Friday, August 31, 2018

Asking God For A Favor

Some time ago a clergyman shouted with all of his might, “May God damn America!” Standing behind his pulpit, with his colorful clerical robe and embroidered stole, his rant and rage shocked many who saw him on television.
The longer I watched and wondered, the more his words confused and disturbed me. I could not help but think about the impact this would have on those who were in his congregation or watching him on television or read his words in newspapers and magazines. Surely some would be as disturbed as I was. But, there would be others who would agree with him and cheer for him.
Most often when we and others call on God, it is for a favor or something we cannot do. It could be for healing, a financial need, a loved one who has wandered from God, or insight or wisdom. Then there are others who call on God because they want Him to use His power to do things that are destructive - like “God, I hate America so much that I want You to use Your power to hurt the people I can’t.”
David spoke of them: “They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name.” We need to remind ourselves that God will only answer our prayers if our requests are consistent with His name or in keeping with His character. He is not available to hurt or harm His children or His creation or to satisfy our anger or do our “dirty work” or evil intentions.
God is always there, willing to hear our requests and answer them in the way that will bring honor and glory to Him. If we call on Him “with evil intent,” He will not hear us.

Prayer: Lord, grant us purity of heart and mind when we approach You in prayer. May our requests always honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:20 - They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Justice For The Poor And Needy

Have you ever been told the reason an ostrich hides its head in the sand is that it is frightened? If you have and you believe it, you have been led astray. They do, however, run in circles when they are frightened. And, the male ostrich will dig a hole that is six feet by eight feet where the female ostrich lays her eggs. Perhaps this nesting story is the source of the idea of an ostrich hiding its head.
There are times, however, when most of us “feel” like hiding our heads underneath a pillow or standing behind an object where no one can see us. Often we are filled with a sense of inadequacy or “beneath others” because everyone seems to have more than we have or be more capable of doing things than we are. Or, perhaps, we feel “poor” in the sense that we have not been blest by God as much as others.
David had a solution for this “feeling”: “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor, and upholds the cause of the needy.” In other words, David wants us to know that things are like they are because God designed them as they are for His purpose. If we feel poor - or lacking, - God will “make things right” because He is ultimately responsible for everyone’s wellbeing and treated equally with justice. Our God is a just God and will not allow His own to suffer unfairly. He is at work completing His ultimate purpose for our lives.
David also wrote that “God will uphold the needy.” It may be that when our wants exceed our resources, He is asking us to evaluate our priorities. His love always surrounds us and directs us as His plan to make us Christ-like unfolds.
Prayer: Lord, when things aren’t right, it does not mean that You are treating us wrong. It means it is time to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 140:12 – I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor, and upholds the cause of the needy. 

Always On His Mind

He was looking forward to his marriage. But at the last moment, his fiancĂ©e decided that she did not want a life that included sharing his blindness. In his disappointment and distress, he turned to the Lord for His comfort and compassion. In Christ, he found Someone who would love him “no matter what.” He became one of the greatest preachers of his day, and people would travel great distances to hear his sermons. Over the years he became known as “The Blind Preacher Who Could See Quite Well.”
Because of his limited sight, he became dependent on his sister, who assisted him in the chores of living and his pastoral responsibilities. On the day of her marriage, he became very distraught mentally. Whether it was because it brought back memories of his once anticipated marriage or whether he realized that he would be abandoned once again, in pain, anguish, and sadness, he wrote:
O Love that wilt not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
He penned this hymn in five minutes, never having to make one correction or change. And its spirit seems to capture the words of David when he wrote, “How precious it is Lord, to realize that You think about me constantly. I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn to me. And when I awaken You are still thinking of me.”
What great love God offers us. It will never let us go.
Prayer: It’s simply impossible, Father, for us to fathom the depths of Your love. In deep humility we thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:17-18 How precious it is Lord, to realize that You think about me constantly. I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn to me. And when I awaken You are still thinking of me. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"God Is Now Here!"

