Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What Are You Looking At?



WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
One day John Wesley was strolling with one of his dear friends through the farmlands of England. He was deeply troubled and having a difficult time talking about his problem.
Stopping in front of a cow that had separated herself from the herd, Wesley asked, “Do you know why that cow is looking over the fence?”
“No,” said his friend.
“Because she can’t look through it,” he replied.
The Psalmist encourages us to “look over the fence.” He wrote, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heavens and earth.” As long as we look at our problem, it will look right back at us. But if we look over the problem and look to our Lord, the Psalmist promises us that He will come and help us.
Focusing on a problem, any problem, even a problem larger than life, gets us no place. Often we treat our problems as a cow treats her cud - we “roll” it up into the “worry area” of our mind and chew on it until there is nothing left in our minds but the problem. It consumes us because we refuse to “look over” it and ask the Person who brought it into our lives to solve it.
The Psalmist reminds us that God, Who wants to be our problem-solver is the same God who “is the Maker of heaven and earth.” Imagine, if you will, the brilliance of God: Everywhere we look in His universe we are reminded of this fact. We must “look over” and “look to” Him.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to look to You whenever we need answers, solutions or decisions for things that threaten our faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Look Up And Be Lifted Up!

Wherever we look, we find people who are filled with despair and discouragement. Their hearts have been broken and their optimism beaten down. Issues and problems have overcome them. Everywhere they went and everywhere they looked they heard the same message: “Give up! There’s nothing here for you.”
No doubt most of us have felt that way.
When the lights go out at the end of the day and we are surrounded by darkness and fear; when there is no place to hide and no arms to embrace us; when we think that we have tried everything and there’s nothing left for us to hope for; does anyone anywhere have a word of advice or comfort for us?
Indeed there is: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Notice the words: “lift up!”
All too often it is all too easy to “give up” and not “look up.” But the Psalmist reminds us that our God transcends the uncertainties and difficulties, the pain and suffering, the loss and grief of this world. We are on the earth but must look up to heaven. We need help far beyond our own limited resources and the resources of others. We need wisdom that exceeds human wisdom. Unfortunately, we are all infected with a false sense of self-sufficiency.
But when we lift our eyes to heaven, we lift them up to the one Who created the universe. What love He has to bestow upon us and what strength is ours for the asking.
Prayer: Lord, may we turn our eyes and ears, minds and hearts heavenward and find Your joy and peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Will We Ever Find Peace?

Our planet seems to be wrapped in wars, rumors of wars and the fear that we will never be able to end the threats and actions of terrorists. Caution and fear is now a way of life and the hope for a calm and peaceful life is gone forever. We are reminded that “the war to end all wars” really did not meet our expectations. We live from one day to the next expecting that a new war might begin at any moment. Then, there are the “wars” between people.
“I am for peace!” cried the Psalmist. He knew and had experienced the horror of war. He was as we are, “war-weary” and wanted things to be different. Notice that just before he called for peace he wrote, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.” What did he mean when he said he lived among people who would choose war over peace? Do some people actually want a war-filled world?
War is the result of deception and deceit, greed and covetousness. It is a reflection of those who have not accepted the peace that comes from God through Christ. It had its beginning in the self-centeredness of Adam and Eve and has infected every individual since then. We see it not only among nations but between individuals: “If you have it and I don’t, I’ll take it and make it mine!”
All of this is a result of the infectious nature of sin. Whether the “war” is between individuals or nations, its effect will last until Christ returns. Then, we'll have peace.
What are we to do until then? Allow the peace of God to dwell in our hearts and control our lives. His peace will protect us from those who refuse His grace and mercy.
Prayer: Lord, we long for Your peace - in our hearts and in Your world. Come quickly and calm our every fear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 120:7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Have Mercy!

