Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Does Evil Trouble God?

“You know, Larry,” he began in a soft voice, “I’m troubled by the fact that all of the horrible things I see on TV or hear over the radio when I travel don’t bother me as much as they once did. What’s happening to me?” he asked.
We all wonder, at one time or another, how a group of people can watch a person being beaten or robbed, or fall ill in a crowded mall or on a busy street corner, and no one responds. We see the ravages of war, watch people die on a battlefield, see disabled veterans trying to adjust to life with artificial limbs and seem to accept it as “normal” in today’s culture. It seems as though the pain and suffering of others matter little to anyone except the one enduring the hardships.
The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 94 was troubled by the evil in the world. He looked around and saw people oppressed. He was aware of calloused leaders whose only concern was for themselves. He was troubled by the lack of concern for widows and children and asked, “God, if You created ears for people to hear, and eyes for people to see, why don’t You hear the cries and see the suffering of those whom You created?” Do something, God!
So, has God, like us, become insensitive to the needs of people and the condition of the world? Does He not care about what is happening to His creation? Indeed He does.
Eventually “He will repay them and destroy them for their wickedness” for harming His creation, says the Psalmist. But until He does, we are responsible to bring His hope and healing to the suffering.
Prayer: Please, Lord, open our hearts and eyes to see those who are suffering and reach out to them in love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:3 & 23 Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph? 23 He has brought on them their own iniquity, And shall cut them off in their own wickedness; The Lord our God shall cut them off.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Words You Can Depend On

Shortly before leaving for college my saintly pastor came to visit me and offer me a few words of advice on the importance of being well prepared to serve God. During our conversation he advised me to take every course that had anything to do with speaking or writing. “Larry,” he said in a voice that reflected sincerity and compassion, “it does not matter how much you know about the Bible, if you can’t explain it so people can understand it, accept it and live it, you’ll be letting God down.” It made good sense to me and I followed his recommendation carefully.
One of the classes I took emphasized the difficulty of people hearing what a speaker says and interpreting it correctly. It is easy to hear what someone says but quite difficult to pass it on without changing the words and the meaning that the speaker intended. When this happens something is lost in “transmission” and it could be a matter of life and death if the message passed on is incorrect or inconsistent.
The importance of the integrity of God’s message is clearly presented in Psalm 92:5, “Your statutes stand firm!” That means “Whatever God said is so.” His Word contains no errors, no mistakes and no information that can lead us astray if accepted as written. In fact, the word for statues emphasizes the fact that Scripture rests on the integrity of God our Creator. His statements, promises, warnings and commands are not to be changed to meet the desires of man but to proclaim and present the everlasting covenant between God and man.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the trustworthiness of Your Word that declares the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 93:5 Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Aging In God's Grace

Watching children grow into adulthood can be a marvelous experience. From crawling to walking, from uttering sounds that make no sense to carrying on an intelligent conversation is almost breathtaking. Growth is a gift of God and can bring blessings and happiness – especially when we grow into the likeness of Christ and share His grace with those around us.
The Amplified Bible provides a rich translation of Psalm 92:14. “Growing in grace,” writes the Psalmist, “they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of spiritual vitality and rich in expressing trust, love and contentment.”
Growth, for the Christian, is a lifelong journey. And those who grow in His grace and are filled with His mercy have much to live for and share with others. Imagine the satisfaction of having lived a life that honors God’s Word, lives God’s gospel and expresses His love. Can there be anything more important for the Christian than becoming stronger in our faith, clearer in our convictions, warmer in our love, purer in our thoughts and kinder in our words and deeds as we grow older and more mature in Christ?
We live in a broken world. Everywhere we look, we see people who have been betrayed by those whom they dearly loved and trusted. We see people writhing in pain and anguish as they search for someone to offer them hope and encouragement. We dare not let them down.
What a wonderful opportunity God has given us.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to see the world as You see it and work with You to share Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,

