Thursday, August 31, 2017

Who Do You Look Up To?

Many celebrities do not want to be held accountable as “role models.” They do want attention and accolades, recognition and rewards, popularity and prestige. But they do not want the “pressure” to have to live lives that reflect integrity and honesty, purity and decency. They do not want, as many of them have said, “to be a role model.” “I want to live my life as I choose.”
Many of us, however, look for “role models.” We want someone to look up to, to follow, to be our hero, our example. Often we think, “If I can see it, I can do it. If there is someone who has done it, I know others can do it and so can I!”
David, in many ways, can be “a hero” for most of us. However, he did not want that responsibility. Not because of the pressure that it would put on him. Instead, he wanted everyone to know that his hero was his Lord and he wanted others to “hero-up” to Him.
“Blessed,” he said, is the person who “trusts in the Lord,” and does not “look to the proud or turn aside to false gods.” Whenever we look at David, we see a man who knew victory as well as defeat, who sinned and had to plead with God for His forgiveness. He recognized his failures and would never set himself up as a model. And he recognized that there was only One person he could look up to as a model: his Lord and Savior.
When we put our faith in Him we know that He is not a “false god.” We can follow the Lord confidently!
Prayer: We look to You, Lord, as the “author and finisher” of our salvation and our guide in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

Waiting For Results

Fast food restaurants and high speed internet access have conditioned us to rush our way through life. We resent deeply having to stand in a grocery line, wait for someone to answer a phone call or return a message. If it isn’t instant, it isn’t worth “my” time.
But there is value in waiting on some things. Especially for God to work in our lives. It was for David. It certainly is for us.
“I waited patiently for the Lord,” he said. We do not know what David was waiting for or the problems he was facing. It may be that this time of waiting for a response from God was different from the other times he looked to God for help. But it does not matter. There are many instances in the Psalms when he called on God and He responded immediately and rescued him. But this time, however, was different. He not only waited – but he waited patiently. His anxiety did not overpower him. His needs or wants were not driving him to distraction or irrational behavior. No, his mind was focused on God’s love, grace, mercy and wisdom. From times past he knew God would respond.
And the results of his patience were, as we would say today, unreal. “He turned to me...He heard me...He lifted me...He set my feet on a rock...He gave me a firm place to stand!” From adversity to abundance!
In humility and submissiveness he waited for God. He knew that God had the answer that was in his best interest: God wanted to “make him a man after My own heart.”
Prayer: May we learn from David, Lord, to wait on You patiently, knowing that You are at work in us, for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

There Is An End To Life

All of us are confronted by the passing of time – not only the elderly. It is an issue that all of us face whether we like it or not. Yet, our culture is in massive denial that everyone ages and every life will end.
Our elderly now live in “retirement villages.” More cosmetics than ever are sold to “erase” the lines of aging. There are more products now available to “cover” gray hair that once stood for wisdom. We have surgery to remove the signs of aging that are becoming less expensive and more available. But it is all in vain. Time is the enemy of everyone and judgment awaits us all.
David was aware of the fact his life was passing away. Overwhelmed by its shortness he cried out, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” He had questions and wanted God’s answers. His sickness was a result of his sin and knowing that God was displeased with him caused him to be alarmed.
So, he wanted a “date” and the “number” of days he had left to live. He was asking God to give him some assurance of the time he had been allotted. Having that information would enable him to “figure” out what to do “next.” But he didn’t get it.
In this simple verse he admitted that he was frail, that his “days” were numbered and his “life” short. He knew that one day he would certainly face God!
Armand Nicholi said, “Only when we are ready to die can we truly live a fulfilling and satisfying life.”
Prayer: As we face the shortness of life and the reality of death, Lord, may we live lives that honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hope In The Lord

Once, before going into battle, Alexander the Great began making elaborate preparations for a large military operation. He was so uncertain about the outcome of the battle that he gave away his personal possessions. One of his men went to him in protest and said, “Sir, you are giving away everything you have!”
“Everything,” said Alexander, “but hope.”
Overwhelmed with sickness and facing death, David cried out, “My hope is in You! Save me from all my transgressions!” He realized that in spite of his vast wealth and power he was bankrupt and powerless over his life. He could do nothing to save himself.
But when David came to the end of all that he had, he found himself at the beginning of what God had – the power to deliver him. “Save me,” he cried, “from all my transgressions.” His entire life must have passed before his eyes, frightened him into a sense of reality and left him in a state of despair and hopelessness.
This verse contains one of life’s most important messages. David, and each one of us, need to be “saved from our transgressions.” Most of us recognize that fact. Knowing and facing that fact, however, is not enough. We must also accept the fact that life is beyond our control – not only our health but the number of days God will grant us. Like David we must be prepared to face death and judgment.
God used sickness, fear and aging to get David’s attention to face death. God uses many different means to get our attention. What’s God doing in our life today?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your love and the many ways You use to reach us and deliver us from our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Friend Or Foe?