A professor of biology, who was an atheist, wrote on the dry erase board, “God is nowhere!” A student raised his hand and asked, “Sir, may I try something?”
“Of course,” said the professor.
Walking to the front of the class he moved the “w” from “where” to the end of the word “no,” and the sentence read, “God is now here!”
Wherever anyone is, God is! There is no place, nor can there be any place, where He is not. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of the universe.
There are approximately seven billion people on our planet occupying seven billion different places. Each of them could, if they would, say with equal certainty, “God is now here.” No one is closer to or further from God at any time in any place. Again, wherever anyone is, God is.
Do you remember the story of Jonah? God had a plan for him. It was to travel east - to Nineveh. But Jonah had his plan, and he decided to go west - to Tarshish. He crossed half of the world trying to get away from God, and when he got there, he found God waiting for him.
There was a king who made the same discovery. He said, “If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”
We may be above the clouds in an aircraft, or on the floor of the ocean in a submarine; but, He will be there waiting.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your presence in our lives knowing that “You will never leave us.” Never! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:8 If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Great Escapes

Jet away from it all” was a successful advertising campaign of a major airline a few years ago. “If you need to get away from it all, we can help you make it happen” was the intent of their message.
Many people, however, spend their entire life trying to get away from “it” all. But is “it” the problem? Some move from one job to another. Others, from one spouse to another. Then there are many who “bar hop” - looking for the perfect drink and a place to make friends and find counsel. Confused minds and broken hearts often cause people to seek help from others who have no hope to offer.
“What’s going on?” we might ask.
It’s like a person who has been injured and is in so much pain that he can’t be still. He tries to “walk it off” only to discover that the pain and injury are inside and follow him wherever he goes.
So it is with life. “What’s going on” is that we cannot run away from ourselves or our problems! They follow us wherever we go.
If we want relief from the pain and problems of our past, it is possible. If we choose to carry the guilt and grief, shame and sorrow, that troubles our mind and disturbs our peace, it is because we want to. Life is choice.
The Psalmist wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” The guilt and grief, pain and problems that trouble us during the day and keep us awake at night are God’s Spirit convicting us of our need to repent from our sinful ways. It is Christ pursuing us wherever we go - calling us to “come back. Let Me rescue you!”
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for loving us so much that You refuse to give up on us. Teach us to hear Your voice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Being Alone Is A Choice

We all enter this world alone, and we all depart this world alone. But we do not need to go through life alone.
A visitor walked through the Garden and then came into the office. After sitting quietly for a moment, he began to weep loudly, his body trembling. “You know,” he said, “I am so alone and so misunderstood. I wish I belonged to somebody, anybody. I hate life with all of its bitterness and loneliness. I am afraid to die.”
Continuing, he said, “I have wealth and property, success and influence. But I would rather feel accepted by someone, anyone in exchange for all of my possessions.”
Unfortunately, he was not aware of our Father. The Psalmist said, “O, Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord.”
Many lead lonely lives because of a fear of being known - or as some might say, “being found out.” Being “known” comes from a fear of not being acceptable to others for who we are or what we might have done in the past. “If you know me,” so it seems, “you probably won’t like me.”
Perhaps that may be true of people, but not God! He has searched us, knows everything about us, and in spite of it all loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son to die on our behalf so we can be saved.” And if we accept His salvation, He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You offer us a love we do not deserve and Your salvation that we cannot earn. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:2a-4b O, Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Look Carefully

Years ago I was given a pencil. Written on one side of it was a quote from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When I asked what it meant, I was told, “Humans should look within themselves to find the true meaning of life.” Most of us do “examine” ourselves in one way or another. Often, however, it is difficult to be honest and objective, thorough and impartial. Many times we do not like what we see and gloss over our faults and failures. Sometimes when we can no longer hide a flaw, we make excuses and blame someone else for what we see and do not like. Often when we see what we do not like, we try to cover it up and hide it from others.
But we cannot hide from God. “O Lord,” the Psalmist wrote, “You have examined my heart and know everything there is about me.” If that statement were about anyone but God, most of us would be rather frightened by what someone might do with that information.
But with God, it’s different. What He knows about us can be used to our advantage to complete the purpose and plan He has for our lives. He knows when we sit down, when we stand up, what we are thinking, where we are going, when we are active, and when we are resting, even everything we are going to say before we say it. “Why” we ask?
And, the Psalmist answered it clearly and convincingly: “You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” He is before us and after us to bless us!
God has no intention of gathering information about us to destroy us. He knows everything there is to know about us, yet He still accepts us and loves us. He is with us in every situation, in every trial and every triumph, every defeat and every victory.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your involvement in our lives. We are grateful for Your grace that guides and guards us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:1 O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything there is about me. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Are We There Yet?