Friday, February 23, 2018

Flourish Like A Palm Tree

The word “righteous” in Scripture carries with it the idea of meeting God’s standards of doing what it right in the sight of God – being obedient to Him and being just and fair to others. If the “righteous are to flourish like palm trees” what does that mean?
1. Palm trees grow straight up – always looking upward to heaven for light and nourishment. Likewise the Christian looks to God to find His will for their life.
2. Each and every part of a palm tree is useful. The leaves not only provide shelter from the elements but the tree itself has many nourishing and medicinal qualities. The Christian is expected to give life and hope and nourishment to others.
3. Palm trees are not affected by drought. A palm tree is not affected by the weather and can survive nearly every surface injury. The Christian rooted in Christ draws his strength and well-being from God.
4. The palm tree is an evergreen tree because it draws its life flow within its being, keeping it fresh.
5. The palm tree cannot be grafted into any other tree because it has its own unique identity. Christians have one Master and cannot be grafted to any other identity.
6. Palm trees are an emblem of victory. This was seen when Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem.
7. Palm trees always show a place where water can be found. Christians find their “living water” in Christ who can quench their thirst.
PrayerWe ask, Father, that every part of our lives will be useful in proclaiming Your grace and mercy to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Reason To Be Glad

The word glad in Scripture carries with it the idea of happiness and joyfulness, pleasure and freedom. In God’s Word, however, there is a source for this gladness: it is the Lord. The Psalmist writes, “For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”
This source for our gladness does not come from anything we have accomplished or any ladder of success that we might have climbed. It does not come from wealth that we may have accumulated or records we have set. It does not come from any amount of power we have because of our achievements. This gladness that the Psalmist writes about comes from what God has done for us.
Another Psalmist wrote, “But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great.’” And another Psalmist said, “Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence.”
We often set “goals” for ourselves that we think will bring a sense of well-being and fulfillment to us. They come from the “if only” statements we make: “If only I can get a promotion I will be satisfied,” or “If only I had a larger home our family will be happy,” or “If only....” and the list goes on.
But the “glad” that comes from God that can fill our hearts and lives comes as a result of what He has done for us: made possible our salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior. Because of Him we can be glad and sing for joy, we can know that “all things are working together” for our good and His glory.
Prayer: How thankful we are, Lord, that we can have hearts filled with gladness because of Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:4 For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Daily Planning Guide"

Nearly all of us have some method for planning our daily activities. With no plan to follow, our time will likely be wasted and our days meaningless. Often, however, our carefully detailed plans can be completely disrupted by an emergency or unexpected demand. In Psalm 92, however, we find a simple way to open and close each day and bring God’s presence into our lives.
The Psalmist suggests that we begin the day with a “proclamation” – we are to “proclaim the love of God.” If we begin each day by proclaiming the love that God has for us, it will remind us that we are safe and secure in His love and that nothing or no one can destroy us. Then, as the day unfolds and when the unexpected occurs and things seem upside down, we can know that He is holding us close to Himself and that He will protect us from that which might harm us. It is in His love that we are safe and secure. As Paul wrote, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is His love that keeps us close to Him and no one or nothing can break this bond that comes from Him.
As we end each day, we are advised to praise God for His faithfulness. Indeed, by His grace He has brought us through another day and He has proven Himself to be trustworthy. Even when tragedy strikes or the light of His presence is dim, we have the assurance that He is with us.
If “things” look bad today, we can always look back at our “yesterdays” and see God at work in our lives and praise Him for His trustworthiness and faithfulness.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for all You have done for us. May we always be aware of Your love and faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Finding Life