James wrote, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord!”
God’s power to heal has an important place in Scripture. In fact, of the 1,257 narrative verses in the four Gospels, 484 are related specifically to healing. We believe in God’s healing power and know He can heal. David also believed in God’s healing power and believed that God could heal him. But where did David begin in his plea for God’s help?
David was hanging on to life by a thread. He felt total rejection by God because of a major sin he had committed. It had become a burden that was too heavy to bear, too big to overlook and too obvious to ignore. In fact he said that God “pierced him and His hand came down hard upon him.” He knew he was being punished by God for sinning against God.
After thoroughly describing his mental, physical and spiritual sicknesses he cried out, “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” In his wisdom and from his former relationship with God, he realized that God would not bring about physical and mental healing unless David first confessed his need for spiritual healing.
There can be little doubt that sin and physical and mental illnesses are intimately connected. Yet, many only want God’s physical and mental healing. With God, all healing begins with confession and repentance – spiritual healing.
Prayer: When we need healing, Lord, may we repent; ask for forgiveness and grace and then healing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:1 LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Waiting On God

“Waiting” on God to act visibly on our behalf does not mean we are to be idle and do nothing. In fact, Paul gave the Thessalonians a warning, “stay away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to his teachings.” Waiting on God is critical for the Christian because we learn to hope only in Him, be loyal and obedient to Him and have faith that He is working in our best interest.
“I know the plans I have for you,” said the Lord through Jeremiah. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Since these “plans” originate with the Lord, we are to place our lives in His hands and with hope wait only on Him. It is unfortunate when we lose patience in Him and move forward on our own and not really know where we are going. His plans are good plans, well designed and carefully thought out. So, we must wait before Him in silent expectancy.
But we must also keep His way – be obedient and loyal to Him. While waiting we will surely be tempted to give up or give in and seek a “shortcut” that could lead to defeat and disaster. When we keep or walk in His way, we can be certain that we will end up where He wants us to be not where we think He wants us to be.
Finally, we must “keep the faith.” Perhaps the greatest enemy of faith is false success. Waiting and keeping the faith assures us that we are growing into the likeness of Christ and fulfilling His plan for us. Live a life of faith and avoid being distracted by doubters.
Prayer: Lord, may we learn to wait on You, stay close by You, hope in You and enjoy a future with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Why Do Good?

“Finders keepers! Losers weepers!”
That statement, which some think comes from an ancient Roman law, has provided guidance for the decisions of many children. It has also found its way into the lives of many adults. If someone loses “it,” and someone else finds “it,” what’s the right thing to do with “it”?
In Deuteronomy, the Hebrews were told that they were to care for and return animals, as well as any property that someone had lost, to their rightful owners. The reason for this rule is that when we protect and return the property of another person, we are kept from being envious and greedy. Envy and greed seem to be the “gateway” to almost every other sin.
“Turn from evil and do good,” advises David. He wanted the “just,” those who lived “moral lives,” to know that the Lord loved them and that He would always be faithful to them. Additionally, David added, that the “just” will “inherit the land” – have eternal life.
How blest we are to know that God wants us to have hope in Him and look forward to being with Him throughout eternity. God has placed within every heart a longing for Someone to bring completeness and purpose into their life. The emptiness, the loneliness, the “desire for something more” is the “inheritance” that awaits those “who turn from evil and do good.”
But there is more to look forward to than our future inheritance. We can look forward to God’s presence, power and peace in our lives today and every day. He loves the “just” because He is just. And He will never forsake the “faithful” because He is faithful. Are we not blest?
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Son Who gives us hope in this life and the one to come! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Falling Is Not Failing