One of the most frustrating questions I ever tried to answer was the one my children would ask whenever we started on a journey: “Are we there yet?” And, the longer the journey, the more frequently the question was asked. 
The Christian life is a journey. As soon as we surrender our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the journey begins. The goal of our journey is to become Christ-like in all that we think or do or say. So, it begins in a moment in history and continues until we are with Him in glory. Often, when we are born again, we expect our life to be filled with sunshine and roses, skies with no clouds and waters with no waves. But that never happens.
Our days continue to be filled with difficulties and our nights are no easier: the unending and unanswered questions remain. What is going on? What’s happening? Why me?
The Psalmist gives us insight into those questions: “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever - do not abandon the works of Your hands!”
The journey is the plan, and the plan that He designed for each of us includes His purpose for our lives. And, the Psalmist reminds us that, “He will fulfill His purpose.” There can be no doubt that God has a unique purpose for each of us. That’s why we are all different: our tastes are different, our interests are different, our talents are different, and our gifts are different. God created each of us to be different because the plan He has for each of us is different.
When the Psalmist spoke of God’s enduring love or the fear of being abandoned, he must have been going through a difficult time. So he reminded himself that he is a “work of God’s hand” as is each of us. This thought reminds us, too, that “we not there, yet.”
Prayer: Give us patience and perseverance, Lord, to trust You always, knowing that You are fulfilling the plan You have for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:8 The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever - do not abandon the works of Your hands!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Why Worship God?

Worship is as important to the believer as oxygen is to life. We know that without oxygen we could not live. In fact, if a person goes too long without oxygen, it causes serious damage. After one minute without oxygen, brain cells begin to die; after three minutes serious brain damage is likely, and after ten minutes brain cells have died. After fifteen minutes without oxygen, a person’s recovery is virtually impossible.
If we use that information and compare it to believers worshiping God, we see an amazing similarity. It is possible for the believer to go without worshiping God for hours or days. We’ve all done that. But the longer we refrain from worshiping God, the more likely we are to die spiritually.
Psalm 138 is a Psalm of Thanksgiving and Worship. In the seventh verse, David reminds us of the importance of worshiping God: “Though I am surrounded in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You protect me.”
What we pledge our lives to, or whom we deeply and reverently love, is what or whom we worship. It can be God or a person, place or thing. Whatever or whoever is at the center of our lives becomes that which we worship. It’s logical to David that the one who protects and preserves us is the one we are to worship. So, the danger we face is that all too often we look at what God has given us as our god and replace Him with things, and then die spiritually.
Prayer: May we realize, Father, that we can easily become dependent on the gifts You give us instead of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:7 Though I am surrounded in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You protect me. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Will Power Or His Power?

“It’s no use,” said Tom to his youth minister. “I’m unable to resist the temptation to sin. I’ve tried again and again to resist the devil and run from him when I’m tempted, but it never works. Something must be wrong with my willpower, so why should I try any longer?”
“Perhaps that’s the problem - trying to resist temptation with ‘willpower.’ No doubt it’s time to turn to God’s power,” said Jeremy.
Then he opened his Bible to Psalm 138:3 and read, “As soon as I pray, you answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.”
The Psalmist had it right: Rather than using his power, he depended on God for His power. And as we read that verse, we can learn from his struggle how to be faithful to God. There must have been a period in the life of the Psalmist when he tried to “make it on his own” and was unsuccessful. From his failure came his success because he was willing to turn from will-power to God-power. Notice that he wrote, “As soon as I pray...”
He learned an important “life-lesson.” He could not resist the temptation to sin if he depended on himself. But “as soon as” he turned from himself to his Savior, he got exactly what he needed: “encouragement and strength” that comes only from God. So, he literally “gave up” on himself and his willpower. His power did not work.
There is nothing that pleases God more than for one of His children to depend on Him for “survival.” And, we must never forget that “as soon as” we call, He answers!