A Roman soldier once asked his superior for the privilege of speaking to Julius Caesar. His request was granted and when he approached Caesar, he pled for permission to end his life. Looking at the man who stood before him the general saw a man who led a wretched and worthless life. After a moment’s thought Caesar said to him in disgust, “Man, were you ever alive?”
God intended for each of us to enjoy a life that has meaning and is fulfilling and satisfying. Man, created in the image of God, is to do the things of God and bring honor to our creator. Without God at the core of our life we will be, as the soldier was, living a wretched, worthless life.
The last verse of Psalm 91 presents a picture of a person who has God at the core of his or her life. It tells us that the goal of this God-centered person is to satisfy God – to live a life that can be blessed by, empowered by and honored by God Himself.
Recently I asked a student to share with the class what Romans 6:23 meant to him. Standing before us he said, “Let me tell you about this verse. For me it reads, ‘The wages of sin is an empty life.’ I know because I’ve been there, worked hard and felt like my needle was on empty. It did not matter how successful my life appeared to be to those around me, it did not matter how much land I owned or how many houses I had or how much money I earned. My life was on ‘empty’ because I could never fill it with enough things for the needle to move to ‘full.’”
Prayer: We ask You, Father, to help us live lives that are pleasing to You, knowing that if we do we will be satisfied. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Too Big For Me, Dad"

Young Timothy was helping his Dad clear a lot next to their home for a garden. Things went well until Tim ran into a large stone that he couldn’t budge. After struggling for a few moments he called to his Dad and said, “Dad, this one is too big for me to handle. What should I do?”
“Well,” said his Dad wanting him to learn a lesson, “what have you tried to do?”
“I’ve pulled on it with both hands,” he said looking down at the stone. “And I’ve tried to pull it with a hoe, too, but that didn’t work either.”
“Sounds like you’ve tried to move it with all the strength that’s within you,” his Dad said patiently.
“Sure have, Dad. There’s nothing else for me to do but up give up on it,” he said with discouragement.
“Give up, son? Why would you give up?” he asked.
“There’s nothing else to I can do,” said Tim.
“Oh, but there is. You can always call on me to help you, Son,” he said with compassion.
Often God allows us to realize how weak we are without Him. We struggle and fail. We try and give up. We worry and become depressed. We think and realize that many things are beyond us. We practice and still make mistakes. We work and still can’t make ends meet.
Then suddenly we realize that God has put a “gap” between us and the solution to our problem. It’s His way of saying, “You can always call on me for help. And when you do, I will answer you and I will be with you and strengthen you!”
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for being just a “prayer away” whenever we need Your help. We are truly grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why Love God?

There is nothing more precious than the “hug” of a child when it is given to us without our asking for it. It is so innocent and undefiled. It is given voluntarily with nothing expected in return. It is an expression of “thanks” for something we may have done that we can no longer remember. It is given freely, honestly, openly and joyfully because the child has no other way to express its feelings.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.” The word love in this verse carries with it the idea of being hugged. In other words, God not only loves us by what He says, but by what He does. So, says the Psalmist, “He hugs us” – keeps us as close to Himself as He possibly can.
When God rescues us from sin and graciously and generously provides us with His salvation, we receive an eightfold blessing. After He rescues us, we have:
His protection: We are not exempt from difficulties but are assured of His presence and grace when they come.
He knows us by name: He recognizes us as unique individuals with a plan from Him for our lives.
He will hear us when we call upon Him and give us His solution for our problems.
He will be with us and deliver us when we are surrounded by life’s troubles.
He will honor us when we honor Him.
He will satisfy our needs as long as we live and when our life is over join Him in heaven.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to love You as much as You love us – to love You with all of our hearts and minds and souls. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Semper Fi

“Check on me” was a familiar request that we heard every night as our youngest son, Byron, began walking to his bedroom. Even though we took every precaution to make certain that our home was safe from any threat or danger, there was nothing more comforting than a nightly visit before the lights were turned off. Knowing that someone was near by and readily available if an emergency arose made falling asleep much easier.
The need to know that we are safe and secure is important to each of us. Stripes divide streets and signs give important instructions to drivers. A checklist must be completed before an aircraft can take flight. Warnings about possible problems surround us wherever we go or whatever we do. Sometimes they seem to get in the way of life. But warnings are important to warn us of impending dangers.
Psalm 91 reminds us of the unpredictability, yet the certainty, of dangers that await us. But it does not do so to frighten us, but to give the assurance that we are safe at all times and in all situations because of the faithfulness of our God. Listen as the Psalmist assures of the safety and security we have in God: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that strikes at midday...if you make the Most High your dwelling!”
How gracious of our God to assure us that we do not need to ask Him to “check on us” – He does it constantly.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the promise of Your protection that gives us peace, security and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:5-6 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Reliable Refuge