When we are offended by another person, we have four options: we can pout, pity ourselves, take it out on someone else or pray.
When we pout, we pollute ourselves with the poison of displeasure. It’s like pouring a teaspoonful of black dye into a glass of pure water and watching the darkness take over. It ruins the beauty that light brings to life. Pouting brings distress into our lives - not deliverance.
When we pity ourselves, we are simply poisoning ourselves. Self-pity distorts our thinking, disrupts our work, disturbs our body and even disfigures our face with wrinkles. It depresses our friends, demoralizes our life and above all, dishonors our Lord.
When we take our hurt out on others, it not only pains them, but will come right back to pain us as well - and eventually punish us. Revenge is like a boomerang: Although it flies into the path of the other person, it will eventually come back to attack us in the process. It can hit the one who threw it with the heaviest blow.
When we pray we protect ourselves and place the responsibility for “settling the score” up to God. We are God’s children and what offends us offends Him; what hurts us will hurt Him; and what affects us has already affected Him. He understands our pain and our sorrow.
The Psalmist expresses this in a beautiful way: “I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.” God will always take care of us, remove the sadness from our hearts and bring His healing. When we pray He makes things right!
Prayer: Father, when we have been injured by the ways and words of others, may we look to You for Your healing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 120:1 I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Do You Know Where You Are?

Jerry and Joan took their daughter Jill to church to enjoy a night of music. The crowd was larger than usual and Jill became separated from her parents. Frightened, they went to the pastor and told him their predicament. He went to the pulpit and announced, “Jill Williams has been separated from her parents and is lost. If you hear me, Jill, will you please come to the front where your parents are waiting?”
Nothing happened. In great fear the parents went to the police and reported their daughter missing. Then after a time of prayer, the musical concert began. At the end of the concert, and as he was about to pronounce the benediction, the pastor noticed Jill sitting on the front row. Bursting with excitement, he shouted, “We’ve found Jill! Let’s thank the Lord.” He then went to Jill and said, “Why didn’t you come to the front and let your parents know you were here?”
Looking surprised she said, “Did you mean me? You said Jill Williams was lost. I’m Jill Williams but I’m not lost. I’m right here. I knew where I was all the time so I thought it was some other Jill Williams you were looking for!”
Jill did not consider herself lost. She felt safe and secure where she was. Unfortunately, there are many others like her thinking they are safe and secure even though they are traveling through without the Lord. The Psalmist wrote, “I have strayed like a lost sheep.” He was aware of his condition and recognized that he was lost. Knowing this, he wanted to get back to his “Shepherd.”
Prayer: Lord, we often think we are where You want us to be. May we take time to make sure we are with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pray - But How And For What?

Mary Jane was snuggling down in bed when her mother entered her room. “Did you pray before getting in bed?”
“Well, kind of,” was her reply.
“Kind of?” asked her Mom. “What does that mean?”
“Well, I started to pray and my list was the same as it was yesterday and the day before that. So I decided to tell Jesus the story about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And you know what, Mom? I think He enjoyed it!”
The attitude of the Psalmist was very different from Mary Jane’s: “May my cry come before You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your Word.” Not only was he intense and sincere, he was passionate and purposeful!
He did not speak to God in a still, soft voice. On this occasion he literally “cried” to God requesting a “direct audience.” He wanted his prayer to go directly to Him!
Obviously, he must have known that there were certain conditions that he would have to meet. He must have been aware of this. What would hinder his prayers?
1. Disobedience: We get what we ask for if we are obedient. John wrote we “receive what we ask for because we keep His commandments.” (1 John 3:22)
2. Doubt: When we ask for food, we need to have a container available to carry it home. “Whatever you ask for, if you believe you will receive.” (Mark 11:24)
3. Disagreement: We must ask for things that are consistent with His nature. “Ask in my name.” (John 16:32)
God hears our cries if we meet His criteria!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to align our requests with Your requirements and live within Your will for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Promise Of Peace

Ask someone what the word “peace” means to them and they will respond with very different answers. Some will include the “absence of war,” or “an agreement to end hostilities” or “freedom from quarrels or disagreements” or “a nation at peace.” Each of them has a certain sense of calmness among or between people in them. But peace in God’s Word has a much different meaning to it.
In God’s Word it means something quite different. It often refers to a person’s “completeness” or “well-being” or “soundness.” So, even though the world may be engulfed in war, an individual may have a sense of security or well-being that the world cannot understand or enjoy.
The world has been in utter chaos through man’s sin. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God there has been constant conflict - either personal, between people or nations - because of sin. And the world will be in conflict until Christ rules and reigns in the hearts of man.
“Great peace,” wrote the Psalmist, “have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” For sinful man there must first be peace with God that only comes from the removal of sin through the death of Christ. This peace will permeate the life of the Christian because God will guard and guide the believer every moment of every day. First, we must let go of the “things” of this world and let God have His way in us. Then we must follow the path He has designed for us. “Great peace” and no fear of “stumbling” will then be ours. When we have a lack of peace in our hearts, it is God alerting us to sin in our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the peace that is ours when our hearts are correctly aligned with Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Here's To Happiness!

