Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sunshine And Storms!

“What’s that, Dad?” asked his son, Ben.
“A rainbow,” responded his father.
“What’s a rainbow, Dad?” was his next question.
“Well, Ben, a rainbow is a promise from God that He loves us and will always care for us,” said 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 the results 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.” We have all been caught up in the “storms of life” - yet 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 will always protect 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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Free For Now

Two long-time friends were quail hunting - one was a Christian, the other a non-believer. “Why,” said the nonbeliever, “is it that the devil always seems to find and tempt you to do the wrong thing, and he never bothers me?”
“Oh, you don’t understand it,” replied his friend. “You see, the devil has you and now he spends his time trying to get me back. It’s like hunting for quail. We’re not after the dead ones. We want those that are still alive. You see, you’re dead, and the devil doesn’t have to worry about you. But he wants me back!”
All Christians face the dangers of temptation that come from the devil. Even Jesus was constantly being tempted and tested. And we must always remember that being tempted is not a sin. Sin “happens” when we yield to the temptation.
We must also remember that when we are tempted, it is by the devil. The Lord does not tempt anyone, and it is through His power that we can resist any temptation that comes our way. It is the devil who is the source of the temptation.
That’s his business, and he is very successful at what he does. It is a good thing to remember that mice do not like traps but are caught when the power of the bait overcomes them. He knows the “bait” that is most likely to tempt and trap us to sin and will use any friend or foe, picture or place to his advantage.
David put it this way: “Praise be to the Lord...we have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare...Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
We are always going to be tempted. We have years of experience to prove that fact. We also have the power of God’s Word to protect us. As Paul said, “There is no temptation that you cannot bear. But, when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Escape is always possible.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your strength and power that enables us to escape the temptation to sin. Help us to rely on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 124:6-8 Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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 cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Book!

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Promises! Promises!

He spent many years living alone not having the necessities of life. One day in his despair he looked at the top shelf of an old bookcase cluttered with pictures and the mementos of his life. As his eyes passed from item to item, he noticed his mother’s Bible that he had not touched since her death.
Slowly, he opened the well-worn Book and very carefully began to leaf through its pages. As he made his way through Genesis, he found $1,000.00. He did the same with Exodus and found another $1,000.00. His excitement grew as he went from book to book and found $1,000.00 in each one of them.
Imagine having $66,000 within arm’s reach and not even knowing it was there, waiting to be discovered. We may fault the old man for living in poverty when it was unnecessary, and riches were available. We might say, “How sad! Why didn’t he look sooner?”
But, sadder than the fact that the money was in his mother's Bible waiting for him to discover it is the fact that there are 3,573 promises in the Bible waiting for us to discover and claim. Our good and gracious God placed them there for each of us. Yet, most of us do not know where to find them, and they go unclaimed.
The Psalmist said, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promises preserve my life.” Each promise is a benefit God has placed in His Word waiting for us to claim. Jesus addressed this same issue when He said, “For everyone who asks receives.” Don’t go without!
Prayer: The best things in life, Father, are ours for the asking. Increase our faith to meet our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promises preserve my life.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Praise The Lord

The Psalms begin with the requirements that we must have as our goals as Christians. It ends with our responsibility to praise Him for Who He is: a God Who is above us yet with us and concerned for us; a God Whose acts of power protect us and provide for us, and surpass all others because of His greatness. What a glorious God!
The Hebrew word for “praise” in this Psalm contains a significantly different meaning than the other words used for “praise.” It is yadah and means that we are “to confess publicly” God’s greatness. This is not something we often do. But it is something we must do. So, please ask yourself, and then answer the two questions below:
First: What God has done for me today?
Second: What is God doing for me right now?
Now comes the hard part: Find someone to share your responses with. Let them know how important your God is to you, the difference He makes in your life and how He can help them.
This Psalm talks of using noisy instruments to get the attention of others. However, the way we live should speak so loudly we won’t need noise-makers. Perhaps a final question is: How do others see God in my life?
Prayer: I pray, Father, that my life will be what You want it to be and that others will see You in the way I live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Real Power - Real Protection