The recent tornados that have wreaked havoc across the central United States have been devastating. The loss of loved ones, the scope of injuries that will take years to overcome, the destruction of homes and businesses, the feelings of grief and hopelessness that grasped individuals as they sorted through piles of rubbish that at one time represented their entire life is beyond understanding.
In the midst of these great tragedies, however, were the stories and pictures of some who were prepared for such an event. From past encounters with powerful winds and driving rain and hail storms were those who came to the conclusion that preparation for such a time was a top priority. They were the ones who built sturdy shelters beneath the ground where they were sure to be safe. They did not trust their lives to fate or chance. They recognized their need to prepare for the assaults of life.
The author of Psalm 91 spoke of the need we have to prepare for the assaults of life. “He,” wrote the author, “will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”
While storm shelters can protect us from wind and rain, flying objects and falling buildings, only God can protect us from the destructive forces of sin. In Him we have the assurance that He will meet all of our needs – spiritual, emotional and physical – every day of our lives. And through Him we have His promise that He will give us His power and strength, presence and protection to overcome the attacks of the devil.
Prayer: Our hearts rejoice, Father, to know that we can dwell safely “under Your wings” and take refuge in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

In And Through - But Not From

It was the middle of the night when the nurse entered my hospital room to take my “vital signs.” With quiet confidence she went through her routine reading and recording various numbers.
As she was about to leave my room she stopped and said, “I’m sorry that I had to awaken you.”
“Oh, you didn’t awaken me,” I replied. “Somehow I can’t fall asleep tonight.”
“Well, have you been saying the Lord’s prayer?” she asked. “You know you’ll do much better praying the Lord’s Prayer than counting all those sheep people talk about. And besides, sheep don’t count anyway. Only the Lord does.”
As the door closed behind her, I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. When I got to the phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” a sense of peace swept over me. As I reflected on those two words – “your will” – God spoke to me and said, “You know, I never said that you would be spared from the pain and suffering of life. Only that I would be with you and guard you in and through your life’s journey and ‘deliver you from the snare of the fowler.’” In His will we are always safe and secure.
Often the “snares” of the “fowler” appear when we least expect them. Satan would encourage us to doubt God’s capabilities or care, His concern or compassion. Certainly the devil would be delighted if we came to the conclusion that our problems are beyond God’s power. Surely he would want us to believe that God has favorites and we are just beyond His grace. But not so! God will protect His own!
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the assurance we have knowing that if You are for us, no one can destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Deliverance

Several weeks ago I was waiting in line for my “pre-op room” assignment. It was a time of anxiety and fear, apprehension and uncertainty. The surgeon had carefully laid out the risks as well as the rewards. All of the tests and examinations confirmed that my physical condition was strong and I was able to withstand the lengthy procedure.
When it was my turn to speak with the scheduler, I noticed that she had a well-worn Bible in her kiosk next to her computer keyboard. “It’s good to see you read the Bible. Obviously, you must love the Lord. What are you reading today?” I asked.
“Yes, Sir. I surely do love the Lord. He’s my best Friend. And this morning I am reading Psalm 91 and I’m meditating on verse two: ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress.’”
Suddenly the God of all comfort appeared and spoke to me through one of His angels. What an unexpected message from God. As I stood before her, tears streamed down my face and splashed on my medical records while her words comforted my heart and put my soul at ease.
The words “refuge” and “fortress” are normally used in a military context. As used here they convey a special significance. God is in control and has established Himself in a defensive position against all enemies. Moreover, the Psalmist says that He is “My God!” assuring us that He is personal, present and prepared to protect us from any and all enemies. Because of His faithfulness in the past, we have no reason to ever doubt His presence and protection.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your Word, the assurance of Your grace when we face life’s challenges. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hidden With God