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are about as happy as they want to be!” Although it is a very simple statement, it is a very brilliant statement and leads us to the fact that each of us is responsible for our happiness. Happiness, then, becomes an “inside” job.
Everyone seems to want to be happy. People often think it can be “discovered” in parties or riches or wealth or recognition or “things.” Yet, many who search for it never find it, even though they may spend an entire life looking for it.
True happiness cannot be found in material things or worldly pleasures. World history proves that fact. We see far too many examples of people who tried to find “it” in “things” and “pleasures.” Finally, when it was too late, they realized that their journey to find true happiness led them to all the wrong places. When they took their final inventory, they discovered that they had “everything” but happiness.
The Psalmist wrote, “I rejoice - I am happy - in Your promise, like one who has great spoil.” The “picture” the Psalmist “paints” for us here is one of a warrior who has returned from battle and is looking at his “booty.” He opens God’s Word – God’s booty - and “finds great spoils.”
For many, life is a battle against the forces of evil - the promise that happiness is in the “things” of this world. But in the final analysis, when the smoke clears from the battlefield of life, it becomes obvious that happiness is only found in God’s Word: the “gifts” we find in His Word.
Prayer: Lord, we are reminded again, that whatever we need can always be found in Your Word if we seek it there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:162 I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.

Monday, July 23, 2018

How Close Is Near?

Lord Moynihan of Leeds, England, was very highly respected for his brilliance and skills as a surgeon. He became so famous that other surgeons would travel great distances to observe him perform an operation. One day, after a long and difficult procedure, he was asked if he objected to the large group that had been watching him.
After thinking for a moment he said, “Well, it’s like this: when I operate there are just three people in the room - the patient and myself.”
“But that’s only two. You said three. Who is the third person?” he was asked.
“The Lord,” Lord Moynihan said.
The Psalmist once said, “Yet, You are near, Lord.”
What might he have meant? Two things for certain.
We know that God is near us to guide us. Many ask the question, “Where am I going?” Perhaps it would be much better to ask, “Who am I following?” Our God has infallible wisdom, knows what is best for us and will meet our every need as long as we look to and depend on Him.
Secondly, we know that our God is near us to guard us. He walks before us and His angels surround us. No one and no thing can touch us without His permission. We have His Word “that in all things God is working for the good of those who love Him.”
Surrendering all that we are and all that we have to Him is the first step for us to take if we want Him to be our Leader. After we do this, we will have His assurance that everything will work to our good and His glory.
PrayerLord, open our eyes that we may see You, our ears that we may hear You and our wills to obey You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:151 Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why God Hears Our Prayers

Our relationship with God began with His love for us. It is not about how much we love Him, or how long we have loved Him, or why we love Him, or what His love will do for us. It is God’s love for us that makes our relationship with Him possible.
There is a beautiful story about God’s love in John’s Gospel. It is the story of Lazarus. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent a message to Jesus saying that “the one You love is sick.” Notice that they did not say, “Our brother, Lazarus, who really loves You, is sick and needs Your help.” While that was certainly true, the important fact here is that it was Jesus’ love for Lazarus that mattered most.
Our love for God varies. There are days when we love Him dearly. Then, when we pray and don’t get the results we want or expect, our love diminishes. But, God’s love for us is everlasting and does not vary. No one can end His love for us nor can we ever do anything that will separate us from His love. He gives it freely and forever.
Our Psalmist knew this. He prayed, “Hear my voice in accordance with Your love.” He did as the sisters of Lazarus did: he went to God for His help because he knew that God loved Him. He knew that God “would preserve his life in accordance with His laws.”
What a comforting promise. God’s love is as eternal as His laws. Unlike us, He and the universe He created, are and will be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We do not need to fear anything or anyone. We have Him.
Prayer: We are grateful, Father, to know that we have Your enduring love that will never end or change. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mind-Full Or Mind-Less