War includes offense and defense, strategies and tactics, weapons and warriors. But, in the final analysis, warriors and their weapons make the difference. Warriors who are fit for battle and weapons that match or exceed those of the enemy will always win.
David was a warrior who had been in many battles. He knew what it took to be victorious or how easy it was to go down in defeat. And he summarized his “battle plan” in Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.”
God is our resource for whatever strength we may ever need. Isaiah said, “He gives strength to the weary...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” His strength never diminishes nor will His power ever be less than it was when He created the universe. He will never be too tired to reach out to us nor is His ear ever closed to our voice when we call upon Him to renew us. We can put all of our trust in Him because He was, is and always will be faithful to keep His promises and fulfill our every need.
In Genesis 15:1 we read that God spoke to Abram and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abram had rescued Lot from the kings of the east and was afraid of some type of reprisal. But God put his heart at ease and assured him of His reward and protection. It was not God nor was it Abram. It was God working through Abram and assuring him that He was his shield, that He would honor him, and go before him and lead him from one victory to another.
Prayer: Father, we are blest to know that every battle is Yours and that YOU alone are our strength and shield. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 28:7a The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Jumping Hurdles

Normally, when Ben came home from work, his teenage daughter would run up to him and hug him and kiss him. One afternoon, however, he came home, and she was not there to greet him.
Frightened, he called her name. Unfortunately, she did not respond. He went to the phone to call the police and noticed that a note was taped to the desk beneath it. Hurriedly, he read the note: “Dad, I went back to the school to practice jumping hurdles. Love ya! Karen.”
Everyone has their share of hurdles. Some are taller than others, and there may be a longer distance between them. But they are there — every day and everywhere. We have problems to solve, temptations to overcome, burdens to bear - for ourselves and others - and battles to fight. We can face and fight them or flee from them. However, they will never go away unless and until we work with the Lord to overcome them.
Faith and trust in God can turn our obstacles into opportunities, sadness into smiles, and tragedies into triumphs - depending on what and how we choose to deal with them.
David faced many of the same situations that we do. Yet, we find no record that he spent time on self-pity or self-resignation. He prayed and believed that God could and would take care of every one of them. And He did!
Hear his praise report: “Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy!”
Because hurdles come from God, we can get over them with God.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to fill our lives with faith to overcome each hurdle we face and give You all the praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 28:6 Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Faith And Fear

Fear often leads to defeat and disaster. It is a friend of inertia and instability. It supports dependency and will keep the most competent individual from taking the first step to achieve a lifelong goal. Fear is real, and many will allow it to stifle and suffocate their dreams.
What, then, is there to replace fear? Is it education? Could it be moving from one address to another? Might it be new friends? Can a different job or title replace a lack of self-confidence? Do our self-imposed limits cause our inner-being to retreat? Is there a defense for fear?
A king was being pursued by his enemies. He was weak, but they were strong. He stood by himself, and their numbers were staggering. But, he had something, one thing that they did not have: Faith. It was the part of the equation that made the difference.
Listen to him describe his situation: “Though an army besieges me, my heart will not fear; though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident.” Faith calls upon Him who is invisible to accomplish things that are visible for us, through us and with us. Faith will turn horrible situations into outstanding conditions.
Confronted by overwhelming odds, David prayed, “Do not turn me over to my enemies.” He knew that his life was in God’s hands and that God could do with him as He pleased. But, he did not lose faith in God. His trust was absolute. And in his darkest moment, his confidence shone brilliantly: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart.” Anyone who trusts in Him, will always win.
Prayer: Lord, as we wait for Your strength, guard us; do not let fear control us or the size of the enemy defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 27:3 Though an army besieges me, my heart will not fear; though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Why God Forgives

One of the most agonizing questions all children ask comes in one word: Why?
That endless, searching, penetrating, obnoxious, and even threatening question sometimes causes controversy, other times resentment, and even - would you believe it - anger.
Most of us do not enjoy having to give a reason for what we do or say. It disturbs our peace of mind and forces us to clarify our words or deeds. Many times it is a good question for the same reasons it is a disturbing question: we have to examine and explain things we had done in the past simply without thinking about or even taking time to evaluate them.
Although David did not ask the “why” question, he did answer it without thinking about it. “Why” would God forgive him? His love. And then he answered another “why” question without asking “why” - because our God is a “good” God.
“Why would You forgive me God?” As I understand it, God, it is according to, or consistent with the fact that You love me. “Thank You for Your love God.”
“But then, God, why would You love me when the sin I committed is horrible even in my own eyes?” And God answered, “Because I am good, David.”
“Love” and “good” are two simple facts about the very character of God. But, they also go together. If God is love, He also has to be good. Otherwise, His love could be selective. But because He is good, His love is for all of us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for a love that does not depend on anything except the fact that You are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7b According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Moving On