HIDDEN WITH GOD
Nine-one-one is the national number to use in the event of an emergency. When we use it, we know someone is there who will come to our rescue. Though we have heard stories of the misuse of that number and reports of incompetent responders answering calls of people in a crisis, it is comforting to know that help is available.
Psalm ninety-one and verse one is a number for Christians to “re-call” when there is a need for assurance and reassurance. It firmly states that our God is on guard and “standing by” to guide us through the crises of life.
The word “dwells” is such an important word for us to understand. It invites the believer “to remain, stay, tarry, endure, and find peace in one’s abode.” It suggests continuance and permanence. It is a place where God’s people can “live” – forever. How comforting it is to know that our God is a “shelter” and a “refuge” in times of life’s storms. For the Christian, He is our dwelling place for life.
Shortly after a submarine had been commissioned, the commanding officer took it to sea. It was to undergo various tests to make certain that it was trustworthy and ready for service. Shortly after leaving the christening he gave the order to “submerge.” Several days later after he returned to shore, the reporters besieged him with many questions. Asked one, “How did the storms affect you?” “Storms? What storms?” he replied. “We were not aware of any storms. We were dwelling in a safe and secure place in the valleys between the ocean’s mountains.”
What comfort we have when we dwell in God.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for the peace we have because You love us and care for us and offer us Your protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Working For God's Favor

Not long ago a student came into my office and asked, “Dr. Guido, will you do a favor for me?”
Without knowing what favor the student wanted, it was obvious that I had a certain amount of power over him and could do something for him that he could not do for himself. He literally was at my mercy.
Moses concluded Psalm 90 with a gracious reminder of God’s power and our need to work for His favor. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us,” he wrote. And then he described how we could know that God’s favor was on our work: God Himself would establish the work of our hands. “Establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” When Moses added the “for us” he underlined the fact that God Himself is the One who established our work, not us. Whatever we do is temporary. Whatever God does through us is eternal.
How, then, can we work with God to establish works that are eternal? Paul gives us a clear answer: “Stand firm. Let nothing disturb you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
But just what is “the work of the Lord?” we ask.
Jesus answered that: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart – and love your neighbor as yourself.” And “who is my neighbor,” someone asked? His answer: “Anyone who has a spiritual, emotional or physical need.”
It is difficult to go from one place to another without seeing someone who has some need. Our work? Meet it.
Prayer: Father, open our eyes to see the needs of others, our ears to hear their cries and use our hands to give help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pass It On

Goethe is recognized as one of the greatest German politicians and authors. Having keen insight into the life and future of his nation he wrote, “The destiny of our nation can be determined by the opinions of our youth!” Few would disagree with his observation.
The statesmen of our nation say the same: “The future lies with our youth.” If that is true, and it is, we must admit that “the future of our youth lies with us!” And since that is true, and it is, we must ask ourselves, “What are we doing to prepare our youth to lead our nation?” Will they know the God of the Prophets and the Christ of the Apostles and disciples of the early church? Will they learn and follow and lead with the “faith that was once delivered to the saints?” Or will they surrender their lives to the attractions of materialism and self-centeredness?
Recent studies reveal that 60% of our youth will no longer attend church when they turn twenty. And even though some churches have vibrant youth programs, they are having no long-lasting influence on their lives. Few make a lifelong commitment to Christ and a willingness to serving Him. It seems obvious that our churches are entertaining but not evangelizing.
What needs to be done? Moses, once again, provides insight and advice: “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendor to their children.”
The fact of the matter is that His deeds and splendor can only be seen in our lives. If our faith does not work for us, “why” they will ask, “should we believe in Your God?”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to live a faith that demonstrates Your deeds and splendor that will attract others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Unfailing Love - Songs Of Joy