“You know,” said the old farmer, “the mind is much like a garden. You can either plant something good in it and watch it grow or watch it fill up with weeds.”
If we are careful, we can have a mind filled with good thoughts and great ideas. We can plant “seeds” that come from well-cultivated “ancestors” and carefully bred crops or “seeds” of questionable origin and random sources. What goes into our mind can be carefully controlled and chosen or simply allowed to enter because there is no plan to nourish our hearts and souls. The source of the content is our choice and ours alone. The contents of our minds are not force-fed. Whatever is there, is there by our choice.
The wisdom of our Psalmist is well worth heeding: “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.” No random “seed-thoughts” were allowed to contaminate the garden of his mind. His mind had been filled “in advance” with God’s promises. Now, when he was awake throughout the night he meditated on the gifts God had “waiting” for him.
Years ago, following cancer surgery, I was told that I would have to get up every three hours for the rest of my life. I cannot explain the intensity of my anger at God for these “gifts.” First the cancer - now, sleepless nights. “OK God. What’s going on here? Life really is unfair, God!”
Soon, however, I realized that while I was waiting to fall back to sleep I could pray or quote Bible verses or even meditate. My cancer, a “gift” from God? Indeed! We, God and I, now have much more time to share ideas.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for planting the “seeds” of Your Word in my mind that now provide food for my soul. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

Friday, July 20, 2018

First, Cry For Help

As Christians, we are a people with many privileges - perhaps many more than we are aware of. But no doubt the highest privilege is the privilege of prayer. No doubt, the greatest tragedy of our lives will be to neglect to pray.
Someone once compared prayer to a fireman going to put out a fire with no water for his hose or a person who is poverty-stricken not knowing what to do with a blank check or a piece of gold.
Jesus prayed. He felt the need to pray and spent much time in prayer. Prayer was so very important to Him that He made it a great part of His life. Imagine - the Creator of the universe praying! Prayer to Him was like breathing: He did it constantly and continually. He knew that He would not survive unless He was in constant contact with His Father.
Unfortunately, prayer for many of us is something we do after “things” are set in motion, start to go wrong or “explode.” The day begins and before we know it “things” are going astray. So, we stop and ask God to “get here quickly before things are beyond my control.”
Wisely the Psalmist wrote, “I rise before dawn and cry for help, I have put my hope in Your Word.” Before he did anything he began his day in prayer and placed his hope in God and not man. What a powerful thought. What a great idea. What a way to live. What great advice!
“Lord, the sun is waiting to rise and I have all these things to do today. I know it’s a long list and many things can go wrong. So, I look to You first for hope and help.”
Prayer: May we realize, Father, how different our lives would be if we began each day with You seeking Your help! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

No Big Thing!

A famous watchmaker finished what he considered to be his masterpiece. Carefully, he placed it between two clocks that were much older, yet accurate, timekeepers.
The one on the left turned to it and said, “I’m sorry for you,” it sighed. “You’re ticking bravely now. But you’ll be exhausted when you get through thirty-three million ticks this year.”
“Thirty-three million ticks?” gasped the frightened clock. “I can’t do that!” And it shook violently and stopped.
“Don’t listen to such trash,” said the clock on the right. “You’ve only got to take one tick at a time. There, now, isn’t that better? Now, take another tick. And one more. Easy now. Again. Isn’t that better?”
“Is that all?” asked the new clock. “That’s easy. OK. Here I go!” And it started bravely once again - one tick at a time. At the end of the year it had made thirty-three million ticks with not one problem.
We do not need to worry about the next hour or day or week. Our Lord simply asks that we trust Him moment by moment - like the clock: one tick at a time.
The Psalmist talks about giving “understanding to the simple.” Often we complicate our lives and become overwhelmed and depressed by looking at “thirty-three million ticks” rather than “one tick.” We awaken in the morning and before we realize it we have scheduled a month’s worth of activities into those few morning hours.
Dwight Eisenhower once said, “We need to do things that are important, not urgent. Life can be simple.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to carefully separate the “need to dos” from the “want to dos” and live God-guided lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:130b it gives understanding to the simple.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