PrayerHelp us, Lord, to be strong enough to be weak and to call on You for encouragement and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Good Habit For Christians

The word “habit” cannot be found in the Bible. Now, we might ask, “Is that good or bad?” It’s neither. But that does not mean that it can’t be placed in front of the word “habit.” For surely there are both good and bad habits, and most of us have some of each.
Unfortunately, most of us develop habits without realizing it. They just “seem to happen” when we least expect them and are troublesome to get rid of once we become attached to them. Some of them can be toxic and troublesome like excessive snacking, texting unnecessary messages or wasting time doing things that lead nowhere. Others can be nourishing and nurturing like walking with a pet, setting aside time for prayer and Bible reading or attending church. So, depending on the nature of a habit it can be helpful or hindering.
A helpful habit for every Christian to cultivate is the habit of praising God for His grace, gifts, and goodness. The Psalmist said, “I praise Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.” While this sounds straightforward and simple, we receive so many gifts from God that we scarcely recognize most of them. Unless they are out of the ordinary or we see an answer to a prayer we thought He might have overlooked, we rarely pause and praise Him. How very sad!
Might God’s blessings be slow in coming because we do not burst forth in praise each time He shows us His favor? Might His gifts increase if we focus more on His goodness and less on our greed? Let’s make praise a habit!
Prayer: How very sad, Father, that we need to be reminded to give You praise. Grant us grateful hearts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:2b I praise Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Courage!

The battle was long and fierce. Although it was dark, the skies were bright with tracer bullets and bombs bursting everywhere. Frightened soldiers were afraid to move from their trenches fearing that the enemy would see them. Suddenly, one of them began to cry.
“I’m afraid. I’m a coward. Will someone please help me? I don’t want to die,” he cried out in fear.
His friend, hiding next to him, extended a word of comfort. “It’s O.K. to be afraid. I’m right here with you. Let’s pray for God’s help.” Then his friend began to quote Psalm 138:3: “As soon as I pray You answer me, You encourage me by giving me strength.”
Fear is a normal feeling when our lives are being threatened. It is a gift from God sending us a signal that we need to reach out to Him for His protection as well as a reminder that He will never leave us nor forsake us no matter how desperate or dangerous our surroundings may be.
Courage can be compared to a muscle: it will grow over time if used. Often, however, we would rather give in to a test or temptation that God sends our way than to call on Him for strength. As the Psalmist said, “As soon as I pray You answer!” Included in the answer are His courage and His strength.
God is the very best resource available to us when we need help in any situation. Friends are helpful, but God is faithful - and will not allow us to be tempted or tested beyond His power or ability to rescue and save us.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your promise to give us courage and strength when we face the dangers of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Unending Mercy

One of the greatest attractions in all of America is Yellowstone National Park. There are over two hundred active geysers in the park, but Old Faithful is the best known and most visited. It is famous because it is so predictable in its “activity” of shooting streams of water high into the air.
No one knows when it began, but it was first discovered in 1870. The silvery cascades of water shoot out of the geyser about every sixty-five minutes every day of the year.
The ancient Hebrews and present-day Christians see in the faithfulness of this geyser the unending, timeless and inexhaustible mercy of God. Since the fall of man, there has not been one moment when God did not have man’s need for redemption in the center of His heart. And, this need for our redemption springs upward and outward from God’s unlimited mercy every moment of every day - much like the dependability of Old Faithful.
The “mercy” of God is an everlasting expression of His divine compassion. This “mercy” of God is a statement of the undeserving love that He has for us by withholding His judgment on us for our sins. We are reminded of His immeasurable love whenever we pause and think of His Son coming to earth to die on a cross for our sins. God's mercy is “God at work” helping and healing, protecting and providing, strengthening us sustaining us each day and saving us from death and destruction.
Give thanks to the Lord! His mercy is never ending!
Prayer: We lift grateful hearts to You, Lord, for mercy we do not deserve yet desperately need for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Always On His Mind

Mrs. Hattie Hollowell is known as “The Forgotten Woman of New York City.” She spent three years, four months and sixteen days in jail without a member of her family, a friend or an attorney visiting her.
When she was finally “discovered,” an investigation revealed that she had never been brought to trial. Instead of being helped, she was forgotten and ignored by "the system." When she finally was discovered, the legal machinery moved swiftly to release her.
Others may forget and ignore us, but not the Lord. In Psalm 136:23 we read, “He remembered us in our low estate and weaknesses. His faithful love endures forever.”
One day Jesus was teaching a group of followers. He wanted to get them involved in his lesson, so He asked, “What is the price of five sparrows?” Then, He answered his question by saying, “A couple of pennies? Not much more than that.” He continued, “And yet God does not forget a single one of them. And He even knows the number of hairs on your head. In fact, He knows all about you - your weaknesses, your wants, and even your worries. And never forget that He cares for every one of you!”
If a little bird is the object of His love, how much more does He love each one of us, no matter who or what or where we are. We may be forsaken by our family and friends, but not the Lord. He remembers us in our “low estate,” and His faithful love endures forever.
Jesus promised, “Remember, I am always with you!”
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the promise of Your presence and the fact that Your love for us will never end. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 136:23 He remembered us in our low estate and weaknesses. His faithful love endures forever. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Our Good And Great God

