The Cry Of The Poor

A young minister and a seasoned pastor were talking about serving the Lord. “When you were first beginning your ministry and were my age, what was your greatest desire?” he asked. 

“To know the Scriptures and understand them to the best of my ability. If I could accomplish that,” said the seasoned servant, “I knew that I would know the Savior better and be able to serve Him more effectively.” 

Our Lord wants each of us to have that same desire – to know Him personally, intimately. God is anxious to speak to each of us individually as He has always done. He called Abraham personally, wrestled with Jacob, and addressed Moses from a burning bush. He spoke through prophets and priests, preachers and psalmists. 

Through inspired writers, He gave us words of wisdom and volumes of knowledge. He even carried on a direct dialogue with David.  

“I have seen violence done to the helpless and heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rescue them!” God has a special place in His heart for those who are poor and helpless. He heard their cries and promised to send a Messiah to rescue them from their oppressors – and He did. No one, even those who see themselves as insignificant, is beyond the eye or reach of the Lord. So, He calls us to serve them on His behalf. 

Daniel was cast into a den of lions. Howl and cry as loudly as they could, they were not able to harm a hair on his head. As with Daniel, so with us. God will never allow His beloved to be destroyed by an oppressor. 

Prayer: Lord, if we ever feel unimportant to You, help us to recall Your Word and know that You will rescue us. Grant us the gift of faith.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” Psalm 12:5 

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Flawless: Having no faults, flaws, or defects; having no imperfections; something that has nothing that can in any way diminish its value. Seeing something flawless or holding an object that is flawless, or knowing of something that is flawless, is rare. Yet, most of us own or have access to something that is flawless. 

David said, “The words of the Lord are flawless.” Why so? If we are to depend on them and believe in them and live by them, they must be flawless. 

His promises must be flawless. They are not like the records of athletes that are made only to be broken by someone who is faster, stronger, or wiser. If the words of God could be replaced by someone else’s words, we would not be able to trust Him or have faith and confidence in Him. 

His promises must not only be flawless; they must be fruitful. Someone has counted more than 30,000 promises in the Bible. That number is far beyond what anyone can ever claim or need. As long as we live, we will never come to the end of them because He has promised to meet our every need, every day as long we live. 

His promises must not only be flawless and fruitful; they must be forceful. If God makes a promise, He will be able to bring it to completion. Always remember that He has all of the power that brought the universe into existence at His disposal. If He said it, it is as good as done. 

His promises must not only be flawless, fruitful, and forceful - they must be fulfilling. Because He created us, He knows what we need before we need it. 

Prayer:  How grateful we are Father, to know that we can depend on Your flawless, fruitful, forceful, and fulfilling Word to meet our every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Psalm 12:3 

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The Flaw Of Flattery

An old English fable contains a truth well worth repeating. 

A crow swooped low over the lunch of a peasant and stole a piece of cheese. A wise fox, watching the crow with jealousy, wanted the cheese for himself. 

“O Crow,” he said in his most flattering voice, “how beautiful are your wings. How brightly shine your searching eyes. How graceful is your strong, flexible neck. Your chest is the chest of a soaring eagle. Your talons are no match for all the beasts of the field. O that such a bird would lack only a voice.” 

The crow was thrilled and excited over the flattery. Chuckling to herself, she decided to surprise the fox with her voice. When she opened her mouth, the cheese fell to the ground, and the fox snapped it up and walked away. 

A wise man once said, “Flattery is a trap; evil men are caught in it. But the good men stay away and sing for joy.” 

Flattery is different from encouragement. We give “courage” to those who are struggling with life’s problems when we recognize their efforts. We give hope to one who has fallen when we offer a hand to pick them up. We give peace when we smile at one with sadness in their eyes. 

Flattery is different. It praises someone for something that is not true or honest because we want to make them feel good about mediocrity - even failure. In the end, it destroys the one we want to help. The Psalmist said, “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips.” 

False praise, though well-intended, is destructive and deceitful. 

Prayer:  Lord, may we offer hope to the struggling, help to the weak, encouraging words to the faltering, and recognition to those who do good things! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Psalm 12:3 

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Help When You Need It Most

We are all grateful for our “first responders.” They save lives, bind wounds, bring food, give clothing, provide shelter, and restore power. They have become our “rescuers.” And, they certainly fulfill a critical, essential role. 

But as Christians, when we face a time of trial or tragedy, we have One who has been waiting for us to call upon Him when we need help. He is always waiting for an opportunity to prove His power whenever we face a difficult situation. 

One morning, about four o’clock, Peter was in serious trouble. He and a few of his friends were in a small boat far from shore when a fierce storm arose out of nowhere. Fearing for their lives they became even more frightened when they saw what they thought was a ghost. They screamed in horror. And over the howling wind came a stern voice that said, “Stop being afraid.” It was Jesus assuring them that there was no reason for them to fear for their lives because He was there to save them when they needed Him the most. 

“If it is you,” said Peter, “tell me to come to You – let me walk on the water!” “Certainly,” said Jesus, “come on. You’ve nothing to fear!” He got out of the boat, felt the wind on his face and the waves beneath his feet but then lost his faith, and began to sink. He shouted, “Save me, Lord,” and He did. 