There is a story of a patient in a mental institution who sits alone and looks longingly out the window. Every now and then he wistfully moans, “If only I had...” And his voice trails off as his mind recalls a past event.
At one time he was a brakeman on a freight train. On a bitterly cold night, he decided not to light his lantern and leave the warmth of his caboose to warn an oncoming train that his train had stopped to reload its coal car. He had been at this particular place before and could not remember if there were any trains that needed a warning.
Unfortunately, an oncoming train did not see his caboose and crashed into it leaving three of his friends dead. He escaped with severe bodily injuries that healed, but, mentally he could not escape the scene. Whenever his mind recalled the event, he would say, “If only I had...”
Many of us have memories that have left scars we wish we could erase. David had one. He traded a peaceful mind for a moment of pleasure that left him overwhelmed with grief. Finally, he cried out, “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord.”
Was that prayer answered? Indeed. “When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us.” And He also promises, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.”
There is no sin beyond God’s forgiveness! And, no forgiveness without asking!
Prayer: Lord, we accept Your forgiveness and cleansing. But may we never forget that they cost You Your life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

His Ways Are The Right Ways

Whenever we have a box delivered to our home that says, “Instructions Inside,” I immediately take it to my wife. It doesn’t matter if it is large or small or somewhere in between, I know exactly what to do with it. If it needs to be “put together,” or is “in pieces,” it’s beyond the skills and talents that God gave me. It’s another example of God’s grace: He graciously brought her to me to make up for many of my deficiencies.
That’s the way God is. Whatever we lack, whatever we need, whatever is beyond us is always available to us through His grace and guidance. With God’s Spirit within us and the fact that His Word is sufficient for us, we must then submit to Him, follow Him and depend on Him. We cannot do what He has for us to do without Him!
God knows our strength and limitations, our skills and talents. He is anxious for us to grow into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. So, it is important for us to look to Him, depend on Him and follow Him because life is too difficult without Him. We often mislead ourselves if we do not recognize “where we are and where God wants us to be.” That’s why David reminded us that we need God to “show us His ways.” Like it or not, we must admit that it is too easy to confuse our ways with His ways and not accomplish His purpose for our lives or know how we can serve others.
God can only guide whom He governs. When we allow Him “to show us and teach us,” He can then lead us in the path He has laid out for us.
Prayer: Father, Your ways are perfect ways. May we willingly accept them as we submit to Your leadership. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What's Worthy Of Our Trust?

A small child needed a minor operation but was allergic to anesthetics. The surgeon knew the procedure would be painful, but not unbearable. So, he took a shiny silver dollar from his pocket and said, “This is for you. I’m going to hurt you a little bit. I want you to take a good look at it and hold it really tight in your right hand. Be sure to remember what you saw while I’m at work, because I’m going to ask you what it was when I’m finished. If you do, it won’t hurt you as much.”
When he finished, he gently rubbed her forehead and said, “You are a brave little girl. What did you think about?”
Quickly she replied, “The words, ‘In God we trust.’” In Psalm 25:2, David wrote, “In You, I trust, O my God.” Why would a king need to trust God?
First, for pardon. Later in the Psalm he wrote, “Forgive my iniquity, for it is great.” Our relationship with God begins when we ask Him to cleanse us from sin and all unrighteousness so we may enter into His presence. David knew the importance of being rightly related to God.
Second, for peace. “Free me from my anguish,” he prayed. Fear is the natural reaction when we are filled with anxiety. Only God can fill our hearts and calm our souls.
Finally, for protection. “Guard my life and rescue me,” he plead. As a warrior, he knew the threats and dangers of war. He knew that only One could keep him safe in dangerous situations. So, he trusted in that One alone.
Prayer: Lord, we have all that we need in You. May we lift our hearts in prayer and praise You for Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:2a In You, I trust, O my God. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Clean - It Means What It Means