“If God did not exist,” Voltaire once said, “it would be necessary to invent Him.” But we who believe in Him know that He does exist and that He is good, great and glorious! We find these facts in Psalm 135.
The Lord “is good.” And with no reservations. He is not good to us because we are good, or “not good” people who are evil. We are wrong when we say to others, “God will not be good to you if you are not good.” He is good to everyone, and His goodness is never conditioned by what we do or do not do. But, He does punish those who willing do what is wrong.
The Lord “is great.” Some good people are not great, and some great people are not good. But our Lord is as great as He is good. After He created “good things” He created us so that He might impart His goodness to us. It is because of His greatness that He is willing to provide us with a variety of His good things to enjoy and in which to find joy, happiness, and pleasure.
The Lord “is glorious.” Our God is above all “gods.” People began to worship when they realized there was more to “what is” than himself or nature. But God revealed Himself to man and man discovered the ever-living, ever-loving, and everlasting God. But, unfortunately, that was not enough, and people continued to “create” gods of their own making - whether a piece of stone in Africa, a piece of gold in America, a bushy god in the jungles, or a mental god in academia.
How great is our God! A God who is great and good and glorious - yet in spite of all that He is, He loves us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your unending love and desire to reveal Yourself to us. Fill our hearts with awe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 135:3a & 5a Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good. I know the greatness of the Lord. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Finding Satisfaction

Satisfaction is an elusive goal. Although it is high on most people’s agendas, few ever find it without a struggle. Perhaps it is because most people overlook satisfaction as spiritual need and try to find it in the material things of life.
Satisfaction cannot be found in material things. Those who seek satisfaction from the material world never have “enough” of anything - whether it is money, education, property or power. “More” does not fill any need. It simply generates the desire for “more.”
David addressed this issue in Psalm 131. “Lord,” he realized, “my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters that are too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” What a remarkable statement: he had the wisdom and insight to “think small.”
It is interesting to note that David willingly took a step backward to take a step forward - “my heart is not proud.” To move to the “higher ground” in life, we must begin with an attitude of humility. A proud heart comes from thinking of ourselves “more highly that we ought to.” But humility, on the other hand, puts us in a place where God can reach us and bless us with the good things He has to offer us.
And notice what he said about being too ambitious: “I’m not going to get involved with matters that are too great or too awesome.” He made a conscious decision to focus on what was within his power and potential to achieve. He was willing to be content with the gifts God had for him. And, God granted those gifts.
Prayer: Lord, help us to take our eyes off of the “things” of this world and find all that we need in honoring You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 131:1 Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters that are too great or too awesome for me to grasp. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Looking For Hope?

His professors and fellow students recognized him as one of the most brilliant students on campus. He had “the most” when it came to worldly goods. From any vantage point, he seemed to “have it all.”
Early one morning while the campus was wrapped in silence, he jumped to his death from his room in the dorm. As his family went through the items left behind, they discovered a note that read, “There is utterly no hope!”
Hopelessness has many causes and few cures. Many, searching for some form of hope, turn to alcohol or other drugs. Others lose themselves in their work or search anxiously for a way out of their despair. Many seek relief by trying new experiences or adventures. Few, however, discover long-lasting results.
Hopelessness may come from unmet expectations, sorrow or grief. We all seem to want a life without a “pile of problems.” No one looks for tragedies as a form of entertainment. And, we rarely have an opportunity to “pick our pain.” Problems and pain, sorrow and grief, are as much a part of life as sunshine or rain, night or day.
Is there a sure source where everyone can find hope? The Psalmist believes there is. “...hope in the Lord; for with the Lord, there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.”
Hoping is different from wishing. Wishing is a desire for something we don’t have. Hope, on the other hand, is a gift from God and will give us confidence that He is with us and will fulfill every promise He has ever made. Hope will protect us and empower us to meet the dangers and disappointments of life.
Prayer: Lord, as long as we have You we have hope and know that Your unfailing love will guide us and guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:7 …hope in the Lord; for with the Lord, there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Waiting Without Worrying