What is joy? Is it a feeling? An attitude? An emotion? Is it something we “get” or “discover” or “find” on the road of life? Is it temporary or permanent? Can it be passed from one person to another? Is it internal or external? Is it possible it could be all of the above?
Things were not going well for Moses. He knew that something was missing in the lives of the Hebrews and he knew what it was: joy. They had been through difficult days and trying times. They grumbled and groaned and griped. They were critical of their conditions and angry with God. Why, they wondered, did they leave what they had for something they had been promised but could not find. They were disenchanted and discouraged.
So, Moses, the man of God, knew what to do: He went to God in prayer. “Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Moses reminded God that He was a God filled with unfailing love. In earnestness, he begged God to show His compassion and relent – “We’ve suffered long enough! When we awaken tomorrow morning,” he prayed, “fill our empty hearts with a renewed awareness of Your unfailing love.” Moses knew that only God could restore the “joy of His salvation” and the blessings that repentance brings.
Often we become like the Israelites – wanting God’s blessings without being faithful to Him. Hearts once filled with joy are empty because of sin. It’s time to repent!
Prayer: Lord, if we lose the joy of our salvation may we realize it is because of our sins. Forgive and restore us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:13-14 Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!

Friday, February 9, 2018

"Not Here For Very Long"

A soldier wrote his dad from a combat zone in a war-torn country. In the upper left-hand corner under his name he wrote, “Not Here for Very Long.”
True of the soldier – true of each of us. Life at its longest is very short in light of eternity. Wisely Moses advised us to go to God and ask Him to: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Time has no favorites. We are each given twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year. It does not matter who we are or what God has called us to do, none of us can add one second of time to our lives once God has called us home. We must guard our time and use it wisely to honor and glorify Him.
Time can be used to influence others – one way or another. It would be interesting to keep a record of our time as an accountant does money – what we spent and how we invested it. We could see what we did with our time and discover whether or not we helped or hindered others, led them closer to God or drove them from Him.
Time gives us opportunities to serve the Lord. Jesus said, “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned by the One who sent Me and there is little time left before night falls and all our works come to an end.”
Our time on earth begins with an interview with God. Each of us will stand before God one day and have an opportunity to review our record with Him. What will matter most is whether or not there will be a day when we surrendered our life to Him.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to make the most of each moment. May we use this priceless gift to do Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

No Place To Hide

It looked old and worn and held together with many stitches. It didn’t look like much of a doll but Missy loved it more than anything in her world. It was stuffed with dry beans. Each day she would play with it and every night she would sleep with it. It brought her pleasure and comfort.
One day while her brother was building a model airplane, she accidentally bumped into it and knocked it to the floor. Looking at the bits and pieces that were scattered before him, he shouted angrily, “Look what you did! You just wait Missy – I’ll get even with you!”
The next day Missy and her Mom went shopping. As soon as they left, he found her doll, took it outside and buried in his mother’s rose garden. Smiling to himself he said, “She’ll never find that old doll now!”
When Missy returned home and could not find her doll she burst into tears and ran to her room. When asked, Darren denied knowing anything about the doll, claiming, “She just left it someplace. It’ll turn up.” And it did.
A few days later, their Mom was cutting some roses for the dinner table and discovered an arm from the doll sticking out of the dirt. She asked her son, “Did you do this?” Looking at the doll he said, “Yes, Mom, but I should have known better.”
It’s that way with our sins. We try to cover them – but along comes God and uncovers them. “Our iniquities, the secrets of our heart and its sins, (which we would like to hide even from ourselves) are made known to You and us through Your holiness and the work of Your Spirit.”
Prayer: We only fool ourselves, Father, if we think we can fool You. Forgive us for our foolishness and sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

From Everlasting to Everlasting

Who better to write of God than “the man of God?” Not only was Psalm 90 written by Moses, but beneath the number of the Psalm and before the verses in the Psalm are the words: “A Prayer of Moses the Man of God.”
What a powerful description of a Statesman and a servant-leader of God. Moses was not only God’s lawgiver and leader, but was chosen by God to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt, mold them into a nation for His service and lead them to within reach of the land He promised them.
There are marvelous statements made about Moses in the book of Hebrews: He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and put himself at great risk. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people when he could have lived a life of sin and worldly pleasure. He decided to suffer for the sake of the Lord rather than own the treasures of Egypt as he looked to his future with his King. He left the land of Egypt unafraid of the king’s anger and wrath and never looked back because he kept his eyes on God who he knew would never leave or forsake him. In a bold move of leadership, he commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and sprinkle blood on their doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
What gave him his vision, his focus, his strength and his courage? What enabled him to look beyond the fleeting moments of pleasures in a palace to an eternity with God? Where did his wisdom and insight, patience and discipline come from? Why did he refuse worldly wealth and power?
Because of his faith in His God, the God, Who is everlasting!
Prayer: Lord, give us a faith that will empower us to live a life that knows no fear as we follow You each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Journey Of Life