“Son,” said Fred’s mother, “dinner is ready, and you haven’t washed your hands. They are dirty!”
“They’re not dirty,” he protested, “just a little bit soiled.”
According to Psalm 24, there’s no difference between dirty and soiled. Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart are invited to worship God. So, what does the Psalmist mean when he talks about “clean hands?”
“Clean hands” literally means “clean habits.” Habits are formed over time and are rarely noticed until they draw attention to themselves in one way or another. A habit may be good or bad, depending on its outcome. If it leads to a self-nourishing behavior or something that leads to wellness or well-being, it is a good habit. But if it is a toxic behavior and leads to self-destruction or death, it is certainly a bad habit.
“Clean habits” would, of course, begin with a “clean heart.” The Bible is unapologetic when it reminds us “what comes out of us has a home within us.” In other words, God in - God out. If God is not dwelling within us, His “ways” certainly cannot come out of us.
We also need “clean hopes,” because we do not worship the “idols” of this world. If God is not in first place, He may as well be considered as being in last place. Why? Whatever is in first place is what we are indeed worshiping.
And we also need a “clean history” - not making any promises we do not intend to keep. If we say it, we must do it or make restitution – make-up - what it costs the other.
Prayer: Lord, we’re careful not to touch unclean things or allow them to touch us. May we be that way toward sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 24:4a The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Who Owns All This Land Anyhow?

A tourist from New York stopped at a filling station to purchase gas after he visited the Grand Canyon. As he was walking inside to purchase a soft drink, he noticed a farmer sitting near the door, slowly rocking back and forth observing the visitors.
“Wow,” said the tourist, “that Grand Canyon is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s so big it leaves me breathless. What do you think of it, sir?” he asked.
“It’d be a horrible place to lose a cow,” he said slowly.
We live among God’s great gifts every day. Sadly, we rarely pause to admire them, or even stop to thank Him. We are surrounded by the marvel of God’s handiwork, yet are not aware of it. Not David. He was continually in awe of God and His creation. On one occasion, overwhelmed at the sight before him, he exclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who dwell in it.”
Looking at the way David’s thought unfolds, he is calling our attention to the fact that whatever we think we own or possess or have at our disposal, is not ours - it is God’s, and He has entrusted us to be His managers of everything. Everything!
Wherever we look and whatever we see is God’s. We may have a deed to a home or a title to a car or a large portfolio of stocks or an unreasonable amount of cash in a bank. But, we have no control over any of our possessions. With the tick of a clock or the beat of a heart, everything could be gone. “The world and its inhabitants are God’s.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that everything we think we own is Yours. It’s on loan to us to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Who's In Control?

No matter where we look - within our borders or around the planet - things seem to be spinning out of control. Each day, perhaps even twice a day, a different nation seems to surface, demanding one thing or another. From hostages to ransoms, from earthquakes to floods, from kidnappings to suicide bombings, there is no way to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will occur.
The Psalmist wrote, “Dominion belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.” There are times when it is difficult to believe that he knew what he was writing about. Yet, it has to be true if we are to believe His Word. In the final analysis, if we cannot believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that it is inspired, infallible, and inerrant in its entirety, there is nothing left for us to believe in.
Accepting God at His Word, and accepting His Word as truth, are what makes being a Christian unique. When we put our faith, our love, our time, our energy, and our finances into serving Him, we are not only preparing for our eternity with Him, we are, in another way, actually beginning our eternity now because we are building His Kingdom on earth at this very moment.
If we look at what Jesus did and think about what He has challenged and charged us to do, we can, if we choose to, do many of the things He did. We can feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, extend a hand to lift the fallen, share our clothes with the naked, encourage the hopeless, and give help to the sick. If we do as He did, we are working with Him to establish His rule now.
Prayer: Father, may we accept our responsibility to work with You to begin Your reign as Lord over all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 22:28 Dominion belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nat

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Story In Hands

Hanging above my office chair is a drawing entitled, “Hands.” It was drawn by an artist in Rochester, MI. The “hands” in the drawing are of many different sizes and shapes; some are little, representing small children; some are big, representing adults; some scarred representing hard work or accidents; some appear as though they have never been soiled. The hands in the drawing tell the story about how all hands are different, how important they are, and what they are used for.
The hands of Jesus tell a very important story. He used His hands to hold the tools of a carpenter and turn pieces of wood into useful objects. He used His hands to offer hungry people a piece of bread and fish. He used His hands to hold small children. He used His hands to touch the eyes of the blind and restore their sight. He used His hands to open the ears of the deaf. He used His hands to quiet the raging seas. He used His hands to point people in the direction of the Kingdom of His Father.
He never used His hands to make a fist. He never used His hands to grasp things from others. He never used His hands to point people in the wrong direction. He never used His hands to do anything that was evil. He never used His hands to strike others. He never used His hands to push people away from Him.
One fateful day those hands were pierced and nailed to a cross. Pierced but not closed. His hands were on the end of arms that were reaching out to a lost and dying world.
The Psalmist wrote, “They pierce my hands.” Now, we know why.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for loving us, for reaching out to us with hands that were pierced because of our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 22:16c They pierce my hands and my feet.