Fishing often seems futile and foolish. There may be long periods of time when the only progress is the movement of the hands on a clock. While some would say it is a great way to relax and think, others would say it is ridiculous and unjustifiable in this fast-paced world.
And, there are many who consider prayer the same way. Why wait for the Lord to hear our prayers when we can get by on our own? The Psalmist gave us a good reason to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.”
Some claim that waiting on the Lord is profitable and productive. Others say it is the best way to become efficient and effective. Really?
The person who does not wait on the Lord may be going places - but they may not be the right places. Often we move forward in haste and end up in a place other than what we had in mind. Often the consequences of rushing ahead of God results in destroying the plan He has laid out for us. Do you remember the wise bumper sticker that read, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”?
Waiting on the Lord is the way to empowerment. Not waiting on the Lord may lead to exhaustion. Our Lord is adequate to meet our every need, but there are times when we must wait on Him for whatever our need may be. We must wait on Him if we want His goodness and guidance, His wisdom and wealth, His healing and happiness.
The Psalmist said, “In His Word, I put my hope.” In Hebrews we are reminded that “We have this hope as an anchor.”
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for reminding us of our need to place our hope in You. Grant us the gift of trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mercy Without Measure

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the first spies ever to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage for giving information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. As a result of their conviction, they were put to death in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison, New York.
In his summation at the end of the grueling and bitter trial, the lawyer of the Rosenbergs said with deep emotion, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice.”
“The court has given what you have asked for - justice!” replied Judge Irving Kaufman. “What you really wanted is mercy. But that is something that this court has no right to give.”
This response from the judge has a scriptural bearing: no one is good - no one in all the world. Every one of us has sinned. If God gave us justice, each one of us would have our place in hell - separated from God forever.
We are reminded of this fact in Psalm 130:3 where we read, “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? “ He then answers it with a gracious promise that brings the peace of God: “But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You.”
If God kept a record of our sins - or if He held a grudge against us - we could say that He purposefully built a barrier between Himself and us so that we would be separated from Him forever.
But, He did not do that. He sent His one and only begotten Son to be our one and only Savior. Now, we have access to Him, when we repent because of His mercy.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your willingness to forgive us of our sins and grant us Your love and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:3-4 If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

Monday, August 13, 2018

What To Do When...

What’s the best thing to do when life comes crashing in?
He had worked many years to reform the church. It seemed that everyone and everything had turned against him, and he had no place to run. In desperation and despair, he turned to a fellow servant and said, “Come, let us sing Psalm 130.” Soon their deep dedication to God replaced their despair and desperation when they sang, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”
Who among us has not experienced the desperation that comes from being betrayed and abandoned? Most of us, at one time or another, have cried, “Who cares for me? Everyone belongs to a ‘we’ except me.” It is then that we need to call on Jesus who said, “Come to me - all of you who have hearts that are deeply troubled and who have burdens that are too heavy for you to carry by yourself. I’m the only One who is always there for you!”
All of us have been overwhelmed when the treasures of life are snatched from our hands. Handel, the master musician, lost his health. Soon after that, his right side became paralyzed. Then, he lost his money. He was so discouraged that he wanted to give up on life. But he cried to God and from this hopeless condition penned The Messiah which ends with the Hallelujah Chorus.
And there is the depth of sin. It lowers us, limits us, and never lifts us. But God will do that for us through His Son, who wants to be our Savior - even Christ the Lord.
Prayer: Father, help us never to give up on You even though all seems lost. Hear our voice when we call on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunshine And Storms