More Than Light

In 1787 the HMS Bounty was sent to the Pacific Ocean on a botanical mission. After some time at sea, a seaman, Christian Fletcher, led a mutiny against Captain William Bligh. Bligh and eighteen of his men were forced off of the Bounty on a small vessel.
Most of the mutineers who remained on the Bounty were able to escape to Pitcairn Island. Among them were sixteen men and twelve native women who decided to form a colony. It was not long before the men learned how to make liquor. Soon the island became a place where drunkenness and disorderliness were a way of life. In a few years, fifteen of the sixteen men were dead. The only one who survived was John Adams.
One day he was searching through an old chest that the men had taken from the Bounty. In it he found an old, tattered Bible. He opened it and shortly after he began to read it, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart and he became a Christian. Immediately, he began to study the Bible and was so moved by its message of hope that he began to teach others the Word of God.
About twenty years later an American ship visited the island. Much to their surprise, they found a culture that was founded and governed by Christian principles. There was no crime, no racial strife, no alcohol abuse and no social problems. When Adams was asked how this came to be, he simply responded by saying, “The Bible.”
“The unfolding of Your words gives light,” wrote the Psalmist. God’s Word will bring right living if followed.
Prayer: Lord, how wonderful our lives will be when we follow Your ways. Give us courage and willingness to obey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:130a The unfolding of your words gives light;

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What's Better Than Gold?

The Island of Corregidor stands at the entrance to Manila Bay. To capture the island from the Japanese in World War II resulted in the death of many of our soldiers. It left countless others with scarred bodies and mangled limbs that made living difficult.
Once during heavy bombing, a chapel was hit and everything in it destroyed except a pulpit Bible. A soldier who had been hiding nearby discovered it and took it with him to his tent. Every night before he went to sleep, he would read it, then place his head upon it and meditate on his readings. Before falling asleep he would ask God how he could put into practice what he read.
When the soldiers were finally captured, they were transferred to a prison and were allowed to take one item with them. Many of them took a blanket. However, he chose to take his Bible.
The following months almost defy description. The conditions were merciless whether they were on ships or in prisons, in boxcars or on daylong marches with little food or water. Many dropped dead but he survived and carried his pulpit Bible with him. Nothing else mattered to him.
Finally, they were settled in a horrible camp and allowed to organize a church. One of the soldiers asked, “What are we to do without a Bible?” Hearing this he took his Bible and presented it to his commander. It gave them hope and help and thousands found the Lord as Savior.
The Psalmist wrote, “I love Your commands more than gold, more than pure gold.” God, not gold, gives life.
Prayer: May we realize, Father, that only Your Word offers eternal life and a hope that brings peace and joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:127 Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,

Monday, July 16, 2018

Silent Or Silenced?

“It is time for You to act, Lord. Your law is being broken.” That sounds like something we would hear while walking out of church or part of a conversation we were having with a friend about the “signs of the times.”
“It is time for You to act, Lord.” Not me, Lord! YOU!
This is really amusing. Here we find this Psalmist who has been writing to us about the Lord’s faithfulness, the Lord’s grace, the Lord’s mercy, the Lord’s goodness, the Lord’s protection, the Lord’s righteousness, the Lord’s justice...and the list goes on and on.
Suddenly, he becomes aware of things that are going on around him that are wrong. Suddenly, he is awakened to things that are not in agreement with God’s laws and he is bothered. Suddenly, he wants God to do something to make things right.
Why God and not him? Does he want to sit in a big, comfortable easy chair and cheer the Lord on? “Go get ‘em, God! Make them pay for the wrongs they’ve done! I’m all for You straightening this mess out. In fact, why did You let things get like this in the first place? I’d like to help You, Lord, but don’t count on me. It’s Your world, Lord. Clean it up. I’m over here thanking You for all of my many blessings! Go, God. Go!”
Unfortunately, the words of the Psalmist sound like words that come from the mouths of many Christians. We expect God to do the work that He has entrusted us to do. “Go,” Jesus said to His disciples, “and make disciples.” We are to do what He told us to do! We are the ones to act.
Prayer: Forgive us, Lord, for refusing to do our part in doing what You have called us to do. May we begin now! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:126 It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Promises! Promises!