Monday, January 14, 2019

It Depends On The Name

Albert’s dad thought it was time he understood how to write checks. So, he took him to the bank, withdrew his checkbook from his coat pocket and said, “Son, I want you to learn how to cash checks today.”
He then filled out the “blank” check and explained every step to Albert. When he finished, he said, “Now, I’m going to go to the cashier and give her this check, and she will give me the amount of money I am going to withdraw. There’s a rather long line waiting for the cashier, so you stay here and wait for me.”
Albert watched others do the same thing: give the cashier a piece of paper and get money in return. Amazed, he decided to do the same with a check from his father’s checkbook.
Very carefully, he completed a check the way his father had taught him. However, when it was his turn at the “window,” the cashier said, “I’m sorry, but your check is no good.”
“But,” Albert protested, “it’s the same as my Dad’s.”
“Not quite,” she responded. “His check has value because his name is on it, and he has money in the bank that we can give him for the check.”
When you think about it, prayer is like going to the bank and exchanging our need for God’s “rewards.” But, unlike a bank, the “rewards” are in God’s name, and He is waiting for us to ask Him to present them to us.
Jesus said, “Ask anything in My Name, and I will do it.” The Psalmist said, “Remember the Name of the Lord.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, whatever we need is in Your hands. May we “remember” what we have in Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Banner Up!

A young boy was sitting on a bench in a park when a stranger walked by and stopped. Looking at Will and his dog, he asked, “What kind of dog is that, young fella?”
Thinking the man was making fun of his dog, Will responded, “He’s a genuine police dog, Sir!”
Looking at the dog once again, he said, “Police dog? He sure doesn’t look like a police dog to me.”
“Of course not,” said Will. “He’s in the secret service.”
Perhaps that can be said of many Christians: “They are in the Lord’s Secret Service.” They don’t want anyone to know whom they serve.
Strange, isn’t it, that the Christian life begins with a public confession of faith? A declaration that we willingly repent of our sins, and choose to follow the Lord. God’s Word makes it clear that “If we tell others that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and really believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
It’s all rather simple, isn’t it? If we say it, according to God’s Word, we are to do it. On the one hand, it’s easy to profess Jesus in church, but it is quite different to live as He would have us to live in the workplace, the gym, the Parent-Teacher meetings, lunches with business partners, customers, or whomever we don’t see in church on a regular basis. But God’s Word says, "Set up your banners!”
Confession is much more than what Christians say. It is also what a Christian is. Our words are important, but not nearly as significant as what we do - especially when we think no one is looking.
Prayer: Lord, we only fool ourselves if we think we can fool You. May we be witnesses without walls at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 20:5a May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Live It Here!

He was one of those deacons who spoke much more than was necessary and did much less than was needed. There was always a discrepancy between the way he lived, and the way he worked for the Lord.
One day he stopped by his pastor’s office in a state of great excitement. “Pastor,” he shouted, “I’m going to the Holy Land. Isn’t that wonderful? Aren’t you happy for me?”
“Well, yes I am,” said his pastor.
“Do you know what I’m going to do?” he asked.
“No, no I don’t. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me,” came the reply.
“When my group gets to the top of the mountain where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, I’m going to have the group sit in front of me in a half circle while I read them out loud to everyone. Isn’t that exciting? I’m thrilled,” he continued.
“Deacon,” replied his pastor, “I think it would be much better for God and your group if you’d stay at home and live them.”
The Psalmist came straight to the point: “In keeping them, there is great reward.”
Many of us have memorized them, given copies of them to others - perhaps even entered into arguments as to why or why not The Ten Commandments should be placed in public places where everyone could see them.
However, if God were involved in the conversation, I’m sure He’d be with the pastor and say, “Just live them!”
Prayer: Father, it’s much easier to talk about You than live for You. Help us, please, to show others who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 19:11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Can You See Him Now?

God has planted evidence of His existence on the pages of history, in the handiwork of nature, and in the beauty of the skies above us. We read of His faithfulness to care for His people from the beginning of recorded history to this very moment. We find nourishment for our bodies tucked away in plants, animals, and minerals. Sailors find directions in the stars He hung in the heavens as they sail from one country to another. Wherever we look, we can find God’s fingerprint on the planet or a signpost that directs to His dwelling above us.
However, it takes a willingness to see Him, an open mind to search for Him, a sensitive heart to accept Him, and a selfless life to follow Him.
Even those who do not want to believe in Him, use the minds He gave them to try to deny His existence. The arguments they offer and the logic they use, in the final analysis, came from His grace. When we look at all the gods that have been created by man, not one of them has stood the test of time. They last only as long as their creator and then pass into the darkness of emptiness.
But the Creator, the God who is God, spoke through a Psalmist and said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day...and night after night...there is no language where their voice is not heard.”
Men may speak and argue, lecture and labor, write and work to erase the existence of God, but there is no way they can reach into the heavens and hide the stars.
Prayer: Thank You, God, our Creator, for making Your existence visible to those who desire to know and love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 19:1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. There is no speech or language, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

God - Our Guidance System

Often, life’s disappointments end up being one of God’s special appointments. Like a good father, God will not allow anything into our lives that will permanently hurt, harm or hinder us from accomplishing His purpose for our lives. Often, what seems to be an accident is a very special gift from God. However, sometimes we have to wait until it makes sense to us.
Quite often I find it disheartening when I hear a Christian say, “This is my lucky day!” or “I can’t believe that I’m this unfortunate!” or “God must not love me as much as He does others or He would have given me that job.”
Life, for the Christian, is not chance. It is choice – God’s choice for us. But as He allows things to come into our lives, we are responsible for looking at “it” through His eyes and then choose how we are going to respond to “it.”
Consider the story of Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery. Then, he was falsely accused of doing things he did not do. But, it did not matter. He had to pay the consequences and was thrown into prison for two years of hard labor.
And, what did he say to his brothers? “Guess what. You meant to do evil and harm me. But, God turned your evil intentions into good for His glory!” God led him from being a prisoner to becoming a premier!
Our eyes keep us from seeing beyond the immediate - what is right now. But God sees our past, the present and the future He has for us to become Christ-like.
Prayer: Lord, open our hearts and minds and make us willing to accept Your Leadership and Lordship each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Fenced In?

Years ago, one of the most popular songs was, “Don’t Fence Me In!” Its catchy tune and happy words captured the minds of many, and people sang the refrain over and over.
A psychologist became interested in its popularity and decided to conduct a research project to discover why it was so popular.
His conclusion? Everyone feels as though they are fenced in by one thing or another whether it’s a job or a mortgage, unpaid credit cards or the responsibilities of life in general. Life has a way of “building walls around us.” What are “these walls?”
There is the wall of fear. Life is so unpredictable and uncertain. A job, or a loved one, or our health can be taken from us in a moment, and suddenly what was a shield of security is gone.
There is the wall of failure. Many find themselves behind this wall because of bad advice or poor planning or following the path of least resistance. But failure is not a disgrace - not doing our very best is!
There is the wall of forsaking truth. Often we do not want to admit what is so we “create” what isn’t and get trapped. One lie always calls for another until the wall is so far above us it blocks the light of truth.
But we find Good News in the Bible! There is God’s strength to scale these walls, and all of the other walls we build by ourselves, or that rise up before us in life.
“With my God I can scale a wall,” said the Psalmist. Whatever is before us can be put behind us with God’s help!
Prayer: Father, there are far too many walls in life to climb without You. Thank You for being our Ladder in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm18:29b With my God I can scale a wall.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

From Darkness Comes Light

This may be hard to believe...
A thief, running through a crowded street, caught the eye of a police officer after a person shouted, “Help!” Instinctively, the officer ran after him and caught him. While searching his pockets, he found hundreds of dollars that he had taken from a “Mini-Market.”
“How foolish of you to steal in broad daylight! Most thieves steal at night when it’s dark,” said the officer.
“I know, sir,” came the reply. “But, I’m afraid of running when it’s dark. I might trip.”
The fear of darkness is one of the greatest fears in the world. But darkness was not created by God. Darkness is the absence of light.
There was a time when the earth was chaotic and dark. Then God said, “Let there be light!” And there was.
Man does not receive “true light” from the darkness of the world when he is born. That Light, the Light that man needs to guide him through life and into eternity, comes only from God’s Son. But, that Light must be received if man is to find his way into eternal life through Christ.
“My God,” said the Psalmist, “turns my darkness into light!” But, as brightly as that Light shines, and as necessary as it is for man to follow for eternal life, it must be accepted.
John wrote, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
The way to the light that leads to eternal life is to accept Christ.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for providing us that Light. May we accept the Light that comes from You to save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 18:28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Need A Counselor?

There is a story of a man who was waiting for a traffic light to turn green. On his rear bumper was a sticker that read: “DO NOT FOLLOW ME – I’M LOST!”
Another car stopped next to him. The man rolled down his window and motioned for him to do the same. When the man with the sticker on his car rolled down his window, the person in the car next to him pointed to himself and said, “Me too. But at least you look like you’re going someplace. Mind if I follow you?”
If there is anyone whom everyone needs, it is someone who is smarter than all of us put together. We all need a Counselor who is wiser and smarter than we are, and who has more insight and foresight than any one person could ever possess.
We all need a Counselor who knows us. We need One who knows our attitudes and abilities, our flaws and failures, our sins and shortcomings - yet One who is interested in us in spite of ourselves.
We all need a Counselor who knows tomorrow. We need One who knows what is in store for us and can guide us and guard us through difficult days and long, lonely nights. SomeOne who will be with us from the beginning of life and to the end of life as we now know it.
We all need a Counselor who knows the truth. We need One who will not allow us to hide behind our lies. We need One who will expose our words of deceit or false statements about whom we are. We need One who will show us who we can be through the grace of God.
Prayer: Open our hearts, Father, to the truth of Your Word. Speak to us and convict us through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 16:7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Where Does Your God Come From?

We can live without oxygen for minutes, without water for days and without food for months. But we cannot live at all without God or a god of our own design. We either live with the God Who is revealed to us in Scripture or create a god who we believe will meet our needs.
If we choose to live without the God Who is revealed in Scripture, we will create a god out of some “thing” that we believe has power over us, or one whose power we believe we need to exist.
Many turn their careers into a god. For them, work becomes a time of worship, and money, and the things that money can buy become their blessings and the rewards they seek. Yet, they find no satisfaction in the things they accumulate because they bring no lasting satisfaction.
There are some who make pleasure their god. They seek the thrill of an adventure, the journey to a far land, a life filled with bright lights and endless entertainment or death-defying experiences as the sum and substance of a life worth living. In the end, it is a life that becomes empty because enough is never enough.
Some look for the resolution to the emptiness of life in mind or mood alternating chemicals. Whether it is an alcoholic beverage, an “upper” or a “downer” or “new high” or a different “reality” does not matter. The “next fix” or the “bigger dose” is never enough. Life ends unfulfilled and empty. The god in chemicals cannot bring peace.
“Their sorrows increase...who run after other gods,” wrote the Psalmist.
Prayer: Father, apart from You, there are no other gods who can satisfy the longing of a heart that You created. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 16:4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Has Anyone Here Seen God?

A rather well to do person decided that he would visit a church in a ghetto to see how “people on the other side of the street” lived. On the bottom of the cover of the Sunday bulletin was a statement that shocked him: “Not all who worship here are Christians. Do not leave your purse or any other personal belonging unattended.”
It is tragic, but true that many who profess one thing do not practice what they preach. But, we who claim to be followers of Jesus are responsible for living as He lived by doing the things He did. We are to back up our beliefs with our behavior. It is not how we want to live that matters. It is how God expects us to live that makes the difference an obligation.
When the gears of a transmission turn inside of its transmission case, it will cause the crankshaft to turn, and the car will be ready to move when it is put in gear.
So it is with a Christian.
When our hearts are “turned” by the Holy Spirit to the things of God, we will be ready to serve the Lord. When this happens, others will see us “move” or live in agreement with His Word and His ways.
The life of the Christian is much more than churchgoing, Bible-reading, hymn-singing and tithe-giving. If we do all of those “good things,” we will still fall short of how God intends us to live: walk blamelessly and live righteously.
The Psalmist said that we are to be “blameless in your walk...and do what is righteous.” Being blameless means that when others look at us, they find no faults in the way we live because we walk in paths that are righteous.

Prayer: Sometimes, Lord, what You ask of us seems unreal. But, through Christ all things for God are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 15:2a The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous