It's Either - Or

It’s been wisely said that “If He is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all. If we do not value Him above all, we do not really value Him at all.” What does it mean when we say, “Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord?” There is a natural progression that begins with Jesus as our Savior and ends with Him as our Lord.

Shouting in a loud voice with words that came from the bottom of his heart, David proclaimed, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”

With God being Who He is and What He is and you and I being who we are and what we are, establishes a clearly and carefully defined relationship. It declares His role and our role: He is our Sovereign. And as our Sovereign we are to be submissive to Him. All that we are or ever will be and all that we have or ever will have is a result of the grace and mercy that comes from Him, our Sovereign Lord.

If God were not Sovereign, He would have no authority to dispense grace and mercy. That is what sovereigns do: they rule over their subjects and choose who will receive their favor. And the more power that any sovereign has the more important and precious is the grace and mercy they bestow upon their subjects.

Our Sovereign said, “Whoever chooses me to be their Savior and Lord will receive my love, mercy and grace and will have eternal life with me.” He also said, “Remember: I am with you every step of life’s journey to protect you and empower you to complete the plans I have for you ” No wonder David said, “Be exalted, O God.”

Prayer:  How grateful we are, Father, for the plans You have designed for our lives. We bow before You in gratitude and ask that You will guide and guard us in our journey through life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:5

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Purpose And Possibilities

It began when I bought him his first pair of cowboy boots. He looked at them lovingly and wore them with great pride. Even to bed. After he fell asleep, I would quietly go into his room and remove them gently not wanting to awaken him.

Michael and I “progressed” from the boots to jeans and a plaid shirt. Then a vest. Finally, a cowboy hat. Standing in front of the mirror in his room one day, he declared with pride: “I’m Cowboy Mike.” At that moment in his young life, he decided who he was and what he wanted to be: he discovered his destiny by the clothes he wore, and the dreams he had from watching cowboy movies.

Each of us, at one time or another, had a dream about who we wanted to become and what we planned to do with the life that God gave us. We wanted to bring the future into the present with carefully detailed plans and goals. We chose classes and programs of study to help us prepare for occupations that fit into our dreams. We looked forward to accomplishments that would bring us joy and happiness, satisfaction and success. For some life unfolds as planned. For others there were starts and stalls and stops. We worked hard at life.

To make the most of life, however, we must include God in our plans. He knows what is best for us because He gave us life. Writing from a cave one day David finally said, “I cry out to God Most High Who has a plan for me.” It is never too late to seek His plan for your life.

Prayer:  Lord, may we look to You to discover the plan You have for each of us and make You the center of our life. Only then will we become who You intended us to be and fulfill our destiny. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. Psalm 57:2

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Seeking A Safe Shelter

It was a stormy day. Fierce winds and heavy rains made the windows of his office shake intensely. Suddenly one of the panes came loose and the wind and rain came rushing in and soaked the desk and papers of the great hymn writer, Charles Wesley.

Suddenly, he was startled by the sounds of a bird chirping. He looked around and discovered that a small bird had been carried into his room with the wind and the rain and had taken refuge in his coat that he had laid across a chair near his desk.

Noticing that the bird was frightened, he silently made his way to the chair and began to softly stroke the feathers of the bird to calm its fast-beating heart. The bird did not respond to his gentleness. Then he noticed that a hawk was perched on a bookcase, carefully watching the proceedings. He walked from his office with the bird, holding it carefully and compassionately as God does us. When the rain ceased, he released it into the sky, went back to his desk and wrote the hymn, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly.” 

David had fierce “storms” in his life. There were many times in his life when he had no place to go or any person he could turn to for help. But he had God and he knew that he could turn to Him at any moment in any of the storms of his life and be safe and ultimately saved when the storm passed.

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,” he wrote. “For in You my soul takes refuge. I take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster passes.”

Prayer:  Thank You, Heavenly Father, for being our refuge when the storms of life arise, winds are strong, and waves swirling around us. May we find Your protection for our problems. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. For in You my soul takes refuge. I take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster passes. Psalm 57:1 

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Why Does God Do What He Does For Us?

Everything we do in life is the result of a choice or decision we make. Every choice has its consequence or outcome. There are times when we make a choice, and we are pleased with the outcome or result. Other times we make decisions that hurt or haunt us; bring results that embarrass us or bring our lives or our goals to a grinding halt. Sometimes the results of the choices we make force us to look carefully at what we have done with our lives. Every choice, however, contributes to the legacy that we will leave behind us.

David made some especially important decisions that caused him pain and suffering, grief and fear. He knew that he was often disobedient to the promises he made to God and knew that he had to face the consequences of his choices. With deep humility he recognized the poor decisions he made and said, “I am under vows to You, O God!” Making a commitment or decision to honor and serve God is serious. It is not to be made without considering the implications it will have on our lives and the lives of others. A vow to God can be the beginning of a chapter of righteous living.

We all know of the tragedies in David’s life because he consciously broke his vows to God. With careful planning and deliberate choices, he committed crimes against both God and man. He knew what he deserved but went to God and repented, asked for and then received His forgiveness. The result? “You have delivered me from death...that I may walk before You in the light of life.”

Prayer:  We pray, Lord, that You will make us conscious of the choices we make and their consequences.  May we seek Your power to walk in paths of righteousness that please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. Psalm 56:12

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Eternal Tears

One day, John promised us, “God will wipe away all tears.” Sickness and sadness, sorrow and suffering – whatever causes people pain or problems – would be gone, banished forever. We all look forward to that special day!

So it is strange when David said that “God will record my sorrows and list my tears on His scroll and in His record.” Whatever could be God’s reason for doing this to David? And might He do the same to us? Does it make sense that God would make a permanent record of grief – David’s grief and our grief as well?

God knew of David’s suffering and He knows when we suffer. Our God is a God who cares deeply for us and has compassion for us when we are gripped with grief. Why keep such a record?

Because God wants us to know that He knows and will respond to and one day relieve all our suffering!

Too often when we are overcome with illness or are struggling with sickness, we turn to the products we have stored in our medicine cabinet or to the countless remedies on the shelves of our pharmacies. And if and when they do not work, we turn to a physician and seek his counsel and cure. It is the normal, natural thing to do.

Unfortunately, all too often we only pray when all else fails. It is as if God was not aware of our sickness or has no time to be concerned with our health and wellbeing.

Not so, says David. God has a permanent record of every tear that falls from our eyes because they matter to Him. This is His way of saying, “I do care! Here is My record that I kept about you.”

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for Your constant concern and never-ending care. We thank You and praise You for our health and well-being, recognizing Your presence and power at work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll - are they not in your record? Psalm 56:8

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Facing Our Fears

Fear is a gift from God. It is one of God’s greatest gifts. It alerts us to dangers that may be lurking in dark alleys. It awakens us at night when we hear strange sounds that make no sense. It causes us to take precautions to avoid accidents. It summons our senses when things are out of “the ordinary.” It is God’s “early warning system” that notifies us that something unusual or unique is about to happen. Fear is necessary for us to survive.

Some fears are helpful, some are harmful. Dr. Samuel Johnson, for example, would never step into a room with his left foot. He sincerely believed that something terrible would happen to him in that room if he “stuck” his left foot in first. Julius Caesar was terrified by the sound of thunder and would hide. Even Peter the Great, with all his power, cried out in fear when he was forced to cross a bridge. Those, we might say, are abnormal fears.

David also had his fears. His friends forsook him, his confidants betrayed him, and his family was not loyal to him. But he overcame all his fears by his faith in the faithfulness of God. “When I am afraid,” he said, “I will trust in You – In my God, whose Word I praise.” He was not fear free. He was faith focused.

When doubts surfaced and threats surrounded him, when times were uncertain and days filled with dangers, he always turned to God in faith knowing from the past faithfulness of God that He always had His hands over him and His arms around him.

Prayer:  Remove our unfounded fears, Father. May we learn to trust in You as our protector and defender. May we recognize Your faithfulness in the past as a fact that You are with us now! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: When I am afraid I will trust in You – In my God, whose Word I praise. Psalm 56:3-4a

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Give It Up!

Years ago an elderly lady boarded a train for the very first time in her life. As she sat comfortably in her seat, she continued to clutch her small suitcase tightly, fearing something might happen to it.

As the train left the depot, a conductor came to her and said, “Madam, if you’ll allow me, I’ll place your suitcase under your seat so it won’t burden you down. The train is perfectly capable of carrying you and your baggage.”

“Oh, no,” she objected. “I want to take care of my baggage by myself.”

Many of us are like that gracious, yet frightened, elderly lady. We want to take care of our “baggage” by ourselves.

In the most loving and encouraging way David advised us to “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall!” The word “care” in Hebrew means “what is given to you in life, your lot.” And the word “sustain” means that He will “support and nourish” us.

When we throw our “lot” – or ourselves and all of its “contents” – on the Lord, He will not only hold us up and “sustain” us but he will “never let us fall!”

David was nearly destroyed by men who were out to get him and kill him. But it did not happen. He took all his pain and problems, his attackers and adversaries, his sins and shortcomings to the Lord and God upheld him and stabilized him and saved him! He will do the same for you!

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for the example You gave us in the life of David. Give us a faith like his that we may realize, understand, accept, and act upon to find hope and healing in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22

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Now, God! Right Now!

“Don’t worry about the sweet by-and-by,” said the president of the university I attended years ago. “That will be here soon enough. God has promised it and that is all we need to know about it. As sure as God has kept His Word in the past, He will honor it today, tomorrow, and every day from now until the sweet by-and-by is here. What we need to be constantly worried about is the nasty now-and-now.”

That goes with the phrase we often hear: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”

While being concerned about and planning for the future makes good sense, we need to be much more concerned about what we might do every moment of every hour of every day to honor God. With that thought in mind, David said, “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and at noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice.”

Notice his priorities: He would not retire at night without going to God in prayer, asking for His forgiveness, peace, and protection so he might rest well and be at ease with God. Nor would he begin his day without asking God to guide him and guard him and give him His power and protection. And then – right in the middle of the day – he would stop everything and go to his Lord in prayer. He needed His help in the “now!”

Prayer, for David, was not a trivial ritual. It was his life – his source of strength. “I cry out...He hears!”

Prayer:  May we, like David, Lord, recognize our need for constant, continual, and courageous prayer. Let it become the centerpiece of our lives and the very heart of all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and at noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice. Psalm 55:16-17

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Fight Or Flight?

All of us seem to have similar responses when we face common events in our lives. There are certain scenes that bring emotions of sadness to most of us – especially when we see a child suffer or face starvation. We tend to shrivel inside when we see a person suffering from an incurable illness. We want to lift the fallen or protect the vulnerable from abusive individuals. God planted a common thread of mutual concern in all of us that links us together to care for each other – even those we do not know.

He also gave us “common sense” when we face threatening conditions in our lives. We all seem to have two immediate reactions to life-threatening situations: we want immediate relief. We either want to “fight” or take “flight.” Psychologists would have us to think they discovered the “fight or flight” syndrome – or if we want to be more scientific – the “general adaptation syndrome.” This means we want things to return to a normal state when we are threatened. We want stability to return to our lives so we can be calm once again.

Although David did not use such “scientific language,” he knew what to do when it looked like things were about to threaten his well-being: he looked to the Lord. When faced with his destruction, he asked God to “let death take my enemies by surprise.” He believed God would destroy those who wanted to destroy him. He also asked God for “the wings of a dove” so he could “fly away and be at rest.” He knew that God would always rescue him.

It is natural and normal to want to live a life that is peaceful and calm. It is God-promised. Whenever we face threats and trials, we are to turn first to God in faith believing that He can and always will rescue us.

Prayer:  How precious is Your Word, Father that has promised us hope, help and happiness in difficult times. Thank You for Your promise that “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Psalm 55:6-7

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The Source Of Praise

Someone recently reminded me that my heart beats 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day, 3,600,000 times a year. And, if I live what would be considered a “normal life span,” it will beat 2.5 billion times. It only weighs about 11 ounces yet will pump about 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. Rather amazing, to say the least.

Yet I rarely stop to consider those facts. It is God at work in my body taking care of me, watching over me, providing life for me and within me.

Often in life we seek God’s presence and power to protect us and provide for our needs. But are we aware of the magnitude of His grace, gifts, and goodness? Are we sincerely thankful for His constant care, concern, and compassion?

Do we ever pause to think of the work our heart does without our head having to do anything to make it “work?” Do we realize that God is alive and involved in our lives without our even mentioning His name?

God gives us life without asking for it and help when we call upon Him when we are having difficult times.

David often needed God’s help. He knew that in God’s “name” there was help, healing, and hope. He experienced it in the past and knew it was available in the present.

And when God helped him, the first thing he did was to “praise His name.” Praise is what we are to “do” when we recognize God at work in our lives. How often we neglect to do this one simple thing: Praise Him!

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to be aware of all that You do in our lives and to praise You for each gift – big or little. May we become alert to every gift You give us every day. THANK YOU! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good. Psalm 54:6

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What Do I Do - Where Do I Go?

“I really need help. I do not even know how to explain it. Many people think my problems are insignificant and quite trivial. I can even understand that. I know some people that have been through so much more than me who have survived and have lived to tell their story. I really, really need help but don’t know what to do or who to turn to.” So went the story.

There are times in each of our lives, no doubt, when we have made similar statements or cried words that echoed the same desperate feelings. We were defeated by the demands of life and felt desperate and empty with no strength to go on. Our words were inadequate, our feelings unavailable to share our misery. And, if we were able to “get it out,” would anyone understand our fears and frustrations? And if they did, would they extend a helping hand or offer a listening ear?

Sometimes we are threatened by people we vaguely know. We hear of their attacks through the warnings of others and for whatever reason they want to hurt us. Sometimes we know who our oppressors are yet can do nothing to eliminate the power they have over us.

David found himself in a similar situation. He looked around for help and deliverance and found no one ready to come to his rescue. But he knew that there was saving power in the name of God and cried out, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One Who sustains me.”

Often God brings us to a place in our lives to force us to realize that He alone can save us!

Prayer:  What peace it is to know, Father, that in the middle of our messy lives You are there and will never leave us or forsake us or let any enemy destroy us .Thank You for being our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4

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Are You Bored With This Stuff, God?

It was time to climb into bed after reading a story from the Bible. “Now Edie,” said her Mom, “be sure to kneel down and say your prayers before climbing into bed.” Kissing her gently, she added, “I’ll be downstairs if you need me. So, don’t be afraid.”

The next morning at breakfast her mom said, “Well, Edie, did you say your prayers before you fell asleep?”

“Well, sort of, Mom,” she replied. “I got down on my knees and started to pray. Then I thought, ‘God, You must get bored with this kind of stuff night after night. Why don’t You listen carefully, and I’ll tell You the story of The Three Bears?’ So I snuggled in bed and told Him the story of The Three Bears. I really think He enjoyed it.”

God gave us no specific formula to follow when we pray. In Jesus’ model prayer we are reminded of all the important things that we are to take to God in prayer. And, again in Gethsemane, He set another marvelous example of prayer. His prayers were always simple, sincere, significant, and straight forward.

David knew that it was not necessary to follow a formula when he prayed. For example, “Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth,” is how he began a prayer on one occasion. Then with openness and honesty he said what he had to say, and God responded and met his immediate needs.

That is the way God is! When we have a need, all we must do is go to Him in faith, believing and claiming His promises, and express our needs and wait for His response. He will not disappoint us!

Prayer:  We are so thankful, Lord, that when we pray there are no necessary words or magic phrases. Only a sincere heart and faith in Your goodness and grace, mercy and unending love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. Psalm 54:2

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What's In A Name?

Have you ever met someone who did not like their name? Perhaps it reminded them of a person who disturbed them in one way or another. Or it may have represented something that was offensive to them. Maybe it “sounded” like a girl’s name or a boy’s name or a sissy’s name to them. Sometimes we are “given” names by the way we act or what we do or even how we look.

David knew there was something unique and special about a name that was above every other name. He knew that there was one name that represented the solution for the problems of life. He understood the significance of “that Name.” He knew that the road for us to recover from destruction and death to happiness and heaven – was in that Name.

“Save me, O God, by Your name; vindicate me by might.” In asking God to save him, David wanted God to deliver him from his sinful condition – even though the Savior had not come into the world to complete His work on the cross. He was aware of his sins and shortcomings and knew that there was nothing he could do to rescue or redeem himself. Only a gracious God who had rescued His children from times of destruction and death in the past could do the same for him in the present. He knew God’s power from His story in the past as He brought His children to their Promised Land.

When David called on God’s name in prayer, he brought God into that moment in his life. He needed God to be with him, hear him, help him, deliver him and ultimately save him. What about you?

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the power that Your name represents – power to deliver and save us from ourselves and the sins that would destroy us. We are grateful for the power in Your Name. Amen.

Scripture For Today: Save me, O God, by Your name; vindicate me by might. Psalm 54:1

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Where Do You Go For Help?

“Help me, someone help me! I have fallen and cannot get up. Someone help me, please!” cried a lady in obvious pain and distress. There was no real person calling for help. It was a television commercial advertising personal security systems. It was intended to attract and assure people who were alone that a “system” was available to help them if they could not help themselves.

All of us know that feeling of being helpless, perhaps even hopeless, at times. Problems surface from beneath us or seem to descend from the sky when we least expect them. We know they are beyond us, recognize our limits and cry out for help. Life’s demands are often more than we can manage by ourselves. They force us to see that we cannot take care of ourselves by ourselves. So, we are forced to reach out and up. There is something inside all of us that tells each of us that life is beyond every one of us. That “something” is a gift from God. He wants us to search for that “someone.” It begins at birth when we utter that first cry for help not knowing who will respond. And it never ends until we turn to Him.

Most of us have turned to God recognizing His power and strength and desire to help us. That need for Him is normal and natural because He planted it there when He created us. He knew we would search for Him and He also knew that He would respond in love when we call on Him to make us complete in Christ.

David said those who say “there is no God” are fools. Are they dumb or stupid or ignorant? No! They are fools because they choose to live life without God.

Prayer:  Thank You, God, for Your willingness to hear and then answer our calls for help. Thank You for meeting our needs when we seek Your help. Thank You for loving us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. Psalm 53:1

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Ready Or Not

“I don’t want to die. Please do not let me die,” he whispered in desperation. He was a world leader – loved by many, dreaded by some, questioned by others. He was a prominent figure on the world’s stage having great power and prestige, wealth and control that could not be denied. But in his final moments everything that he had or had accomplished could not extend the life of Hugo Chavez one moment nor release him from his fear of dying. David described the reason that his life ended this way. “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold.”

Another man came to the end of his life who was also a world leader. His résumé describes him as a ruler with great power and authority, vast wealth and owner of beautiful buildings, a soldier, a poet, one who cared deeply for others and was “a man after God’s own heart.” When he faced death he said, “When I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid.”

Two different men, two different destinies because of two different choices. One lived his life with no fear of God. He sought fame and the favor of man. The other lived his life in fear of God and sought His favor, often His forgiveness, but always His approval.

All of us have these same choices. We can live for ourselves, as Hugo Chavez did, seeking recognition and power and die in fear as he did. Or we can choose to live for God as David did, serve Him faithfully with great love and passion, and die as he did - in peace and with hope.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the peace and hope we have in You, Your love and salvation and the gift of eternal life. May we share Your grace and love with others in need of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others! Psalm 52:7

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The Results Of Restoration

“I know I’m forgiven,” he said, “but I don’t have the same feelings I once had. When will they come back?”

While our salvation is established on facts, feelings often play an important role in our relationship with God. Our feelings come from the Holy Spirit, through the grace of God, to let us know the status of our relationship with Him. If there is joy and happiness, gladness and openness in our lives, we know God is with us. When we are uncomfortable in His presence and feel a sense of alienation from Him, we know there is a need to identify the problem, make things right, and restore our relationship with Him as it was. 

When we go to God and experience His restoration, He, as well as others, will see the fruit of His forgiveness in our lives. David sets our example: “Then – after my restoration when I am given a recreated heart – I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will turn back to You.” When we receive a recreated heart there is a renewed desire in us to worship and witness for God. “Old things have passed away and all things are new again!” When we restore our relationship with God and once again walk in His ways, we once again will sense the peace and power of His presence in our lives.

Is anyone a more powerful witness to the wonder of God’s grace than someone who has been redeemed from a life of despair they created for themselves by being disobedient to God’s laws? When we recover from our own self-inflicted wounds, we can recognize the pain and hurt in others who are suffering as we once suffered. We become open to their needs and willing to help them because we “have been there, done that, suffered, and recovered.” We can identify with them and share God’s grace through our lives.

And remember one important fact: the more we worship God, the closer we remain in touch with Him.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, a journey with You that leads us to a life that is dedicated to worshiping You and witnessing to others. May we recognize our need to be with You constantly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Psalm 51:12-13

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The High Cost Of Cleanliness

“Liquid gold” is a hot, black-market commodity on the “streets” these days. With rising prices and shrinking incomes, people are becoming creative in making ends meet. One new “industry” is stealing “Tide” – the popular laundry detergent.

Last year, police in Maryland broke up a crime ring that was stealing Tide and taking it to a nail salon that was buying the detergent and then reselling it to stores in other countries. Thieves would fill up their shopping carts with the product and then run for the exit doors.

Tide became the “cleaning agent of choice” because it is such a popular brand and has high resale value. It is used by homes in all countries no matter their income bracket – upper, middle, or lower. One police detective told The Daily, “It’s the item to steal.”

We use cleaning products to get soil out of clothes and soap to get our bodies clean but they will not cleanse our hearts from sin. In fact, when David asked for God’s “cleansing” for his sins, he used the word “purge” which means un-sin me – purify me – from my uncleanness. He was so disturbed by the guilt he felt from the sins he committed that he used a word that was often used to describe the cleansing of a leper’s house. He wanted God to know he was serious and desperate for His cleansing.

Look at his words closely: “blot out,” “wash,” “cleanse me,” “hide Your face from me.” These words enable us to understand how much he wanted God’s forgiveness. His cry for forgiveness opens the curtain of his soul where we see a heart that was broken by sin, a mind deeply troubled because of sin, the solution for the removal of sin, and his need for God to remove that sin and cleanse him.

What an example David set for every one of us!

Prayer: Father, trouble our hearts as You troubled David’s heart when we sin. May we want Your cleansing. Give us no peace until we truly repent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7-8a

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Nothing But The Truth!

After a sermon on “Hospitality Evangelism,” the Harts were convinced that they should invite their unsaved neighbors to dinner. Their pastor clearly and carefully explained a process to witness God’s plan of salvation after the meal.

On the night of the dinner, the host and hostess were both anxious to begin and end the evening with real-life situations and Christian standards that presented “God at work in their household.”

After sitting down for dinner, Mr. Hart said to five-year-old Bruce, “Would you please say grace?”

Shy and overcome by the drama of the situation, he said, “I don’t know what to say.” Naturally, there was an awkward pause while they attempted to recover from this serious setback to their strategy to witness to their neighbors.

“Well, dear,” said Mrs. Hart with a forced smile, “just say what Daddy said at breakfast this morning.”

Obediently, Bruce folded his hands, bowed his head, and said, “Oh, God, we’ve got those horrible neighbors coming to dinner tonight.”

Truth came straight from Bruce’s heart because he was filled with innocence and openness, trust and honesty. Bruce spoke the truth naturally because his heart was pure!

But what about the rest of us? Do we speak the truth no matter the situation or cost?

Truth comes from our hearts when we least expect it. And it comes from what we put into our hearts. David explained it this way: “You desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Our God is a God of truth and wants His character to be within us and flow from us. If we fill our hearts with His Word, His truth will flow from us.

Prayer: Father, give us no rest until we fill the smallest space in our hearts with Your Word so we live and speak Your truth each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Psalm 51:6

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Taking The First Step

Addictions – whether alcohol, another kind of drug, food, or sexual addiction – will lead to certain destruction and finally death unless the addict completely stops engaging in the self-destroying behavior. As simple as that sounds, it is not easy to do. Why? Because addicts must take “the first step” – admit their addiction, its pervasive power over every aspect of their lives, and finally recognize their inability to control or stop their self-destroying behavior and surrender that addiction to God.

David said it one way and Paul another way. David said, “I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned.” And Paul said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” Two powerful statements from two of God’s most honored servants that are different in words yet identical in meaning. Two men crying out to God in a moment of extreme desperation asking for God’s love, mercy, grace, salvation, and healing. It describes their battle with sin, their inadequacies to be victorious over sin, and their desire to please and honor God.

We can never underestimate the strong hold that sin has in and over our lives. Nor do we recognize our powerlessness to overcome sin in our own strength. Unfortunately, one of the most used talents Satan gives to us is denial. If we do not admit that there is sin in our lives, we do not have to deal with or confront it. We too easily enjoy our sins and are willing to live with them, unaware that they are slowly destroying us.

Robert Burns said that it would be wonderful if someone could give us a gift that would enable us to see ourselves as others see us. God is that “One” and did it in His Word and in the life of His Son. Now it is up to us to “admit what is” and call on Him for His salvation.

Prayer: It is too easy, Lord, to deceive ourselves by denying the dominating power of sin in our lives. Convict us to admit and confess our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For I know my wrong-doing, and my sin is always in front of me. Psalm 51:3

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Turn Now!

“At the next intersection make a complete ‘U’ turn and follow the direction to return to your original route,” said a calm voice wanting to correct the driver who failed to follow the “commands” coming from his GPS. “Then, in five hundred feet, make a left turn and resume your route.” It was not normal to listen to an unknown and unfamiliar voice to provide information that would direct a driver to a destination he had never seen before.

Following directions from an unknown source is risky. Trust becomes a critical – if not the most critical – factor. How do we know if the person who is giving us advice is credible and trustworthy? Is that person looking out for our best interests or wanting to play a game with our life in the balance? No doubt all of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves on a route that was wrong – either by being careless or by making a mistake.

David decided to follow a route that would take him in the wrong direction. He went against God’s GPS. As a result, he ended up being guilty of a series of sins that came from giving in to a powerful temptation. It set in motion a chain reaction that follows the normal sequence of sin: first, he faced temptation; secondly, he refused to listen to the warning of the Holy Spirit; thirdly, he refused His route of escape; fourth, he committed the sin and then suffered the consequences of the sin on himself and others. What a tragic route he followed. But out of this tragedy there was his triumph. A “voice” said to him, “you have sinned! Repent!” And he was listening.

When David heard God’s voice, (His GPS), he admitted his sins and made a “u” turn. He asked God to forgive him, and He did. “Have mercy on me,” he cried, “and blot out my transgressions.” If we, like David, listen to His voice and follow His “commands,” He will lead us safely in paths of righteousness. Are you listening to God’s voice?

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the directions for our lives we find in Your Word. May we follow them carefully and consistently and seek Your way - always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: O God, favor me because of Your loving-kindness. Take away my wrong-doing because of the greatness of Your loving-pity. Psalm 51:1

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A Love That Knows No Limits

Forgiveness, above everything else, is a sign of love. The more we love and value another person, the quicker we are to forgive that one if they have hurt or harmed us, injured or insulted us. Love, especially true God-like love, will forgive quickly and completely.

On the other hand, when someone does something that is designed to harm us, knowing that it will offend us deeply or cause us great pain, that is another matter completely. We normally – even usually - replace forgiveness with grudges and wait for an appropriate opportunity to get even or settle the score.

David was threatened by his guilt and needed God’s forgiveness. It is obvious in the opening verses of Psalm 51. His guilt was destroying and overwhelming him. And he could find nothing within himself that provided him any assurance that God would forgive him. He knew that he did not deserve God’s forgiveness. So, he appealed to God’s “loving kindness, His steadfast love, His great compassion, His eternal compassion” – all words that are included in the translation of God’s hesed – God’s love. Why did he find it necessary to ask God to “blot out my transgressions, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin?” He feared God’s wrath for breaking God’s commandments,

David realized the significance and seriousness of his sins. According to the laws that governed the children of Israel at that time, God would not forgive him for what he had done. He was frightened! Where could he go? What could he do? Only one option.

Appeal to God for His mercy, faithfulness, and love. And God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love have always been and always will be available. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of all unrighteousness.”

Prayer: How thankful we are, Father, for Your never-ending, always-available, yet undeserved love, mercy, grace, presence, and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: O God, favor me because of Your loving-kindness. Take away my wrong-doing because of the greatness of Your loving-pity. Psalm 51:1

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Need Help? Want Hope? Here's Your Source!

On one special occasion, Queen Elizabeth decided to honor a nobleman for his service by giving him a ring. As she presented him the ring she said, “If you are ever in trouble, send the ring to me, and I will help you.” What power that ring represented.

But there is one who is much more powerful than a king or a queen, a president or a premier who is available to us: “The Mighty One, God, the Lord,” declared the Psalmist. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honor Me,” is His enduring promise.

The language of The Mighty One is incredibly significant. He did not say, “Don’t call me – I’ll call you when I have time.” Nor did He say, “That problem’s insignificant” or “Your concern does not matter to me,” or “I’ll refer that to someone else later.” Our God, who is richer than the richest and stronger than the strongest and the greatest friend we can have, says to each of us, “Call me when you are facing troubles and need help. I’m always available.” Is that not exciting? If you are facing a difficult problem as you are reading this Seed, you can stop – right now – and know that He is waiting for You to call on Him.

Not only is He available, but He gives us the assurance that He will deliver us. What good is His availability if He is too powerless to protect us, too weak to fight for us, or too poor to meet our needs? Whatever trouble we are facing – large or small, ours or someone we love – He guarantees a timely, effective, and positive solution. He will deliver us when we call!

But He does make one simple request of us: “You will honor me.” The goal of our prayer must not be to bring attention to ourselves for what He has done or will do for us, it must always be to bring honor to His name in all we do!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the hope we have in You and Your willingness to hear our prayer and Your ability and willingness to answer them and show Your care for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Call on Me in the day of trouble. I will take you out of trouble, and you will honor Me. Psalm 50:15

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Wisdom And Understanding

“You are not prepared to live,” said the professor to his philosophy class, “until you are ready to die.” Few, if any, live with that thought in mind.

When he was twenty years old, David was diagnosed with cancer. After a careful examination, the attending physician said to him, “I’m sorry, but you have only a short time to live. At the most, two years.” David took the news without flinching. He had accepted Christ as his Savior six months before he was given the news. He was well prepared.

As the disease progressed and his health deteriorated, his faith continued to grow. And as his faith grew so did his willingness to witness, and he gained a boldness about sharing God’s grace. On one occasion he said, “Cancer brought me to my knees, and I realized I had no control over my life – only my mind.”

During a visit with one of his physicians, he was asked, “Do you want to live a short time for God or a long time for nothing?” He responded by saying, “Whether I live a short time or a long time, it will be for God. My life is in His hands.”

Shortly before his death his mother would walk into his room and ask, “David, are you still here?” Each time he would answer, “Yes, Mother. I’m still here.”

On the last day of his life she went into his room and asked, “David are you still here?” His reply that day was, “Yes, Mother, but not for much longer. I’m going home.” He looked around the room and said, “Mother, faith is a lighted room.”

Where does a faith like David’s come from? “God will redeem my life from the grave,” said the Psalmist, “he will surely take me to Himself.” Faith like his comes from faith in Christ.

David lived his life knowing he was ready to die. Are you?

Prayer: We are grateful, Lord, for the confidence we have in Your Son, knowing that we can have eternal life through Him. May we accept His salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But God will free my soul from the power of the grave. For He will take me to Himself. Psalm 49:15

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Don't Forget Your God!

Recently an item appeared on the news that told the story of a 34-year-old man suing his parents for “not preparing him to earn a living.” He asked the judge to force his parents to sell their home and from the proceeds purchase him a restaurant. Parents, he argued, are responsible for providing a useful education for their children. However, the parental task he expected of them, is as old as mankind. It began with the children of Israel.

Psalm 48 begins with a call to praise the Lord. He is “great,” said the Psalmist, and “worthy of praise.” In between verses one and fourteen, the author gives many descriptions of the greatness of God and several reasons why He was worthy of praise. But why is He great and why is He worthy of praise?

Contained in the Psalm is a description of the City of Zion – the “joy of the whole earth.” And what is this joy or where does it come from? It is the City of the Great King – God Himself! And we read that “God is in her citadels; He has shown Himself to be her fortress; when kings joined forces and ‘saw her’ they fled in terror; it is the city of our God and in her temple, God makes her secure forever; in His temple they meditate on His unfailing love; people in the villages are glad because of His judgments.”

The people in the Psalm are then told to “walk about Zion, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, and view her citadels so that you may tell of them the next generation!”

Why were the contents of this Psalm important to the children of Israel? In His wisdom God advised the writers of this Psalm to produce a document that contained a historical record of God’s love and faithfulness, His goodness and guidance, His strength and power. This Psalm contains a most significant fact: Parents are to pass on to their children the fact that God, in His grace and goodness, will provide, protect, and care for His children as long as they are faithful to Him.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the record of Your might and majesty, Your power and presence that gives us reasons to trust You for our salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. Psalm 48:13

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Praise The Creator!

Years ago a rural farmer was driving his Model “T” into town when it stopped in the middle of a crossroad. He lifted the hood and was amazed at the wires and strange parts he had never bothered to look at previously. Confused, he walked around the car several times then got inside and tried to start it. Again and again he stepped on the starter.  The engine would start, run a few seconds, and then stop. In frustration he got out once again. This time, however, he slammed the door with all his strength. 

A gentleman approached him in an expertly tailored suit, white shirt and tie and said, “Sir, your carburetor is out of adjustment. May I help you?”

Puzzled at the man’s appearance and offer to help, he said quickly, “What do you know about this car?”

“Oh, I know very much about it,” came the reply. “I am Henry Ford, and I made your car. Since I made it, I can fix it.”

God created the universe from “nothing.” Man came from His creative power. Yet, when things go wrong in God’s universe among those He created, we generally look to other people to fix the problem or problems. Research is initiated, heads of state meet and negotiate, and conferences are held with resolutions that only last for a short time.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will, Father, is to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It was God’s plan that the planet He created would reflect His will and bring glory to His name. We know, however, that the first man and woman He created refused to follow His plan. Because of their decision all of us are affected by its results – suffering, wars, and rumors of wars.

One day we know that He will return to earth, restore His creation, and reign over His Kingdom. He will be exalted, His will done, and His purposes accomplished!

Prayer: May our hearts be encouraged, Lord, as we look forward to the day You will return and become our exalted King and You “repair” Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. Psalm 46:10b

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Confidence Through Quietness

Noise is a major distraction. It interrupts our thoughts, disrupts our concentration, and interferes with our conversations. It prevents us from going to sleep and even awakens us when we do not want to be disturbed. It is often used in athletic contests and sporting events to destroy the focus of team members at critical times.

Wisely the Psalmist advises us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Another translation presents it differently and with more clarity: “I will be still in Your presence, O God, so I can learn to know You more intimately.” For us to grow into the likeness of Christ we must become still in the presence of God.

The word still implies the need for the Christian to stop, look around, think, relax, and learn the meaning of the great events that God is performing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Our minds are usually occupied with the ordinary, day-to-day things of life that demand our constant attention. Then, suddenly and with no warning, we are overwhelmed with an event that consumes us and requires our complete attention – night and day - until the threat passes. It is indeed difficult to be still during life’s challenges because life’s “noises” bring deafness to God’s voice.

However, when we do become still in His presence, He will bring calmness to our hearts and peace to our minds. And if we genuinely want to know Him, as He wants us to know Him, we will take time each day to do only one thing – experience Him as we experience any other person. We can only know others if we spend time in their presence, believe that they care for us, open our hearts to them in trust, share with them our deepest concerns and know that they do us no harm. It is the same with Jesus. Be still to know.

What a Friend we can have in Jesus if we take the time to be still to know Him!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to quiet our minds before You, open our hearts to You, and share our lives with You so that you can be our dear Friend. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a

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What Size God Do You Worship?

“Is your God a great God or a little God?” asked a well-known skeptic of an elderly gentleman known for his deep love for God.

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “He’s both. He’s so great that the heavens cannot contain Him, and He’s so little that He can live within my heart!”

This is the identical way that the writer of Psalm 46 spoke of his God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

We often have questions about God’s involvement in our everyday affairs and concerns. “Are my personal problems, even though they are small and only matter to me, important to Him? When I have the flu and feel horrible, does it make any difference to Him? What about the threat of violence, terrorism, children being gunned down at school? What about the preacher being tried in Iran as a heretic? What about the war in Afghanistan?”

“The Lord who is Almighty,” said the Psalmist, “is with us” – not may be or should be or will be later on – but is with us this very moment. Wherever we are – He is. From our smallest need to our greatest problem He is with us and is always ready, willing, and able to accomplish His plan for us and through us.

Yet, there is more: He is not only with us, but He is our fortress – He surrounds us as a fortified city. When this Psalm was written, a fortress was a place of security and safety. It was built on an isolated, elevated place to provide protection from the enemy. It was the place to go if an enemy was approaching.

What powerful thoughts: Our God is an Almighty God who cares for each of us- even though we feel undeserving of His gifts - and protects us from any threat in life.

Prayer: Lord, we marvel at Your greatness and grace and are humbled by Your goodness. May we open our eyes to recognize Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:7

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Few of us ever stop to think about the fact that the continents on planet Earth are afloat. Geologists have discovered that the continents continue to change their shape and form by moving “plates.” Volcanoes are the earth’s “heating and air-conditioning vents” that are arranged around the plates that allow them to “exhale” when the heat and pressure build. We live on a dynamic planet that constantly expands and contracts, moves and reshapes itself.

God, our Creator, did not “begin” something and then turn it “loose” to go its own way. The universe, in all its many intricacies, reflects purpose and planning, design and direction. If, as the geologists have proven, the earth is moving and changing and not in a fixed position, where can we find security and establish a place where we will be safe from all the turbulence and “earthquakes” we face in life?

The Word of God. Scripture always has the answer to life’s essential questions and concerns. Psalm 46 begins with the statement that “God is our refuge, our strength, and our help.” That verse is followed by another statement that gives us the assurance that “we need not fear, though the earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea!” In these two verses, we are given God’s answer for life’s never-ending uncertainties. When we face times of insecurity and instability “we do not need to fear” because our God Who created it all is in all and working out His plan for our lives.

The essential fact, however, is that we must have faith and faithfulness of God. We must have unquestioning faith in our God Who created and now sustains the universe and everything and everyone in it and on it and hope in Him who does all things well.

Prayer: Grant us Your peace and the assurances that come from Your faithfulness. May we recognize our fears that are unfounded and trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: We need not fear, though the earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46:2

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Help When You Need It

Few things are more important to us than our safety and security. We depend on rules and regulations for our well-being and protection. We have the police to protect us and the military to guard us. We rely on individuals we have never seen or met to enforce laws we have never read and to be alert if an enemy threatens us if there is a national emergency. Yet, despite all the layers of defense that have been placed around us, the threats of life continue to surround us and invade our spaces. We search for a moment of peace in these times of turbulence and turmoil.

However, as Christians, we must always remember that we have a resource that is always available. The Psalmist reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Not only are we reminded that God is our refuge and strength but that He is ever-present! Not might be or could be but is ever-present.

The word refuge means shelter. When the rains fall and the rivers rise, we can always find a place of security in the arms of God. When days are dark and nights are long, we always have His light to shine before us and around us and keep us from becoming lost or falling. When sickness strikes and illness lingers, we always have the assurance of His presence and peace.

And His strength – His mighty power – is there as our shield and sword. No one would go into any battle without the proper equipment to protect and defend themselves. Here, however, we are reminded that the battle belongs to our God and He will not only fight for us but will protect us from anyone who would hurt or harm us, destroy or defeat us.

And we can take great assurance that His refuge and strength are ever-present. He is with us – not He might be with us – wherever we are. We have no reason to be frightened when the world seems to be closing in on us and the pressures of life are about to overcome us. God: our refuge and strength – is right here, right now.

Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, Your ever-present presence in our lives and that You are constantly involved in anything and everything that concerns us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

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Honor Him!

Honor involves giving recognition to the work of someone other than ourselves. It is placing significance, importance, or value on what others have done or accomplished. It places them above us in a position that commands respect for what they have done and who they are.

To honor someone requires us, first and foremost, to be humble. We must graciously bow before them in reverence and recognition for what they have done for us or what they have contributed to our lives and our well-being. What they have done has cost them something. Perhaps they have had to make a sacrifice to attain their goal and the price they paid is more than we can afford or have the resources to pay them for what they have done for or given to us.

Honoring someone is not always easy. Pride gets in the way. Self-importance or not wanting to stand aside while others move to the front of the line often complicate honoring others. It is not easy to give credit to someone when we become obligated to them for what they have done for us. When we honor someone, we make them look good – often at our expense – and that at times is not easy. Who wants to admit their shortcomings or inadequacies even if the gift is from God?

The Psalmist wrote, “Honor Him for He is your Lord!” Not an overly complicated statement. The problem is not understanding the statement that gives so many Christians a problem. It is in applying it. Honoring or bowing down before God for His gifts, goodness, and grace is difficult because it forces us to admit we need Him. Pride gets in our way and becomes a problem for us. 

Pride also keeps us from serving Him and loving others as Jesus loved them. Pride is what keeps us from being submissive to the Lord when we refuse to serve others as He commanded us to do on His behalf and witness His grace to those who are lost and seeking His love and hope.

Prayer: Lord, give us a desire to become humble so we can honor You and serve others. Remove pride from our hearts and replace it with Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm 45:11

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A King For God's Kingdom?

A leading scientist at a convention of scientists was asked, “Is there anyone anywhere whom you know who could solve all of the problems of illness and famine, poverty and killing?”

“Indeed I do,” came his quick reply.

Astonished, the chairman of the committee asked, “Who?”

“A King!” came the quick, confident response.

In utter disbelief, the chairman replied, “A king? Where can we find such a king? Where has he been hiding?”

“Oh, He is not hiding,” replied the scientist. “He has made Himself well known. It is just that people refuse to recognize Him. You see, this Man is incapable of making any mistakes, knows the power of healing – both physical healing and mental healing and He knows how to feed thousands and have food left over to feed many more. He can also take care of those without water and solve other problems that people bring to him.”

In disbelief, the chairman asked, “Who is this person you have described and where can we find him?”

“You can find Him in the Bible. He is known as Jesus. In His life on earth, He did all of the things I have mentioned. And He is capable of doing many more miraculous things,” he said.

The audience was stunned as the scientist took his seat.

The Psalmist wrote, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your Kingdom.” The “throne” described in this Psalm is Christ’s throne in heaven and will last through eternity. From this throne, He will rule the world in love, justice, and righteousness – and all problems will finally be solved.

Prayer: Father, we look forward to that day of days when You will rule the world with Your peace, grace, and justice that we all desire. But until then, may we do our best to represent Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your Kingdom. Psalm 45:6

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