Making a promise is easy. Keeping a promise may be difficult. Most of us make promises without giving much thought to the consequences of not keeping the promise either to ourselves or to the one we made the promise to. But making a promise means that we have given our word that we will or will not do something. It can be something that is significant or something that is insignificant. That part does not matter. What really does matter is that we have given our word.
Most of us have made and broken many promises. We may forget what we said we would do, or what is even worse, we may have had no intention to keep our word. Yet, when people give us their word or make a promise we expect them to honor it. When they don’t do as they said they would do, we feel disappointed and let down.
Whenever God made a promise, it went into effect at that very moment and will continue through eternity. So, when the Psalmist said, “Sustain me, my God, according to Your promise, and I will live; do not let my hope be dashed,” he had no doubt that God would keep His Word.
Many of us have difficulty taking God at His word. Is it because those whom we once trusted gave us their word and then failed to honor it? Do we doubt everyone because of broken promises in the past? Do we doubt God today because others disappointed us yesterday? Perhaps.
We trust those who do what they say they will do. “I will live,” said the Psalmist. God had always been faithful to him in the past. He had no reason to ever doubt God.
Prayer: Give us a faith, Father, that will never waver. May we take You at Your Word and never doubt. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Choosing Wisely

Everyone has an “attitude.” Sometimes it is not obvious. But the more time we spend with people and get to know them, the sooner we will realize “who they really are.” No one can hide his true identity forever.
When I was a child, my mother and I seemed to constantly “disagree” on my selection of friends. I remember hearing her say quite frequently, “Larry, you are not to go to Al’s home,” or “You are not going to play baseball with Bruce,” or “If I see you playing marbles with Steve, I’m going to take all of your marbles from you.” Only later in life did I realize what was “going on.” It was important to her that my friends have the same values and beliefs that she wanted me to have.
God gave our Psalmist great insight about friends when he wrote, “Away from me evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!”
We all need friends. But we need friends who will lead us to paths of righteousness. Unfortunately, we are often attracted to people with bright, happy and fun-filled personalities. They like to laugh, have good times and live exciting lives. They are a pleasure to be with and bring a sense of optimism into our life. But, they may lead us away from the Lord as we pursue a life filled with things that pass.
We need to be careful when we select our friends and companions. We need friends who will encourage us and challenge us to be Christ-like, who will lift us up in our faith and draw us closer to God. Before we get close to anyone we must know if this person is close to God. If Jesus is our best friend, then, our best friends must be like Jesus.
Prayer: Give us great care, Father, when we choose our friends. May we not befriend those who will lead us astray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Our Source For Safety

What our family and friends call us usually depends on how they see us or our personality or some particular trait or habit. A good example of this was the name given to Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a Confederate general. He was responsible for commanding his brigade in the first Battle of Bull Run.
Soon after the battle began his men realized that they faced an overwhelming force of men with what they understood was an unlimited supply of ammunition. But General Jackson and his men stood their ground and fought fiercely.
“There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” exclaimed an officer. That name fit his personality so well that he was always called “Stonewall” Jackson after that.
One day he was painfully wounded in battle. One of his captains asked, “General, how is it that you could keep your senses and appear so utterly insensitive to the danger in the storm of shells and bullets that rained about you?”
“Captain,” explained “Stonewall” Jackson, “my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as I feel in bed.”
The Psalmist had that same sense of God’s presence and security when he wrote, “You are my refuge and my shield: I have put my hope in Your Word.”
The Lord’s protective “shield” is always around us and no matter where we are, He is our “refuge.” Those who trust in Him and follow His “commands” will always be protected.

Prayer: How great is Your faithfulness, Lord, and how blest we are to have Your protection, night and day, in peace and in conflict. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Direction Or Destruction

Fact-filled decisions bring stability to one’s life. All too often, however, decisions are made for the moment. They are based on convenience or what is most acceptable to my friends or what will cause the least conflict.
Never mind whether or not it is the truth, decent, law-agreeing or God-honoring. As long as there will be no ripples or difficulties for anyone, no feathers rumpled or people threatened, “if it feels good - go with it. But, don’t let it cause any trouble to anyone.”
Living a life that has no principles rarely has any purpose. To try to be all things to all people and have no direction or goal does no good. It’s like a ship with no rudder or compass. Where the ship ends up may or may not be where it was charted to go. But, it got “there.”
The Psalmist had some strong words for people with no purpose. He made no apology for those who were unwilling to take a stand: “I hate double-minded people, but I love Your law!”
Double-minded persons are those who are more concerned with popularity than with truth. The Apostle James said that the “double-minded person is unstable in all his ways.” But a person who loves God’s laws and is obedient to them is a person who is straightforward, trustworthy and absolute. The Word of God will lead us to a place in life where we will acknowledge that God is our refuge and shield and in His Word we find eternal life.
It is God’s Word that enables us to be bold and to be a people who are single-minded. God’s Word brings truth.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to accept the wisdom of Your Word and to become a people who speak with integrity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Godly Heritage