It is never the eloquence of our words or length of our prayer that counts, but our simplicity and sincerity. It is never a formula but our faith. He will always come to our rescue if we call on Him in a faith that believes in Him. 

Prayer: Lord, we do indeed believe in Your power and Your promises. Yet, when it counts most, we doubt. Increase our faith whenever we doubt. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. Psalm 12:1 

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Comparing the importance, significance, or value of one nation above or below another is an ongoing process. Various criteria are used to measure the worth of nations: the size of the military, gross national product, education, population, employment, agriculture, productivity - and the list goes on and on. But, in the eyes of the Lord, none of these areas are as critical as the one He would place at the top of His list. In fact, number one on His list would never be included or considered in the “nation evaluation list.” Yet, nations rise and fall on what is most important to Him: righteousness.

Two of the most important nations of the ancient world were Sodom and Gomorrah. Their location was in the most fertile region of the then known world. So, they would certainly have been recognized as world leaders for their agricultural products. But, they weren’t. They were recognized for their godlessness.

They were not ignorant of the Lord. Rather, they completely ignored Him. They refused to bring God in to their lives and weave Him into the fabric of their culture.

As a result of their complete indifference to God, He rained “down fire and brimstone” on them and utterly destroyed them - along with the other cities and villages on the plain, and eliminated all life - the people, the plants, and even the animals. Nothing was left.

God has not changed. Nations are, have been, and always will be graded by God on their righteousness: “On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur.”

Prayer: We pray for our nation, Father that we will turn from our wicked ways and become a godly people once again. Grant us courage and power! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. Psalm 11:6 

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Falling Foundations

Roger Babson was a widely respected economist and entrepreneur who wrote numerous books and articles on financial issues. Once, while visiting the Argentine republic, he was asked, “Why is it that South America, with all of its natural resources, is so far behind North America, notwithstanding that South America was settled first?” 

After a moment’s thought, the financier replied with a question of his own. “What do you think is the reason?” 

“South America was settled by the Spanish who came in search of gold,” answered the president, “but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who went there in search of God.” 

Warned Babson, “May we never forget the foundation upon which our permanent prosperity is based.”  

Years ago David wrote, “The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?” Have we as a nation forgotten those words of wisdom? We enjoy our heritage of greatness and free government because our forefathers had a deep faith in God. Our Bill of Rights came into being because they believed in the Word of God. 

Where do we stand today? Is our very foundation collapsing around our feet? And if so, what are we to do? 

“If my people – who are called by My Name - will humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wickedness, then and only then will I hear them!” 

Prayer: Lord, it is our responsibility as Christians to do what we need to do to restore our nation – now! May we not fail in doing what is right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3 

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Through It All - Trust!

Everyone seems to have a need to be safe and secure. We see warnings everywhere we look and watch for them everywhere we go. They alert us to potential dangers and advise us of impending problems. They are an important part of life. 

There were several times in the life of David when he was forced to flee for his life. Even though he was God’s anointed king, he was not immune to the injustice and hatred of others. Even Saul had a desire to destroy him. 

Once when he was in danger, he stood his ground and said, “I trust in the Lord for protection, so why do you say to me, Fly like a bird to the mountain?” During this time of outward trouble, he looked inside himself and found what he needed: His Lord! 

Our society has become heavily involved in seeking temporary solutions to eternal problems. More individuals than we want to admit are addicted to drugs – whether legal or illegal, prescribed or purchased without proper authority. But those solutions are temporary and only last for a short time and ultimately end in disaster. 

But that is not true if we trust in the Lord. He is more than a stimulus or a sedative; He will become our Savior and remain with us throughout eternity. He does not destroy – He delivers. He does not control us - He transforms us to that which is good, pure, wholesome, and life-giving. No prayer is too hard for Him to answer, and there is no problem too complex for Him to solve. 

Prayer: May we trust in Your power, Lord, to deliver us from sin and protect us from whatever would destroy us. May we accept Your salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  I trust in the Lord for protection, so why do you say to me, Fly like a bird to the mountain? Psalm 11:1 

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There Is An Answer

“I do not know why God ever made me,” he cried in deep despair. “God has not made you yet,” said his friend. “He is making you right now and you do not like what is going on.” That story neatly summarizes the tenth Psalm. 

Whoever wrote this psalm was asking the same question. “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide from me when I need you the most?” But is this a question or an accusation? If God is distant or hiding, could there be a reason? What is going on here? Is it God’s doing or the Psalmist's sarcasm? Who is responsible for the feelings of isolation or separation? Is it doubt or is it distrust? Or is it neither? 

This psalm does not end where it begins. It concludes with a bold proclamation, “The Lord is King forever and ever!” And a short time later we read, “Lord You know the hopes of the helpless. Surely You will hear their cries and help them.” 

Is God ever absent from the lives of those who look to Him for salvation? At times, it surely seems so. When the ones who claim they do not need God seem to prosper and we who worship and trust Him are forced to go without, where is He? 

The author does not speculate about what God is doing nor why He does not respond to our cries immediately. He simply reminds us of the grace of God and that in His time and in His way He will hear us and comfort us. Our faith only grows through adversity. 

Prayer: Give us courage, Father, to be patient and trust in Your wisdom while You work around us, with us and within us to shape us into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them and You listen to their cry. Psalm 10:17 

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Hearing, Encouraging, Listening

Years ago, I was sitting in front of a television trying to find an escape from the cares of the day. It had been an extremely difficult forty-eight hours serving as a Navy chaplain in a large hospital. I was trying to “get away” from the stressors and strains of being with sick and dying Marines as the “Chaplain on Duty.” Suddenly, my young son burst into my attempt to escape reality, shouting, “Dad! Let’s play.” 

Whatever he said did not register. So, he said it again and again, and then asked, “Dad, did you hear me?” 

“Of course, Son, I was listening carefully,” was my reply. 

Grabbing my face with his two little hands and looking into my eyes, he said, “Dad, I didn’t ask if you were listening. I asked if you heard me.” Then and there, I was taught the difference between listening and hearing. 

The Psalmist recognized this difference, too. “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them as You listen to their cry.” 

What a comforting thought! His ear is always open to the cries of His children and He waits attentively to hear their voices in times of need. What a beautiful picture of a loving Father. There is nothing we need to do to get His attention. Nor is there a magical formula to use when we pray. All we have to do is to cry out to Him. 

We cry and He hears. His ear is always open for our particular voice. His eyes are always on us no matter where we may be. And His heart is always sensitive to our personal needs. When we cry, He hears, He listens, He understands, and He will respond to and meet our individual needs. 

Prayer:  Lord, You are above us but not beyond us. You listen as well as hear us when we cry and respond to us when the time is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them as You listen to their cry.” Psalm 10:17 

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Excluding God

Nations, like individuals, are destined to live or die. And both face the same choice: do what is right or accept the consequences. Right choices lead to eternal life and the wrong choices that are not consistent with God’s Word and His teachings, lead to death. 

The Bible very clearly, carefully, and consistently distinguishes the difference between right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness. And this distinction applies to cities as well as to citizens. 

Individuals like Abel, Moses, Daniel, and Paul took the right way. Men like Cain, Pharaoh, Herod, and Judas took the wrong way. 

Cities like Sodom and Gomorrah took the wrong way and perished. And the “international graveyards” of Ancient Rome, Babylon, Media, Persia, and Ancient Greece also provide historical proof of the fact that: “Righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people.” 

The desolation, destruction, and death of cities and nations are recorded in the pages of history. The evidence provided by archeologists to prove this fact is powerful and plentiful. Yet, many refuse to see and acknowledge the hand of God and the lessons from God that He has planted in the “sands of time.” 

However, to deny a fact will not make it go away nor will ignoring it excuse any person, city, or nation from its consequences. Punishment for sin is awaiting those who refuse to accept the love, mercy, grace, and salvation of God. But those who trust in and live for the Lord will be saved. 

Prayer:  Father, whether we like it or not, accept it or not, believe it or not, we will be judged by Your Word. May we turn to You and be saved! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God. Psalm 9:17 

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Never Forsaken

Their first child was about to be born. The expectant father was standing by the soon-to-be mother when the nurse came into the room and said, “O.K. Time to leave. We’re taking her to the delivery room.” 

“Not without me,” he said defiantly. 

“Oh yes, we are,” she said as she tried to push him out of the way. 

Suddenly, he pulled a pair of handcuffs from his pocket and snapped one end to the gurney and the other to his arm. Unprepared for such an event, in their state of confusion, they wheeled him into the delivery room, too. 

His wife looked at him with compassion and said, “I knew you’d never leave me.” 

The presence of a loved one in times of uncertainty and insecurity can be much more than comforting. They can be essential for maintaining one’s sanity. 

No doubt David had this in mind when he wrote, “For You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” 

God will never forsake us when we face the dangers of life. One evening, a powerful storm arose without any warning. High waves sent the small boat high into the air before it came crashing down. Water was sweeping over the sides, and it was about to sink. “Don’t You care?” cried the disciples. “We are about to drown!” 

“Quiet down,” said Jesus. And the turbulent seas and pounding hearts of the disciples both became as peaceful as a sleeping baby in the arms of its mother. 

“I’ll never leave you nor forsake you,” said Jesus.  

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for the power in Your words and the promise of Your presence when life threatens us. Increase our faith in the storms of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10

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The Signs Of A Grateful Heart

An attitude of gratitude is always obvious to those around us. If we are grateful for what God has done for us and given to us, others will see our gratitude for His goodness and gifts in everything we do. David gave us a fourfold formula for gratitude to follow.  

“I will thank You, Lord, with all my heart.” The thanksgiving he describes is total and consumed all of his being – his entire self. The word he used for heart would include his awareness of God’s presence, his memory of God's goodness, and his understanding of God’s grace. He worshiped God with excitement, enthusiasm, and expectation.  

“I will tell all of the marvelous things You have done.” Marvelous comes from a word that means “extraordinary, not to be surpassed by anyone and always wonderous!” He is so overwhelmed by God’s blessings on his life that he wants everyone to hear about it.  

“I will be filled with joy!” Joy is the natural state of the one who trusts in the Lord. Knowing that “all things are working together for our good” should cause His joy to radiate from our hearts into our heads and out through our hands. Everything we do should be done with a smile on our face and gladness in our eyes.  

“I will sing praises to Your Name, O Most High.” Notice that there is only one letter different between the word “sin” and “sing” – the letter “g” – that stands for God. When we give up sin for the Savior, God gives us a new song to sing. It is a song about the Savior who loves us, gave Himself for us, is present in us, and cares deeply for us.  

Prayer: Lord, we rejoice in the goodness and grace of Your salvation. May we always have a grateful heart and show it to others willingly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Scripture For Today:  I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:2 

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During the rule of the Roman Empire, each penny was stamped with the image of the Roman Emperor. Anyone who used that coin was expected to obey his laws. 

When God created Adam, He implanted His image in and on him. God did not use a penny to remind people who they were to obey, but a Person. And beginning with Adam, each of us has had His image on us and in us. We are expected to enjoy Him and glorify Him and honor Him at all times and in all circumstances. A reasonable expectation for His children. 

In Psalm 8:6 we are reminded of the power of that stamp. “You,” wrote the Psalmist, “made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet.” The simplicity and majesty of that single, simple verse are staggering! 

The word “ruler” means “lordship.” As the “crown” of God’s creation, we are the “lords” of His creation and are to use the gifts and talents He has given us to be masters of everything He created - everything that we see today or ever will be found in the universe. 

But, unfortunately, Adam chose not to follow God’s directions. As a result of Adam’s choice, man and God’s entire creation became corrupted by sin. Fortunately, the story does not end there! 

When we repent of our sins and turn our lives over to the Lord, this “Lordship” returns. Once again, we become His subjects and are responsible “to bear” His image in our behavior and leave His “stamp” on everything we do. All things become new again.  

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to live as You planned for us to live - as lords of Your creation may we honor and glorify Your name in all we do. In Jesus’s Name. AMEN! 

Scripture For Today: You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet. Psalm 8:6 

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The Greatness of God

Martin Luther once wrote to a friend, “Your thoughts of God are too human!” That certainly was not true of David. 

David saw the greatness of God and the glory of His creation: “O Lord, our Lord the majesty of Your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens!” Perhaps he was thinking about the time when there was nothing and no one but God. Perhaps he was allowing his mind to wander and entertain the idea that God chose to make Himself known to man. It may have been that David was “awe-struck” to think of the possibility that he could actually communicate with God or get His attention by calling on Him.  

And he continues His thoughts about the greatness of God when he writes of His “majesty and glory” – the power that He has over the heavens, the earth, and all that is in and on the planet. Nothing, thought David, is beyond Him. 

Notice two very important things: David begins with “O Lord” – describing his personal relationship with God. He knew that by “speaking” His name he would get God’s attention. How impressive is that! This powerful God is present with him at that moment and is personally concerned about him and will respond to him if he calls upon him. And this is just the beginning. 

Notice that “O Lord” is followed by “Our Lord” which includes all of us. God, speaking through David, wants us to know that He, this “majestic” God, is always thinking about us, watching over us, concerned about us, and willing, waiting, wanting, and able to save and help us. 

Prayer: O Lord, Our Lord, how humbling it is to know that You, our Creator, are also our Redeemer, our Comforter, our Companion, and our Source of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. Psalm 8:1 

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Life's Boomerangs

The aborigines are given credit for being the first tribe to develop boomerangs. Although there are many different types and varieties of boomerangs, most of us are familiar with what is called the “returning boomerang.” Shaped like a bent arm, when properly thrown, it will return to the one who threw it. Initially, they were used for hunting and war. Now, for many, they have become a recreational object. 

David made an interesting observation about life’s boomerangs: “The trouble he causes recoils on himself, his violence comes down on his own head.” Not a pleasant thought for the one who wanted or intended to harm another person. 

Remember Haman? He was a conceited and corrupt prime minister. He is a great example of how life can “boomerang.” 

Haman was determined to destroy every Jew in Persia, especially Mordecai. But when Mordecai and his people heard of this diabolical plot, they called upon the Lord for His help. Esther, the queen, decided to give a party and invited Haman to join her and the king. He was elated! His heart swelled with pride! He thought he had it made!  

While enjoying the festivities, Queen Esther stood before the king and exposed Haman and his plot. What he had planned for Mordecai “boomeranged.” By nightfall, Haman was hanging on the seventy-five-foot gallows that he had built for Mordecai. No one came to his funeral. In fact, no one liked Haman, except Haman. 

Paul said: “The man who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction.” 

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to understand and accept the simple fact that whatever we sow, we will certainly reap. Give us pure thoughts and helpful motives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The trouble they make for others backfires on them. The violence they plan falls on their own heads. Psalm 7:16 

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Head, Heart And Hands

Justin came home from school with a note from his teacher. After handing it to his father, he stood quietly as his Dad read it out loud. “Mr. Brady, Justin started a fight during recess today and was sent to the principal’s office. Please discuss this matter with him and decide what punishment he should receive.” 

After reading the note, his father looked him in the eyes and said, “Justin, I’m really disappointed in you. I never thought you would do something like that!” 

“Dad,” cried Justin, “it wasn’t my fault. It was Danny’s. He hit me first. Cross my heart and hope to die if I am not telling the truth!” 

No one enjoys being judged for wrongdoing. We all want to believe that we live a life that reflects clean hands, a pure heart, and a mind free of evil thoughts. But if we were to be questioned and asked if we lived up to those character traits, not many of us would “cross our hearts and hope to die” if challenged. 

David knew that his hands were not clean, nor his heart pure or his mind free of evil thoughts. So, he appealed to the mercy and grace of God and cried out to Him and said, “Declare me righteous, O Lord, for I am innocent, O Most High.” 

That wonderful declaration of David was finally and fully answered in Christ. When he called for the righteousness of God to declare him innocent, he knew that it was in God’s nature to forgive him for his sins and deliver him from his sinful behaviors. He’ll do it for us, too! 

Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, for Your love that saves us, Your grace that forgives us, Your spirit that cleanses us, and Your Word that guides us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The Lord judges the nations. Declare me righteous, O Lord, for I am innocent, O Most High! Psalm 7:8

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The Answer To Insults

No one is or ever has been immune from being hurt or harmed by arrows of anger that come from those we thought were our friends. Sometimes the statements that shame and slam us even come from members of our own family. And, unfortunately, some of us may even be guilty of doing to others what they have done to us and caused them pain and sleepless nights as we seek revenge. We all know the feelings of pain and panic that come from “word wounds,” and the problems they have caused us. 

David faced the same issues. He spoke of those who persecuted him and wanted to tear him to pieces as a lion destroys its prey. They raged and did wickedness, brought iniquity and spoke falsehoods, and caused him trouble. Those powerful words leave very little to the imagination. He was not reporting any second-hand observations or stories that others told him of things they had experienced. People were out to get him, and he knew it. 

And he responded to them in a way that sets the Christian standard for revenge. He turned the matter over to God! He began by affirming his relationship to God by declaring, “I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors.” 

He knew exactly where to go, what to say, and what to do to solve his problem and heal his wounded heart: He went to His Lord knowing that only He could save him from the harm that others would do to him if they could. 

We must do as David did. We must call upon the Lord to be our Defense and Defender in times of need. 

Prayer: Lord, we claim the promises of Your Word, knowing that You will guide us and guard us forever against the harm and hurt of others. But we must believe! In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors - rescue me! Psalm 7:1 

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Prayer Does Work!

“Jeb,” asked Steve, “do you ever pray?” 

“Pray?” thought Jeb. “Nope. I don’t pray, and I don’t carry a rabbit’s foot either. Neither one works.” 

King David had a different opinion. “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” 

Do you remember the prayer of Noah? God spoke to him and told him that He would destroy the world with a flood. During their conversation, God advised him to build an ark that would save him and his family. He listened to God, and when the flood came, they were saved. 

Moses prayed and asked God to part the waters of the Red Sea. God answered his prayer, the seas were parted, and God saved His people from destruction by the enemy. 

Samson prayed one last time for enough strength to accomplish one last task. God granted him that request. 

Solomon prayed for God to grant him wisdom. And we see the answer to that prayer on the pages of the Bible and in the lives of the people he ruled. 

Elijah was hungry. He asked God for food, and God heard his prayer and gave him food for his body and His nourishment for his soul. 

Daniel was thrown into a den filled with hungry lions. He asked God to protect him and He sealed their mouths. 

Hezekiah was on his deathbed when he asked God to extend his life. God responded, and he lived for fifteen more years. 

A thief prayed on a cross for God to remember him, and God did. 

Prayer:  Your Word, Lord, reminds and assures us that You not only hear our prayers but will answer them if we ask in faith and believe. Teach us to pray! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer. Psalm 6:9 

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Confidence For The Christian

The school of suffering has many graduates. It seems that most of the alumni provide insight into the grace and mercy of God for those willing to hear them speak and give Him glory. 

King David was a graduate of this school. What he learned about suffering is revealed in the sixth Psalm. He begins by describing his pain and the fear he has of his enemies. He shares with us a list of symptoms that most of us have experienced at one time or another: emotional stress and distress, crying, sleepless nights, being attacked by others. However, when he cried out to God for help, God heard him, helped him, and healed him. 

Whatever brought about the distress of David was relieved when he called on God for His mercy. Here we find a pattern for us to follow when we need God to rescue us from the consequences of our sin or the pain of sickness or suffering. First, he asked God not to abandon or punish him in his time of need. Then he asked for God’s compassion and care, admitting that he was weak, “sick at heart” and could not handle the situation by himself. He described his weeping as so intense that “my bed is wet with tears.” He was remorseful for what he had done and what God might do to punish him – if He chose. So, he cried out for God’s “unfailing love” knowing that God heard him and could then declare with confidence: “The Lord has heard my crying and my plea (and) the Lord will answer my prayer.” 

God always hears and answers the prayers of anyone at any time who asks for His forgiveness and mercy. There are no limits to His love nor conditions for His grace. 

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for Your willingness to accept us as we are and grant us Your help, healing, and hope we desperately need yet could never earn. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer. Psalm 6:9

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Facing Fear

Fear comes from many different sources. It can come from a person or a place. Sometimes it erupts when everything seems calm and serene. Often it seems to grip us when we know we are in the center of God’s will doing God’s work and trusting that we are doing it in His way. All of us have those moments of being jolted by uncertainty and our sense of security shattered. 

Our fears are no different from David’s. Psalm 6 begins with a statement that suggests that he is trying to deflect God’s wrath. “Oh Lord,” he cries, “Do not rebuke me in your anger!” Does this suggest that he is afraid of being punished for some sin he has committed? Or might he fear God’s judgment for something he did in the past while he was separated from God? Could he be afraid to ask for healing as he was going through a time of sickness? 

He admits to “being weak,” his “bones being troubled” and his soul being “greatly troubled.” He really needed help – like we do - from time to time. But notice what he did: he did not focus on his pain and problems, he focused on the mercy of God! 

“Have mercy on me!” he cried desperately! He needed God’s help! And in his fear and distress – whether it was his sickness or sin from his past that still haunted him – he had full confidence in God’s mercy and knew that He would hear him, help him, and heal him. 

When we are overwhelmed by the issues of life or death, only our faith in God’s mercy and power can restore within us a sense of God’s presence and peace and restore our trust.  

Prayer: Increase our faith, Father, and assure us that You will protect us in every situation. Calm our hearts, quiet our minds, and restore our peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. Psalm 6:2 

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Emotions are a very important part of life. They are a gift from God and have a very significant role. Our emotions are an outward expression of what is going on inside of us. We smile when something pleases us. We cry when something saddens us. We rejoice when unexpected gifts are given to us. We groan when we are in pain or if someone we love hurts. There is no internal feeling that does not have an external result. It is “external” things that we “internalize” that force our feelings – positive or negative. 

Take sporting events. When teams face one another in a contest, one will win, and the other will lose. If we select the winning team, our emotions will demonstrate feelings of joy and happiness, excitement, and ecstasy. We will stand and shout, lift our arms in victory and jump up and down. If we select the losing team, our emotions will demonstrate feelings of gloom and doom, discouragement and disgust. Unless one gambles on the outcome of the event, all we stand to lose is our pride for making the wrong choice. 

Rarely, however, do we see overt emotions expressed when God grants us His blessings. There were times when Christians wept with joy when a lost soul repented or shared their enthusiasm when a prayer request was answered or stood with arms reaching toward heaven for a miracle of healing. We have allowed a ritualistic “theology” to overcome the joy of “doxology” – giving thanks to God for His blessings. 

We need to heed the Psalmist: “Let those who trust and love glad...sing for joy...and rejoice in You.” 

Prayer:  Awaken our emotions, Lord! Free us from being lukewarm, uninvolved, detached, and impassioned about Your grace. May we sing praises – openly and loudly – in Jesus’ Name! 

Scripture For Today: But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11 

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Guided By God

The oldest map ever discovered was drawn on a clay tablet in 2300 B.C. It pictures a mountain-lined valley in Babylonia. A thousand years later, in 1300 B.C., the Egyptians began making maps. The Greeks were the first to make accurate maps. But, it was the Romans who used those maps to conquer nations and countries and begin collecting taxes. 

The Muslims were the next “map makers.” But they made maps for a different purpose. Their faith demands that they face their “holy city” when they pray. They needed to know the location of Mecca so they could face and bow in that direction when they prayed. 

The people of Europe began their map making in the Middle Ages. They made their maps by reading the Bible. 

However, no nation or people made maps of the world until the 1400s A.D. 

Today, no one would begin a journey without a map or GPS. Yet, we are forever moving into the “unknown” because of our need for detailed guidance and directions. 

A Psalmist once prayed, “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness...make straight Your way before me.” 

Our Lord knows our end from the very beginning. He is all-wise, never-failing, ever-present, and constantly waiting to protect us from harm’s way. He can be our “travel consultant” and GPS on life’s journey and will personally counsel us on the safest, most satisfying paths. 

With God above us, the Savior beside us, and the Holy Spirit within us, we will end our journey with Him. 

Prayer:  Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the plan You have established for each of us. May we follow it patiently and willingly until our journey ends with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. Psalm 5:8 

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First Things First

“He who runs from God in the morning,” said Paul Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress, “will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” In other words, if we want to sense the presence of God, the guidance of God, and the strength of God throughout every minute of every hour of every day, we must begin each day with God. 

Rarely do we begin any day without some idea of the things we intend to do or where we plan to go or what is expected of us. And although we may not go through a formal planning process when we establish priorities and allocate certain amounts of time for each of them, we have some idea of what we are going to face and do. 

That is why David, in his infinite wisdom that came from God said, “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly!” 

How presumptuous of Christians who profess to depend on God to make plans without Him, set goals that exclude Him, or make decisions without His advice. Beginning each morning with God and presenting our “agenda” to Him for His guidance and blessing is the proper thing to do. When we offer our thoughts and plans to God and seek His direction, we are saying to Him: “Lord, what I face today may be beyond me, but it is not beyond You.”  

“Therefore, I need You to be with me in everything I do, to walk with me wherever I go, and to put Your words in my mouth before I speak. Oh – and also give me victory over temptations.” 

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize how inadequate we are to face life without Your guidance. May we seek You before we need you and trust in You at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 

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God's Cure For Sleeplessness

Charles Dickens is considered to be one of the world’s greatest novelists and storytellers. One of His most interesting, compelling, and heart-touching stories is: “A Christmas Carol.” It is considered to be a “classic.” 

However, there is an interesting story about him that that few people know. Whenever he left his home to travel and spend the night with his friends, he would take his faithful and dependable compass with him. After looking at his compass and before he retired for the night, he would always turn the head of his bed to the north. He believed that he would sleep deeply and more comfortably with his bed in that position. 

David had his own “routine” for falling asleep. He said, “I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you, O Lord, will keep me safe!” The important word in this verse of Scripture is peace. David did not say that he would lie down and sleep in peace. Rather, he believed that the peace that he experienced in his heart is what enabled him to lie down and sleep. 

But where does this peace come from? For David, it came from the Lord. David said that God gave him a greater joy than those who had experienced “abundant harvests.” The joy and gladness that David experienced and brought peace to his heart came from his relationship with God. 

We never find joy, gladness, or peace if we seek them for selfish reasons. But they fill the life of a Christian when we meet Him in prayer, seek Him in His Word, and worship Him faithfully. 

Prayer: Father, give us confidence in the promises of Your Word so that we may rest in your love and enjoy Your enduring peace through Christ our Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8 

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In Fear And Trembling

George Fox is recognized as the founder of the religious movement known as “the Quakers.” They were given this name because they would “quake” if they sinned, had a sinful thought, or saw someone who they thought was a sinner. Their reputation for holy living was well known. Once, while appearing before a judge for his beliefs, Fox admonished the judge: “Tremble before the Word of the Lord.” The judge mocked him and called him a “Quaker.” 

In Psalm 4:4 David said, “Stand in awe, and sin not.” Another way to translate this phrase is simply, “Tremble, and sin not.” 

Today, however, many do not understand what sin is or its very real consequences. We live in a culture that does not recognize nor respect the value of life. We live in a world that focuses on pleasure and entertainment, wealth and the abundance of things. The moral compass of many individuals is spinning out of control and has no reference point to direct people to what is right or wrong, good or bad, decent or destructive, helpful or harmful 

In this psalm David uses the word “meditate” – which means “to consider, to reflect.” Too often the only time we spend with God is to tell Him what we want. We demand things from Him as though He is our slave. Perhaps if we were willing to “consider” or “reflect” on His Word, we would realize that the sin in our lives separates us from Him, and we need His forgiveness. 

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be sensitive to the sin in our lives and our need for forgiveness. May we wait before You patiently as we seek Your blessing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4 

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From Trial To Triumph

Lord Kelvin is recognized as one of the greatest Scottish engineers, mathematicians, and physicists of his day. He had a profound influence on the scientific thought of his generation. 

On one occasion, while he was conducting an experiment with his students, it turned into a disaster. Looking at each student individually he said, “Gentlemen, when you are face to face with a difficulty, you are up against a discovery.” 

This is not only true in learning, it is true in living. When David was face to face with a major difficulty, he made a discovery that lasted throughout his entire life. Faced with a dilemma he cried to God, “Give me relief from my distress, be merciful to me and hear my prayer, O God.” 

If it had not been for the pain he was experiencing, we would not have his psalms of praise that originated in his pain. If he had not been tested and tried through his trials, we would not understand the triumphs he enjoyed. If he had not struggled to survive, we would not understand the strength he received from God. 

Joseph began his path to a palace from a prison. He became the prime minister of Egypt after he served a sentence as a prisoner. Can anyone forget the boils of Job? Ultimately, they became a blessing to him. And, do not forget the letters the Apostle Paul wrote from a cell. 

Whatever God brings into our lives is not to destroy or defeat us, but to develop us and our faith and to enable us to discover His goodness and grace. 

Prayer: Father, we thank You for working in us, with us, and through us to develop us into the likeness of Your Son. Give us courage, grace, trust, and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 

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The Source Of Our Salvation

An elderly man was sitting quietly in his rocking chair speaking softly to his beloved grandson. “It took me forty years,” he said, “to learn three simple truths. I would like you to learn them this afternoon while you are young. One – I could do nothing by myself to get rid of my sins. Two – that God did not expect me to. And three – that Jesus did it all for me.” 

David taught those three simple truths centuries ago in one short, significant, simple verse: “Victory comes from You, oh Lord.” 

A story is told of a prisoner, who with the help of his friends, planned an escape. Through careful planning they smuggled a gun into the prison yard and hid it carefully from others. They informed him that a ladder would be set up against the wall where the searchlight would not expose it. And they told him that a vehicle would be awaiting him at a certain hour. 

“But,” he asked, “How do I get out of my cell?” “That’s up to you,” they said. Obviously, he did not escape. He remained in his cell because He could not take the first step. 

Our Lord has taken the first step to release us from our sins through His one and only Son to be our Savior. Now, we must take the second step: toward Him or away from Him. 

Our Lord is a seeking Lord who will save us from our sin through His salvation but we must take that second step is we want His salvation. His freedom is available if we take that step.

Prayer: We thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your freedom that is ours if we take “that step.”  Help us, in faith believing, to walk toward You so we can be with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people. Psalm 3:8

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The word Selah appears seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in the book of Habakkuk. Its specific meaning is not known but it implies that the reader, or the one listening to one who is reading the psalm, should pause or rest or stop and think of “this” or “that” – or whatever the writer was addressing. It is illuminating and inspiring when we actually apply it. 

David was driven from his palace and people by his rebellious son, Absalom. When he saw his army and his advisors turn against him and follow his son, he wrote the third Psalm. 

In desperation and despair, he wrote, “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me. Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’” He felt abandoned, betrayed. 

Then he paused, thought for a moment, and said “Selah!” Which must have meant, “Wait a minute, David, and think of this.” Think of what, we might ask. Being betrayed? Being pursued? Being driven from family and friends? Being driven from your throne? 

Of course not. If he is not to think of those things, then, what is he to think of? 

And then he answers his own question: “You, Oh Lord, are a shield around me, You are my glory, and the one who lifts my head high!” 

David ran away from his son, Absalom. But in so doing he ran into the arms of the Almighty God. He found his protection from persecution and his source of salvation. There is no one like the Lord! He is our comfort in times of conflict and our protector when others pursue us. 

Prayer: May we realize, O Lord, Your eternal power and presence over anything that could or would hurt or harm us. Give us courage to trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. Psalm 3:3 

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"We're In Terrible Shape!"

It was the first day of geography class after spring break. The teacher was trying to get her class involved in a lively discussion. “What is the shape of the world?” she asked. 

Immediately, James held up his hand and said, “My Dad says it’s in terrible shape!” And, it seems that most people would agree with his dad. 

Years ago a Psalmist gave us a reason for the condition of the world: “The kings and rulers of the earth,” he said, “take their stand together against the Lord...and His Anointed One.” 

This Psalm points to “the One” who was to come – the Messiah. In it we find a description of Jesus – His life, death, resurrection, and future reign. This Psalm also described the rebellion of the nations of the world and their refusal to be obedient to the Word of God. The author wanted his readers to know and understand that God would fulfill His promises of peace and hope, grace and mercy, love and salvation. God, speaking to us through this Psalm, gave us His assurance that He is “the One” who is in control of all things – past, present and future. He wants us to know that through His Word we can become free from the worries and cares of this world and be certain of being with Him in eternity. 

“Serve the Lord with reverent fear,” said the Psalmist, and “submit to God’s royal Son...and there will be joy for all who find protection in Him.” 

Prayer: Lord, we lift our hearts to You in worship and thanksgiving, knowing that Your peace will calm our fears, quiet our hearts, and bless our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities - for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him! Psalm 2:12 

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Going Beyond The Ordinary

What does it take to “go beyond” others and find happiness? Education? Wealth? Family? Networking? Occupation? Power? Recognition? Prestige? 

What about “going beyond” for the Christian? Are there standards for “happiness?” 

The first Psalm almost explodes with a joyful exclamation of one who “goes beyond.” That one is called “blessed,” or in many translations, “happy.” And it is not “everyone” who attains this plateau of happiness. It is “the one” who is a believer in the Word of God – Christ Jesus. 

To look at some who profess to be followers of the Lord does not provide an easy answer. They do not seem to be satisfied with life, have a sense of peace about them, or look forward to living each day with expectancy and joy. They appear “ordinary.” They give the world the wrong impression of what God has to offer us through His Son. 

The first Psalm provides the “do’s” and “do not’s” to “go beyond” the ordinary Christian and become an extraordinary Christian. 

Negatively, the extraordinary Christian does not follow the advice of the wicked, spend time talking to them, or listening to their advice, and even avoids being in their presence whenever possible. 

Positively, the extraordinary Christian takes pleasure in honoring God, following His teachings, and being obedient to His Word. 

The extraordinary Christian is always seeking ways to grow into the likeness of Christ, to follow His teachings, and to worship and serve Him daily. 

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to willingly make any and every sacrifice that is necessary to become all that we can become in You and through You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. Psalm 1:1-4 

The Highway To Happiness

Have you ever caught “lightning bugs” and placed them in a jar with vents in the lid so they could breathe? It was a favorite activity for children in our neighborhood when I was a child. We would “capture” them and then place them in a glass jar where their tiny bright “lights” would glow in the darkness of the night. After watching them go “on and off” for a while, we would “free” them, and they would fly off into the darkness fulfilling God’s purpose for them. 

Had they remained in the jar, they would have eventually died. God, however, intended for them to be free and happy and live the life He planned for them. 

It’s like that with us. God planned a unique life for everyone: a life of happiness and peace. But happiness can only come if we are free. Some think that happiness and pleasure are synonymous. They are not. Happiness is not derived from possessions nor destroyed by poverty. There is a story of a king who wanted the shirt “off the back” of the happiest man in his kingdom. When they found the man, he did not have a shirt - he only had a ragged cloak. 

Happiness is not what happens to us - it is what happens within us. It is the by-product of what occurs in us if we live in agreement with the will of God. Life in His will brings us freedom from being “contaminated” by the things of the world. Happiness fills lives that are” regulated” by the Word of God. Following His Word and His way will bring pleasure and peace. 

Psalm 1:1 promises “a blessed - or - a happy life” to those who delight in and obey His law. His law will set us free from being contained and controlled by worldly things that fade. 

Prayer:  Father, may we set our eyes on things that are permanent and not passing. May we discover the joy and peace and satisfaction that only comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. Psalm 1:1