” so to speak.
David began Psalm 18 by recognizing God and proclaiming his love for his Lord: “I love You, Lord, my strength!” This simple statement quickly describes David’s dependence on God, his intimate relationship with God and his devotion to God. God, David said, was the source of his strength. Whatever he did was done through the strength that God gave him. And He received that strength when he called God “into existence.”
Often we think of “strength” as our ability to “lift” something or “endure” something as an athlete does in a contest. But David was not thinking of that type of strength. He goes on to describe his Lord as a rock, a fortress, a deliverer, a shield, his strength and the horn of his salvation. All of these words that describe God come from a military setting and help us to see that David, in this psalm, saw God as the One who protected him and made him the victor in all of his battles. They are “in His name.”
When David called on God, something happened: he was delivered or saved from all of his enemies. That also happens when we call on the Lord. “Everyone,” the Bible says, “who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Call on Him now to be delivered and saved!
Prayer: Lord, we love You and thank You for being our Savior and shield, our protector and provider. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:1 I love you, LORD, my strength.