Nearly everyone has been exposed to the damage an ungodly heritage can be on someone’s life. Often we hear horror stories of fathers who beat their children because those fathers were beaten by their fathers. Many times women whose mothers were beaten by abusive men marry men who abuse them. Children who learn their values in families where alcohol and other drugs are a regular part of daily activities grow up to think that abusing drugs is a way of life for most people. Each of us has been given the “gift” called “heritage” by our parents. For most of us, it has dramatically influenced how we think and act.
Some of us have been given the blessings of growing up in a Christian home. Some have not had this privilege and have struggled to break the cycle of sin and suffering. Our past, however, does not control our future.
Our Psalmist wrote, “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”
We often focus on our past experiences and compare what has happened to us by what has happened to others. Sometimes we find things in our heritage that we are happy about and thankful for. Other times we become angry or jealous because others have received more than we have. Then, we feel deprived, jealous and resentful.
But our Psalmist did neither. He focused on himself and the heritage God wanted him to have: a heart filled with joy! And the wonderful fact about His heritage is that we can pass it on to our children, our friends, anyone and everyone we meet. God’s heritage is unlimited.
Prayer: We are grateful, Father, that our past does not determine our future. In You, all things can become new. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More Than Just Words

Quite often we are limited in our understanding of words that come from different cultures and times. The meanings of most words change from one generation to another and the way they are used can be quite confusing.
For example, we all have some idea of what the word “tall” means. But, if someone were to ask us how many inches it took to be considered a tall person we might all have a different answer in mind.
Consider the words in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” It would be easy to come to the conclusion that the writer is simply talking about a difficult time in life and that he had faith that God would take care of him. That's a beginning.
The word “lamp” in this passage is a symbol for life, joy and prosperity as well as guidance. So, the author wants us to know that if we follow the teachings of God’s Word we will live a life that will be filled with a quality of enduring contentment and happiness. Where we are or the circumstances that surround us do not matter. But, of course, it all depends on our being obedient to God’s rules. All of God’s promises contain the principal of “If/Then.” If we do what He asks, then we can expect His rewards.
“Light” is another interesting word. It refers to God’s blessings that include joy, happiness, security and peace. John wrote: “In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. That light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” God, then, is our Light!
How great our God is: In Him we “can have it all!”
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your joy, happiness, security and peace that we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Monday, July 9, 2018

What Does It Really Matter?

We often hear that “the Bible is the best-selling book in the world.” But having said that has little significance if it has no influence in and on the lives of its owners. It is one thing to own a Bible, it is quite another thing to live by its teachings, accept its plan of salvation and live a life that honors God.
There was a time in the history of the world when it was the most influential book ever written. It was the most honored book that was ever published and was more highly respected than any other book in the world. It was held in high esteem by everyone - whether they knew its Author on not.
With little doubt the Bible has been relegated to an inferior role in the world. It has been replaced by scholars who worship scientific knowledge. In their eyes, if a fact cannot be proven, it cannot be believed. Often the factual foundation for what many believe may be badly flawed. They say with certainty, however, that what they believe will be proven some day - just wait. Science never fails.
It is interesting that many ridicule the Bible for scientific reasons. But consider this: The Bible was never written to teach science, but it is scientifically correct. It was not written to teach history, but its contents are historically accurate. It was not written to teach psychology, but its contents are psychologically sound.
The Bible was written to give us an understanding of God and His truth. “I have more understanding than all my teachers,” said the Psalmist. “You have taught me.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to put our trust in You and Your truth for in it we find salvation and life everlasting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:99a & 119:102b I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Relationships

Relationships come in all sizes and shapes. Some last longer than others and some are more important than others. Some are temporary while others are permanent. Some are by chance and others by choice. So, whenever a person, place or thing “invades” our life and “consumes” our time, it becomes obvious that we have a “relationship” with that “thing.” Well, so what?
When we say we “have” or are “in” a relationship with some object, it literally means that we are connected to “it.” And perhaps the most significant fact about the “connection” is the amount of time we stay connected to “it.” Time always tells the story about how much we value anything or anyone. If we spend much time with “it,” we know that “it” has much value to us. If we spend little time with “it,” we know that “it” has little value to us. Time tells the truth about the value of any of our relationships. The amount of time with “it” exposes our value of “it.”
Our Psalmist makes a very revealing statement about his relationship with God’s Word. He boldly states, “Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long!” In other words, he stays “connected” to God by “meditating” or being “connected” to His Word all day long.
Notice the results of his “connection” to God's Word: “Your commands are with me...make me wise...give me more insight...more understanding...for I obey them.”
If we expect our relationship with God to have value, we must invest time with Him. Staying “connected” to Him by meditating on and reading His Word works!
Prayer: Lord, help us to stay “connected” to You. May we hide Your Word in our hearts and think on it always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Who's Right?