Watching a child take his or her first steps is a marvelous sight to behold. Pictures are taken, memories created and lives changed.
Recently a mother and father brought their infant son to the Garden for his first steps. After finding the “perfect” location for this historic event, the father gently placed his hands under the child’s arms. As the child looked down at his tiny feet and with uncertainty began to “toddle” forward, the father relaxed his grip. Slowly, as the child began to walk on his own, he removed his hands completely. After a few staggering and uncertain steps the little fellow began to carry his weight on his own two feet. The parents were thrilled!
Suddenly, the child lost his balance and fell to the ground. Rushing to pick him up the father smiled, hugged him and encouraged him to “try again.” There was no scolding or rejection for falling down. Rather, the father lifted him, dried his tears and helped him to begin again.
How like our Heavenly Father. If the Lord is delighted in the way we walk – even though we fall – He will come to our rescue, lift us up and “make our steps firm.” As long as we do our part to walk in His ways, He will do His part to give us the stability to “move on.”
When we fall, He does not consider us a failure. He lovingly lifts us up, tenderly dries our tears and then carefully watches over us as we struggle to walk in His ways. He will never leave us nor forsake us if we fall.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your care, concern and compassion that always supports and sustains us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:23, 24 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Reward For Being Meek

Who are the “meek” who will “inherit the earth?” Are they the ones we would classify as weak? Would they fall into a special category labeled “non-assertive?” Is the “meek” person one who has no expectations or goals in life? Have you ever seen an ad in the classified section of a newspaper where an insurance company is searching for sale persons that says, “Only the meek should apply?”
David said, “The meek will inherit the land.” And Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Who are these “meek” people anyway? Is there any way we can recognize them?
Yes, there is, according to Scripture. The “meek” are the ones who are the opposites of the “know it all” or possess a “false-pride.” They are the proud and believe that worldly might and power are an end in themselves. They present themselves as the ultimate resource of all knowledge, wisdom, insight and understanding. They consider themselves to be worldly-wise. It is those who think they are the “light of the world” – not Jesus.
In God’s Word, however a truly “meek” person is one whose goal is to know Christ and make Him known. We become meek when we are willing to have God alter every detail of our lives by surrendering to the teachings of God’s Word and desiring to honor Him alone.
When it comes to weakness, our “meekness” will allow us to become “weak” in the hands of God. Then He can shape us into becoming who He would have us to be.
Prayer: Lord, fill our hearts with a meekness that opens our lives to Your Word, Your will and Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How To Live Life With Confidence

The sale of self-help books has soared since the year 2006 when sales reached nine billion dollars. The 11 billion dollar industry is expected to grow by 5.5% every year. The endless pages offering advice on “how to improve one’s life,” however, do not seem to be making a dent in solving man’s most basic problem: a sinful nature.
David offered an alternative to “self-help.” He wisely encouraged us to seek “God-help.”
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon day sun!” Confident living, for the Christian, really has a very simple formula: first commit and then trust.
Commit, on the one hand, means that we are “to completely and unreservedly rely in and on Him.” He is not only our Savior but the Lord of our lives. Trust, on the other hand, means that we have a live and vibrant expectation that He alone is capable of leading, guiding, guarding and directing each step in our lives. We look in His Word to find His way. Committing and trusting in Him alone allows us to move from self-help to God-help.
And the result will be obvious to us and others. We will radiate the righteousness of God by living a life that reflects His beauty and holiness. There is also the “integrity” element in our lives. Whatever we do will be empowered by the Holy Spirit because of our “right-living.”
Prayer: Give us courage, Father, to look only to You to be our “Helper” – to live life according to Your book. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

God's Light - Man's Need

Lights shine more brightly when the night is at its darkest moment. Stars illuminate the skies with more beauty and brilliance when there is no glare from the glow of a city.
Light also brings shadows and can cause blindness. Light even creates illusions of things that do not exist – like streams of water on parched desert sand.
But there is one Light that enables us to see the light. It is the Light of God that comes from the Word of God when His Word and His ways are illuminated by His Holy Spirit.
Psalm 36 contains an important theme for the Christian. All too often we willingly accept the teachings of individuals who offer a solution to our problems from sources that are not consistent with God’s truth. David clearly warns us about this problem. He writes that we may unwisely “flatter” ourselves because we are “deceived” by not being able to “detect sin.” He offers the solution for the method we are to use to discriminate the truth about sin: “in Your light we see light.”
John clearly emphasized this also, “God is light,” he assures us, “and in Him there is no darkness.” Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy and reliable. Darkness, on the other hand, represents what is sinful and evil. The light that comes from God’s Word is true and reliable and will guide us from the darkness of sin into the Light of God’s love, mercy and grace. His Light will save us from the sin of self-deception and death.
Prayer: With grateful hearts, Lord, we thank You for becoming the Light of the world and the Light of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Greatness Of God

THE GREATNESS OF GOD
Scripture contains many words to describe God. They occur throughout the Bible. In Psalm 36 there are four short sentences that contain four words to describe God’s greatness: Love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. Then, there is one short phrase that tells us how He applies those characteristics: He preserves all He has created. Because of His character, God holds all of His creation together. Creation is because of Him.
What is so interesting here is that within a few verses David moves from the darkness that possesses the human heart to the light that comes from God. It all starts with His love – a love that will never fail and will never end. God’s love is revealed in His faithfulness.
If we were not able to depend on God being faithful at all times and in all situations, His love would be worthless. Imagine how tragic life would be, if when we needed God’s grace or mercy, He was “unavailable” for three weeks. Love and faithfulness belong together!
Yet there is more! God is also righteous and just which affects our salvation. It is His righteousness that allows us to “become righteous” – to move from darkness to light – and have fellowship with Him. But if He were not just, some of us might not qualify for His salvation. What if we had to meet certain financial requirements that were beyond us? What if we were disqualified if we could not pass a test that was designed for those with a high IQ? What if we were unattractive or shy?
But, “What if’s” do not count. “Whosoever” does!
Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Your grace that is well beyond our imaginations but not our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

No Fear!

“Hear ye! Hear ye!” were the words of the “Town Crier” in many English towns years ago. His job was to stand in public places where people gathered and shout or “cry out” official announcements. When there was an important event he would often ring a bell to get people to gather quickly to listen to what he was sent to say.
David received an important message from the Lord. It was so important that he “cried out” for the people to listen to him. “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked,” he shouted. An oracle is an utterance – or a message – linked to God or coming from Him. These were serious words and as always reflected the love and concern that God has for people to know Him, come to Him and worship Him.
His message was simple, clear and direct, “Your ears are not open to God, you flatter yourselves so much that you cannot recognize your sins or hate them.”
But he does not stop there. He continues, “The words that come out of your mouths are deceitful, you are no longer wise or do good.” Quite an indictment.
David’s words were true then and are equally true today. He paints a vivid picture of human darkness that includes the mind, heart and will. When we do not fear God’s judgment, our egos become inflated, we flatter ourselves falsely and wicked thoughts come out of our minds that deceive ourselves and others. When we no longer fear God we are in serious trouble. We must fear Him, remain in His Word and rely on His strength.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that Your Spirit will convict us of any sin that would deceive us and destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:1 I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Unceasing Praise

Sunday evenings were always a special time in our small church in Northern Ohio. After singing a few hymns, Pastor Stanley would walk to the pulpit and ask, “Who would like to stand up tonight and thank the Lord publicly for His goodness and blessings during the last week?” We would all wait anxiously to hear what God had “been doing” since last Sunday evening. It was a time of sharing and rejoicing. We were always happy when someone was healed or helped. God got all the credit but we all rejoiced with the one who He had honored. We believed that when we asked, God would answer. And when He answered we all enjoyed the results and gave thanks together.
God heard and answered David’s prayer. But the nature of his prayer or the problems he was facing are not defined. However, in his concluding remarks he writes of God being “delighted in the well-being of His servant.” Well-being includes everything and anything that concerns us. Big or little, large or small. Whatever concerns us concerned God first because His goodness and grace has no limit. They exceed our imagination.
The answer to his prayer was the beginning of an important event in his life. He did not go quietly to his room and thank God by himself. No! He insisted on sharing his joy with others and said, “Come and join me. Let those who are happy with God’s blessings on me rejoice with me – all day!” What a way to grow.
After we pray together, let’s give praises together when God answers our prayers.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to sing and shout praises together when we see Your goodness and grace at work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fight For Me, God!

Perhaps the deepest wounds any of us carry are the wounds that come from being betrayed. They leave a bitter taste in our mouths and a desire for revenge in our minds and hearts. When a trusted friend turns out to be an enemy, especially without cause, it fractures – sometimes forever – what was expected to be a confidant for life. Trust turns into resentment and what was love seeks revenge. Anger turns into grief and a large hole grows in our heart. We question what to do or where to go for help.
What is the best course of action for us to take? Spread rumors about “the enemy”? Seek ways to destroy that person’s reputation? Allow depression to overtake us and hide from the light of day? It’s too difficult to remain calm when our insides churn.
When David was being destroyed by those who he thought were his closest friends and advisors, he turned to God. He did not ask God to forgive them. Nor did he ask God to convict them and make amends to him. No! He asked God to arm Himself with a shield, buckler and spear and go after his foes. He allowed God to settle the score.
And then he asked God to speak to him, bring a peace to his heart and assure him that “I, God, am your salvation!” He was anxious but trusted in God.
David had done no wrong in this instance. He deserved to be vindicated. He was aware, however, that if he took things into his own hands it might have been disastrous if he lost control of his anger. So, in his wisdom, he asked God to vindicate him. And God did!
Prayer: Help us, God, to turn to You when we are wronged by others and to trust in You to make things right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whenever... For Whatever

Whenever is a gracious word that sounds very comforting when someone offers to help us when we are going through a difficult time. We know that someone will help when we dial 911. Our homes are wrapped in security systems “in case” someone tries to enter if they are not invited. There are endless “alerts” available to notify someone, somewhere if we fall, encounter pain or face an emergency. We are to be thankful for these and many other devices that let us know that help is available.
In Psalm 34 we are reminded of the realities of life. “God’s eyes,” says David “are on the righteous,” His “ears attentive to their cry.” So, whenever the righteous cry out, “the Lord hears them.” Not may or might hear them, could or should hear them – but will hear them. We do not have to get in line, dial a number on a phone or press a button. Just “call out.” Whenever. David is very realistic about life. He’s been there and endured that. When he speaks about the tragedies in his life, we can enter into his experience with him. We have walked through the deep valleys as he has and have stumbled through similar shadows. Christians are not given a “free pass” to a life without problems.
But we are given the assurance that God is more than present. “His eyes are on us” and “His ears open to us.” So, when our hearts are broken by the tragedies of life, our spirits crushed in grief, our joints ache and our illnesses never seem to end. So, we are to call on Him. “Whenever” we need “whatever” He’s there to help. Whenever…
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for seeing our problems, hearing our cries, and healing our hearts and bodies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recipe For A Good Day

Have you ever met anyone who awakened in the morning and said, “Today is going to be horrible! I know it. I feel it. It’s in the air!” How discouraging. Yet there are some who say, “Today’s going to be the best day I’ve ever lived. I know God will be with me and bless me in all that I do.” Is there a formula for having good, God blest days? Apparently so.
David said, “If you want to have good days,” do three things:
1. Keep your tongue from evil! That may be more difficult than it sounds. James said, “No human being can tame the tongue.” Perhaps the best way to start a “good day” would be to ask God to control our tongue and use it to encourage others and praise Him.
2. Turn from evil and do good! Another way to have a good day is to ask God to make us sensitive to the temptations we are sure to face as the day unfolds. It was Jesus who encouraged us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” He knew that we would have to face temptation every day of our lives so he advised us to ask for God’s help before we faced them. And don’t forget the words of Paul, “It is possible,” he said, “to escape temptation and avoid sin” if we call on God for help.
3. Seek peace and pursue it. This does not mean we are to surrender and avoid conflict. It means that we can enjoy peace in the midst of conflict if the conflict comes from being obedient to His Word, doing His will and following the path He has set before us.
Prayer: We all want good days, Lord, so we ask that You give us courage and wisdom to obey Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:13-14 – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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 overcame in his life, it would be a book so large that would be very difficult to carry from one place to another. Yet, with no hesitance 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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Come! Praise The Lord!

There seems to be an attitude of arrogance in the world today. It is summed up in the epigram that was written above the door of the saloon on the Titanic: “Not even God can sink this ship!” Imagine the irony of those words. They are carved in a piece of wood that is still rotting after all of these years.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no fear of God in the world any longer. Today, the list of the world’s fears includes a nuclear disaster, global warming, the national deficit, health care, a flu epidemic, identity theft or a stock market crash. It seems as though God has been assigned the role of being an ex-officio member of the “Board of Governors.” It is a “position” with no power or influence. He is no longer recognized as one who makes any difference in the day to day operation of the universe. He’s simply around to humor some people. Man is in charge now, thank you, and will bring good things to pass now that God is out of the way!
Psalm 34 takes the opposite view of God. The author blesses the Lord for what He has done. In deep humility he recognizes the power and presence of God. His view of the world is God-centered not man-exalting. Therefore, “His praise should always be on our lips.”
How different it is today. People seem to do what they do for the recognition they may receive. Glory and honor belong to the one who can score the most points, accumulate vast wealth or demonstrate great power over people. God, to them is a “thing” in the past.
Prayer: Father, may we praise You at all times and in all things for Your unending, unfailing, steadfast love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why Wait On God?

Waiting, at best, is difficult. Giving up however can be disastrous.
We often hear the warning, “Don’t ever pray for patience. God may take you at your word and hide from you for a long, long time.” Whether or not we pray for patience, we often end up waiting on God for a long, long time. It is easy to convince ourselves that “I’ve waited long enough. It’s time for me to strike out on my own. God will eventually catch up with me.”
“We wait in hope for the Lord,” said David, “He is our help and shield!” Why would a king with armies and wise men, property and power advise people to wait? Why not, as a warrior, “move into combat?”
From his past David could predict his future. First, the God who created all things is above all things, sees all things, controls all things and, when it is time, come and “do His thing.” David had experienced God at work in his life and certainly came to believe in God’s presence and power in his life. So, he reassures us and reminds us that He “is now and will be in the future our helper and our shield.”
As our helper, He will, at the appropriate time, deliver us. We may not know when or understand what method of deliverance He will use, but we do know that He will deliver those who trust in Him. We have His word because it is in His Word. However, until He does come and deliver us, we are reminded that He is our shield – the One who will defend us. Our hope is in His hands.
Prayer: Give us, O Lord, a confident faith that will not fail as we wait on You, our helper and shield. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Blessed Is The Nation!

The destiny of a nation is not determined by its armed forces or material resources. Nor is it empowered by its political philosophy or intellectual achievements. God’s Word reveals and the records of history prove that it is “not by power, nor by might, but by my spirit” that nations survive over time.
The destiny of any nation is determined by the spiritual life of its people. “Blessed is the nation,” David declared, “whose God is the Lord.”
Every nation has had an opportunity to accept the Word of God and follow His ways, to worship Him and to do His will. If they accept His offer, that nation will be blest. However, if a nation chooses to reject Him and His teachings and refuses to worship and follow Him and establish their own foundation they will eventually be destroyed. This is an obvious fact of history.
Rome became a great empire but it collapsed. Why? The celebrated Italian historian, Papini, wrote that “the temple, the bank, and the academy were against Jesus of Nazareth.”
Germany became great but was reduced to rubble. Wrote a German philosopher, “They pushed God out of the universities and that was the beginning of the death sentence for the empire.”
What will be our destiny when we are no longer “one nation under God?” We are the ones responsible to “humble ourselves, pray, call upon the Lord and repent.” Otherwise, we will be a memory on the pages of history.
Prayer: Father, we who profess Your name are to call upon Your name and stand against the forces of evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Ten-Stringed Instrument

A wealthy gentleman was known for having an extensive violin collection. When Fritz Kreisler heard of the collection he went to see the instruments and meet the person who owned them.
When he saw them he was overcome with joy. Turning to their owner, he pointed at one of the instruments and said, “May I play that one?”
“I’m sorry,” said the owner, “but I will not allow you to touch that violin. It is too costly.”
Kreisler visited the gentleman once again and made the same request. On this occasion, however, the man relented and gave him permission to play the violin. Gently and lovingly Kreisler removed the violin from the case and played it as only a master could.
With tears in his eyes the owner said, “Take it – it’s yours. It must be owned by someone who can play it as you can.”
Make “music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre,” said David. Every string on that harp was to be used to proclaim the glory of God in worship!
Someone has said that “the body is to be used as that ten-stringed” instrument. We have two ears, two eyes, two feet, two hands, one tongue and one heart. But as the owner had to give permission to Kreisler to play the violin, we too must “offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.” It’s only “reasonable,” says Paul, in view of all that God has done for us. Reasonable, indeed, but the choice is ours.
Prayer: Lord, may we be an instrument of beauty and wonder in Your hands as we willingly surrender to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why Worship And Sing Praises?

Each church has its own “temperament.” There are those where you find happiness and hope, a warm fellowship and a welcoming spirit. Others are cold and closed, old and tired. In between are some that are looking for an identity and try one thing and then another.
Psalm 33 is filled with enthusiasm for God. And it has some great advice on how people and “churches” are to worship God. “Sing joyfully,” said the Psalmist. “Praise the Lord with the harp and the ten-stringed lyre,” he continues. But why?
One reason is that “The Word of the Lord is right and true.” No one has ever rejected the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts the reader. “The only objection against the Bible,” said Wilmot the infidel when he was dying, “is a bad life.”
“The plans of the Lord stand true,” is another reason to worship and praise God. A father said to his son, “Go to the third step and jump. I’ll catch you!” But he didn’t and his son fell to the floor. “Now get up and remember,” he said, “don’t trust anyone – not even your father.” Our Heavenly Father never tricks us nor tempts us. He is faithful in all things and at all times.
Finally, “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him. No army has ever saved a king,” said David. Warriors work together and combine their strength but are often defeated. But “God delivers His own from death and keeps them alive in famine.”
Humanists depend on human beings. Christians depend on Jesus Christ to “deliver” and “nourish” them. And when He does – all praise goes to Him.
Prayer: Father, may our hearts and lives be centered on worshiping You in songs of joy and shouts of praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Straight Line

When the first railroad was built in Russia, the Czar wanted train tracks to be laid from Moscow to another city that he enjoyed visiting.
“Where do you want me to lay the tracks?” asked the engineer, unrolling a map before him.
After thinking for a moment, the Czar took a ruler and drew a straight line across the map from Moscow to that particular city and said loudly, “There!”
The Lord has drawn a “straight line.” We find it in His Word. It is a line that begins at our feet, goes through the cross and ends with Him in heaven. But that line is often difficult to follow. Even for King David.
“I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my inequity,” he wrote. Acknowledging this “sin” must have been difficult for him to confess. Hear his cry, “Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.” He could find no relief from his guilt and God would not give him any peace. “Day and night your hand was heavy on me.”
When we sin and do not repent or ask God for His forgiveness, we can expect – and be thankful for – His “heavy hand on” us. Sometimes we “feel” His hand when we are emotionally unsettled, going through a period of sickness or sensing feelings of alienation. How fortunate we are – for this is God speaking to us, trying to get our attention because He wants us to “confess our sins.” Then He will remove our guilt, restore His peace and renew our relationship with Him.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving us a conscience that forces us to look at the sin in our lives and repent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Source Of Sin

The seminary professor stood quietly before his class as though he was waiting for a traffic light to change. Wanting the class to think deep thoughts about the greatness of God’s grace he asked, “Do you have any possession, do you have anything – anything – that you did not receive from the Lord?”
After a moment’s thought, Len spoke up and said, “Yes!”
Startled, the professor asked in a voice of disbelief, “What?”
“Sin,” came the reply.
Sin did not have its origin in God, but in Lucifer who became Satan. In Ezekiel 28:15 we read, “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” Satan and sin were not and are not eternal. But sin entered into the world through Adam. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12 that “sin entered into the world through one man.”
Sin, then, is a legacy – an inheritance – that is passed on from one generation to another. But it is an inheritance that we can choose to refuse.
David says we can be “blessed” if there is “no deceit in our spirit.” If we express true repentance and regret for our sins, God will certainly forgive us. How fortunate we are for His love, grace and forgiveness.
If, however, we have been born again and “miss God’s mark” by sinning, we can go back to Him in honesty, humility, sincerity and truth and repent.
Prayer: Cleanse us, O Lord, and keep us from all sin. And if we fall, convict us, forgive us and draw us closer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sin And Forgiveness

“Are we sinners because we sin or do we sin because we are sinners?” asked the Sunday school teacher. An immediate debate erupted in the class as the members attempted to sort out the issues.
Finally, Jess quoted Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “Seems to me,” he continued, “that if everyone ‘falls short’ we must all be sinners because we all sin. Someone other than Jesus might have slipped through. Certainly, not me.”
In Psalm 32 David uses the words transgress and sin. Transgress means to step across or to go beyond a set boundary. It carries with it the idea of an athlete stepping out of bounds while competing in a contest. The word sin means to miss the mark – like failing a test or not meeting a specific standard.
If we recognize God’s laws as boundaries, we would all have to admit that we have stepped beyond the limits for right living that God set. And where is that person who can say that they have hit the target and meet every standard that God has set for them?
Though David speaks of iniquity, sin and transgression, he emphasizes forgiveness and the fact that our sins can be removed. He writes, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.” Paul quotes these same words in Romans.
Thank God that Paul explains what we are to do if we want our sins removed: “For by grace you can be saved – your sins removed – through God’s gift!”
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your salvation which is only possible through Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Let Go - Let God

“You have stage three transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder,” said the urologist in a calm, yet hardly reassuring voice. Anytime, anyone is diagnosed with cancer is a day to remember. “Why me and why now God?” is the standard response for most individuals who hear these words. The initial impact of those words is difficult to accept and usually faith-threatening. How could a loving Father do such a mean, ugly thing to one of His children? When life caves in, what are we to do?
David was experiencing a difficult time in his life. And although he was uncertain about his future he was confident in the One who controlled it. In a burst of trust he said, “My times are in Your hands!”
There is something comforting in those words. A reassurance that God has a plan and purpose for each of us. We did not wander into this world by accident. God did not intend for us to drift through life like clouds in the sky. He brought each of us into this world with something to do, some place to go and some plan to fulfill. All throughout our lives we are in the hands of God.
We are often tempted to think, “If I were in control I would have done things differently.” No pain, no suffering, no temptations, no mistakes. But, thank God, we are not in control. We do not know the future nor do we know what is best for us. But we do know that whatever God is doing in our lives is in our best interest. He wants us to be conformed to His image and He is the only One who knows how to do that.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to see Your hand shaping our lives and guiding our steps as You lead us through life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

When Faith Faces Fear

“Life is Good” are the words beneath a happy face on a T-shirt. The moon-shaped circle with two slashes and a curvy mouth always seem to remind us of the importance of having fun and locking up moments of pleasure. We want to believe that “Life is Good!”
But is it? And when it isn’t, what are we to do?
Imagine a day that begins with a beautiful sunrise and soon after breakfast dark clouds filled with dreadful news bring some of life’s realities into sharp focus. Imagine a conversation with God that goes something like this: “You know, God, I do trust You and believe that You are concerned about me but that phone call informed me that I lost my job.” Or “My daughter has just confessed to being addicted to crack cocaine.” Or “My son got his girlfriend pregnant and they are juniors in high school.” Or “God my spouse left me for someone else!” Life happens. It did to David. It does to us.
God was David’s “rock,” his “strong fortress” and his “refuge.” Suddenly, life changed. He was “afflicted,” in “anguish” and about to be “ensnared by a trap that was set” for him by his friends. His “eyes and bones were weak,” he was a “dread to his friends” and his “name was being slandered.” Where’s your God, David?
Give up? No. He challenged the goodness of God and reminded Him that “I trust in You, O Lord. You are my God. Deliver me!” And God did. David challenges us to “Love the Lord because the Lord preserves the faithful. Be strong, take heart, and hope in the Lord!”
Prayer: Lord, give us a faith to exceed the obstacles of life that challenge Your goodness, greatness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:14 But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Last Words

The uncertainties of life always end with the certainty of death. We know it is there waiting for us. No one knows when their heart will stop. Yet, when the time comes, most individuals have a few last words.
Cardinal Borgia said, “I have provided in the course of my life for everything except death, and now, alas, I am to die unprepared.”
Tony Hancock, a British comedian said, “No one will even know I existed. Nothing to leave behind me. Nothing to pass on. Nobody to mourn me. That’s the bitterest blow of all.”
Elizabeth the First: “All my possessions for one moment of time.”
Phillip III, King of France: “What an account I shall have to give God. How I should like to live otherwise than I have lived.”
Voltaire, a religious skeptic said, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.” Some years later, Voltaire’s house was used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles.
When Jesus died the words of Psalm 31:5 were on his lips, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit.” As He was ending His life’s work, hanging upon His cross and dying for our sins, He declared His faith, hope, trust and confidence in His Father. There was no fear, no regret, and no questions about life or death. Only the assurance that His spirit was in His Father’s hands.
Prayer: Father, may we face life and death, as Jesus did, knowing that we are secure because we trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.