Years ago it was a heart-warming experience for me to take my wife and sons to visit my childhood home. With some hesitation, I knocked on the door. The owners, who purchased the home shortly after my parents went to be with the Lord, remembered me and invited us in.
We began our tour in the living room, then went into the dining room and eventually the kitchen. We walked upstairs and paused in my childhood bedroom before visiting the attic. Then we went to the basement. Though there had been some changes, many things remained the same. Walking through my “original home” brought back many memories that flooded my heart. There were tears of joy mixed with tears of sadness as I thought of my family.
As we returned to the car, I began to think of the many different “homes” I’d lived in since my parents died. The final number was rather staggering but not unusual for most people. In 2011 a census study revealed that the average American will live in 11.7 different “homes.”
Psalm 90 begins with the word “Lord” referring to our God as a sovereign God who is our eternal shelter – our dwelling place. Moses used the same words in Deuteronomy when he wrote, “the eternal God is your dwelling place.” He told the Israelites that God was then and would always be their “home” – their refuge no matter where they were – whether in the wilderness or in the promised land. Home in Scripture is not a place but a Person.
This same Lord is the eternal God who will become the eternal shelter and refuge for all who accept His Son.
Prayer: We pray, Sovereign Lord, that those who need Your salvation will come to You for their eternal refuge. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Our Faithful God

He was late for church and slipped quietly into his regular place for Sunday morning worship. He listened as the pastor prayed: “We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things we ought not to have done.” After a moment of silence he continued, “You know, Lord, I believe I’ve found my kind of people. I belong here.”
No one escapes failure but our Lord. Whatever He said He would do, He did. Whatever He has promised, He has or will fulfill – in the past, present and future.
The Bible contains about 5,000 promises. As the One who created the universe, all of its laws and living beings that are under His control and command, no one or no thing can stop Him from keeping His promises. “Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave,” said Solomon.
His compassion for His children never fails. His Son has experienced suffering and humiliation that is beyond us and has endured them with grace. So, He can be sympathetic with us in the deepest, darkest moments of our lives. Jeremiah reminds us that “His compassion never fails.”
Equally important is His faithfulness. He is not strong one day and weak the next, nor attentive one moment and indifferent the next. When He created us He did so with the knowledge that He would be faithful to us. Said the Psalmist, “I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness!”
Prayer: We thank You, Father, that we can trust You to honor Your Word to guard us, guide us and give us hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Father

Recognizing someone as “father” carries with it a very special significance. Immediately, and without doubt, the one who we call “father” is the one who is responsible for our being born. Without the one we call “father” we would not be in existence.
Because a “father” is responsible for our existence, he then becomes responsible for our well-being. Whatever concerns us must ultimately concern him. Whether it is food or clothing, shelter or healthcare, protection or education – it is his responsibility to meet that need. It is a role that is not to be taken lightly or without careful thought and planning.
There is more, however, than a responsibility factor. There is the relationship factor. This includes acceptance and openness, honesty and trust, a willingness to hear what is on the child’s heart and in the child’s mind. There must be loyalty and faithfulness between father and child.
One without the other leaves children lacking.
In Psalm 89 David said to God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock – my Savior.” If an author were writing about David today he would probably say that “David led a charmed life.” He would look at the times he escaped his enemies, faced death, struggled with depression, and knew what abandonment was all about, could hardly face God because of His guilt, and knew the extreme pain of grief.
David, however, knew that it was not about “living a charmed life.” No. It was about a Father who not only provided for and loved His child – but became his Savior.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, that You are our Father. We are humbled at Your love and care and our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Above And Beyond

What’s the difference between the word “special” and the word “unique?”
The word “special” implies that someone or something surpasses or exceeds the usual or normal. It could refer to an athlete who excels in his or her particular sport and has done things differently or set records that will remain unbroken for many years. It might refer to a vehicle that has been modified to meet the specifications of an owner.
But the word “unique” implies something different. The word unique means that something or someone is the only one of its kind and has no rival. “It” is not only different, but incomparable and unparalleled.
Our God is certainly not an “it.” Our God is a Person and yet He certainly is unique. Our Psalmist brings this to our attention when he asks, “For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?”
Of course the answer he would give us is an answer we already know: No one! There is no sun or planet in the sky that is equal to Him. Then he adds that there is no “heavenly being” – none of the angels or holy ones – who inhabit heaven who can be compared to the Lord. Our God is above all and beyond all because He created all.
So what are we to do? We are to “greatly fear” Him and understand that He “is more awesome than all who surround Him.” Our “fear” of Him will create a “respect” for Him and when we recognize how “awesome” He is, we will worship in spirit and in truth, in love and humility.
Prayer: Gracious and loving Father, open our minds and hearts to Your greatness. May we worship You in love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?

Friday, February 2, 2018

When God Does Not Answer

We pray and we persevere. We watch and we wonder. We wait and we become weary. We know that God is there – somewhere. He responded before. But where is He now? We stand before Him with great expectations and outstretched hands yet nothing is happening. We cannot help but ask why. He promised us that He would never leave us nor forsake us. Where is He when we need Him?
What happens when we pray and there is no answer? Listen to our Psalmist: “Why, O Lord, do You reject me and hide Your face from me?” He seems to have turned from confidence to confusion. This God whom he called upon constantly with outstretched arms and unflinching faith is nowhere to be found.
This happened to Jesus. In the Garden He cried, “If there is any other way than my death on the cross to save mankind, please make it known. Why, Father, can’t You come up with plan ‘B’?” And God was silent.
On the cross He said, “My God, my God, where are You? Why have You abandoned me? I am alone, suffering for something I didn’t do and now You’ve left me to be humiliated and suffer and die.” And God was silent.
The prayer of the Psalmist, much like the prayer of Jesus on the cross, does not end in resolution – like many of our prayers. But that does not mean that God does not hear or does not care and will never answer our requests.
Often when we pray for and do not get the results we ask for, God is quietly saying: “You may not get what you asked for. Just trust me. What I have planned for you is far better.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to know that You are at work in our lives completing the plan You have designed for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 88:14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How To Begin Each Day

The day began with sunshine, blue skies and gentle breezes. The deep blue waters were calm and peaceful. A lovely new sailing vessel rocked slowly from side to side as the passengers walked around the deck. Each one had been personally met by the captain who greeted them with a smile, a handshake and the words, “Welcome aboard!” They felt confident with him as their commander.
Soon after the ship set sail, a storm appeared on the horizon. Angry waves soon swept over the sides of the ship and the passengers were forced to go below where they were safe from the winds and waters. In fact, the captain was tied to the bridge so he would not be swept overboard. The ship was no longer a place of serenity but of fear and worry.
Finally, one of the passengers, overcoming his fear and anxiety, decided that he would climb from beneath the deck to see if the captain was still alive. He crawled up the stairs, opened the hatch and saw a sight that steadied his nerves and calmed his racing heart. Returning to the frightened passengers he shouted, “Everything’s fine. I saw the face of the Captain, looked into his eyes and realized we were safe with him at the helm.”
“In the morning,” prayed the Psalmist, “my prayer comes before you.” What a wise way to begin every day. If we go to the Lord before we are in a storm we can depend on His presence when we are engulfed by a storm. With His arms around us and His strength to sustain us, we will surely be able to face life’s storms with confidence.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that whatever we need to face the challenges of life is available through You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 88:13b And in the morning my prayer comes before You.