If we want to be blest by God we must live lives that are blameless and walk according to His laws. Those of us who keep His statutes, as well as those who seek God with all their heart, will also be blest. The first two verses of Psalm 119 are very clear about whom God will bless.
The question then becomes: Where do we find God’s laws and statutes? And how do we know if we are truly seeking God with all of our heart? If we can know His laws and statutes, that is a beginning. But the questions that follow are, “Will they ever change? Is God one way today and another way tomorrow? Where’s our assurance? What do we need to know and do to please Him?”
With all of the power God has at His disposal, He can change anything and everything any time He chooses to. It’s His universe. He created it. It serves His purpose.
But near the middle of Psalm 119, the author gives us all the assurance we need: “God’s Word is established in heaven and His faithfulness can be seen in the way He treats every generation.” To further explain God’s dependability, the author encourages us to consider the “earth.” God created it and established the laws that govern it. Furthermore, the laws that God put into place have been constant since creation. Everything we know anything about depends on this fact. The seasons and stars, the oceans and tides validate this law consistently.
In verse 96 we find an amazing statement: When we look at the laws that men write, there is a limit to their longevity. God’s laws, however, are “boundless!”
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, that we can depend on Your Word. And if we accept it and live it we will be blest! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:96 To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Lasting Legacy Of Our Lord

Voltaire, a famous French philosopher, was also a brilliant atheist. He wrote a number of articles deriding the Bible. On one occasion he declared, “One hundred years from today the Bible will be a forgotten book!”
Most people have never heard that quote, yet most people have heard of the Bible. After Voltaire died, for nearly 100 years, his home was used as the depository for the French Bible Society. How ironic that Bibles were sold from what once was the place where he lived and wrote his materials proclaiming that God’s Word would not last. Yet, it is he who is nearly forgotten while the Bible has become a “bestseller” year after year. That home, by the way, is now a museum.
Others have also attempted to destroy the meaning and the message of the Bible. No one has been successful. It has survived every assault and weathered every storm. It has been banned from continents and burned in public bonfires. It has been ridiculed and rejected, but it is still honored and held in esteem by those who seek the way, the truth and the life. It has been despised and disputed, debated and denied having relevance in today’s world, yet sought for when eternal questions need truthful answers.
The Bible is still the most read, the most published and the most translated book ever written. It continues to change lives and provide directions for those who seek a lamp for their feet and a light for their paths.
“Your Word, Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens,” wrote the Psalmist. His truth will last forever!

PrayerThank You, Father, for the promises that Your love, mercy, grace and salvation will last forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Question With No Answer

A radio talk show host in California once asked his listeners a troubling question. “What,” he asked, “would you do with the rest of today if you knew it was the last day you had to live?”
Immediately they responded. “I would go to an organ donor bank as soon as possible and donate all of my organs to help others who were dying,” said the first caller.
The second one said, “I’d cram as many daring and exciting things as possible in my remaining few hours. I would take every risk since it wouldn’t matter if I lived or died. I’d have fun.”
“I’d call my wife and children and tell them that I loved them very much and ask them if they needed anything from me before I died,” said the third caller.
The fourth caller said, “I’d begin reading my Bible and make sure my heart was right with God before I meet Him. I want everything to be O.K. before we meet.”
Each of us has a date with death. We do not know the day or the hour of that final day when our heart will stop beating. The Psalmist reminded us of this fact when he wrote, “How long must your servant wait?” However, no date or hour was revealed. He received no answer.
Whether we have one day or many days is known only to God. He alone has that number in His Book of Life and He is responsible for the number of days we will live.
But each of us is responsible for making certain that our hearts are right with God before that date arrives. In between “now and then” we are to live each day for Him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to recognize the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death and make all things right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:84a How long must your servant wait?