“What’s that, Daddy?” asked his son, Ben.
“A rainbow,” responded his father.
“What’s a rainbow, Daddy?” was his next question.
“Well, Ben, a rainbow is a promise from God that He loves us and will always care for us,” replied Ben’s dad.
What a comforting answer for us to think about when we face troubling times. The beauty and brilliance of the colors found in a rainbow are a result of “reflections and refractions” of the sun’s rays as they “light-up” the drops of rain that fall from the sky after the storm passes over us. But without the storm, there would be no rainbow.
We only see rainbows when the sun is behind us, and the rain is falling in front of us. As the rays of the sun pass through a drop of rain, it is “bent” - or refracted - and separated into the different colors that light up the sky. What we see is a brilliant display of colors produced in the countless drops of rain that fall in front of the sun.
All of us have experienced many drops of rain falling on our paths and into our lives. But, God’s love shines through each of them as the sun shines through the drops of rain that fall from the sky. It is the glow of His love that shines through the tears of grief, pain, hurt and suffering that fall from our eyes and brings us His comfort.
No one has lived a “tear-free life.” And, all of us have been caught up in the “storms of life!” Yet, we have survived. The Psalmist wrote, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me.” Storms and tears come and go, but God’s love always surrounds us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your love. May we look to You for healing when others harm us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 129:2 They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

How To Find Happiness

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most familiar phrases in the Constitution of the United States. Although no one is guaranteed that they will find happiness, the right to seek happiness is one of the main declarations found in our Constitution.
Many “things” we read and hear promise us some form of “happiness” at a distance. What if we taste and experience what we have been promised will bring us a state of happiness, but it is empty and vain, worthless and a waste of time? What then are we to do?
A Psalmist gave us a “formula” for happiness. He declared with enthusiasm, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him, You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours!” Certainly God’s promise for being blessed - or happy - far exceeds whatever promise any man or group of men could guarantee. And, they work!
The happiness that God guarantees is for those who fear and follow Him. It is not a fear of being terrorized by a vengeful God - but a fear that results in reverential awe and worship of a God who loves them and wants their best. It is a fear that establishes a trust in Him that “without Him, I can do nothing that is worthwhile.” But, with Him, I can do all things well! So, I will rely on Him for everything!”
A fear of forsaking God and not following Him and His ways will create a dependency upon Him for all things in our life. If we do that, we will find His happiness!
Prayer: God, grant us the willingness to admit that true happiness is a gift and is found only in Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 128:1, 2 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him, You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours! 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sleep! A Thoughtful Gift From God

Sleep - restful and peaceful sleep - is a nourishing and comforting gift from God.
Researchers who have studied the sleep patterns of humans have discovered that if we are awake for more than twenty-four hours, we do not act normally. Our recall of things that happened in the past fails and response time to events that are going on around us slows down tremendously. People who are normally “gentle and slow to wrath” become irritable and abusive when they are denied their normal amount of sleep.
Some who have difficulty in going to sleep resort to pills. Often the cure is harmful, ending up in a habit that leads to an addiction. Another problem is alertness: the reaction time required to respond to a life or death decision may result in tragedy. We all need a certain amount of sleep to function normally and meet the requirements of life.
The best, most nourishing sleep comes from God. In Psalm 127:2 we read, “for He grants sleep to those whom He loves!”
In His Word, we discover that God loves everyone. But, there seems to be a special love for those who have accepted His Son as their Savior and enthroned Him as Lord. Their sins are forgiven, and their relationship with God is as He has designed it to be. They can rest peacefully in His love.
And, consider this: When we toss and turn and have a difficult time enjoying a “peaceful sleep,” it may be the Holy Spirit urging us to quote Bible verses and pray.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to find our peace and rest in the goodness of Your grace and the depth of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 127:2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

An Everlasting Foundation

Years ago it was the custom in England to carve the words found in Psalm 127:1 over the doorways of homes: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Perhaps returning to this custom and following its implications would have great benefits for everyone.
There is only one Builder - the Lord. But He placed two laborers - the husband and wife (mother and father) - as the ones responsible for the “construction and maintenance” of “the home.” Husband is an Anglo-Saxon word which means “the band of the house.” He is the one who organizes it, controls it and holds it together. The wife becomes his “chief assistant” - and the meaning of the word “wife” is “weaver.” She is to “weave” godliness into the activities of the home. She is to use her gifts to demonstrate God’s expressions of thoughtfulness, kindness, grace, and compassion in the everyday activities that are required to make the atmosphere “God-honoring, Christ-centered, and Spirit-filled” through her examples of service.
There is only one Person who can “watch” over the home - the Lord. For the Psalm continues, “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” This statement describes the parenting role of mothers and fathers in a strange but significant way: They are the ones who turn the “building into a home.” They are to be examples of Christ at all times. They are ultimately responsible to God for whatever is allowed to enter into the activities and entertainment of the home. What a priceless opportunity God has given to parents.
Prayer: Father, give those of us who are parents grace and courage to raise our children to love and honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Time to Get Going

We’ve all heard phrases like, “Wow, that company is going places,” or “That person is going to the top of the ladder,” or “I wonder where they are going.” Everyone seems to be going someplace to do something. But, what matters most is where they are going and what they are going to do when they get there.
Christians have responded to Christ’s “come” and when we have, we are commanded to “go!” with the specific responsibility to “make disciples.”
The Psalmist was very direct when he addressed this “come” and then “go.” He described it in these terms: “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
When we “go” we are to “sow.” God gave us the “seed” which is His Word for a purpose: We are not to store it in sacks in a warehouse, but to plant it in the hearts of those who are still seeking Him. Our hearts may become heavy, and tears may fill our eyes. But, there is the assurance that our tears will be changed into songs of joy because His Word is true and will not return to Him void or without results. We are to sow the seed He gives us and allow Him the honor of the harvest - whatever that may be. Because it is His seed, we may never understand or know what the harvest will be. Though the work may be difficult and the results uncertain, the Lord is with us, and wherever He leads us, will bless what we do for Him.
The assurance of God’s blessing is a word of encouragement He offers us to be “sowers of His seed.” We are not to sit idly by and wait for the results. We are to go and sow and pray and leave the harvest to Him. And, there will be a harvest if we are faithful “sowers.” He promises that we will return from the field singing songs of joy bringing His sheaves with us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to follow Your command - Your orders - to be faithful “sowers” of the “seed” and trust You for the results. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 126:6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Living And Laughing

“The way things are in this world, I’m certain that your God never laughs,” said a skeptic.
“Well, I’m not sure if He laughs or not. But I am sure of one thing: He certainly created me so that I can laugh,” said his friend with a smile.
Some people think that tears and trials, grunts and groans are the centerpieces of the Christian life. The real fact is that tears and trials, grunts and groans are more associated with sin than they are with salvation. And, to emphasize that fact, God’s Word promises us that one day, “He will wipe away all tears” from the eyes of the believer - not the unsaved.
A physician once said that “he who laughs, lasts. People who laugh live longer than those who don’t laugh. Few people realize that their health varies according to the amount of laughter in their lives. Would it not be wonderful if each time we felt discouraged we could go to the pharmacy and find an “over-the-counter” bottle that contained a tablet to make us laugh?
Not only are laughter and health-related, but laughter and holiness are related. When the Lord brought His exiles back to Jerusalem, a Psalmist wrote, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
If there are people, who have a reason to laugh and sing songs of joy, it is Christians. Our sins are forgiven, and we are released from the fear and penalty of death. We have the promise of an eternal home with the Creator of the universe and His beloved Son, Jesus, who redeemed us. And, we have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, guard and give us peace that passes all understanding.
What great reasons to laugh and sing songs of joy!
Prayer: It’s difficult to understand, Lord, why there are so many days we fail to laugh and rejoice. Bring us all some humor today! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 126:2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

Unshaken!

Watching the occasional stories of the construction of the new World Trade Center in New York was a fascinating experience. Did you notice, however, that before they could go up, they had to go down - way down? It is an obvious law of gravity as well as one of construction: The only way to assure that a building will survive an earthquake or strong winds during a storm is to build it on a foundation that is firm. And, only a life that has a firm foundation will be able to withstand the storms and tests of time and life.
Many of us, unfortunately, give little thought to this critical fact of life. We put all of our time and treasures into the “visible” parts of our life and neglect and ignore our foundation.
But, storms and tests come to everyone. They are inevitable. They come in the form of troubles and tragedies, suffering and sickness, loss and grief. Regardless of the amount we invest in the “superstructure,” life will collapse without a firm foundation.
So we all face the same question: What is essential for the foundation of a life that will survive the storms and tests of life? A wise “builder” put it in one sentence: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever!”
Those who put their “trust in the Lord” are not only secure and safe but guarded and grounded in the One who created Mount Zion. In emphasizing this fact, the Psalmist continued his explanation of this by adding, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and always.”
What an incredible picture: The God who pushed mountains from the floor of the earth to surround and protect His children in Jerusalem is waiting to surround and protect us from the disasters of life. If we want a solid foundation, we have it: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid: Christ Jesus!”
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the assurance of Your protection, presence, and power that guarantee our safety throughout life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 125:1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever!